Rev. Clint Smith
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Today’s passage of Scripture begins with a slight division in the Church at Antioch. This debate centered around two primary questions:
1. Must Gentiles be circumcised to be saved?
2. Must Gentiles keep the Mosaic law? (Genesis 17:9-14)
For the early Church and for us today, it is okay to ask questions concerning our Christian faith. It is not okay to add manmade rules to Scripture and hinder the faith of another.
Paul and Barnabas argued salvation is by faith in Jesus through His grace alone. Some of the men in the Church argued otherwise. The Church appealed to the Apostles and elders in the Jerusalem Church for answers.
The Apostles and elders came together to consider this faith issue. They themselves had a long debate.
Peter brought clarity to the argument with this eternal truth – All people who receive salvation do so by faith, receiving God’s precious, undeserved grace.
James references the Prophets and Holy Scriptures (Isaiah 45:21; Jeremiah 12:15; Amos 9:11,12) to make the final Jerusalem Council decision. What was his decision?
1. Gentiles do not have to receive circumcision to be saved.
2. Gentiles do not have to keep the Mosaic law to be saved.
James added and the Church agreed to the challenge sent to the Gentile believers. This short list of challenges was intended to help new believers understand, Christians must stay away from their cultures pull to sin against God.
Have you trusted Jesus as your Savior and Lord?
Is your faith by grace alone?
Do you understand that you cannot earn a place in Heaven?