They wrote this letter by them: The apostles, the elders, and the brethren, To the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia:
Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, "You must be circumcised and keep the law"---to whom we gave no such commandment---it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to
send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy
Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.
Fridays with the Apostle Paul
What does the Holy Spirit say? This is the focus of the apostles' words as they convey their decision.
Many of the Jewish Christians had ideas about what should be required of the Gentiles that were beginning to fill their churches. And Paul and Barnabas had a different set of ideas, cultivated from their work among these former outsiders. Of course, the
apostles' own background and Jewish ideals were likely some pretty loud voices in their thoughts too.
But what does the Holy Spirit say?
The wisdom of their decision underscores how critical it was to hear God's voice in this matter. Because of their decision, the Gospel spread rapidly toward the ends of the earth. Millions would embrace the life Christ offered, something that probably
wouldn't have happened if the restrictions of the Jewish Law were attached. They opened their hearts to God and He spoke just what they needed.
In our own situations, turning from the voice around us and even our own thoughts is critical if we are to hear God's voice clearly. His wisdom exceeds and often contradicts our own. We must hear Him clearly to walk the path He has for our lives.
Our best question should always be, "What does the Holy Spirit say?"
---Dr. Mike Clarensau serves as Senior Director of the Healthy Church Network
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National Men's Ministries
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