Trouble and tension never seemed far from Paul and Barnabas, did it? In Acts 15.1 we read that
“…some men came down from Judea and began to teach the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”
People had taken so much offence to what was being taught that they had travelled to try and combat the simple teaching that faith in Jesus alone saves.
It was one thing for the Jewish community to accept one or two proselytes (‘God-fearers’ as they were known) who sympathised and got on board with Jewish customs of worship, but a totally different situation to accept a bunch of people with no intention of following Jewish rules and regulations yet who claimed to inherit salvation and eternal life on equal terms.
This really was an attack on the crux of Christianity, the defining salvific point of our faith:
“Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”
There is no salvation without the [circumcision] according to the custom of Moses, they said.
There is no salvation without first becoming Jewish.
There is no salvation without doing everything you can to keep the whole law, every last iota of it.
The trouble is, the law was never going to be upheld by regular people like you and me, its burden was too heavy (Galatians 3.10-24). It functioned as a signpost, a pointer to a person, a Saviour who would come to fulfil the law and release people trapped under its curse (Matthew 5.17).
Now that Saviour has come there is no longer any need to religiously and meticulously keep ceremonial and sacrificial laws, this is what Jesus fulfilled. Our salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, according to Scripture alone, for the glory of God alone. Amen!
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