When Jesus walked on the earth He taught that His yoke was easy and His burdens were light. I don’t think His disciples quite understood the gravity of that until after He ascended to heaven.
Why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? Acts 15:10
As the early church grew it encountered a few problems along the way. An accusation of discrimination arose in Acts 6 that the apostles needed to deal with.
The Greek-speaking believers complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food. Acts 6:1
To avoid a church split, the apostles came up with a godly solution. The church chose seven spiritual men to oversee the food distribution. These men were called deacons.
The church continued to grow and spread throughout the entire region. It reached not only Jewish people but Gentiles as well. Some of the Jewish believers created a serious doctrinal issue.
Men from Judea began teaching that all believers must be circumcised as required by the law of Moses. If they didn’t, they couldn’t be saved. Paul and Barnabas argued against their teaching.
Finally, the church decided to send Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, accompanied by some local believers, to talk to the apostles and elders about this question. Acts 15:2
After the church leadership in Jerusalem greeted this delegation, Paul and Barnabas presented the problem that faced them. The matter was taken up at the church’s first business meeting.
Problems in the Church
They had faced persecution from people outside of the church, which they expected. But now controversy hit them from inside the church, including some people in Jerusalem.
But then some of the believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees stood up and insisted, “The Gentile converts must be circumcised and required to follow the law of Moses.” Acts 15:5
After a long discussion, Peter stood up first to address the assembly. He said, “God chose me to preach to the Gentiles so that they could hear the Good News and believe.” Then he said;
God knows people’s hearts, and he confirmed that he accepts Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for he cleansed their hearts through faith. Acts 15:8-9
Peter was present when Jesus spoke about how easy His yoke was. He heard the Lord say, “take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, and you will find rest for your souls.” Then Jesus said,
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:29
Jesus Said His Yoke is Easy
The Lord never intended salvation to be hard. According to Jesus, He used the word easy, when we yoke ourselves with Him.
You see, Peter knew what it was like to try life without the Lord. He also learned through his heritage that the Jewish people failed in trying to follow the law of Moses. So he asked;
So why are you now challenging God by burdening the Gentile believers with a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors were able to bear? Acts 15:10
Paul and Barnabas also addressed the assembly. They shared testimonies of the miraculous signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. Then James, Jesus’ brother said.
“And so my judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.” Acts 15:19
Those early church leaders led by the wisdom of God came to an important decision. One that kept the direction of the church moving in the right direction.
James did put regulations on the Gentile believers but not for their salvation. He wanted them to turn completely away from their old ways of worship to focus on the Lord.
He told them the same thing that Christians must do today. We must remove anything that will hinder our relationship with God. So a letter was sent out with the following instructions.
“You must abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality. If you do this, you will do well. Farewell.” Acts 15:29
We Can’t Regulate Salvation
Shamefully people today try to regulate salvation. They require all kinds of does and don’t which makes the yoke of Jesus anything but easy. I think Peter said it best when he said this.
“We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.” Acts 15:11
How many times do we resort to legalism instead of Grace? How many times do we take a dogmatic stand and miss mercy altogether?
Sure, the Bible tells us how we should live. But it’s based on love, not rules. Jesus said the entire law falls under the two New Testament laws. Why? Because His yoke is easy!
Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40
Lord, help us when we try on a different yoke. And stop us when we take on heavy burdens. Keep us reminded Lord, that your yoke is easy and your burden is light.
His yoke is easy because of His grace. Check out these related posts on the grace of God.
- How To Continually Rely On The Grace Of God
- The Grace Of God, The Most Amazing Gift Ever
- God Gives Grace To The Humble
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