“But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” (Acts 15:1 ESV)
On morning, while preparing my son’s breakfast, he signed a form he needed to take with him to school. He said, “I don’t like cursive.” This prompted me to talk about signatures being in cursive, or script, as simply convention. I told him that forms often have a line for printed name and a line for signature. I went on to say that I supposed a signature could be a printed name. Why not? Convention or law? I related the case of e.e.cumming, a poet who chose to use an unconventional way to display his name, without using capitol letters. I went on to tell my son, “I suppose some clerk somewhere could say to you, if you printed your name on the signature block, that it is not a signature. Is it really necessary to sign your name in cursive? I wonder if it is some law somewhere. Perhaps it’s not just convention as I’d said.”
“It’s a bit like the Gospel,” I went on to say. I told my son that the Gospel has been interpreted by people throughout our Christian history, and then made into some religious law that seemingly must be observed. At this point, I knew what I was doing. I was connecting the dots to make mental a picture I wanted my son to see. We’d begun discussing signatures, but now were on to things that Y’shuaJesus taught, and how traditions and conventions flowed from them. I concluded the lesson quickly, for sometimes with teenagers it’s better to plant a seed than a whole garden, giving some guidance about looking at the whole of what Y’shuaJesus taught, along with the circumstances in which His teaching occurred.
I suppose this was all on my mind while reading Acts 15. Here we are with Paul and Barnabas when “some men came down from Judea and began to teach the brothers ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom prescribed by Moses, you cannot be saved!’ ” (Acts 15:1) This chapter deals with Paul and Barnabas engaging in serious argument and debate, traveling to Jerusalem to meet with the apostles and elders and consider the matter, and finally reaching a conclusion that would prompt a letter to Gentiles explaining the views of the apostles on the matter.
One thing that struck me as I read this chapter is that the letter begins with “Because we have heard that some to whom we gave no authorization went out from us and troubled you with their words and unsettled your hearts. . .” It was important for the apostles to clarify their position on these matters. It was important for the believing Gentiles to understand this position.
One conclusion that I arrived at, one lesson I desire to impart to my son, is that regardless of who comes to teach us, to demand of us adherence to some law that applies conditions to our salvation, we are to seek the guidance of the true authority on the matter. Since the Apostles are no longer here in this world, we must follow the led of the Spirit of G-d, looking into the Word of G-d, drawing conclusions for ourselves. We must work out our own salvation! And no doubt we do so with great reverential fear and trembling.
Let us seek the Lord, while He may be found. Let us gather together in one voice, in harmony, in the Spirit, rejoicing, praising, awaiting the second coming of our King. He comes with sword! He brings true peace! Hallelujah!
Lord Bless, Keep, Shine. . .