Acts 15:22-29 Video Devotional

“Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers, with the following letter: “The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings. Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth. For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.” (Acts 15:22-29)

Acts 15 is an important chapter in Christian history. As the church grew, it more and more had to figure out how to deal with different people, with all kinds of backgrounds, expectations, and ideologies. What was the ground floor, no room for grey area tenet for being a Christian believer? What exactly did everyone need to have in common to all be part of this believing core?

Many people wanted to force all new believers to convert to Judaism first, making sure they follow the practices and rituals they and their ancestors did for a long time. But when Jesus declared that He fulfilled the law and established a new covenant, didn’t that abolish the need for those practices? The Jewish Council that we seen in Acts 15 helps to begin the process of theologically refining what it means to be a believer in Jesus and does answer that question about Jewish conversion. It is not necessary.

The apostles did not want to burden new believers with unnecessary expectations and so focused on the top priority issues. And in the wording, even those were not absolute, but wise recommendations that would do them well to keep them. The only requirement was true belief in Jesus (which is usually when the Holy Spirit would show up). That makes me wonder how many ecumenical councils could have been avoided with a better study of these chapters in Acts?

Today, many people like to add on to the basics of salvation. Some require membership in their church or giving a certain amount of money or a determined level of service to be part of their church – but Christ’s church – the church universal only requires faith in Him. What are some things you have heard from people as they’ve encountered Jesus that they THOUGHT was required of them? Have you been able to comfort them that it is trust in Him alone? Or have you added some “requirements” of your own in your gospel presentations? How about certain behavior changes? Or preferred clothing?

Let me know in the comments!