The Bible teaches us in 3 basic ways: First by express statement or command. Secondly by approved examples. Thirdly by necessary inference or implication. Sometimes people will question whether this is scriptural or not. In Acts 15, where the matter of circumcision as a condition of salvation was discussed, we see these 3 ways of establishing truth used. In verses 7-11 we see Peter relating what happen at the house of Cornelius. If God gave them the Holy Spirit, and purified their hearts by faith, thus they were accepted by God without circumcision, it was a necessary implication, for no other conclusion could be drawn for what happened.In vs. 12 Paul and Barnabas described how that God worked many miracles and wonders among the Gentiles on their 1st preaching tour. So by this example the matter of not being circumcised was proven. Then in verses 13-19 James sights the expressed words of the prophets to prove by express statement, that the Gentiles do not have to be circumcised to be saved. Thus all 3 ways of establishing truth were used at this meeting.
Another lesson on authority can be gleaned from this chapter. In vs. 24 we read of some who taught “Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment”. We learn that the silence of God is prohibitive and not permissive. Many think that if God does not give a specific “Thou shalt not” that this authorizes one to act on God’s silence, such is not true!
Another lesson we can learn from this chapter is that some issues demand that we stand without compromise. These false teachers were troubling and subverting souls with their doctrine. Discussing and debating the issue was necessary to maintain the unity of the Spirit. The faithful would stand with God, the unbelieving would continue on in their own way.