March 6, 2018
Read Acts 15:1-21
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Scripture- Acts 15:10-11- "So why are you now challenging God by burdening the Gentile believers with a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors were able to bear? We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.”
Observations- Paul and Barnabas were challenged by some Jewish believers that demanded circumcision as a requirement to be saved. This is a major point of contention and decision for the early church that had huge implications. Peter strongly argues for free gift of grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone; that is, salvation is never through Jesus and anyone or anything else...just Jesus. There were several long standing traditions that it was agreed were worth holding onto, not as a matter of salvation, but as a matter of faithful response to God's free gift: "to abstain from eating food offered to idols, from sexual immorality (for first century Judaism and early Christianity this would have included any practice beyond one man and one woman in marriage), from eating the meat of strangled animals, and from consuming blood." (vs. 20)
Application- This was huge issue for the early church to resolve well. Would there be a series of rules and regulations one had to first submit to before receiving salvation or was it first and foremost about saying "Yes!" to new life in and through Jesus Christ? The early church- on the basis primarily of Scripture (James quotes it in verses 16-18), their unique experiences with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, reason, and tradition- chose not to lay weighty burdens on new believers. We don't "clean ourselves up" and then come to Jesus; rather we get to come to Jesus just as we are and through the ongoing, life-giving relationship with Him we grow in the faith.
Prayer- O God of such amazing love, hear my prayer: I am grateful that Your Son, my Savior, Jesus, suffered and died for me. I know how desperately I need You to help me grow and thrive. I'm frail and all too human. You know my weaknesses better than I know them myself, yet You hang in there with me offering Your grace and forgiveness through our relationship. Help me share what I am able to receive freely with others today and everyday. Amen.
"God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God." (Ephesians 2:8),
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