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. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. Cynthia Johnston says:

    ♥️

  4. Cindy Hanna says:

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

  5. 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!

  6. 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!

  7. 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!

  8. Susie H says:

    KELLY, love your remarks!