And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number,Acts 5:14(NASB)
The early Church had to overcome some serious challenges. They had to come to terms with moving from the pre-Cross period of the Law to the post-Cross dispensation of the grace of God. They had to come to an agreement on their set of beliefs and the gospel they were to teach, if the Christian Church was to survive.
Before the Cross, sin was temporarily covered, year by year, until the Messiah came to redeem Israel. The promised Messiah was to save His people from their sin and bless all the families of the earth. He was to be the sacrificial Lamb of God Who came to take away the sin of the world permanently, for all who would believe on His name.
All who were born before the Cross were born under the Law, which was the tool God used to point people to His coming, anointed Son. He came as the Word made flesh, the Light of the world, the Bread of life, God's sacrificial Lamb, and Saviour of all: "You believe in God," Christ taught them, "believe also in ME!"
The Church was born on the day of Pentecost, but many men of Israel, had failed to recognise Jesus as their Messiah, the Son of the living God. They had seen His miracles, been fed from His hand, and heard His Messianic claims and yet many cried 'crucify Him'. Jesus came to die as the full and final Passover Lamb, but Israel missed the day of their visitation.
Nevertheless, many men of Israel and Jewish proselytes came to faith in Jesus in those early days of the Christian Church. Many had been baptised into John’s baptism of repentance, but they were also to believe in Christ – the incarnate God. They were to be born again by trusting in the Son, if they were to enter the kingdom of God. Many found the transition from pre-Cross Judaism to post-Cross Christianity to be a serious challenge.
There were no New Testament Scriptures and no doctrinal statements for the early Church to call upon, and despite Christ's intense training, the apostles were young in their faith. There were many things Jesus had wanted to share with them before He left them, but they were unable to bear it, and had to wait until the Church had been birthed. They had to wait until the Holy Spirit indwelled them, baptised them into the Body of Christ, started to teach them, began to guide them into all truth, and showed them things to come.
In those early days of Christianity, the apostles and Church leaders had to develop their system of belief. They had to agree on the profession of their faith and the basic elements that made up the Christian gospel. They had to be united in the essentials of the good news they were teaching, and their articles of faith took time to develop into the truth of the glorious gospel of Christ, to which we adhere today.
There had to be unalterable guidelines about the truth of the glorious gospel of Christ. And so we read in Acts 15, the apostles and elders of the Church "came together to consider the matter." They had to reach agreement on circumcision, which many Pharisees insisted was necessary to salvation. This was one of many doctrinal issues that had to be discussed and agreed upon, in those early days of the Church.
How important when reading the book of Acts, to recognise that those formative days of Christianity was a time of transition from the pre-Cross period to a post-Cross era, and that the Scriptures, which have become our plumb-line for truth, needed to revealed and agreed upon by holy men of God – through the supernatural guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Praise God for the foundation of God’s holy apostles and prophets, who laid the foundations of our faith upon Christ as guided by the Spirit, when "God's chosen apostles and elders met together to look into this matter."
Heavenly Father, thank You that holy apostles and prophets of old, were moved by God to write both the Old and New Testaments, and that they were used to lay the sure foundation upon which my faith is secure. Thank You that Jesus is the Rock of my salvation, the Cornerstone of my faith, and the Anchor of my soul. I praise You that Your Holy Spirit guided holy men of God into all truth, as the gospel was revealed to them which was penned as Scripture for our learning. In Jesus' name, AMEN.
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