The Salvation of the Gentiles, the Law, and the Grace of God

Vaclav's picture

After some time when Paul and Barnabas came to Antioch, to encourage the brothers in the faith, some teachers came form Judea teaching, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved." This false teaching upset the minds of the Gentile believers, causing mental and emotional confusion and distress.

Paul and Barnabas were sent by the brothers in Antioch to Jerusalem, to relate the distressing issue to the rest of the Apostles. They reported what God had done among the Gentiles, and how he had given them the Holy Spirit, as he gave to the Apostles at the beginning on the day of Pentecost. And so Peter, who himself was corrected by Paul on this matter a few years earlier, stood up and gave a general rebuke to all the brothers gathered at the Jerusalem counsel, and said, "Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will." (Acts 15.10-11)

The outcome of the long discussion on the important issue of the salvation of the Gentiles, the grace of God and the place of the law in the Christian life, was the letter written to their Gentile brothers in Antioch, which called the Gentile brothers to be sensitive to their Jewish Christian brothers on the issues causing this present confusion.
Here's the letter the Jerusalem counsel wrote, "For it seemed best to the Holy Spirit and to us not to place any greater burden on you than these necessary rules: that you abstain from meat that has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what has been strangled and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from doing these things, you will do well. Farewell." (Acts 15.28-29)

When heresy was exposed and corrected and the "truth of the gospel" was once again preached and believed among the brothers, there came inevitable blessing - "So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily." (Acts 16.5) And once again their minds were at peace and rest - there was "...joy and peace in believing" "the truth of the gospel" (Romans 15.13, Galatians 2.5)

"For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them...Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us...so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith." (Galatians 3.10,13,14)

"The grace (the undeserved favor) of the Lord Jesus", and not our own works of the law, won the day, and wins every day in the lives of those that trust him and love him, the ones that walk "in step with the Spirit", or in other words "in step with the truth of the gospel" (Galatians 2.14).