|Acts 15 |
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1 Now certain men who came down from Judea taught the brothers saying, "Unless you are circumcised in accordance with the manner of Moses, you cannot be saved."
2 Therefore when Paul and Barnabas had great dissension and dispute with them, the brothers decided that Paul and Barnabas and some others should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders about this question.
3 So being sent on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, telling of the conversion of the Gentiles, bringing great joy to all the brothers.1
4 And when they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and elders, and they described all the things that God had done with them.
5 But certain men of the sect of the Pharisees who were believers said, "It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses."
6 Then the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter.
7 And when there had been much discussion, Peter rose up and said to them, "Men and brothers, you know that a good while ago God made a choice from among us that the Gentiles might hear the word of the gospel by my mouth and believe.
8 And God, who knows the hearts, bore witness to them, giving them the Holy Spirit even as he did to us;
9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.2 [Little by little each spoken word from Him that you hear is engrafted into your heart and imparts the life of God to you making you a little more pure.]
10 Now therefore why do you tempt God by putting a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
11 But we believe that through the grace of the LORD Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they will be."
12 Then all the people kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul describing what miracles and wonders God had done among the Gentiles by them.
13 And when they had finished talking, James answered saying, "Men and brothers, listen to me.
14 Peter has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.
15 And the words of the prophets agree to this, as it is written:
16 'After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; and I will build again the ruins of it, and I will raise it up,
17 So that the remnant of men might seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who does all these things.'
18 He has made these things known from the beginning of the world.
19 Therefore my judgment is, that we not trouble those from among the Gentiles who have turned to God;
20 But that we write to them, that they should abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.
21 For Moses has been preached from ancient times in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath day."
22 Then the apostles and elders with the whole church sent chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brothers.
23 And they sent letters by them after this manner: "The apostles, elders and brothers send greeting to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia.
24 Since we have heard that certain men 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;
25 It seemed good to us, being all in agreement, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
26 Men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
27 Therefore we have sent Judas and Silas, who will also tell you the same things by mouth.
28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things:
29 That you abstain from foods sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from sexual immorality.3 For if you keep yourselves free from these things, you will do well. Farewell." [Only sexual immorality still applies to most modern cultures. The Word of the Lord within spoke to sexual immorality being the one surviving rule that applies to today's Christians just starting the journey out of darkness to a sinless state.So you could say, avoiding sexual immorality is the one big rule you must follow in the beginning. And yet, most who name themselves Christians are watching television shows, movies, and DVD's, which promote sexual immorality; reading books and magazines that celebrate sexual immorality; visiting porno web sites, and much worse.]
30 So when they were sent off, they came to Antioch; and when they had gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter,
31 Which they rejoiced over when they had read it, for the encouragement it brought.
32 And Judas and Silas who were prophets themselves, exhorted the brothers with many words, and strengthened them.
33 And after they had stayed there awhile, they were sent back by the brothers with peace to the apostles.
34 But it seemed good to Silas to remain there.
35 And Paul and Barnabas also remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others.
36 Then some days later, Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us go again and visit our brothers in every city where we have preached the word of the LORD, and see how they are."
37 Now Barnabas wanted to take John, whose surname was Mark with them.
38 But Paul did not think it was good to take him, since he had left them in Pamphylia, and did not go on with them in the work.
39 And the disagreement was so sharp between them, that they separated from one another; so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus;
40 And Paul chose Silas and departed, being committed by the brothers to the grace of God.
41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
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1 the conversion of the Gentiles, bringing great joy to all the brothers. The conversion of which this speaks is to have become convinced that the God of Israel and His Son Jesus Christ is the one true God, being manifestations of the same Spirit. These Gentiles believed in different gods altogether, and so to have them turn their attention to the one true God and receive His favor of being drawn, was a cause of joy to the Christian Jews. Those converted in their beliefs had become convinced, but had not been saved, had not been freed from sin, had not been born again — nothing of the sort for even demons believe in the one true God and that Jesus is the Son of God. Hearing Peter preach words that were provided by the Holy Spirit, their hearts were quickened: made alive to then receive a mini-baptism of the Holy Spirit, which was the equivalent of having been called through a spiritual experience that gave them evidence of the validity of the one true God and a hunger for more of Him through His Son, Jesus Christ; they were drawn by the Father to seek Jesus within their hearts.
They were simply on the beginning path of the journey to salvation, union, and the kingdom. They were like those added to the Church in Jerusalem who were being saved, providing they stayed the course to the end through waiting on God and obedience to the spoken words of the Spirit of Christ within their hearts. Unfortunately when Christianity had become Babylon, (shortly after John had prophesied it), conversion took on a new meaning: the false salvation attained by believing in Jesus and/or being water baptized. In many cases those converted by Spanish priests with accompanying soldiers were forced into slavery, serving the Spanish missions.
The word conversion was twisted into one of many man-made doctrines and fables of Babylon's Christianity that made it easier to think that when you died you would go to heaven just because you believed in Jesus or had been water baptized. Babylon's merchants point to Matthew 18:3, "Truly I say to you that unless you turn around and become like little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven;" in which a few Bibles have translated "turn around" as "converted" despite the Greek clearly stating to turn around or change your conduct. The description is qualified that "unless you turn and become like little children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven;" which means you must become innocent once again like little children and free of sin to enter heaven. Every man is defiled until his heart has been cleansed, washed inside and outside with pure holy water, and purified through the inward cross of self-denial that crucifies the sinful nature of man. Joining a sect, saying you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, saying any prayer, getting baptized in water, eating bread and drinking grape juice or wine, does nothing to change a man's defilement; and so he remains unfit to enter the kingdom of heaven.
The false doctrine of conversion disregards salvation's many exclusions, requirements, and the qualifying conditions — the fine print of the contract that the fast-talking salesmen, (preachers not called, not taught by the Holy Spirit, not authorized, not perfected, not sent, not speaking works from the Spirit of God), gloss over with smooth talk and slick speeches that deceive the hearts of the simple. Those same slick-talking preachers, (Babylon's merchants), then tell their converts that they are saved from Hell, leaving them still in their sins, thus twice as fit for Hell as the salesman-preacher, Mat 23:15. This leaves converts living in the lusts of their flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the thoughts of their minds, just like the rest of men, walking according to the flesh, whose aim is satisfying things of the flesh: their lusts, desires, affections, pleasures, pride, anger, vanity, fear, worries, plans, etc. The salesmen-preachers don't even think there is anything beyond being their definition of converted except to-study-the-scriptures. They are enemies of the cross, falsely teaching that the cross is not necessary; and so their converts continue to sin and thus remain slaves to sin, John 8:34, doomed to be banished from heaven when they die.
The early Quakers described this beginning step in the journey to salvation as being convinced. To be convinced meant to have become certain of the true gospel and the way of the cross required for salvation, but not to have received salvation itself. All of these newly convinced early Quakers had previously been devout readers of the Bible, professed that Jesus was the Son of God, had been baptized, attended sect services, etc.; but they were all still captive to sin, and they knew there had to be a way to become free of even the desire to sin. When they heard the way of the cross proclaimed to become pure, to become free of sin, their hearts bore witness to that truth; so they joined with others seeking to become free of sin, by waiting in humble silence to hear from the Teacher within, to obey Him, and to receive his changing grace that taught them to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and how to live soberly, righteously, godly in their world then; to be redeemed from all iniquity, and purified — and to then have a zeal for good works that are energized and prompted by God. This process, from convincement to purity, required them to continue working out their salvation over time with fear and trembling. Because they trembled in the presence of God's Spirit working on their hearts, showing them their sins, convicting them of the secrets in their hearts, they trembled — or quaked — thus they became known as Quakers.
Newly convinced Quakers, while enjoying the name of Quaker, were not allowed to participate in any decision making process of the Quaker Assemblies until apostasy entered their ranks. From the Word of the Lord within: "by 1880, the entire substance of the Quaker faith had disappeared."
Every man starts in spiritual darkness, walking in darkness, without the guidance of God's light. The light shines in the darkness, exposing our sins. After obedient repentance and after many revelations of hearing His word within our hearts, God causes his light to shine out of darkness to give us the light of knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus. George Fox in The Light Explained writes that those who are truly converted see the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus, defining a much higher distinction of converted vs. unconverted:
This the true light that enlightens every man that comes into the world, which light shines in darkness, and darkness knows it not.
Now mark, it is there. What? Does it shine in darkness, and yet darkness does not comprehend it? Is this not the state in which the world did not know him, and the Pharisees did not know him, though the Kingdom of heaven was within them, Luke 17:21. And light shined in darkness, and darkness comprehended it not; here is the unconverted state. So he came to his own, and his own received him not; light shines in darkness, and darkness comprehends it not. For once you were darkness said the Apostle, Eph 5:8. but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of the light. Now mark, there was a time of darkness, but now they were light in the Lord. Now here were the converted and the unconverted. These were to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. The light shines in darkness, though darkness does not comprehend it, and you were at sometime darkness, and light shines in darkness, and darkness does not comprehend it; this defines the unconverted state, and the converted estate.
God has commanded light to shine out of darkness, and has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Now mark, here is light that shines out of darkness. God had commanded it to shine out of darkness. What? Was it not there before? Now it has come forth; before it was in darkness, light shined in darkness, and God has commanded it to shine out of darkness, and before you were darkness, but are the light of the Lord, which light that shines in the heart, gives the light of the knowledge of the glory of God; here is the converted state. Now while light shines in darkness, and darkness does not comprehend it, there is the unconverted state, 2 Cor 4:4-6, John 1:5.
The apostle was sent to turn people from the darkness to the light, from the power of Satan to God. Now this was the state of preaching to them while they were in darkness, whom the God of the world had blinded their eyes. They preached so that the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ should shine in them. Mark, shine in them. Therefore the god of the world has blinded the eye of the mind, and to such the Gospel is hidden. For darkness cannot comprehend the light, while the god of the world has blinded your minds. Therefore the Apostle was sent to turn them from darkness to the light, light shines in darkness. So the god of the world has blinded them, lest the light of the glorious Gospel should shine in them. Now where it shines in the heart, it gives the knowledge of the glory of God, where it comes forth. And where it shines in darkness, and darkness comprehends it not, there is the god of the world that has blinded the mind, and to such the Gospel is hidden, which is the power of God; and the light of the glorious Gospel is not comprehended, which is the image of God; and it does not shine in them, to give them the light of the knowledge of God. Now as such are turned to the light, the eye comes to be opened, and from the darkness these come; and these come from the power of Satan, the god of the world, that has blinded their eye, that the light of the glorious Gospel shines in them, to give them the light of the knowledge of the glory of God. To such the Gospel is not hidden, by the manifestation of the Truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. Now here is the state not turned from the darkness to the light, and their eye is not opened; then the god of the world has blinded them. Such are in the unconverted state. To the unconverted, the Gospel is hidden, though light shines in darkness, and the god of the world blinds their minds. So this is the time those, who are darkness, are not yet turned from the darkness, and the darkness does not comprehend the light. Now where God has commanded the light to shine out of darkness; (mark, out of darkness), such come to be turned from the darkness to the light, such witness conversion, and the image of God shines in them.
2 Notice! Purify your hearts by faith! Faith enough to persistently and patiently go to Christ to sit in humble silence and wait, listen, watch, hear, and obey — repetitively until you see Christ appear within you, bringing your salvation. Paul speaks of faith as: being obedient to the leading of the Spirit. See Footnotes 3 and 4 to Gal 3:24-25. Such obedient faith can definitely result in the purifying of your heart. Little by little each spoken word from Him that you hear is engrafted into your heart and imparts the life of God to you making you a little more pure.
3 That you abstain from foods sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. Only sexual immorality still applies to most modern cultures. Foods sacrificed to idols occurred in pagan religious rituals. From blood refers to drinking blood, which was common in pagan religious rituals; wherever found, this practice has religious overtones and though rare, still exists in some cultures including some Appalachian pig farmers in the USA that drink a cup of swine blood at slaughter time. Foods sacrificed to idols was food that had been offered as a sacrifice in pagan idol's temples. Things strangled was also a practice of pagan religious sacrifices. The Word of the Lord within spoke to sexual immorality being the one surviving rule that applies to today's Christians just starting the journey out of darkness to a sinless state. The other practices mentioned no longer exist, at least in modern western cultures. So you could say, avoiding sexual immorality is the one big rule you must follow in the beginning. And yet, most who name themselves Christians are watching television shows, movies, and DVD's, which promote sexual immorality; reading books and magazines that celebrate sexual immorality; visiting porno web sites, and much worse.
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