Acts 15 … Consider Him Who Settles Our Souls

Originally posted: 1/26/2020

“Since we have heard that some of our number to whom we gave no instruction have disturbed you with their words, unsettling your souls,” (15:24).

The early church was not without its difficulties, disturbances, dissensions and debates. Concerning the issue of circumcision.

To the Jew, from the very beginning, circumcision had always been the sign of the covenant between Yahweh and His people.

God said further to Abraham, “Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. 10 This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you, (Genesis 17:9-11).

So, in some sense, we can understand why the Jewish converts felt it still necessary to adhere to circumcision.

Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved,” (15:1).

So, off to Jerusalem they go, to debate and determine a solution to this dispute.

After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are,” (15:7-11 emphasis added).

The solution: God’s choice. God’s righteousness received by faith and confirmed by His Holy Spirit. No other requirements. For there is none who can bear the load of perfect obedience. God’s choice: believe that He alone cleanses hearts and grants salvation as a gift of faith through the grace of the Lord Jesus. Period.

This decision was to Settle the matter, the questions, the disputes, and their very Souls.

Consider Him Who Settles Our Souls

  • He Settles Our Souls through the unity of the faith.
    • “Since we have heard that some of our number to whom we gave no instruction have disturbed you with their words, unsettling your souls, it seemed good to us, having become of one mind, to select men to send to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” (15:25-26).
  • He Settles Our Souls in the truth.
    • “Therefore we have sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will also report the same things by word of mouth,” (15:27). 
  • He Settles Our Souls in the counsel of His Holy Spirit.
    • “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials:” (15:28).
  • He Settles Our Souls regarding the essentials.
    • “…these essentials: that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well,” (15:29).
  • He Settles Our Souls through the body of Christ.
    • So when they were sent away, they went down to Antioch; and having gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter. 31 When they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement, (15:30-31).

How do we respond to Him Who Settles Our Souls?

This dispute, so unsettling, really boiled down to this: Is salvation by faith In Christ alone really all that God requires?

And Paul emphatically answered this very question to the church in Galatia, once again caught up in this debate regarding circumcision.

Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you.And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love, (Galatians 5:2-6).

Leaving no room for doubt, Paul says that we actually sever ourselves from His grace when we seek to gain approval through our works. And in the Lord’s great compassion and grace, He continues to confirm our hope and draw us to Himself to Settle Our Souls.

Today, may we meditate on His Perfect Provision as we seek Him Who Settles Our Souls.

  • He Settles Our Souls through the unity of the faith.
    He has not left us to ourselves to arrive at unity. He has provided His Word and His workers, that we would grow in the unwavering knowledge of faith. He calls us to unity, not for the mere sake of unity, but it is His call to an uncompromising and cohesive knowledge of the Son of God.

    • And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors ad teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, (Colossians 3:13-14).
  • He Settles Our Souls in the truth.
    Truth grounds us. Truth empowers us to keep on keeping on; truth keeps us from oscillating between times of worry and exhilaration, from being propelled by our feelings rather than faith. Truth frees us to continue in Him.

    •  So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free,” (John 8:31-32).
  • He Settles Our Souls in the counsel of His Holy Spirit.
    His Holy Spirit is granted that we would receive His strength in our inner man, the born-again child. Granted to those who belong to Him by faith in order to strengthen our understanding of the riches of His glory, and to be grounded and rooted in His incomprehensible love.

    • that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God, (Ephesians 3:16).
  • He Settles Our Souls regarding the essentials.
    We are saved by His gift of grace through Christ’s atoning death and resurrection, the essentials of our faith. And while we can never work for our salvation or His favor, we must avoid any areas that would lead us back to our former way of life. This is why the Gentiles were exhorted by both the apostles and the Holy Spirit to abstain from the former practices that had been the essentials in their former way of life and idolatrous worship,  …abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication, (15:29).

    • that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind,24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth,(Ephesians 4:22-23).
  • He Settles Our Souls through the body of Christ.
    We were never meant to do the Christian life alone. We were created for fellowship with God and one another. From the very beginning. We need each other’s exhortation and encouragement, support and strength, love and labor to grow in our faith.

    •  and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near, (Hebrews 10:24-25).

As we daily seek Him, bringing Him our questions, concerns and difficulties, He will faithfully Settle Our Souls through the truth and essentials of the Gospel, the comforting counsel of His Holy Spirit and through the unity of the faith in His body. Let us grow to seek Him first in everything, leaving all these things in His capable care; for He is faithful to Settle Our Souls.

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you,” (Matthew 6:33).

Let’s Grow Together!

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