Hearing Christ is more than Quoting the Gospel

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  And before HIM no creature is hidden, but all are open and laid bare to the eyes of him with whom we have to do.  (Hebrews 4:12-13)

In Acts 15 the nascent Christian movement is confronted with one of its first crises as a new found faith – do you have to become Jewish in order to be a Christian?  The basic issue is that some Jewish Christians were demanding that Gentile converts must follow certain of the requirements of the Torah – including circumcision – in order to be true disciples of Christ. 

What is noteworthy is that in the discussion and debate which ensue no one quotes Christ at all.   Certainly we might expect the original 11 disciples of Jesus to try to recall things He said that were apropos to their discussion and to quote Jesus to bolster their arguments.  Apparently no direct teaching of Christ could be referenced as the guiding principle for solving the problem.  The original disciples considering what the Church’s policy should be do not even bring a single quote from Jesus into their deliberations.  Rather they are trying to discern what they should do based upon their experience in Judaism with the Torah and based in their experience with what God was currently doing in their lives.  They tell and listen to stories about what God is doing through their current lives and ministry rather than simply proof quoting things the Lord taught them.   They talk not about what Jesus said, but about what they have been doing, what God is doing in the world and what they currently see happening in their own lives.  

They are not ignoring what God is currently doing in their lives, and they are not fixated on the past and on making sure they quote Jesus exactly.  They certainly have not fashioned the Gospel Message of Christ to be a new indelible Torah written in a Book of Law which they must fastidiously obey.  Rather what they clearly decide is that those embracing the Gospel must receive the message as God’s Word, active in their hearts and lives, and not return to the Old Torah nor to try to fashion a New Torah based in Christ’s words.  The Word of God for them is not a written word, but a Word which lives in their lives and that is the only Word of God they try to read in order to discern what God wants from them.

You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on your hearts, to be known and read by all men;  and you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. (2 Corinthians 3:2-3)

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