#Rescue From Religion

Daily Reading: Acts 15:1-5 also read Galatians 2.

“Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the believers very glad. When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them. Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.”

The identity of these Judaizers is provided in Acts 6:7; Acts 15:5, where it is made clear that they were priests of the sect of the Pharisees who had accepted the gospel, but were unwilling to give up the customs and ceremonies of Judaism.

To see in more detail how this situation of Acts 15 occurred we first need to study Galatians 2:1.

Paul focused teaching the Gospel. “I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles.” Gospel/(euaggelion) the glad tidings of salvation through Christ; the proclamation of the grace of God manifest and pledged in Christ. This is clearly in stark contrast to what “certain people” were teaching that “unless you are circumcised, you cannot be saved.”

We have an illustration of a grace preacher compared to a teacher of the law. The enemy would like to do nothing better (since he can’t touch your salvation), than to take your freedom in Christ and make you slaves to religious law (Galatians 2:4).

Do you know where the word religion comes from? It comes from the Latin word religare, which means “to tie, to bind.” Religion will try and bind you as a slave, but the relationship you have with Christ has set you free from religion (the works of the Law).

We have been given another picture of grace versus law, in the Greek word for freedom itself (eleutheria): liberty to do or omit things having no relationship to salvation. If you are not circumcised it doesn’t matter it makes no difference to your salvation you are in Christ (Titus) is an example (Galatians 2:3).

Different people are called to preach the Gospel in different places and to different people groups (Galatians 2:7). The point is not is the person circumcised or not circumcised- the point is that the message of the Gospel (the glad tidings of salvation through Christ; the proclamation of the grace of God manifest and pledged in Christ) is preached to all people.

See, the false teachers claimed to be of James and have James’ approval in the message they taught. Paul actually had the blessing of James- meaning the message of grace is the true Gospel the other is a counterfeit (Galatians 2:9).

Paul shares the true Gospel- Peter, Barnabas, and James once again find their freedom in Christ (Acts 15:7-21).



# Set Free

Daily Reading: Acts 26:1-3

“Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.” So Paul motioned with his hand and began his defense: “King Agrippa, I consider myself fortunate to stand before you today as I make my defense against all the accusations of the Jews, and especially so because you are well acquainted with all the Jewish customs and controversies. Therefore, I beg you to listen to me patiently.”

Freedom isn’t determined by our situation but by our position and our spiritual birthright.

The blessing of all of Paul’s legal trouble- is that he got to give his testimony to the whole Jewish Sanhedrin, just like Jesus said he would—”they will arrest you and this will be a time for testimony” (Luke 21:12). The persecution sets up the time for the testimony. God has gospel purposes in all the trials of our lives. Put on those gospel shoes of peace (Ephesians 6:15) with the readiness to move with the gospel wherever God leads you.

“I consider myself fortunate” (Hēgeomai)- think (Makarios)- happy blessed.  The way we recognize our freedom is to think about how truly blessed we are in Christ (Acts 26:2).

We change our mind for the better [Acts 26:20] (repent/ metanoia) as we walk away from sin because we are captivated by Someone, infinitely better. The revelation that Jesus is lovely and God is good and He thinks we’re special, causes the things of this world to grow strangely dim.

The world may look at your situation and feel sorry for you (Acts 26:32), but sometimes the persecution you face is the exact thing that leads you to present the Gospel and share your freedom story.


Fishermen Need Two Things

Daily Reading: Mark 1:17 & John 17:25-26

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me.  I have you’re your name known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

As believers in Jesus Christ, equipped with the good news of the Gospel we not only share a common mission, we succeed at our mission in the same way even though the mission might be accomplished in a variety of God lead ways.

In Matthew 28:19 Jesus very clearly, and plainly lays out our mission. Jesus had already resurrected from the grave at this point and is about to ascend into heaven and He has specific instructions to His disciples of what the mission is and who the mission is for.

  • When the mission began: right after Jesus ascension to heaven (see Acts 2).
  • Who is the mission for: His disciples- (mathétés) a follower of Christ who learns the doctrines of Scripture.
  • What is the mission? Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
  • The Promise of the Mission:

We partake in the mission with all authority in Jesus’ name. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

We do not go at it alone. “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

So, if you live after Jesus’ ascension into heaven (every single person living on this planet now) and you are a follower of Christ who learns the doctrines of Scripture your mission is Matthew 28:19-20.

Mark 1:17:

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”

  • The promise for followers of Jesus, is that He will send you to fish for people (Mark 1:17).
  • The timing for a non-follower of Jesus to come to Him is now because “follow me” (deute) means come now (Mark 1:17).
  • “Follow me” is an invitation of grace to take Jesus’ offer by faith. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9).
  • Our mission is a fishing one (Mark 1:17), but only time with Jesus will lead you to successfully fish (John 15:4-5).

The common denominator in the calling of the twelve is simply to follow Jesus. Because as we come to Christ He (poieō) make us, produces, bears, prepares, causes, carries out, forms or fashions us to fish for people.

Fisherman Need:

#1 Time with Jesus as this is what leads to fishing for people (Mark 1:17).

                      Which gives us a

#2 revelation that God is our Loving Heavenly Daddy (John 17:25-26).



Song of Salvation

Daily Reading: Psalm 50:14-15

“Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”

Psalm 50 is an image of a courtroom scene painted for us. Once the scene is established (in verses 1–7), there comes the indictment, the sentence, the rationale or explanation for the indictment and sentence, the prescribed correction, and a statement of the ultimate goal that the judge is trying to accomplish in this trial. This leads us to our text verses fourteen and fifteen.

Verses fourteen and fifteen seek to answer:

“What should we do if we have fallen into the worldly mindset that treats our possessions as though they were ours and treat God as though He is somehow poor and deficient without us?

  • Sacrifice thank offerings to God
  • Fulfill your vows
  • Call on God in the day of trouble

This is a weighted theological statement and you might be surprised these three things have nothing to do with the Law. This applies to us living in the New Covenant as well and it is different then what we would glean from the English definitions of these words.

  1. Sacrifice thank offerings to God (Praise the Judge)

In the Hebrew the definition means to (give praise to God) interesting thing is that ‘elohiym is used which means true God but can also mean Judge.

  1. Pay Your Vows to the Most High (Have Faith Be at Peace)

(shalam)- to be in a covenant of peace. If you have the corrected mindset that everything good that I have has been given to me by God I can be at peace when things happen to me and “my” stuff.

  1. Call upon God in the Day of Trouble (Depend on and Honor Him)

What God desires- Is that we would give him praise, be at peace. Verse 15 is the answer to the why? If we see that what we have God gave us, and we are at peace because of this when trouble comes we will call upon God.

“I will deliver you” (chalats)to remove, draw out, draw off, take off, withdraw, equip (for war), arm for war, rescue, be rescued.  Isn’t this such a great word. Sometimes God pulls you out of ridiculously toxic environments. Other times He decides to see you through it, so breathe in my grace and we will walk victoriously through this together.

“You will honor me” How? When you call upon Me in your trouble.

Honor/(kabad)- to be heavy, be weighty.

When you call on the Lord in your time of trouble, you do so by giving more weight to God as your deliverer then you do the challenge of your dire situation.

Four Applications of Psalm 50:14-15 For Us

  1. Keep God Great in Your Eyes
  2. Believe His Promises
  3. Call on the Lord (Pray)
  4. Glorify God and Sing a Song of Salvation

Place your hope in the provisions of God [Christ Jesus] and your heart will sing God’s praises (Psalm 71:14).