Author Topic: Acts 15: Faith vs. Works  (Read 1721 times)

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p.rehbein

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Acts 15: Faith vs. Works
« on: Sat Apr 16, 2011 - 19:27:33 »
A week or so ago, I wrote an OP on the General Discussion Forum concerning Acts 15 with regards as to the events described there being where the argument of faith vs. works started.

I'm sure you are all familiar with the story.  Brief recap:  The Church in Jerusalem had come together to discuss that some from the Church had went out unto the Gentiles and were teaching what they had not been commanded to teach.  In that they were teaching that to achieve salvation, one must not only believe in Jesus but must also keep all the laws of Moses.  A debate took place with each side having their say and in the end James created a compramise between those wanting to teach Law (works) and those wanting to teach Faith (Grace) by adding the four requirements of Idols, Alter Meat, things strangled and blood.  Ok, that is very nutshell, but it covers the main points of the debate.

Now, what I want to say is that as I study this Chapter in Acts, I come to certain conclusions:

1)  This does certainly appear to be where the argument/debate started.

2)  As to faith vs. works I have determined based on this Chapter that we are all saved by Grace (faith, believing in Jesus).  This is our salvation.  Works (Law) are a result of our salvation in that once saved (born again) we obey the teachings of Jesus in all things.  Thus works are not a prerequisit of salvation but a result (fruit) of salvation.  They are both very important and vital to a fruitful Christian life and necessary to our relationship with God.  However, there is that distinction between them.  Faith is the act which achieves our salvation and works is the fruitful result of our salvation.

This is how I understand this Chapter and other Scriptures concerning this discussion.

God bless...............

Offline chosenone

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Re: Acts 15: Faith vs. Works
« Reply #1 on: Tue Jul 10, 2012 - 18:14:02 »
Your conclusions are mine as well p.r
NOT something that we need to beat ourselves up about, but something that just happens as we abide in Him. How often do you see fruit growing that is groaning and stressing and worrying about being big enough or juicy enough or ripe enough? IT just grows.

Offline DaveW

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Re: Acts 15: Faith vs. Works
« Reply #2 on: Wed Jul 11, 2012 - 07:52:49 »
That is not my understanding of the chapter. However, the faith/works thing ends up being attributed to it.

That stems from a misconception. Christians have for centuries castigated the Pharasees as misrepresenting God.  But then go and take their assertation of works as legitimate.  It was not. As Paul said "By the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified." That does not just apply to the New Covenant.  Paul, James and Peter all agree: Abraham believed God ... So it was on the basis of faith all the way back to that point.

So what WAS the issue of Acts 15?  Formal  conversion to Judaism.  Almost every synagogue had a group of "God Fearers" who were almost-prostlylites from the surrounding gentile peoples. Please note verse 1:

Some men came down from Judea and taught the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised after the custom of Moses, you can’t be saved."

That (circ) was the final step of formal conversion that remained for the God Fearers. It was this that the "Judaizers" were demanding. Formal conversion.  Indeed Paul says this:

Gal 5.3 Yes, I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.

IOW, to get circumcised as demanded by the Judaizers meant an obligation to obey the Law of Moses. It was formal conversion to Judaism.

Acts 15 was the [revolutionary] idea that one could be part of the People of God (the New Covenant community) without becoming part of the People of God (the Jews).

p.rehbein

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Re: Acts 15: Faith vs. Works
« Reply #3 on: Wed Jul 11, 2012 - 08:23:53 »
Brother DaveW, I am well aware that Abram was justified by faith, and faith was the salvation way back then, however that wasn't the point of the OP.  During Abram's time, there were no debates concerning faith vs. works that I can find in Scripture...........if you know of some, please share them with me.  The OP was addressing the earliest time in the life of the "Church" that the debate of faith vs. works appeared..............The "Church" was not established during Abram's time, but, rather when Jesus established it.

just saying..............there are many messages in Acts 15, but hard to argue that the debate of faith vs. works was not one of them, as it certainly led to the ideas that would be taught to gentiles.

God bless

Offline DaveW

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Re: Acts 15: Faith vs. Works
« Reply #4 on: Wed Jul 11, 2012 - 08:55:48 »
I am saying it was not so much a faith vs works thing as a faith vs formal conversion thing.  While that is a work per se, it is a very specific work. It was not works in general or even the works of the Law.  It was conversion plain and simple.

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Re: Acts 15: Faith vs. Works
« Reply #4 on: Wed Jul 11, 2012 - 08:55:48 »



p.rehbein

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Re: Acts 15: Faith vs. Works
« Reply #5 on: Wed Jul 11, 2012 - 16:24:49 »
You got me puzzled, I must admit.  Acts 15 begins with the story of those who went out from Jerusalme to teach the gentiles, and were instructing them that to receive salvation they must obey the law of Moses.............this was the disagreement/discussion that broke out when Paul returned to Jerusalme......the whold church, elders, apostles, all..........were there and the discussion was what should be taught the gentiles?  Formal conversion sounds much like obedience to law, law is WORKS.  When anyone I have discussed such with always hold that law is works............man acting to make himself worthy of salvation...........instead of the Grace of God making him acceptable in the eyes of God.

verse 9).........and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith..........

I must hold with my orrigional idea that this was the first instance where faith vs. works was debated within the church..........now, that's just me, but there is ample proof in Scripture I would believe.

God bless brother

Offline DaveW

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Re: Acts 15: Faith vs. Works
« Reply #6 on: Thu Jul 12, 2012 - 06:21:08 »
You got me puzzled, I must admit.  Acts 15 begins with the story of those who went out from Jerusalme to teach the gentiles, and were instructing them that to receive salvation they must obey the law of Moses.............

While works are definatly a part, read the text.  It does not say "obey the law." It says to be circumcised which was the final step in formal conversion and the ONLY part left for the God Fearers.

Acts 15.1  Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.

p.rehbein

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Re: Acts 15: Faith vs. Works
« Reply #7 on: Thu Jul 12, 2012 - 07:41:09 »
You got me puzzled, I must admit.  Acts 15 begins with the story of those who went out from Jerusalme to teach the gentiles, and were instructing them that to receive salvation they must obey the law of Moses.............

While works are definatly a part, read the text.  It does not say "obey the law." It says to be circumcised which was the final step in formal conversion and the ONLY part left for the God Fearers.

Acts 15.1  Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.

Offline DaveW

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Re: Acts 15: Faith vs. Works
« Reply #8 on: Thu Jul 12, 2012 - 08:28:17 »
verse 1 - convert to Judaism (circ'd)

Verse 5 - keep the Law.

As Paul said to get circumcised subjugated you to the Law of Moses. So the issue is whether you covert to Judaism or not.  Keeping the Law or not would flow from that choice.

p.rehbein

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Re: Acts 15: Faith vs. Works
« Reply #9 on: Thu Jul 12, 2012 - 09:06:06 »
verse 1 - convert to Judaism (circ'd)

Verse 5 - keep the Law.

As Paul said to get circumcised subjugated you to the Law of Moses. So the issue is whether you covert to Judaism or not.  Keeping the Law or not would flow from that choice.


Those who were teaching that the law of Moses be kept were not participants in Judeaism, rather they were "believers."  Converts to Christ/Christians, so I am not seeing your logic here.  What you are saying does not fit with the actions taking place in the church at Jerusalem in Acts in my opinion brother.


Offline DaveW

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Re: Acts 15: Faith vs. Works
« Reply #10 on: Thu Jul 12, 2012 - 09:57:03 »
Quote from: p.rehbein
What you are saying does not fit with the actions taking place in the church at Jerusalem in Acts in my opinion brother.

What I am saying does not fit into your UNDERSTANDING of the actions taking place in the church at Jerusalem in Acts.

James (the leader of the church in Jerusalem) was still VERY active in Judaism up until his death in the mid 60s ad. He was considered by the Pharasaic community to be one of their foremost Torah sages.

In Acts 21 he talks about the thousands of  Jewish believers who were zealous for the Law.  We see people from that congregation actively involved in the Temple worship and taking Nazirite vows.

That is ENTIRELY participating in Judaism.  In fact the idea that someone could become saved and part of the New Covenant WITHOUT converting to Judaism was incomprehensible.  The decision of Acts 15 was entirely NEW REVELATION. Paul already understood it but no one else did.

p.rehbein

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Re: Acts 15: Faith vs. Works
« Reply #11 on: Thu Jul 12, 2012 - 11:06:49 »
Quote from: p.rehbein
What you are saying does not fit with the actions taking place in the church at Jerusalem in Acts in my opinion brother.

What I am saying does not fit into your UNDERSTANDING of the actions taking place in the church at Jerusalem in Acts.

James (the leader of the church in Jerusalem) was still VERY active in Judaism up until his death in the mid 60s ad. He was considered by the Pharasaic community to be one of their foremost Torah sages.

In Acts 21 he talks about the thousands of  Jewish believers who were zealous for the Law.  We see people from that congregation actively involved in the Temple worship and taking Nazirite vows.

That is ENTIRELY participating in Judaism.  In fact the idea that someone could become saved and part of the New Covenant WITHOUT converting to Judaism was incomprehensible.  The decision of Acts 15 was entirely NEW REVELATION. Paul already understood it but no one else did.


we are surely in a stalemate here Brother, that last paragraph just isn't in any Scripture I have read.  In fact, pretty much all of what the Apostle Paul taught was that Christians were the "new Jerusalem", the real jews, and not those who were jew by flesh.  I do not see anywhere that Jesus said we must convert to Judaism to achieve salvation.........just don't see it........nor do I see where it is taught in any of the Epistles.

Love ya Brother, but we will have to just disagree on this one.


Offline DaveW

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Re: Acts 15: Faith vs. Works
« Reply #12 on: Thu Jul 12, 2012 - 11:22:29 »
p. - In Galatians Paul talks about 2 sides of the gospel (not different gospels) one to the circumcised that Peter was entrusted with and the flip side to the uncircumcised that Paul was entrusted with.

Gal 2.7 On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised

What you read in Paul's letters is the outworking of the gospel to the uncircumcised. But in Jerusalem what you see is the outworking of the gospel to the circumcised.

Acts 21.20 And when they heard it, they glorified God. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed. They are all zealous for the law."

And the way that is worded it is being put out there as a GOOD thing.   In fact the whole course of events that follow this is from a mistaken idea that Paul was not only telling Gentiles who come to faith to not follow Moses, but that he was also telling Jews who came to faith to do the same.    By his actions Paul denys that charge; and if there had been a better time and place to say that New COvenant Jews were not to still follow Moses, I do not know of one. He had the attention of thousands of Jewish believers.

p.rehbein

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Re: Acts 15: Faith vs. Works
« Reply #13 on: Thu Jul 12, 2012 - 11:41:37 »
Galatians 3:26) For ye are all the hildren of God by FAITH in Christ Jesus.  27) For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  28) There is NEITHER JEW NOR GREEK, there is neither bond or free, there is neither male nor female; FOR YE ARE ALL ONE IN CHRIST JESUS.


This isn't the only time Paul said this.........as for Galatians 2:7 Paul is simply using the terms circumcised/uncircumcised for Jew/Gentile, not establishing a "Two Gospel" reality in my opinion. 

As well, if you read the full Chapter (2), you will see that this was no more than as I said a way of diffeentiating between Jew and Gentile.  As well, Paul clearly states that he held Peter accountable for any confusion, and this is shown in vs. 11 and 12.  And it is clearly stated in vs. 14.

And if you read on to vs. 16, you will see that just as in Acts, Paul here establishes that salvation is of "faith" and not "works."

The most "telling" verse is #21 in my opinion.  21) I DO NOT FRUSTRATE THE GRACE OF GOD: FOR IF RIGHTEOUSNESS COME BY THE LAW, THEN CHRIST ID DEAD IN VAIN.

That is good enough for me to set my heart and mind on the Truth that we are saved by Grace through faith, and that a gift of God, and not by works lest any man should boast............(paraphrased...........but close enough)

God bless ya

Offline DaveW

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Re: Acts 15: Faith vs. Works
« Reply #14 on: Fri Jul 13, 2012 - 06:35:38 »
Galatians 3:26) For ye are all the hildren of God by FAITH in Christ Jesus.  27) For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  28) There is NEITHER JEW NOR GREEK, there is neither bond or free, there is neither male nor female; FOR YE ARE ALL ONE IN CHRIST JESUS.

p.rehbein, if you take this to say there is no distinction between what is required by Jew and Gentile then because of the way the verse is written you have to apply that the same to male and female meaning that same gender marriage would be ok because there is NO DISTINCTION, WE ARE ALL ONE.

So unless you are ready to make that leap, I suggest you think again about what that verse is saying.

I would submit that it is refering to access to God's throne of grace; that we all have equal access to the  blood and forgiveness of Messiah and that we are all one in the same sense that husband and wife are one. The apostle has his pairings of obvious opposites to illustrate that God sees us on the same equal footing.

p.rehbein

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Re: Acts 15: Faith vs. Works
« Reply #15 on: Sun Jul 15, 2012 - 06:23:14 »
Galatians 3:26) For ye are all the hildren of God by FAITH in Christ Jesus.  27) For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  28) There is NEITHER JEW NOR GREEK, there is neither bond or free, there is neither male nor female; FOR YE ARE ALL ONE IN CHRIST JESUS.

p.rehbein, if you take this to say there is no distinction between what is required by Jew and Gentile then because of the way the verse is written you have to apply that the same to male and female meaning that same gender marriage would be ok because there is NO DISTINCTION, WE ARE ALL ONE.

So unless you are ready to make that leap, I suggest you think again about what that verse is saying.

I would submit that it is refering to access to God's throne of grace; that we all have equal access to the  blood and forgiveness of Messiah and that we are all one in the same sense that husband and wife are one. The apostle has his pairings of obvious opposites to illustrate that God sees us on the same equal footing.

this isn't the first time I have heard this argument, and it doesn't get any better with usage/times argued.  It is simply not applicable.  Same sex marriage is just a way to flame someone into not understanding the scripture......"oh my gosh, I must be wrong, 'cause I don't agree with same sex marriage............oh me, oh my......whatever shall I do.......???????"

Seriously?  No, really, seriously?  What the scripture is referring to/stating is that once we are saved/have accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour, in God's eyes there is no longer the earthy distinctions between us.  We are NO LONGER Jew or Gentile, we are NO LONGER Bond or Free, we are NO LONGER male or female......etc......etc........we are HIS CHILDREN, and the earthy distinctions/bonds that once controled our lives are NO LONGER.  Doesn't have a darn thing to do with marriage...........Scripture is clear as to marriage.......ya should have a better argument than that Dave...........seriously..........

There is ONLY ONE WAY to Heaven/Salvation..............and I don't care where one was born, or what they look like, or what gender they are, or what Nationality they claim.............WHATEVER!  THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY to Heaven/Salvation and that is through JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR.............AND THIS IS THE MESSAGE OF THE SCRIPTURE.  This scripture does away with the traditional teachings/chains of man, and establishes the saving Grace of God........in that we are ALL ONE in His eyes...........He is no respector of persons, WHICH HE WOULD HAVE TO BE if your idea of a TWO GOSPEL Testament were actually true..........

There is ONLY ONE GOSPEL, ONE CHRIST, ONE SAVIOUR, ONE GOD................and that's the Truth.

 ::reading:: ::nodding::