"In today’s reading in Acts chapter 15 verses 1 to 41 the Council at Jerusalem was one of the most important events in early church history. Church leaders, including Peter and Paul, discussed whether Gentiles needed to become Jews before being able to receive salvation in Christ. After some debate, it was announced that conversion to Judaism is not required for followers of Jesus. Sadly, after avoiding a split in the emerging church, Paul and Barnabas couldn’t agree on a personnel issue, so they parted company." (New Zealand's Rhema Radio)
Faith in God seems complicated today. Religion even more complicated. So complicated we often avoid the conversation or discussion. In the following passage we read about a council meeting in Jerusalem where a complicated discussion was taking place about religious customs, rules, and laws.
After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: "Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are." (Acts 15:7-11)Is it really that simple? God purifies people's hearts by faith and through grace? Are we really purified by God through grace when we believe?
You mean to tell me that a simple belief in Christ cleans our hearts through his grace?
It can't be that simple, that straightforward. There must be more to it.
Peter as recorded by Luke in Acts makes it clear that it is that simple. God cleans our heart through grace when we believe in Christ! Here is how Paul puts it in his letter to the Romans.
... since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. ... (Romans 5:1-2a)There were those not long after Jesus came who wanted to attach rules and requirements to his message. Humans love to set up hoops for others to jump through. God has made it too simple so we must make it more complex to make it into 'something'.
Here we see Peter remind the others to keep it simple. Keep it Jesus. Since this point in history people have continued to complicate the message of Jesus. Humans over the past 2000 years have attached customs, traditions, rules, wars, denominations, nations, discrimination, doctrines, and politics to the message Jesus brought to us. I know even today there are things I have attached to the message. I pray that God would help me to strip my faith down to drop the religious baggage and keep it simple.
I am working through the E100 Bible Reading Challenge again. You can learn more about my journey and read the other posts completed so far at this link. I encourage you to stop back soon to read another passage.
Please share your own thoughts on this passage in the comment section below or on the Facebook page.