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. 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. 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.” [acts 15:3-5]


great joy


there is a great joy that comes with being sent, and great joy in hearing the reports of those who have been sent. from the beginning, the church has been commissioned to send those who are called to share the gospel to the ends of the earth.


the church was filled with great joy when hearing of the Holy Spirit doing a work they didn’t know was possible – that non-jews were accepting the Messiah and becoming part of what had until now been a jewish church. what had separated the jews from other nations would now unite all people to the one true God!

when God grabs the hearts of those we least expect, it is a cause for celebration and rejoicing!


the party of the pharisees


but not everyone was so sure about this…


we often see the pharisees as the ‘bad guys’.  yet these are believing jews who had accepted their Messiah, yet couldn’t imagine leaving behind the traditions that had defined their people for centuries.


surely followers of the jewish Messiah should keep the jewish law….right?


this kind of debate happens in churches all around the world today: are our traditions and ceremonies what define us as a people and as a church? or is it Jesus and Jesus alone?


far too often, these debates lead us to painful arguments and divisions. the pharisees were right in that these laws were part of God’s covenant with Israel and held deep meaning.


but that covenant, and that meaning, had now been fulfilled. through the work of Jesus, that contract was complete.


in the church age, these rules and regulations are no longer required. the law had only pointed to Jesus, and now that He had come and left us His Holy Spirit, He would inwardly change us forever, renewing our hearts and minds, making His dwelling within us. yet some still tried in vain to embrace the new while still grasping the old.


this wrong view of traditions would continue to trouble the church, and it still does today. let us rejoice in the good work that God is doing in and around us, and reject any teaching that adds requirements to the true freedom that is the Gospel!



~ jason soroski