Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Making sense of the Book of Acts - 5

So many seeming Scriptural paradoxes can be solved by simply observing progressive revelation.  Not doing so is the most frequent error I see. 

For example, many people seem to forget that when Jesus Christ walked the earth, people were still under the Law.  Because of this, they try to apply such verses as "For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Matt 6:14-15) directly to themselves.  How do they reconcile this with Ephesians 2:8-9?  Progressive revelation must be taken into account, not only in the Gospels but in the Book of Acts as well.

The Law, of course, was given to show us what sin is, that we are sinful and can't keep from sinning, and that we therefore need a Savior (Rom 3:19-20; 7:7, 12; Gal 3:24; 1 Tim 1:9).  In a word, the Law condemns us (Rom 4:15; 5:13; 7:14; Gal 3:10; Jas 2:10).

Galatians 4:4, Matthew 23:1-3 and 28:20 tell us that our Lord Himself was born under the law of Moses and taught His disciples complete subjection to it.  Therefore, in obedience to His instructions, the twelve taught their hearers subjection to Moses' law and set the example themselves.

In the early chapters of Acts we see that the believers practically lived in the temple.  In Acts 2:46 we find them "attending the temple together."  See also Acts 3:1, 3, 8, 11; 5:20-21, 25, 42.  In the last of these verse we read that "every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus."

As pointed out before, at the council at Jerusalem it was agreed only that the Gentile believers were not to be subjected to the law of Moses.  The status of the Jews was not even discussed.  They had, until that very time, remained under the law, and they assumed that they were to continue to do so.  God had not yet given the twelve any revelation delivering believing Jews from the law (Acts 15:1, 19, 21; Gal 2:3, 7, 9).

In Acts 21:20-25, we are specifically informed that the Jews which believed remained "zealous for the law."

We are also told in Acts 22:12 that Ananias, the person who baptized Paul, was "a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there."

Not until the Apostle Paul comes on the scene do we hear any such declaration as, "BUT NOW the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law" (Rom 3:21), or "through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses" (Acts 13:38-39).

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