Scripture Reading:  Acts 15:1-5

“But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, ‘Unless you are circumcised, you cannot be saved.’  And after Paul and Barnabas had no small discussion and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about the question.”  (Acts 15:1,2)

Understanding the essence of the gospel is impossible without the illumination of the Holy Spirit.  Salvation by grace through faith goes against our nature and practice.  For most of our lives we have been taught that we must work hard at whatever we do.  A good student must study diligently in order to make good grades.  Employees must work hard in order to get good performance reviews.  Athletes must work hard in order to be good at their sport.  Works righteousness is our default mode.

However, we cannot work our way to heaven.  Our best efforts are not good enough.  When it comes to salvation, we must simply believe and embrace Jesus alone.  We cannot add one thing to what Jesus has done for us.  We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.

In our passage today, some men from Judea came to Antioch and began teaching the Gentile converts that faith in Christ was not enough.  In addition to faith, these Gentile believers must also be circumcised in order to be true Christians (v. 1).  They were saying that faith in Jesus was not enough; one must add to that faith certain works of the law.  The gospel was in dispute.  The very foundations of the Christian faith were being undermined.

We must constantly be aware of this danger.  It is so easy to forget the essence of the gospel and revert to a works righteousness view of salvation.  This is always our default mode!  For this reason, we must continually preach the gospel to ourselves.  We must be on guard because by nature and by practice we are prone to a works view of salvation.  The gospel set us free from bondage to religion (legalism and moralism).  We are saved by grace through faith.  Period!

Lord Jesus, let me remain gospel-centered and gospel-driven.  Forgive me for thinking that I can add to the work of salvation that You accomplished for me.


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