Job 34-35 Acts 15:1-21
“So now why are you testing God by putting a heavy load around the necks of the non-Jewish believers? It is a load that neither we nor our ancestors were able to carry. But we believe that we and they too will be saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 15:10-11 NCV)
There’s something about people that think that everyone should share the same journeys, the same experiences, and the same outcomes in life. When the gospel began spreading to the Gentiles, though, that journey veered off the path from the journey that Jews who had come to Christ followed. Some among the Jewish believers wanted to correct that path so that everybody could be the same. They began demanding that the Gentile believers submit to circumcision and the Law of Moses. I don’t think they were trying to be controlling, I think they wanted to make sure that the Gentile believers did things the right way. Peter set them straight by noting that no one was able to follow the Law, which is why Jesus came, and that the important issue was that all believers would be saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus, not by their “good” behavior.
It’s easy to want to make our experiences with God “normative.” Many people, in the midst of repenting and turning to Jesus as their Savior will cry when they realize the enormity of what God has done for them. Because of that, some will look suspiciously at a new believer who doesn’t come with tears. Some will experience and exercise certain spiritual gifts. Those who don’t have those gifts will come under scrutiny as well. Our denominational beliefs may differ, and that’s ok. There are a lot of different reactions to the entrance of Jesus Christ into our lives; there are a lot of different ways to experience our faith and explain what we believe. The one common factor among all Christians is that salvation can only come through grace. You can’t earn salvation. You can seek God, but seeking won’t save you. You can repent of your sins, but mere repentance won’t save you. Salvation only comes through the grace of God. Peter had to explain it at the Jerusalem Conference. It’s a lesson that needs to be learned in every generation as people begin to think that God’s grace isn’t enough – that we need to do something else. We are not saved by grace AND anything…we’re saved by grace alone. God’s grace gives us the faith to be saved. God’s grace gives us the heart to repent because we’ve been saved. God’s grace sustains us in our relationship with Him. Thanks be to God for His amazing grace!
Lord, I’m so grateful that salvation comes by Your grace. I could never be good enough to earn salvation. I could never do enough good works to earn it. Thank You that it’s all because of grace and that You give it freely to all who seek You.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved