Would You Dare Build Up What You Have Torn Down?

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament scriptural account of the spiritual body of Jesus the Christ in the earth which was the Church as it was written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke in the book of Acts. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first twenty-one verses of the fifteenth chapter. When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the beloved physician Luke transitioning from the conclusion of the first missionary journey of the apostle Paul to an event which I would dare say is perhaps another turning point within the history of the early church. The more I read and the more I study the book of Acts the more I can’t help but come face to face with the fact that there were very distinct turning points which took place within the history of the early church which paved the way for the activity of the church throughout the generations since then. In all reality, I am convinced that perhaps the first turning point which took place in the history of the young church was the stoning and martyrdom of Stephen which occurred in the seventh chapter. If you turn your attention back to the seventh chapter of the book of Acts you will find Stephen standing before the Sanhedrin, before the Jews, and even before those who sought to falsely accuse him. It would be while standing before all those who gathered before him to inquire as to his crimes that he would find himself infuriating and enraging all those who were present on that fateful day—and so much so that Scripture records how they were filled with rage and wrath, and how they had stopped their hearts from hearing and receiving that which Stephen had spoken. I write how the words Stephen spoke unto the Sanhedrin infuriated and enraged them, however, if I am being honest with you who are reading the words of this writing I would dare say that it was not necessarily Stephen who enraged and so infuriated the Sanhedrin and those who were standing before him, but it was the Holy Spirit who put the words which Stephen spoke in their hearing. Would it completely shock and surprise you to hear and consider the fact that it is possible for the Holy Spirit to speak and for that which He speaks to enrage and infuriate those who hear what He has to say? What’s more, is would it shock you to know that there were times when even Jesus Himself enraged and infuriated those whom He encountered—particularly and especially when it came to the religious system of His day? If you read the four gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ you will quickly find that He was regularly at odds with and regularly at odds against the religious leaders and system of His day because of the words He spoke—and not only because of the words He spoke, but also because of His apparent disregard for their rules and traditions, as He had absolutely no quarrel or issue with healing and offering deliverance on the Sabbath.

As you read the words which are written and found within the seventh chapter of the book of Acts you will find Stephen standing before his accusers and those who would seek to listen to and hear his words, and at the conclusion of that which the Holy Spirit had given him to speak, the words which he spoke so infuriated those who were present that they stopped their ears and rushed with one accord upon Stephen to drag him outside the city. It would be outside the city where Stephen would begin to be stoned, and while he was being stoned he looked steadfastly toward heaven and not only saw the heavens opened and the glory of God, but he also saw Jesus Christ the Son of God standing at the right hand of the Father. Just before Stephen fell asleep—essentially before Stephen died—we read that he prayed unto the Father and asked that He would not hold this sin against the charge of those who were stoning him to death. Ultimately, Stephen would in fact be stoned to death and would become the first martyr of the early church. What’s more, is that it would be Stephen’s death that would be the trigger point and catalyst for events which would take place in the following two chapters. If you turn your attention to the eighth chapter you will find at the beginning of the chapter two other distinct turning points—turning points which were directly impacted and triggered by the death of Stephen. Upon beginning to read the eighth chapter you will not only find that Saul consented to the death of Stephen, but you will also read how a great persecution broke out against the church which was in Jerusalem—and so much so that the followers of the way were scattered throughout Judaea and Samaria. Immediately following the description of the great persecution which broke out against the early church you will find it written how this man named Saul began to wreak havoc against the church, and even entered into houses and homes dragging men and women out of their homes and away from their families in order that he might commit them unto prison. The opening verses of the eighth chapter are quite impactful and quite powerful when you think about it, for within the opening verses of the chapter you will find two additional trigger points which took place within the history of the early church, as not only did a great persecution break out against the church in Jerusalem, thus causing it to be scattered, but you will also find the emergence of this man named Saul who would begin to unleash a torrent of opposition and affliction against the early church by dragging men and women out of their homes and committing them to prison.

Upon coming to the ninth chapter of the book of Acts you will find the continuation of those turning points we read about in the eighth chapter, but you will also find what I believe to be one of the single greatest turning points within the book of Acts. When the book of Acts begins and opens we will find that the two greatest turning points for the followers of Jesus the Christ and for His disciples was His ascension unto the right hand of the Father in heaven, as well as the arrival of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. It would be the arrival of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost that helped facilitate and set in motion the creation of the early church and the subsequent events which took place thereafter. In all reality, I would dare say that were it not for the arrival of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost—not only would we not have the events which took place within the early church, but we wouldn’t have the early church or the church as we know it all. I am firmly convinced that the events we find and the events we read about in the book of Acts were a direct result of the arrival of the Holy Spirit—and not only the direct result of the arrival of the Holy Spirit, but also a fulfillment of the words which Jesus the Christ spoke. If you recall in the opening verses of the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel which the apostle John wrote the following words were spoken by Jesus the Christ when speaking unto His disciples and preparing them for His departure from the earth: “These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because these have not known the Father, nor me. But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you. But now I go my way to Him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? But because I had said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you. And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged” (John 16:1-11). What’s more, is that if you turn back just a few verses in this same chapter you will find Jesus speaking the following words unto the disciples on the same night in which He was betrayed and prepared His disciples for His departure: “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I sad unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep your also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sins. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now they have both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of. Truth, which proceeds the from the Father, He shall testify of me; and ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:18-27).

The reason I mention these two passages from within the New Testament gospel of John is because not only do you find Jesus preparing the disciples to be hated and persecuted after and upon His departure, but you will also find that after the arrival and manifestation of the Holy Spirit this hatred seemed to manifest itself almost immediately. The fourth, fifth and sixth chapters of the New Testament book of Acts describe the beginning of the hatred of the Jews, as well as the religious leaders—not only toward the apostles themselves, but also toward the words and message they preached. What’s more is that within the context of this hatred we not only find the preaching of Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified, buried, and raised on the third day, but we also find the healing of a man who had been crippled and laid at the gate called Beautiful on the way up to the Temple and house of God. It is in these three chapters that we find the apostles not only being hated by the religious leaders and religious system, but we find Peter and John being imprisoned and released the next day after being threatened against preaching the word and name of Jesus Christ, as well as all the apostles imprisoned by the religious leaders before an angel of the Lord entered into the prison by night, delivered and set them free, and instructed them to go and stand in the Temple and preach the name and word of Jesus the Christ. Within these chapters you will also find the apostles being beaten by the religious leaders and actually counting it all joy to have been counted worthy of partaking in the suffering of Jesus the Christ through persecution. The persecution we find and read about in the New Testament book of Acts had certain roots in hatred and animosity of the religious leaders toward the apostles, however, it would take on an entirely new level after the death of Stephen and after the emergence of this man named Saul. It would be the death of Stephen that would trigger the great persecution which broke out against the church, as well as this man named Saul who would begin to wreak havoc against the church by entering into house and home dragging men and women away from their families and committing them into prison. This great persecution of Saul would continue in the ninth chapter as in the opening verse of the chapter you will find him continuing to breathe out threatenings and slaughter against the early church. As if this weren’t enough, we also find and read of Saul obtaining letters from the high priest in Jerusalem to journey unto Damascus and upon finding any followers of this way would bring them bound unto Jerusalem. The opening verses of the ninth chapter follow Saul along the road to Damascus from Jerusalem as he sought to bring back any followers of the way bound unto the city of Jerusalem where they would most certainly be committed to prison, and in some cases perhaps even put to death.

As the ninth chapter progresses, however, we find that Jesus the Christ had different plans for this man named Saul, and although he was perhaps one of the single greatest persecutors of the early church, he would prove to be no match in the presence of Jesus the Christ. Within the ninth chapter you will find that as Saul drew near to Damascus a great and brilliant light appeared before and all around him, and Saul being thrown from the horse he was riding. It was while and as Saul was thrown to the earth that the voice of Jesus the Christ spoke unto him and asked why he persisted in persecuting him. Perhaps unsure as to who he was speaking to, Saul responded to the one before him and asked him, “Lord who are you?” There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if Saul had an idea who was speaking to him, but asked out of a place of fear, confusion and perhaps even doubt. Upon hearing Saul’s question, Jesus the Christ declared unto Saul that He was Jesus whom he was persecuting, and that it was hard for him to kick against the goads. It would be there on the road to Damascus where Saul would encounter and experience the risen and glorified Christ, and would leave and emerge from that encounter unable to see and needing to be led into the city of Damascus. Once in Damascus Jesus the Christ would appear unto and speak to a man named Ananias instructing him to go and find a man named Saul and lay hands on him that he might receive his sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit, for he would be praying and fasting and saw in a vision a man coming unto him, laying his hands on him, and praying that he might receive his sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. After an initial hesitation, doubt and fear Ananias came unto Saul and not only laid his hands on him, but also prayed for him, and as a direct result of Ananias’ faithfulness in obeying the voice of Jesus the Christ—not only did Saul receive his sight, and not only was Saul filled with the Holy Spirit, but he was also baptized. It would be the conversion of Saul in the ninth chapter of the book of Acts that would be yet another turning point, for not only would his conversion be the conversion of the most notorious persecutor of the church at that time, but this great persecutor would also become the greatest missionary and evangelist the world has even seen or known outside of and apart from Jesus the Christ. It would be the conversion of this man named Saul who would later become known as Paul that would be a significant turning point in the history of the church of Jesus the Christ, for this one who previously tore down and destroyed the church would now establish churches throughout Asia among the Gentiles and would work to strengthen, edify and build up the church and body of Jesus the Christ. What’s more, is the apostle Paul—in his epistles written unto the Corinthian congregation in the first epistle, as well as his epistles unto the Ephesians and Colossians—wrote a great and significant amount concerning the church as being the body of Christ, and not only praying that the church might be edified and built up, but would also write of the great purpose of the church in the earth.

When you come to the tenth chapter of the book of Acts you will find a wonderful and remarkable turning point in the history of the early church, for it would be in the tenth chapter where you find an angel of the Lord appearing unto Cornelius a Roman centurion who dwelt in Caesarea, while the Holy Spirit spoke unto the apostle Peter who was abiding in Joppa by the great sea of the Mediterranean. It would be within the tenth chapter of the book of Acts that we find the apostle Paul coming into and unto the home of Cornelius a Roman centurion and Gentile, and not only preaching the word concerning Jesus the Christ unto him, but also unto his entire household and those who were present on this particular day. It would be on this day when the apostle Peter would enter into the home of the uncircumcised and would preach the word concerning Jesus the Christ. What’s more, is that it would be while the apostle Peter was speaking unto them concerning Jesus the Christ that the Holy Spirit would fall in that place and would fill each and every one those who were present, as they magnified the name of Jesus and the Father who was in heaven. It would be the events we find and read about in the tenth chapter of the book of Acts that would not only be a turning point for the early church, but would also be a turning point for the church which was in Jerusalem, as well as the leaders of the church—those who were of the circumcision—for they would initially question the apostle Peter’s entering into and going unto the home of the uncircumcised. What we find in the tenth chapter would immediately be followed in the eleventh chapter by the apostle Peter returning unto the city of Jerusalem and unto the church which was there in the city, and having to rehearse all that God had done in Caesarea, and how while he was speaking and preaching the word concerning Jesus the Christ, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, filled them, enabled them to speak with other tongues, and caused them to magnify the name of the Father who was in heaven. What’s more, is the apostle Peter would also rehearse the activity of the Holy Spirit—both in Joppa where he was abiding, as well as in Caesarea where Cornelius was praying and fasting—and how it was the divine will and work of the Holy Spirit which brought about the tremendous ministry unto the Gentiles. In all reality, it would be the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in the house of Cornelius that would begin to open the door and pave the way for the ministry and promise of the Holy Spirit to be manifested among and unto the Gentiles. I can’t say for certain whether or not Cornelius was the first Gentile convert to Christianity as Scripture reveals that he was a devout and righteous man, and that he devoted himself to praying and fasting. What we do know and what we do understand is that Cornelius and his entire household would in fact be the firstfruits of the Gentiles who would not only receive the word concerning Jesus the Christ, but would also receive the promise of the Father which was the Holy Spirit, as they would speak with other tongues and magnify the living God.

Moving on even further in the New Testament book of the Acts you will find another turning point and defining moment within the history of the early church, as it would be in the thirteenth and fourteenth chapters where you will find the Holy Spirit separating unto Himself Paul and Barnabas for the work whereunto they had been called. Paul and Barnabas would be separated from among the teachers and prophets—perhaps even from among the brethren—which were at the church in Antioch for the work whereunto the Holy Spirit had called them. It would be as a direct result of this appointment and ordination of the Holy Spirit that would lead to what we find and read in the thirteenth and fourteenth chapters, as the apostle Paul together with Barnabas would initially speak unto the Jews in their synagogues, but would ultimately and inevitably being preaching unto the Gentiles. Within these chapters you will find the Jews rejecting the word and message of the apostle Paul together with Barnabas, and how the apostle Paul would shake the dust off his feet and purpose within his heart and soul to preach the word concerning Jesus the Christ. Building upon that which the Holy Spirit had done in the house and life of Cornelius and his entire household and those with him, the word concerning Jesus the Christ would be preached among the Gentiles. While it would be true that Cornelius and his entire household would be the firstfruits of Gentiles and the promise of the Holy Spirit, it would be Cornelius and his household that would set the stage for the Gentiles not only hearing the word concerning Jesus the Christ, but also experiencing the promise of the Father which would be the Holy Spirit. By the time we come to the end of the fourteenth chapter of the book of Acts we find the apostle Paul together with Barnabas rehearsing all the wonderful things the Holy Spirit had opened unto them, and how the word of God was being preached among the Gentiles. This is quite intriguing for within the fourteenth chapter you will find the apostle Paul being stoned and brought of one of the cities being supposed to have been dead. As the disciples gathered round about the apostle Paul he rose from the place where he was lying and went back into the city exhorting the disciples and brethren that they must through much tribulation and through many trials enter into the kingdom of God. By the time the fourteenth chapter comes to an end it does so with the first apostolic and missionary journey of Paul having been completed, and his return unto the church in Antioch where he rehearsed all the Holy Spirit had wrought through their hands the ministry of the Holy Spirit which He invited them to be partakers in. What’s more, is that it would be the apostle Paul’s return unto the brethren in Antioch that would lead to and pave the way for the events which we find and read in the fifteenth chapter, for what is found in the fifteenth chapter is a direct result of the ministry unto which Paul and Barnabas had undertaken after the Holy Spirit had separated them for the work whereunto they had been called.

As you begin reading with and from the first verse of the fifteenth chapter you will find that certain men which had come down from Judaea taught the brethren, and declared unto them that except they be circumcised after the manner of Moses, they could not be saved. Of course this would be a direct contradiction to what the apostle Peter had experienced in Caesarea in the house of Cornelius, and even to what the apostle Paul and Barnabas experienced on their missionary and apostolic journey. The beloved physician Luke writes and records how when Paul and Barnabas had no small disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. As Paul and Barnabas were brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, and declared the conversion of the Gentiles, and as a result caused great joy unto all the brethren. After they reached Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and declared all things which God had done with them. It would be their witness and testimony concerning all the Holy Spirit had done among the Gentiles that there arose a certain number of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, and said that it was needful to circumcise them, and would command them to keep the law of Moses. It would this concept and idea that the Gentiles would need to be circumcised in order to somehow be saved and be accepted that caused the apostles and elders to come together to consider the matter. Apparently there arose such a great dispute regarding this matter, for it caused the apostle Peter to rise up in the midst of the assembly and rehearse unto them that which the Holy Spirit had wrought among the household of Cornelius and his entire household, and how the Holy Spirit was putting no distinction, nor was the Holy Spirit putting any difference between the Gentiles and the Jews, for He purified their hearts by faith. What’s more, is the apostle Peter would go on to ask them why they would tempt God by putting a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither their fathers nor themselves were able to bear. The apostle Peter would conclude his words by declaring unto them that he believed that through the grace of the Lord Jesus the Christ they would be saved as would the Gentiles who would not only receive the word concerning Jesus the Christ, but would also receive the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father who was in heaven. Luke goes on to write how all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them. What we find in the fifteenth chapter of the book of Acts is actually quite remarkable and astonishing, and is in all reality yet another turning point in the history of the church, for it would be here where the subject of Gentiles needing to be circumcised in order to be saved. There is not a doubt in my mind that what we find and read within this passage is yet another turning point, for it would be at this particular juncture in the history of the church where it would be determined whether or not Gentiles would need to be circumcised in order that they might be saved.

Upon reading the words which are found within this passage of Scripture I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the epistle which was written unto the churches in Galatia, for it would be in this epistle the subject matter of the followers of the way and the disciples of Jesus the Christ once more entangling them in the yoke of slavery and bondage would come be presented. In order to understand that which is found and written in the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts it is imperative that we come to the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the churches in Galatia, for it is within that epistle where the apostle Paul addresses legalism, hypocrisy, and even the disciples of Jesus Christ and the brethren subjecting themselves once more to the yoke of bondage and slavery. What’s more, is that this goes hand in hand with the words which Jesus the Christ spoke unto the Jews when He declared that “He whom the Son sets free is free indeed,” and that “you will know the truth, and the truth would set you free.” It was Jesus the Christ who declared that if He set you free you would be free indeed, and that if you knew the truth it would set you free, and I am convinced that it was this truth found in the words of Jesus the Christ the apostle Paul could write the way he did in the epistle which was written unto the saints which were among the churches in Galatia. Consider if you will the words which are found within this particular epistle concerning the saints of God and the brethren once more entangling themselves in a yoke of slavery, bondage and oppression—much like the children of Israel who after they had been delivered out of slavery, bondage and oppression in Egypt desired to return to Egypt when the struggle and conflict in the wilderness became too much for them to handle and bear. Beginning in the first chapter I invite you to follow the thread which is found in this epistle concerning the tremendous danger in subjecting yourself again to the yoke of bondage and slavery within your life:

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:6-10).

“Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them the gospel which I preached among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain. But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: and that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privilege to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: to whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person) for they who seemed to be so what in conference added nothing to me; but contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision was mighty in me toward the Gentiles) and when James, Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unot me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do” (Galatians 2:1-10).

“But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not upright according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all. If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid, For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressors. For I though the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in men: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain” (Galatians 2:11-21).

“O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been vide thy set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? Having begin in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Have ye suffered so many things in vain? If it be yet in vain. He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and wokreth miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, IN thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:1-14).

When we read the words which are found in the fifteenth chapter of the book of Acts we must consider it in light of that which we find in the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the epistle unto the churches in Galatia, for in the fifteenth chapter of the book of Acts we find certain of the brethren who came from Judaea, as well as certain of the Pharisees which believed declaring that it was necessary for Gentiles to be circumcised in order that they might be saved. The entire first half of the fifteenth chapter is about whether or not Gentiles needed to be circumcised in order that they might be saved, and it is this same subject that is present and prevalent within the epistle which Paul wrote unto the Galatians, as he marveled that they so quickly turned away from the gospel which was preached concerning Jesus the Christ, and how they would seek to once more entangle themselves in the yoke of slavery and bondage. What’s more, is that within this epistle the apostle Paul wrote how he even withstood the apostle Peter in Antioch, for before those who came from James in Jerusalem had come unto the church Peter ate with the Gentiles. Upon the arrival of those from Jerusalem the apostle Peter withdrew from among the Gentiles for fear of the Jews and what they would say concerning his manner of eating with Gentiles. We must remember that they even condemned and criticized Jesus for eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners. If we are going to truly understand that which is written and that which is found in the fifteenth chapter of the book of Acts we must understand it in terms of building up that which we have once destroyed, as well as understanding it concerning our once more seeking to entangle ourselves in a yoke of slavery and bondage. For those in the early church it was regarding the rite of circumcision and the need for Gentiles to be circumcised, however, for us in this generation it might be something entirely different. Perhaps the single greatest question that must be asked when considering this reality is what are you building up which you perhaps once destroyed—or, what have you begun to tore down that as much as you try tearing it down you continue to build it back up? What’s more, is we must ask ourselves what we are once more subjecting ourselves to in terms of that which entangles us in a yoke of slavery, bondage and oppression. Are we allowing ourselves to be entangled and ensnared in those things which we have perhaps already been delivered from, or from new things which we are permitting ourselves to become entangled in? Are we guilty of rebuilding those things which we have once torn down and have great need of deliverance and freedom in the person of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.

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