Summary: Salvation...Cause and Effect...The chicken and the egg. This is about how we are saved and how we should live as a result of being saved. Link included to formatted text, Powerpoint, and handout.
These Necessary Things
In our last message from ch. 15 it was settled once and for all by Christ’s disciples in council: salvation is by grace alone, thru faith alone, in Christ alone…plus nothing, minus nothing…and good works have no part in our receiving of salvation.
v. 11 Only 1 plan of salvation for Jews and Gentiles/good people and bad people. The Bible says we have a universal problem…sin. It says nothing about the quality/quantity of that sin. “There is no difference!”
Thank God there is a universal solution…the blood of Jesus Christ!
This council settled this for the Jewish believers that day. They understood the true basis of salvation and not to add anything from their old traditions. Then the council decided, as a follow up, to send a letter to the believers in the Gentile areas, to clear up this matter…and to give them certain standards which should FOLLOW salvation as a natural result. In other words, the council put forth a Doctrinal Statement in v. 11, but then a Practical Statement which begins in our text today in v. 28 and following. They first deal w/ how we are SAVED, then they deal w/ how we should LIVE as a result.
You see, they have just downplayed the role of good works in salvation, and now they uplift the fact that good works do have their own place of importance.
It’s the chicken and the egg as we look at good works in Christianity. Some believe they are the cause and some agree w/ God that they are the effect!
v. 28-29 This is not a contradiction to v. 11. These are not requirements of salvation, but natural results of salvation.
If this teaches us anything at all it teaches us that if you truly come to the Lord for salvation, it will affect the way you live. What you believe should always affect how you behave. Your creed should affect your conduct. Your doctrine will lead you to decision and duty.
When I got saved, I got a new heart…but you can’t see my heart.
God gave me faith…but can you see it?
The only things that give outward testimony to what’s on the inside is what I do and what I say.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:16
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
…man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.
Often I hear people use this verse to justify sinful behavior…outward things they do. [“But God knows my heart!”] Or, some use this verse to say, “don’t judge me, you don’t know me!” They have the attitude that the only one they need to worry about is God.
I’ll agree that He’s the One we should try to please, and we cannot help but be falsely judged sometimes and we should take comfort in the fact that He knows the truth…but, why did God leave us here after we got saved anyway? To reach other people! And since man does look on the outward appearance, it matters how we live!
Ill.—2 men were talking one day. “Are you saved?” the first one asked the other. “Why would you ask me that? I could tell you anything I want…it’s easy to say yes, I am. But why don’t you ask my wife how I treat her…she’ll tell you if I am a Christian.” Boss/children/neighbor.
He wasn’t saying that being good would make him a Christian, but that being a Christian would make him a better husband, father, worker, neighbor…and that if it doesn’t, then something is wrong.
So, the Jerusalem Council wrote the believers this letter, encouraging practical obedience in 4 areas:
1. Avoid idolatry
2. Abstain from immorality
3. Abstain from eating blood
4. Abstain from eating meat from animals that had been strangled.
The last 2 don’t have much direct application to us today…these were cultural things which applied to 1st C. believers in the Jewish culture.
Ex.—eating meat offered to idols is not an issue today, but would have been very offensive to the Jews…so, “don’t be a stumblingblock in any outward way, whether it be wrong and you know it, such as is w/ fornication, or even if you know it’s no sin…perception is reality to your Jewish brethren, so don’t offend.”
So, the disciples are trying not to put the Gentiles under OT law, but at the same time they were asking them to be sensitive not to offend their Jewish brethren’s sensibilities. “Don’t just please God, but also remember men are watching!”
Well, we may not be able to apply all 4 of these things directly today, but we certainly can see some principles to apply: