The Jerusalem Letter

Open Your Bible

Acts 15:1-35, Romans 2:17-24, Galatians 5:1

I couldn’t tell you the date or anything else about it, but I know this: I was six years old when I first acknowledged a desire to follow Jesus. I’m not sure any first grader would know entirely what she was getting herself into, but I prayed a prayer and was baptized one morning at my small Christian school.

That was over thirty years ago. I’ve been trying to figure out the way of Jesus ever since.

Becoming a Christian isn’t a one time prayer experience that fills our brains with knowledge and our hearts with constant joy. It’s an ongoing process of learning and unlearning, wrestling and seeking our way toward greater freedom. When we look all the way back to the beginning of the church, we see the very first Jesus-followers having the same experience. The Twelve walked and talked with Jesus, then worked to share His story and build His Church. As people from an array of non-Jewish cultures joined the fold, new believers had to contend with a huge question: “What must we do to be saved?”

When a particularly confusing debate arose in Antioch over the need for Gentile believers to adopt Jewish traditions, the apostles and elders gathered in Jerusalem to work it out. The Jerusalem Council was a time to debate and search Scripture, all in an effort to discern the true essentials of following Jesus. I love how Peter expresses the heart of God in his speech to the council: “He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. Now then, why are you testing God by putting a yoke on the disciples’ necks that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear?” (Acts 15:9–10).

In a diverse, growing community, Peter stands up for the newcomers who don’t have the insider knowledge of Jewish culture. Bringing all nations into the family is what Jesus commissioned them to do, after all. Paul and Barnabas back it up with exciting stories from their missionary travels. James advocates for a simple way, because “we should not cause difficulties for those among the Gentiles who turn to God” (v.19).

Doesn’t this feel freeing? Following Jesus was never meant to be burdensome, and it’s certainly not meant to erase the incredible diversity of the kingdom. It’s a narrow way, true, but a narrow way marked by freedom (Galatians 5:1).

The result of this conversation was the Jerusalem Letter, a loving message to Gentile believers, written to ease their confusion and give clear direction. It was clearly what they needed to hear, because, “when they read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement” (Acts 15:31). Not only that, the council sent leaders to these churches to offer them presence and guidance. There is always more to learn and room to grow, but, thank God, we don’t have to do it alone.

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39 thoughts on "The Jerusalem Letter"

  1. Sarah Morrison says:


  2. Kim Thompson says:

    Me too!!! I’m 2 weeks behind and need to be starting the new one tomorrow!

  3. Ashley Bishop says:


  4. Amy Bishop says:

    I am behind in this study. I don’t know why I have slacked and not kept up.

  5. Heather Stalnaker says:

    I don’t post much, but oh my gracious, I am always so encouraged by the heart and community here at SRT. Sisters, thank you for sharing your hearts and taking time to encourage and build each other up. Today’s reading is something I never remember reading before, though I was certain I had read through Acts before! It is so exciting to me to read new things in Scripture and see how God touches individual hearts with His own message for them. Blessings, Ladies! Have a beautiful day!

  6. Beverly Watley says:


  7. Sky Hilton says:

    Thank you, dear sisters, for the prayers for me. I will definitely pray for you!

    I love how Acts forces us to deal, and rebuke our own forms of idolatry. It forces us to take responsibility of our own actions and forces us to acknowledge that sin, and repent of it. I believe everyone needs to do that. Not only that, but Acts has us correct the sin of idolatry by inspiring us to put God in the center of our world. Simply put, Acts inspires us with the horrors and consequences of idolatry to never commit that. It’s better to go to Jesus when we think about sinning, and put Him in the center of everything, then risking doing the sin itself, and suffering the punishment.

    Acts 15: 18 seems to me as being a very comforting verse. “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.” This means that God knows what He is doing.. and we don’t need to worry about His plans for our life! It will all fall into place.

    I also like how the Romans sections says “Practice what you preach”. If only so many people did that!

    Goodnight dear sisters.. God be with you

  8. Jennifer Anapol says:


  9. Jennifer Anapol says:

    God just wants our hearts. ❤️ I believe that is what he has always wanted.

  10. AG says:

    I am thankful for this group and these studies to help me continue to learn and grow in my faith!

  11. Michelle Patire says:

    Angie! Thank you for sharing your testimony! That is amazing! I’m thankful to know you learned the way of grace :)

    God bless you all, today!

  12. Traci Gendron says:

    The devotion is always so good! “Following Jesus was never meant to be burdensome. It’s a narrow way, but a narrow way marked by freedom” I think when I was young, I did not want to give up things to follow God’s way. How sad is that. I have learned there is so much freedom in following Christ.

  13. Jessica L. says:

    How freeing is it to know that God’s promises and love for us aren’t earned. I’ve known this since I was a child, but there are still days when I don’t feel like I’m enough. I’m not enough on my own, but I am enough in Him.

  14. Terri says:

    It is so awesome the ease we can now have such a deep personal relationship with God! As in Acts 15:9-10 they had a todo list of rules that they couldn’t keep in order to be saved. Now our to do list is of the heart and attitude. To do list is to LOVE the Lord thy God. Second on to do list is to LOVE thy neighbor. In ways much easier than before. Sometimes much harder. But oh so much more personal.

  15. Victoria E says:

    Such inspiring comments today! Kelly, Maura, Angie, thank you for sharing! ERB praise God Revel is better ! Maura, Lexi B, Jane K, Mari V, Claire B, and all who are continuing to pray for me thank you! I think I might have felt a little kick last night? Next week is 20 weeks , by God’s grace ! His grace is indeed amazing.

  16. Dorothy says:

    What a powerful, powerful message. Once we have accepted Christ as our Savior and receive the Holy Spirit, we DON’T have to do ANYTHING alone ever again. All we have to do is reach out and ask for help from our heavenly Father, Christ and the Holy Spirit. This is so wonderful and calming to know. I know where my help comes from, do you know where yours come form?
    Have blessed, wonderful and glorious day sisters.

  17. NanaK says:

    Like many of you, I did not grow up with “unconditional love,” but instead felt that I always needed to do more—be more to win acceptance and love at home and elsewhere. But God— so full of grace, through the unconditional love of my Savior has shown me that NOTHING I “do” would ever be enough to “earn” what He so freely gives! So much is ingrained in us ( good or bad) but over time I’ve come to understand that any of my insecurities or feelings of inadequacy are from satan trying to deter my relationship and acceptance of the unconditional love Jesus has for me. As Jen said in our devotion, “ There is always more to learn and room to grow, but THANK GOD! (Emphasis mine) we don’t have to do it alone.” Amen!!!
    Thank you all who prayed for my back and trip to see our daughter and grandkids in Texas. With a heating pad, ice and prayers ( not necessarily in that order), I had a nice visit. Your continued prayers for my back to heal are appreciated! Happy Tuesday Sisters!

  18. Cynthia Johnston says:


  19. Cindy Hanna says:

    @Angie. Thank you for sharing. I loved hearing your faith filled memories and thoughts.❤️

  20. Mari V says:

    Agree with our devotion today, there’s always room to learn and grow. Even 37 years later I’m still learning and still growing. So thankful for OUR very patient God who loves me beyond my own understanding. May I show that same patience with others especially to the unbeliever. I am nothing without Christ. He is my all in all!

  21. Christen Plough says:

    This is an amazing message! Not only of God wanting to share is love and gospel with everyone but also as a believer who was saved young and is on her journey in Christ!

  22. Rhonda j. says:

    What a good word today. I also am amazed I have never heard a sermon on the Jerusalem prayer. I agree that even today so many religions have rules and “regulations” to follow to be a member of their church. This past Sunday one of the new churches I was trying talked of this same thing. They are doing a study on Colossians. It was very good and filling. I had taken a friend with me that doesn’t really believe in organized religion, and I think it not only spoke to her, but all of us. I think sometimes though the problem is that it puts God up there for us, but not to utilize the Holy Spirit daily and want to do better because of His guidance and a love and relationship with Him. Like Angie said, it is a life-long, growing experience to draw closer to Jesus. It’s hard for us that have been saved from an early age. I can’t even get along with my husband, let alone trying to love others that I don’t align up with! lol.
    Have a good day She’s!

  23. Susie H says:

    KELLY, love your remarks!

  24. Lauren says:

    In His own words, Jesus said, “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” Those in the early church who were still bent on “burdening” new Gentile believers with adherence to the old Laws, must not have yet understood what happened at Calvary. Peter and company showed exemplary leadership and faithfulness to the gospel by admonishing that thinking and declaring the Truth in the face of worldly stubbornness.
    Sometimes our modern churches “require” adherence to their way of thinking and acting before people are welcomed. If the church is not the open arms place for the sinner, the broken, the confused, the suffering then where? The good news of salvation through Jesus is for everyone, anywhere, anytime, whoever they are, whatever they are, whatever they’ve done. All who are weary and burned.

  25. Janie Diffly says:

    Wonderful message. We are not to be “stumbling blocks” to anyone in their search for Truth!

  26. Searching says:

    SKY – praying for your mother & sister
    CANDACE – praying for your church and the search for a new pastor.
    VICTORIA E – praying for you and your little one and the upcoming ultrasound
    ERB – glad to hear Revel is better today
    MARI V – praying for your work situation
    MELANIE B – praying for your husband, for the Truth to become clear to him

  27. Sarah Ritchie says:

    Just beautiful.

  28. ERB says:

    TRACI GENDRON, LEXI B, BEVERLY WATLEY, MAURA and all you other ladies who prayed for my dog Revel!! She is doing MUCH better today!!! Still not quite her old energetic self but she is well on her way!!! My heart is SO relieved and HAPPY!!! Thank you dear ladies for your prayers on her behalf!!! ❤️

  29. Aimee D-R says:

    Father God, thank you for making Your yoke easy and burden light. I need your grace and mercy all the days of my life. In Jesus name, Amen

  30. Elaine Morgan says:

    I wonder why I never hear of the Jerusalem letter being preached in a sermon. Today’s lesson was so encouraging! I would think we would know it by heart so I am really perplexed about why I can’t remember ever hearing it before. I am so grateful for this timely message today! Good News!! Love you sisters! ❤️

  31. Melanie B says:

    So encouraging for me today! “We should not cause difficulties for those among the gentle who turn to God” hallelujah!

  32. Taylor says:

    Sitting in awe of the gift of salvation that is found in nothing but Jesus <3

  33. Angie says:

    I grew up in a very strong, earn-it-or-you-lose-it home. Everything was conditional. It raised a very hard worker, who was never enough. As a high school graduate, I worked for a year to earn money to start college and enrolled at a Christian school. I wanted/needed to see if there was anyone that really followed after this thing called “faith in Jesus.” When the focus is on earning, no one measures up. There is always something more you need to make you a little better. But God. During college He showed me people who loved Him in heart and depth of soul. God was healing me, little by little. As a young wife and mother I realized that I couldn’t keep up with a constant need to be “more.” It was as a 30 year old that Jesus became LORD of my life. Everything. Sovereign. It was the most beautiful time. Freeing. Full in suffering. Full in joy. Full in the daily. Full in faith. Time passed. Thirty years later now. I think I should have it altogether, and realize I do not. Do I still try – of course, but not because I think I need to earn my God’s love. Jesus paid the price for my salvation, once and for all. He is fully enough and loves me as I am. Do I want to live for Him, obey and serve Him – yes in my whole heart and soul-but, out of relationship and love not duty or requirement. While circumcision would have been painful back in Jesus time, it would have been a once and done type of thing. How very much would have been lost if salvation was earned through acts done instead of a life lived in relationship with Him. I am so thankful He loves me, guides me, and is merciful to me. I am so thankful God doesn’t want us to settle for a faith-walk purchased by our meager actions but instead, purchased us once, for all, with the perfect and precious blood of His Son-tearing the veil, and opening a way for relationship, fullness, and love. Do I mess up, sadly yes. Just this weekend I was exhausted from conferences I praised Him for, but grouchy because I was still tired. Did/does He love me less? Thankfully, no. Do I want to do better…thankfully, yes. Not because I have to earn it but because I want to shine for what matters, for what is eternal, for what is love, Jesus Christ my LORD. May it be so in the name of Jesus. Amen and Selah.

  34. SarahJoy says:

    It is for FREEDOM that Christ has set us free!
    No longer be yoked by the slavery of sin [or law].

    Want to live in that freedom. May it be so in my life.

  35. Maura says:

    What does God require of us as believers? As the apostles were teaching about Jesus, God’s grace and the law that Jews had been living in, then suddenly that grace was for all who believed. I wonder at how freeing it was, but also, as we are creatures of habit, how much the legalism and following all the rules had to be part of the struggle in accepting the freedom found in Christ. As, it is even a struggle today for so many of us to realize that we can not earn salvation, Prise God, but only accept, believe and turn from our sin to receive His forgiveness. All this is because of Jesus. If you can, sisters, read He Reads Truth too today. Adds even more. Here is a quote from HRT. “Did God define His people by whether they followed certain religious traditions, or by the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives? Peter spoke clearly and made clear God’s intent: “And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to [the Gentiles] by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he also did to us. He made no distinction between us and them” So much to learn. Praying for you all, thankful you are out there shining His light, sharing His love. Traci G loved your words yesterday, so beautiful. Still praying, His faithfulness and lovingkindness endures forever. Victoria E, praying for you, joy in this journey. ERB, asking God to heal Revel’s leg, that he would be just fine today. What a gift and great joy he is to you. Whatever is in front of us this day Sisters, we have Jesus with us, His strength walking beside us. Hugs, love and His New mercies to your day.

  36. Kelly says:

    Even today, we stray from the simple truth of Jesus only. In our human traditions, we make Christianity a Jesus+_____ relationship.

    We struggle with the fact that that there is nothing we can do (or refrain from doing) that makes us more loved (acceptable) by God. Does He want us to obey and become more like Jesus? Yes. But that is not the basis of His love. Jesus and His completed work on our behalf is.

    Praying for your requests ❤

  37. Erica Wilson says:

    “Saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus…” thanks be to God!

  38. Arina says:

    We have the freedom to do good, not out of obligation or to earn something, but out of love.

  39. Miri am says:

    By faith ALONE!!! Amen Amen!!!