LIVE FREE Galatians Study Week One

Day Six. January 15. Acts 15:1-29

Today we enter into new territory. Scholars believe that the letter to the Galatians was written sometime during Paul’s relatively peaceful time in Antioch described in Acts 14:28. As we will see when we start Galatians next week, a group of legalistic rule-following folk visited the churches Paul and Barnabas had so recently established at a high cost to their physical safety and added a whole lot of new rules to the churches.

This struggle to understand what rules and laws God still wanted His people to keep, and what rules and laws were overruled by the coming of Jesus and forgiveness of sins and the indwelling Holy Spirit … was real and deep and hard. We are going to move forward in time to something known as the Council at Jerusalem. This is where the apostles and believers met to wrestle through the dilemma of welcoming Gentiles to a predominantly Jewish faith at that time. What rules from the Old Testament were binding on Gentiles and what rules weren’t? Let’s study this out together so we get a sense of the tension and drama as they all seek the Lord on this. Let’s learn. Because our own dear churches today often wrestle with sticky issues, right? I’d love to get some guidance that I can apply to my own wrestlings today.

I love that they discussed this at great length. I love that they must have listened to each other. I love that they sought the Holy Spirit and the wisdom God alone could give them. I love that they studied the scriptures, as James demonstrated when he quoted from Amos and Isaiah in verses 16-18. I love that when they finally decided, they were in “complete agreement.” Their heart was to not make it any harder on the Gentile converts than they ought. For Jewish people to “let go” of circumcision as a sign of salvation must have been so difficult. For so long, circumcision was the sign that showed them set apart for God! Yet now, the indwelling Holy Spirit was the sign that God was with them. What a marvelous time of seeking God that must have been.

Their final letter is full of kindness toward the Gentile converts. I love kindness. They did not want to burden these new believers beyond commands that they saw as wise and good. There were a few restrictions on foods, but nothing like the restrictions given in the Old Testament. There was definitely a continued reminder to be sexually pure as well. That part of God’s desire for us had not changed. The overall message, though, is that the Gentiles were saved by God’s grace and through Jesus’ death on the cross, taking on their sins and receiving the punishment Himself. Rules could not save them. Jesus was the Savior. Amen!


My verse(s): Acts 15:10-11 “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 believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.”

My response:  Oh how thankful I am that all of us are saved the same way. We don’t have to obey all the rules all the time, fearful that if we mess up we’ve lost salvation. What a heavy load that would be to bear. And Father, You see how often I fail to do the right things in thought and deed. I would be unable. Thank You that You saved me because of Your undeserved grace. I am forgiven. Over and over I am forgiven, cleansed, set free to serve You not in fear but in love and happiness. Help me to do right, Lord. But thank You that my salvation is not earned. It’s given. And I am forever grateful.


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