Here we observe a critical moment for the progress of faith in the world. A council meeting convened in Jerusalem to consider a potentially corrosive issue!
At first, the issue may seem insignificant, even trivial. But in fact it is life or death for the future of Christianity!
The question brought before the apostles and elders is this: Must Gentile converts to Jesus be required to keep the Law of Moses and be circumcised?
Present at the meeting were some Jewish Christians who thought the traditions of their unique culture should be binding on every new Gentile Christian anywhere in the world.
Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, "The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses."
How this question is decided will either burden the Message of Jesus with the traditions of Judaism and so inhibit its spread throughout the world or free the Good News to be more easily assimilated into divergent cultures.
Paul’s work to plant new Gentile fellowships hangs in the balance, but Peter - who baptized the first Gentile convert - is the first to speak.
God…accepted them (Gentiles) by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them…No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.
Paul and Barnabas tell of their success among the Gentiles. James offers the definitive argument from an Old Testament prophecy about the future inclusion of the Gentiles and then makes the final pronouncement - It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.
In a Pivotal Moment, the crisis is averted. The future secured! Today, students of Jesus in cultures throughout the world live in this freedom.