In Acts 15, we see a church dispute when people started teaching that people could not become Christians unless they got circumcised. After everything we have read up to this point (and knowing what we know now), this was still a major conflicting issue within the early church. Paul and Barnabas did a great job civilly making their case but to no avail with certain Pharisees, and it finally took Peter to stand up and call it out for what it was. If they agreed that this act was essential for the Gentile’s salvation, it would have been putting God to the test for what He had already clearly revealed and done through the power of the Gospel alone. It was an unfair yoke and burden that would be placed on them, going against the grace of God in Jesus Christ. It was after this bold, yet necessary, stance that Peter took that they listened with fresh ears and a new heart to Barnabas and Peter’s testimonies of the Gospel alone working and saving Gentiles.
I can’t but help to think about the church’s responsibility to stand up and speak out on unfair and unnecessary barriers people still put on the Gospel to save. Whether it’s the addition of a physical baptism or a second spiritual baptism; from sacraments to good works, religions have added onto the simple verbal communication of the Gospel (we’re sinners in need of Jesus as savior. He died for our sin, rose from the grave and offers salvation as a free gift) and our needed response of repentance and faith. Like Peter, we need to continue to stand up and speak out for this truth so that people around us who genuinely want and need that salvation don’t live a life with such unnecessary burdens or are falsely assured of true salvation. Of course, we should speak out in gentleness and respect when calling out such heresies (like Peter says we should do with apologetics in 1 Peter 3:15). And for some of us we just need to be communicating that Gospel message that saves more often in the first place.
What stuck out to you over this chapter that was either described above or not mentioned? Reply in the comments below.
By: Erik Koliser — West Campus Pastor