August 27, 2019
Acts 15:1-4 (NIV)
Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the believers very glad. When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them.
“Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.”
“Unless.” It’s a power word.
It signifies a conditional situation and outlines the conditions.
It defines an ultimatum and all the urgency that goes with it.
It threatens consequences.
It creates the politics of exclusion and inclusion, or insider-outsider dynamics.
It almost always leads to “sharp dispute” and “debate.” (See today’s text)
“Unless.” It’s a dangerous word. It should be invoked sparingly and with great caution and discernment.
When spoken in a “church” context it will invariably lead to some major meetings at headquarters.
And unless God himself actually says “unless,” it should definitely set off some alarms. Beware of “unless” people. They may be right, but they must be challenged.
And always remember:
“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” (Psalm 127:1)
COME HOLY SPIRIT!
When do you think the word “unless” is appropriately and redemptively played?
For the Awakening,
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