Summary: This sermon looks at three things we risk losing if we don’t recognize and affirm the sufficiency of Jesus sacrifice alone for our salvation.
So many times we have trouble realizing the full impact of something that has taken place. Historically we have seen it happen time and time again. Here are two examples that each of us can relate to. When Henry Ford went to a bank to seek a loan to begin his automobile company the banker told him that he would never lend any money to any automobile company because the horse and buggy were here to stay. Then when the telephone had been invented the owner of Western Union was offered the opportunity to buy the patent and he said the telephone was nothing more than a toy and would never be taken seriously as a means of real communication. In looking back those two men clearly missed some incredible opportunities because they failed to realize the full impact of what had taken place. We as Christians can do the same thing when we fail to realize the full impact of what took place nearly 2000 years ago on the cross. Let’s take a look at Acts 15 and see what it is we stand to lose if we miss this crucial aspect of our faith.
If we add to the requirements for salvation we stand to lose our…
1. Identity v.1
For the Jews, circumcision identified them as God’s people. It was the outward sign that God had given to Abraham. However the outward sign had no real significance apart from true faith in God and His promise. The same thing is true of us today. In the New Testament we see Baptism as taking the place of circumcision as the outward sign indicating the inward faith. However when we place the emphasis on the outward sign rather than on the reason for the sign we fail to be who we claim we are and lose our identity as those bought by the blood of Christ to those who achieved salvation by our own works.
2. Humility v.5
The law is a powerful thing. It embodies everything we draw our morals and values from. In fact all of western civilization has drawn their moral code from that of God’s law as given to Moses. This again was something that God had given to the Jews and it was a tremendous source of national pride. After all they were God’s chosen people through whom the law was given as well as the promise of redeemer for all of mankind. It had become such a source of pride that it was now being used as a standard for those it was not given to. Too often we as believers take what we know and understand as God’s expectation and try to impose it on those who God is just beginning to move in their lives. We forget that it may have taken years of spiritual growth and Godly discipline to bring us to that level of understanding. We lose our humility because we come across to others as being holier than thou. Jesus never required that for those who came to Him. He accepted them just as they were. Their heart is what He was interested in.
3. Credibility v.10
Peter recognized the problem they had here with the teaching that to be saved you had to be circumcised and keep the law. He spells it out in verse ten. “Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?” If one had to keep the law to be saved then we would all be doomed and Peter made that perfectly clear. Not only would the gentiles remain lost but so would the Jews since none of them were able to keep the law. Clearly we do not keep the law today nor can we live up to all of the moral standards we are each called to. For us to hold this level of righteousness up for anyone to be saved causes us a credibility problem since it would mean that we ourselves could not have been saved.
It is clear that all that had to be done for our salvation was completed at Calvary. We need to be precise that we are saved by grace through faith and not add any other requirements.