1Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers: "Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved." 2This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. 3The church sent them on their way, and as they travelled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the brothers very glad. 4When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them.
5Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, "The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses."
6The apostles and elders met to consider this question. 7After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: "Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? 11No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are." Acts 15:1-11
1As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions——it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith——and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:1-10
Grace: unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification
In the early church of Paul’s day there was a group of believers that also belonged to the Pharisees. This group believed that in order for gentiles to become Christians they had to be circumcised like the Jews and follow the law of Moses. As Paul travelled throughout the Mediterranean bringing the gospel of grace, this group would follow behind him disputing what he taught and perverting his message by telling the new believer’s they had to follow the law as well. Many of Paul’s letters were written to dispute the things they taught such as The Letter to the Ephesians.
The reason the Law was given in the first place was to show man the depravity of his own heart and that the law was impossible to keep without a Saviour.
19Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. Romans 3:19-20
Those who attempt to keep the law soon learn that they are unable to keep it.
10For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. James 2:10
In Christ’s dying on the cross, He set us free from the law of sin and death.
24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. Galations 3:24-25
1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:1-4
It’s amazing to me how we still try to put yokes upon ourselves and others when we or they fail to live up to the law. We feel we need to do penance and whip ourselves across the back until we bleed. (Not literally, but there are those that do). I have seen friends get so down on themselves because they failed God once in some area. People love to beat themselves up. My heart breaks when I see people going up the stairs of St. Joseph’s Oratory here in Montreal on their knees. (If you have ever been there, there are a lot of steps.) If they could only understand that Christ did it all for them. All it takes is a simple, "God I have sinned, forgive me!" Punishing yourself is not going to do one thing for you except give you a few bruises. Grace covers your failures. Christ took your punishment for you.
Does grace mean that we have a license to sin? Not at all. 1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Romans 6:1-2 Let Christ’s Spirit reign in you. He will change you. There were things I used to have great struggles with. I used to wonder how I could ever change. I couldn’t. The more I struggled the more I failed and the more I failed I would beat myself over the head. The change came about only through surrender and submission. But through it all His grace covered me.
There are also those like the Circumcision group of Paul’s day who to put unnecessary burdens on others. To some, it gives them a feeling of power. For others it is simply a misunderstanding of God’s word. There is not a single thing that you can do to add to what has been done for you. You say: "Surely it can’t be that easy? We must have to do our part in some way?" Christ did it all. You don’t have to pay for your salvation. It is a free gift. Just repent, turn from your sin and surrender to Him. Let Him change you. Don’t dwell on your failures. Of course you don’t deserve His grace. None of us do. That’s what it means by unmerited favour. But don’t stay there. Dwell on God’s love and mercy towards you through Christ.
Amazing grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I’m found
Was blind, but now I see
You are my King Lord Jesus. You are my King. Thank-you so much for that grace.
Thanks to Launa of Launa’s Little Piece of Heaven for creating the Take a Stand For Jesus banner for me. Let everyone know you are taking a stand and copy and paste it into your latest blog. Turn your space settings from private to public.
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