I got another question #2

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 “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay no greater burden on you than these few requirements: You must abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality.”

Right, so I realize that the church was being newly formed and was still pretty well steeped in Jewish thinking at the time this was written. Paul, himself, argued against the “food offered to idols” thing.  It seems the only one that we need to continue to follow is “to abstain from …sexual immorality.”  Despite what may seem obvious, how can we discount the first three and hold to the last one?   Or to put it another way, how would you give an answer to one who would use this passage to say that “since the first three are no longer valid, why should the fourth one still be followed?”

Thoughts from anyone, and specific invites to:

I Love the Psalms

Truth in Palmyra

The Recovering Legalist

Virtual Vitamins

The True Light

Pneumythology

Mustard Seed Budget

Kdmanestreet

Elihu’s Corner

Patrick Hawthorne

And thanks to all who can weigh in.  Appreciate your comments!  (If you haven’t checked out these sites, I recommend you do!)

Acts 15:28,29  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Author: dawnlizjones

Tends toward TMI, so here's the short list: guitar and banjo (both of which have been much neglected as of late), bicycling (ibid), dogs, very black tea, and contemplating and commenting on deep philosophical thoughts about which I have had no academic or professional training. Oh, also reading, writing, but I shy away from arithmetic.

12 thoughts on “I got another question #2”

  1. HI Dawn
    First, these questions are just sheer genius in generating discussion. Well done!

    You hit some important point right from the get go in your own post, that really answer the question.

    The church was in transition during the Acts period.

    First, they were trying to assimilate to very diverse groups into one cohesive body of believers. One on hand we have the Jews, steeped in law and transition; then we have the Gentiles who knew nothing really, except the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and the forgiveness of their sins. A major issue at the time was, of course, the teaching by many Jews that even though salvation was being presented to all, that the OT laws still had to be adhered to. Of course, that is false, but it was what it was.

    Second, there was no completed Canon of Scripture at this point, only the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles being verbally passed around, along with some letters. Hence, nobody really knew what the “rules” were, so to speak.
    What we see there is merely a compromise among a body of believers. This was not designed to be something presented as if it were God’s Word really, but more or less something everybody could live with. We do that even today, and I will provide a real life illustration. I do not drink alcohol. At all, never, not a drop. I don’t have a big moral issue with it, and I believe moderation in alcohol is a “gray” area. Drink a beer if you want, I don’t care, and not sure God does either. The work I am part of, however, covenants together on some things that would be considered “gray” areas and agree on certain things. Drinking happens to be one of them. No one would ever tell you that you are losing your status with God over it, but we just agree together we won’t do it. It’s not legalism, it’s fellowshipping with likeminded people.

    That’s similar to what we see in the passage you discussed.

    Why, then, does sexual immortality continue to be a prohibited thing? That’s pretty easy, too. Let’s start with “Jesus said so.” Easy enough, as He discussed this issue several times, notably in the Sermon on the Mount. Paul also, in the completed Canon of Scripture, discussed this issue in several writings of his to various churches. If we accept those writings as inspired by the Holy Spirit, then prohibitions on sexual immortality are still valid. Notably missing is any reference to eating meat sacrificed to idols or the blood of strangled animals. Apparently God has no thoughts here that He chose to share.

    As with anything we decide is prohibited, however, we must always remember grace. One could be the biggest fornicator, adulterer, or homosexual on the planet (of even all of the above), and grace still is the way. None of those listed are excluded from grace, nor do they have to stop those things to be saved. They do, however, have to repent of them and seek forgiveness, and trust the completed work of Jesus on their behalf. After, that, it is up to the Holy Spirit to change them.

    There’s my two cents.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Dawn Liz. A valid question you are asking. The OT laws were just that, for the people who lived before Christ. Only the moral and ethical laws of God continue in force today, as we are no longer under law but grace. Of course, we don’t make animal sacrifices, nor have foods which are “unclean,” as those were practices of the old law.

    But the moral laws such as sexual conduct are carried over to the commands of the New Testament and therefore still in place. In fact, all laws of the ten commandments are carried over to today except the observance of the Sabbath.

    The Lord showed Peter that all things were clean to eat back in Acts 10:12-16. Paul in Acts 15 was just reiterating that it was not right to eat food sacrificed to idols, as God had commanded and still does, that we not make nor bow down before any graven images, (Exodus 20:4).

    So…all things are clean to eat, as per Peter’s vision in Acts 10, except for foods offered to idols as per Paul in Acts 15. But such things as sexual deportment are and always have been against God’s commands. Does that make sense?

    Steve

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Hi Dawn Liz! I hope the answer really does help you, as somethings are a bit confusing between the “law” and grace. And Wally Fry is right about the early church trying to integrate the old law and the new commands of Jesus. In fact, there were some false doctrines going around in the day which encouraged that practice. The apostles worked hard to clarify that we only followed what Jesus taught, and the law with all of its traditions was now put aside in the fulfillment of Christ Jesus.

        Thank you for asking the question! Keep asking away. Have a great weekend…

        Steve

        Liked by 2 people

  3. As we used to say in college, “What’s the difference between ham and premarital sex?” Both are forbidden in the Law of Moses, so why does the church permit the one and still preach against the other?
    It appears to me that the first church convention (Acts 15) was spending its Bible study time in Leviticus 17 and 18. The prohibitions they endorsed in their letter are all addressed in those two chapters. Leviticus as a book is about holiness. It describes how God wanted his chosen people to live so they would be different from the rest of the world.
    Jesus fulfilled the Law for us, so we are free from the Law. He declared all foods kosher, his death ended the need for animals to be sacrificed, and his rest in the tomb fulfilled the Sabbath so we are now free to gather for worship whenever we wish. Yet we are not free to do whatever our sinful hearts desire; we are free to imitate Christ, who took on our human nature so he could restore human nature as the image of God.
    The blood of Jesus fulfills the regulations regarding blood in the Law of Moses, but that symbolism is so profound that the first church convention felt that some respect for blood needed to continue among believers. As others have noted, this was a transitional step and not normative for all Christians. Likewise, food offered to idols was a stumbling block for recovering pagans, so the first church convention placed a prohibition there which was later lifted by Paul in his letters to the Romans and Corinthians. Paul counseling loving behavior regarding food offered to idols, much as today we might counsel abstinence from alcohol in the presence of a recovering alcoholic.
    As for sexual morality, the relationship of husband and wife remains a picture of Christ and the Church. Out of respect for Christ, Christians “keep the marriage bed pure” (Hebrews 13:4). This has less to do with distinguishing different kinds of laws in the Bible than it has to do with our lives as imitators of Christ. That, for us, is the meaning of holiness, which was the theme of Leviticus and its regulations.
    I hope this all makes sense. J.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. So appreciate the clear and historical perspective! I think I’m just going to print these out and save them. I once heard one pastor say that some things stopped at the cross, some came through the cross unchanged, and some changed at the cross. Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

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