Summary: Salvation is through the grace of Jesus Christ. Some people still insist on adding to the plan. They believe things like not only should you accept Jesus, but you need be baptized, or you need to be confirmed, or you need to take the Lord's Supper.
JUL 28 2013PM A Model of Love
The great decree of salvation issued by the early church should have settled the issue forever. There is no question; salvation is through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. But some people still insist on adding to the plan. They believe things like not only should you accept Jesus, but you need to baptized to be saved, or you need to be confirmed to be saved, or you need to take the Lord’s Supper to be saved.
We are in chapter 15 of Acts verses 23-35. We are going to look at 5 points tonight to cover this passage.
Point #1 is that there was the attitude that brought about this decree of salvation and that attitude was humility. READ 23. The leaders, the apostles and elders, placed themselves on an equal level with the brothers of the church. They never insinuated that they were higher up the ladder than anyone else. They humbly declared that the decision was a decision of all the brother.
In the oldest manuscripts of this passage it reads, “the apostles and elders. Brothers send greetings to the brothers which are of the Gentiles.” They were writing brother to brother, placing themselves on the same level as the brothers among the Gentiles.
There’s a lesson in this for us today. We are equal in the eyes of God. Sure there has to be some sort of authority to keep things organized and running well in any church. But just because someone has a position of leadership, does not mean they are more important than others, or closer to God than others. Deacon, S/S teacher, Directors, even ministers are no higher up or closer to God that anyone else.
So this great decree of humility is based upon humility. Everyone involved, and in particular the leaders, including the apostles themselves, realized that they were humble recipients of salvation just as all other men were. They were all “brothers in the Lord.” That means that we are ALL saved alike, “through the grace of the Lord Jesus.”
POINT #2. There was the declaration of the decree. Ritual and law are not necessary to salvation and the disputers of that were rebuked. READ v. 24. No matter anyone teaches, no matter who they are or how influential they are, salvation is: By the grace of the Lord Jesus and by Him alone. Ritual and law are not necessary.
The persons who taught otherwise, the false teachers, were strongly rebuked. They troubled the believers with their words. The picture is that of words heaped upon words, false words that disturbed the believers. But they should have noted as should we that the false teachers proclaimed mere words, empty words, and we must always remember that mere words spoken by someone who thinks he or she has authority are just words.
Salvation is by grace alone and nothing is to be added to it. God and God alone saves. A person either accepts God’s salvation or rejects it. It’s that simple. We do nothing to earn salvation.
These false statements that were made troubled the believers’ minds. And all of this was for naught. These guys that stirred all this up with the new believers in Antioch were not authorized by the church to do that. They were never commissioned by the church to declare that to be saved you not only had to know Christ and believe in Him but you also had to be circumcised. No one ever gave them the authority to do that.
And on that note: many, many times in our church, someone self-appoints themself
to make rules or to make others think that I made a new rule and they are just carrying it out. Never assume someone knows what is going on enough that they have been appointed to be the rule enforcer. If ANYTHING like that ever comes up, please come to me and ask. Most of the time, you will find that what is being said is false. My name gets used a lot in vain. Help me stop it.
Well that’s what these Pharisees were doing. They were believers, but they tried to add to the plan of salvation to include circumcision. It wasn’t true and they were not authorized to even say it.
POINT #3. There WERE men chosen to proclaim the truth. READ v. 25-27. The church sent Paul and Barnabas as men who had proclaimed the truth. They were known for declaring the truth so they were the best ministers to send. The church also sent Judas and Silas, prophets, worthy men, men gifted by the Holy Spirit. They were chosen to go with Paul and Barnabas to confirm what they told the new believers in Antioch.