Read This Week: Acts 15

Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” After 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. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. – Acts 15:1 & 7-9 NIV

Acceptance is a universal human desire. It transcends culture, race, background, personality, and experience. The need to be accepted and the longing we all have is innate in us from birth, and we navigate our way through life with that same need for approval, receptivity, and favor. It is something we yearn for and maintain a pursuit of throughout our journeys.

When we find acceptance, it improves our quality of life, reduces negative experiences, and can bring a heightened awareness of gratitude, joy, and contentment. Conversely, when we experience rejection or confronted with a relationship, community, or situations that make us feel unaccepted, we are prone to self-deprecation, depression, loss of happiness, and feelings of sorrow.

The ever-present and important subject of acceptance is central to Acts 15. It starts with some teachers coming to Antioch and teaching the Gentiles that they had to adopt Jewish traditions and obey the law of Moses to be saved and accepted by God. They were mixing law and grace and putting conditions on salvation for those who were not Jews. These teachers were presenting a dangerous message regarding acceptance by God of all people through Christ.     

Paul and his associates combat these teachings at the Jerusalem conference some 20 years after the events of Pentecost. They do this with a revelation about the true gospel of Jesus. Peter says in verses 7 through 9:

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. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.

Here, the record is set straight about the work of Christ and what it means for all people regardless of nationality and creed. Any teaching outside of salvation by faith through grace adds to the gospel and what is necessary to be made right with God. Paul makes it clear that the Judaizers’ instruction is meant to trouble the mind and is not the teaching of justification by faith in Jesus Christ that is effective for all who believe.  

The finished work of Christ on the cross ensures no difference between all people on earth when it comes to sin, salvation, and acceptance. And there is no greater truth to know and absorb than for us to realize that we are accepted by God through Jesus no matter who we are. We don’t have to do anything, achieve anything, look a certain way, or have the right family. We are accepted. 

The Lord’s acceptance of us brings indescribable joy and fulfillment that can’t be satisfied through anything or anyone on this earth. His unconditional love improves life at an eternal level and changes the way we view ourselves and other people that we otherwise could not see on our own.

10 Comments

  1. Heidi on January 28, 2021 at 3:49 pm

    Acts 15:8 says, And God, Who is acquainted with and understands the heart, bore witness to them, giving them the Holy Spirit as He also did to us; 9 And He made no difference between us and them, but cleansed their hearts by faith ([d]by a strong and welcome conviction that Jesus is the Messiah, through Whom we obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God).

    God was showing me that’s it’s always going to be about the heart first, that’s where our journey begins with Father God. The gift of salvation and our relationship continues with Him forever and ever. And guess what? It’s for everyone.

    Thank you, Father God, for your love for everyone, for whoever wants to be a part of your family! Thank you for Jesus and your Holy Spirit.

    • Jason on February 3, 2021 at 10:32 am

      Such a wonderful word, Heidi. Spiritual matters are most certainly matters of the heart first and foremost. I’m thankful that once God captures our hearts, He is faithful to sustain us throughout the course of our lives and journeys. That is a hopeful and encouraging truth.

  2. Alma Dolores Schmidt on January 29, 2021 at 12:04 am

    This week, God gave me another song from Acts 15 called, “Standing Up”:

    Let’s stand up together, praising our Lord
    Let’s stand up together, praising our Lord

    When we come together, we become strong
    Loving one another through our Lord Jesus Christ

    He is our light in the darkness
    He is our strength through each other
    He is our salvation

    Let’s stand up together, praising our Lord
    Let’s stand up together with our Lord. Amen.

    During this difficult time, we have to become stronger seeking our Lord more. We are blessed to have a family in Christ to help us on our journey. We give all the glory and thanks to the Lord.

    • Jason on February 3, 2021 at 10:29 am

      Thank you so much, Alma, for the reminder this week of where our strength comes from especially through difficult times. We have the God of the universe and each other. Those are great promises and your song reminded me of one of the verses from the old hymn, “Standing on the Promises”:

      Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord,
      Bound to Him eternally by love’s strong cord,
      Overcoming daily with the Spirit’s sword,
      Standing on the promises of God.

  3. Kathy on January 31, 2021 at 1:55 pm

    God was saying to me, “You as a Christian are not only saved by faith, you are also purified by faith. It is through grace you have been saved. If you are made right with Me by grace, you are not saved by grace and law-keeping. I want you to be teachable. A teachable spirit is a precious thing. I can redeem good out of evil, but you will be held accountable for any evil you do.

    You have to be right with Me and with others. As a Christian, you are commanded to resolve relationship problems with others, before you present ministry to Me. Remember also, new Christians need strong churches to grow and mature in.”

    What this said to me is I needed the reminder that my works don’t save me. I need to make amends with those I have grudges with or that I haven’t forgiven so that God can truly use me in ministry. I want to be teachable. The knowledge I learn can be used to help others.

    • Jason on February 3, 2021 at 10:48 am

      Wonderful post, Kathy. The idea of a teachable spirit stood out to me especially when it comes to learning from difficult times and making amends with others. A line like, I want to be teachable. The knowledge I learn can be used to help others, is a great reminder that we need a teachable spirit with God and those He places in our paths.

      We must be teachable and active listeners and passive speakers. We don’t know it all and never will no matter what the voice in our heads tells us. We have to learn to be still, put down the laptops and phones when connecting with God and others. That’s how we’ll learn and grow.

  4. Heidi on February 5, 2021 at 9:00 am

    I love that to have a teachable Spirit. Thank you, Kathy, and Jason you’re awesome!

    Our Pastor Randy who is in heaven now, we miss him but he taught us years ago to have a teachable spirit, He called it being FAT in the Lord

    Faithful
    Available
    and Teachable (trainable)

    That’s where everything starts and continues until we go home to be with the Lord.

    • Jason on February 8, 2021 at 1:27 pm

      Heidi, you’re so kind and encouraging. Thank you for your words. I love this acronym and teaching on how to have a teachable spirit. I don’t think I will ever forget that. What a progression needed for all of us: faithful, available, and teachable. Thank you for sharing this!

  5. Kathy on February 5, 2021 at 11:31 pm

    Love this Pastor Heidi and Jason! Thank you for your affirmation!

    • Jason on February 8, 2021 at 1:28 pm

      Absolutely! I always appreciate you and your insight, Kathy.

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