Monday, December 14, 2015

Acts 15, The Apostles, and Paul's Lifestyle Principles

STOP Before you proceed with this post, please go read Acts 15! You can open up your Bible, or you can even view it online here.

The Acts 15 Council is so crucial to the Church and the movement of Christ Followers because it clarifies that God does not intend to divorce people from their home cultures. He does not expect them to accept and obey all of Judaism or what we call Christianity, rather He expects and desires them to accept Him, His promises, and His Word.

In fact, if the Acts 15 council had not happened and certain believers had kept preaching that all must be circumcised and leave their culture to conform to the Jewish standards the Christian movement would have likely fizzled out. It could have become just another sect of Judaism, instead of the fulfillment of the Judaic law.

Paul used two lifestyle Principles in His ministry: Become Like and Remain Like

Become Like: Talman and Anthony discuss how we are supposed to become like the people we wish to evangelize. This does not mean we are called to sin with them, but rather we are to submerge ourselves and become a part of the people we wish to reach’s culture.

Remain Like: Help new followers remain in their culture so as not to take on the missionary’s cultural practices as the substance of the gospel.

Believers today are often uncomfortable with the “Become Like, Remain Like” strategy because they have the cultural aspects of Christianity mixed up with the Gospel of the Salvation of Jesus Christ. They fail to see how the two can be separated.

The Apostles knew, and were confident in the fact that the Holy Spirit was given to ALL believers, Jewish or Gentile The Holy Spirit’s availability to both Jews and Gentiles is so crucial to evangelism and the Gospel as a whole because if the Holy Spirit is in every believer, the Holy Spirit will disciple and challenge individuals in their individual struggles and areas of sin, which may be different then what the missionary sees or is the biggest deal in his culture. If this was not true, the Acts 15 council would have had to make a different decision because the people would not have been able to be disciple by the Holy Spirit living within themselves, they would need the laws of the Judaism.

Apostolic Passion is is a deliberate, intentional choice to live for the worship of Jesus in the nations. It is being so committed to following Christ that you are willing to die or worse for Him. It means to abandon everything, focus on God’s glory and the task He has given us, to pray fervently and unceasingly, and to make all decisions with Christ and His purpose at the center.

Paul's apostolic bands (missionaries/missionary groups) operated independently of the church that released them. Unlike we often imagine today, a missionary endeavor can be a supported by and even and extension of a particular church, but ultimately it is a separate church entity. They were based on Jewish forms of missionary work. They always worked cross-culturally! They did not stay in their hometown "evangelizing" those who already knew! They went to places where the gospel had not yet come. Another very interesting thing to note about Paul's apostolic bands is that they were economically independent! Yes, they received gifts, and support from various churches and individuals, but they did not rely on it. They had "side jobs," which provided for their ministry economically.

I know that is a lot of information I just threw at you, and it is kind of jumbled up together, but I hope you come away with a renewed interest in the passion for mission that Christ and His followers had, and how we need to follow their example and regain it.

* learned from Perspectives class