Walk by the Spirit (Week 48)
The early church was initially made up of Jews who believed Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, and boy were they surprised when gentiles started getting saved. This introduced many problems into the already difficult life of the early church.
When reading the Epistles of Paul, written to the churches he mentored, it is important to understand the different factions he was addressing. For instance, we know from Acts there were Pharisees and priests in the early church who expected a strict observance of the Mosaic law and Hellenized Jews who were assimilated into the Greek culture and not nearly as dogmatic or observant.
In addition, gentiles who had converted to Judaism and first heard Paul when they were attending synagogue services were part of the church, as well as God-fearing gentiles who had adopted Judaism without formally converting. Then there were the pagan gentiles who walked in off the street and knew nothing of the Judaic roots of their new faith.
Paul had to navigate these factions and attempt to bring unity amongst them by focusing on the fundamentals of the gospel. One of the most contentious issues was the observance of the Mosaic law. Paul had to deal with this issue in his letter to the Galatians in which he explained the life of faith that we as Christians are called to. We are to have the same faith as Abraham, who was righteous before God long before the law was ever given. So why did we need the law at all? Paul described it as the guardian or the teacher of God’s people to keep them in right relationship with Him until Christ came to bring forgiveness of sin to the world.
Proof of this new era was found in the fact God was now pouring out the Holy Spirit on gentiles in response to their faith and not because of obedience to the law. I am so grateful for how the Jewish leaders of the early church handled this unexpected development and the sacrifices they made to take the good news to the gentile world. They were true pioneers and visionaries who allowed the Holy Spirit to lead them into a whole new season in God’s redemptive plan.
Life in the Spirit is not about being free to sin and go against God’s law. It is about obeying the Holy Spirit, who will always guide us to act in love and by the spirit of the law—to love the Lord with all our heart and our neighbor as ourselves.
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About this episode:
The early church was initially made up of Jews who believed Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, and boy were they surprised when gentiles started getting saved. This introduced so many problems into the already difficult life of the early church. But I am so grateful for the way the Jewish leaders handled the situation and for the wonderful apostolic leadership of Paul. They were true pioneers and visionaries who allowed the Holy Spirit to lead them into a whole new season in God’s redemptive plan. This episode complements the daily readings from our Walk Thru the Bible reading plan for December 27 – January 2, covering Acts 3-18; Galatians; 1st & 2nd Thessalonians; 1st Corinthians.