Jesus, only Jesus
Category : General
Rev. Michael Lau
The blessing from the gospel of Jesus Christ is to experience a life of being transformed by the grace and truth in Him. As an early church theologian expressed, the ultimate meaning of Christmas: The Son of God became human, so that humans can become the children of God.
The apostles were commissioned by Jesus Christ to spread the good news from Jerusalem to the whole world (Acts 1:8). This is so that people from all nations can believe in Jesus and receive His resurrected life. The Gospel message is simple as the earlier apostles claimed: Salvation is found in no other, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). Paul and Barnabas were sent by the Holy Spirit through the church in Antioch. Acts 14 shares the end part of their first missionary journey in Asia Minor.
It was after some years of the first missionary journey, a big disturbance had come into the early Church. It was when Jewish Christians from Jerusalem visited the church in Antioch, Jewish Christians had superimposed Jewish laws and traditions upon non-Jewish Christians, especially on the issue of circumcision. Yet, Paul and Barnabas defended the freedom in Christ for non-Jewish Christian communities. Therefore, Paul led a team of delegates to consult the spiritual leadership in Jerusalem. The Jerusalem council and the decision was recorded in Acts 15. The essence of this decision is based on the essence of the Gospel. It is about freedom for all who are living in accordance to the Gospel Truth and in the Holy Spirit. Both should set them free to move from the superficiality of the law into a deeper loving relationship with the living triune God.
God has come in human form [Acts 14:1-28; 14:11, 14-17 (Give away your life)]: The gospel was preached to a place called Lystra, where Paul healed a lame man from birth with supernatural power. His act ignited a movement in the city as they shouted that Paul was like “The gods have come down in us in human form!” However, such truth can only apply to Jesus who is the One who is God and emptied Himself in taking on a human form.
Circumcision of the heart [Acts 15:1-11; 15:6-11 (Trinity)]: When a few Jewish Christians visited Antioch and demanded non-Jewish Christians to have circumcision according to the law of Moses, Paul and Barnabas defended the essence of the Gospel. After some discussion in the council of Jerusalem, Peter stood up and testified the reality of the circumcision of the heart by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit among the Gentiles just as among themselves.
The Kingdom of the Son of David [Acts 15:12-21; 15:15-18 (The authority of the Bible)]: The spreading of the Gospel to all nations was once again confirmed not only by Simon, Paul, and Barnabas, but also from the prophet Amos (Amos 9:11-12). The fallen tent of David will be rebuilt as promised by God to David, and the Gentiles will be included in this Kingdom. The birth and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the good news about such a divine rebuilding project.
Freedom in the Spirit and Truth are for all [Acts 15:22-35; 15:27-29 (Humility)]: The conclusion from the Jerusalem council was written down as a letter and was delivered to the churches in Antioch and surrounding areas. It was for setting everyone free from the superficiality of the Law of Moses. The true freedom of the spirit-led conclusion of the council reveals a dynamic of mutual respect from both the Jewish and Gentile communities according to the Truth and Spirit. When the decision was spread, everyone rejoiced.
The joy of Christmas is all about Jesus and what He has done in accordance to the promise of God in the Scripture.