SERIES: N Commandments
Sunday, September 17, 2017
Following Jesus makes your life better and following Jesus makes you better at life
- Common reasons people abandon the Christian faith:
- Bad church experiences, Christians who were jerks
- Questions about the Bible
- The church is not the foundation of our faith. The Bible is not the foundation of our faith. The foundation of our faith is an event.
- The NT documents what happened in the life of Jesus and the church, it isn’t greater than what happened
If Christianity was as fragile as some of us treat it, it never would have survived the first 300 years
- In the first century, you could lose your life for being a Christian – you could lose your job, your property – for putting your faith in Christ instead of the Caesars
- Apologist / Tertullian / 3rd Century / became a Christian @ 40 years old
- “If the Tiber rises too high or the Nile too low, the remedy is always feeding Christians to the lions”
This is a challenge for all secular historians – we don’t know how Christianity grew to impact the world the way it did.
- Karen Armstrong – “Yet, against all odds, by the third century Christianity had become a force to be reckoned with. We still do not really understand how this came about.”
It was unexpected – no one saw it coming – as Andy Stanley says, “Nobody expected no body.”
- First century Gentile: you worship the gods, try to appease them / no comprehension of the Ten Commandments (let alone 600+ laws)
- The resurrected Christ is introduced as something new that God had done in the world – not because the Bible says
As the Gentiles were trying to figure out what it meant to follow Jesus instead of the gods, some Jewish scholars came along and started to teach them that since Jesus was Jewish and fulfilled the Jewish prophecies in the OT that Christianity should be hitched to the Jewish faith.
- Big deal for the Gentiles – “Do we need to become Jewish to be Jesus followers?”
Acts 15:1-31 (843)
1While Paul and Barnabas were at Antioch of Syria, some men from Judea arrived and began to teach the believers: “Unless you are circumcised as required by the law of Moses, you cannot be saved.”
2 Paul and Barnabas disagreed with them, arguing vehemently. Finally, the church decided to send Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, accompanied by some local believers, to talk to the apostles and elders about this question.
- The big question: Do we have to become Jewish to follow Jesus?
4 When they arrived in Jerusalem, Barnabas and Paul were welcomed by the whole church, including the apostles and elders. They reported everything God had done through them. 5 But then some of the believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees stood up and insisted, “The Gentile converts must be circumcised and required to follow the law of Moses.”
- Paul and Barnabas give their report
- Pharisees – who had opposed Jesus – now believed
6 So the apostles and elders met together to resolve this issue. 7 At the meeting, after a long discussion, Peter stood and addressed them as follows: “Brothers, you all know that God chose me from among you some time ago to preach to the Gentiles so that they could hear the Good News and believe.
- Peter shares his experience with Cornelius
10 So why are you now challenging God by burdening the Gentile believers with a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors were able to bear?
- We grew up with this stuff, they didn’t – we grew up kosher, reading the Torah, etc. – do we want to tell 25, 40, 50 year olds they have to clean out their houses and memorize 600 laws and get circumcised?
11 We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.”
- They don’t need all that stuff – God’s grace and Christ’s sacrifice is what has reconciled them with God, not the law
19 “And so my judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.
20 Instead, we should write and tell them…
- This is the first letter to us Gentile Christians, this is how James said we should view the OT law as Christians
23 “This letter is from the apostles and elders, your brothers in Jerusalem. It is written to the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia. Greetings! 24 “We understand that some men from here have troubled you and upset you with their teaching, but we did not send them!
28 “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay no greater burden on you than these few requirements: 29 You must abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality.
- Dietary laws so Jewish and Gentile Christians would unite (see that later in text)
If you do this, you will do well. Farewell.”
- Wait, what? From 600 to 10 to this – that’s like one or two rules
- James: That’s not your approach to God – you were saved by grace
30 The messengers went at once to Antioch, where they called a general meeting of the believers and delivered the letter. 31 And there was great joy throughout the church that day as they read this encouraging message.
- If they had decided all of us had to become Jewish to follow Jesus – wiped out in 70 AD with the destruction of the Temple – Ancient Judaism ceased to exist
- That’s all they had. Paul hasn’t written letters yet. Gospels aren’t written. What they had was the resurrection and Jesus’ commands
- Jesus’ commands seemed unrealistic
- Example of Jesus’ commands: Fear not – just don’t be afraid – fear not.
- Others: Doubt not. Worry not.
- Before the resurrection – we can’t just not fear, or worry, or doubt
- Jesus: When you see your resurrected Savior, what will you have to be afraid of? What will you worry about? What will you have to doubt?
- That was what fueled the first century church as they laid down their lives for the Gospel