Irvin Wasswa- Tylertown Campus Pastor LHBC
But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question. 3 So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers.[a] 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they declared all that God had done with them. 5 But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.”
6 The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. 7 And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. 10 Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”
God was on the move in the world in the beginning of the first century! At the beginning of Acts 15 we see that Paul and Barnabus had the privilege to be able to see non-Jewish folks (Gentiles) come to faith in Jesus. They were able to experience the great news that the Gospel was not just for one group of people, but rather was for all mankind. However, in the midst of the celebration of God at work, we see a group of who I like to call “Fuddy Duddys” who come to squash the moment of celebration. They came into their own authority proclaiming that the Gentile Christians were not actually true christians due to not following Jewish tradition of circumcision. As a result Peter and Barnabus go before the council and share with them how the TRUTH of the Gospel message triumphs over TRADITION.
If we are not careful as believers we can call into the same trap the religious elite fell into with confusing truth with tradition. The religious leaders could not understand how these Gentiles could be truly saved without following the known Jewish law of the day. In their mind their tradition was what they held as truth whereas Paul and Barnabus expounded upon the real truth of the Good News that a person is saved not based on what they do (circumcision) but rather by the grace of God through what He did (sent Jesus to die on a cross).
Our tradition may say that we ought to sing certain songs at church, but the TRUTH says that we are called to make a joyful noise to the Lord (Psalm 100). Our tradition may say that we aren’t supposed to connect with THAT person that comes to the church or share the Gospel with that person, but the TRUTH says that everyone on this side of eternity has the opportunity to come to faith if they repent and believe (John 3:16). God’s truth triumphs over our tradition.
So what does this mean for us? We must choose to understand that although there are some good traditions out there, they become a problem when we exalt them as truth. We must choose to search our heart, study the scriptures, and have a clear understanding for what the truth of God actually is. God is bigger than our traditions, and He is able to do more than what we can ever think or imagine He can do. He can save that person far from God. He can use that person no one expected He could use. Our God is able! So choose not to let the traditions of old in your life keep you from acknowledging that truth and celebrating His work!
Here is the question: What “traditions” are you holding onto in your life that you are choosing to allow to substitute for the truth of the Lord today? Choose to let it go. Don’t be like the Pharisees who loved their tradition so much they missed out on Jesus, but instead choose to lean into the truth of God and rejoice in His work, for the truth triumphs over tradition.
PRAYER FOR TODAY: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for saving a sinner like me! Thank you for your grace and mercy. Help me today to lay down the idols of tradition in my life that keep me from seeing and celebrating Your truth and Your movement in and around me. In Jesus’ name, Amen!
MEMORY VERSE OF THE WEEK:
1 John 3:18
Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.