When Bill heard that Jesus died to pay for his sins, it did not make him grateful. Instead, he got angry. “I don’t want Jesus to pay for my sins,” he said. “I want to pay for them myself!” Some people find it hard to accept a gift, especially when that gift is eternal life.
This was true for many who had spent their lives observing the Law of Moses. They were willing to grant that God would accept the Gentiles through Jesus but only if they were circumcised first “according to the custom taught by Moses” (v. 1). They taught that circumcision was necessary for salvation. Because they claimed to represent the Jerusalem church, the believers in Antioch sent Paul and Barnabas to meet with the apostles to resolve the dispute. Before rendering a decision, the apostles and elders met to “consider the question” (v. 6). Peter observed that God had already settled the matter when He gave believing Gentiles the gift of the Spirit without requiring them to be circumcised first (v. 8). Paul and Barnabas described how God had validated their ministry to the Gentiles by confirming their message with signs and wonders (v. 12). James, a brother of Jesus and who presided over the meeting, explained that the Scriptures agreed with this (v. 15).
The inclusion of the Gentiles in the gospel was part of God’s plan all along. The letter that the apostles and elders sent back included restrictions involving dietary practices that were sensitive to those who valued the Mosaic Law as well as temptations common to Gentile culture.
>> Jesus is enough. We are saved not because of what we do, but only because of what Christ has done. The way to become righteous is through faith. No religious rite or human action can substitute for what Christ has already done on our behalf.
Jesus, thank you for who you are, your victory on the cross, and the sufficiency of your sacrifice for our salvation. We rejoice together with the apostles that we don’t have to follow the Mosaic law in order to attain peace with God.