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Thursday, November 07, 2002

Edifier du Jour-Acts 15:1-11(NASB)
1 Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved." 2 And when Paul and Barnabas had great dissension and debate with them, the brethren determined that Paul and Barnabas and some others of them should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders concerning this issue. 3 Therefore, being sent on their way by the church, they were passing through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and were bringing great joy to all the brethren. 4 When they arrived at Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them. 5 But some of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed stood up, saying, "It is necessary to circumcise them and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses." 6 The apostles and the elders came together to look into this matter. 7 After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, "Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 "And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; 9 and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. 10 "Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 "But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are."
This is a great verse backing up the concept of being saved by grace rather than by works. Since the very early Christians were mostly Jewish, they brought the Old Testament law with them. The Gentile believers, not having been exposed to this law, but only to the basic Gospel of Jesus' sacrificial death for all who would believe in Him, weren't following the circumcision, dietary and other rules that good Jews were supposed to follow. Paul points out, and the Jerusalem believers agreed, that the Mosaic law wasn't enforceable on the Gentiles. The chapter goes on to ask believers from refraining from meat sacrificed to idols or meat from strangled animals, but doesn't force all the uncleanness regulations upon the Gentiles. Remember, that's us; unless you grew up Jewish, you're a Gentile in this sense. That gives us a freedom of action that Jews don't have. That doesn't mean we're to get cocky about our freedoms or rub it in the nose of the legalists, but we do have freedom in Christ.

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