But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses (Acts 15:5 KJV)
Many of us are probably unaware that our backgrounds and cultures often color our Christian practices and interpretation of the scriptures. It is a subtle influence that requires a conscious effort to recognize and avoid. The story of the Pharisees best illustrates this scenario in the days of Paul.
After the resurrection of Christ, many Pharisees believed the Gospel and became Christians. However, there was a problem. They accepted the Gospel and combined it with the Jewish Pharisee background and cultures they had. Please look at Acts 15:5 above. The Pharisees who had believed insisted on circumcising the Gentile believers. The Apostles in Jerusalem told Paul:
Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law (Acts 21:20 KJV).
The Pharisees brought their culture with them and combined the old and the new.
As ministers, we are especially predisposed to this effect. It is easy for a minster to bring their personal values and systems into the Gospel and present them as the Gospel to their flock. It is challenging to separate us from our values and cultures. However, we should be aware of this effect and minimize it as much as possible by His grace. The Gospel should be free from our personal idiosyncrasies or cultural backgrounds.
How did the Pharisees bring their culture into the new faith in Christ?
APPLY THE WORD
The Gospel of necessity is received and expressed by human beings who are beings of habit and culture. Our responsibility is not to allow our personal values or cultures to interfere with God’s Word. It takes great wisdom and submission to the Spirit to not pour new wine into old wine bottles. Instead, we should do our utmost best to maintain the purity of the Gospel in our lives or ministry.
Ask the Father to strengthen us to maintain the purity of the Gospel and keep it free from ourselves and our cultures.