It’s Friday, beloved, the day I’ve waited for all week! Not because this begins my weekend, as a homeschooling mom there really is no such thing as a weekend. We don’t get paid time off or sick days either, which usually means that I have no idea what day of the week it is! However, I’ve been preparing for today all week so I’m very excited. Why? My friends, history is a fascinating topic! And there is no greater time in history to research than the time we’re going to talk about today. God has shown His people such a kindness to have the disciples confront heretics during the period of time Scripture was being written. In this way, we have a pattern for how to address it in the future. This, as we begin in the book of Acts and move out through church history, we’ll see is the pattern. It starts with the Judaizers, Pharisees who had professed a faith in Christ, but we’re calling gentiles to a different gospel.
If you missed Tuesday’s post it will be helpful at this point to read it first, here. The doctrine of salvation by grace is exactly what’s being attacked in Acts 15:1 by these early heretics. God uses all things for good, and certainly had a purpose for these Judaizer’s coming into the body of Christ and causing confusion. Such as will be the case many more times in our study, we’ll see Christians coming together in the form of counsels to make specific declarations of Biblical doctrines. These early counsels helped to cement born again believers in Biblical truths. This is what we see in Acts 15:6, what is called the Jerusalem Counsel, believed to have taken place around 49 A.D. Paul also expands on this in Galatians 2:4-5.
What was decided in that counsel, and what is clearly taught throughout Scripture (Acts 13:39, Galatians 3:11) is that there are no works that can earn salvation. The Judaizer’s were not simply calling Gentiles to be saved and then to follow Moses, but telling them there could be no salvation until circumcision. We hear similar things today from many different groups, which follow the Judaizer’s in assuming anything man does could add to what Christ did. What pride, what foolish ambition, to attempt to pull Christ off His throne and seat yourself there, having believed your able to save yourself! The very idea is sinful, how could it save? This, my friends, is what we say when we join ourselves to this ancient heresy, and claim that works can achieve salvation.
What the Judaizer’s were missing is twofold, they failed to understand their own sinfulness and desperate need for Christ, secondly they failed to understand the immensity of Gods complete righteousness. When we see that God is utterly, infinitely, holy and just we ought to tremble. When we see that we are endlessly, hopelessly, full of wretched sin, we ought to tremble all the more. From this position, on our knees, fully aware of the bottomless chasm between God and man, the very idea of circumcision lending to salvation is laughable. Mankind is without hope on this earth, there is only one way of our own doing that we can merit salvation, and that is to be, from the womb, completely perfect. This, beloved, is impossible, as the Law clearly shows us. Our only hope is to fling ourselves upon the mercy of Christ, who willingly condescended to become man, entering His creation, from the womb living a sinless, perfectly righteous life, yet dying in the place of sinners.
Had these men, who went about laying heavy burdens on Gentile believers, fully understood the weight of their sin, they would never have suggested a work in place of grace. Understand, my friends, that even faith is a gift! Even repentance is a gift! Beloved, if with have been born again it is, from start to finish, by the grace of God, so that we have nothing to boast in. I didn’t understand this before God saved me, I thought I was earning my way into Heaven through my constant repeating of the sinners prayer. It wasn’t until I had my sin laid bare before me, and Gods righteousness proclaimed to me, that I saw my desperate need, and the folly of my false religion. A gospel given with anything added before, or after, Christ crucified, as means to salvation, can not save. Unfortunately we see these Judaizer’s heresy alive and well today, in the form of the cults false doctrines.
I pray this series will edify you all, beloved brethren, and encourage you to rebuke the falsehoods when you are confronted by them. Always doing so with love, and gentleness, bringing to your own mind the very truth you’re sharing, you are only where you are by the grace of God. If not for His mercy, we would be lost in religion and works righteousness. Not a single person who has ever lived on this Earth, except for Christ, deserves salvation. The wages of sin is death, the gift of God is eternal life. If you have earned it, it’s not a gift it’s repayment. If you deserve it, it’s not a gift it’s what you’re owed. We haven’t earned it, and we are not owed it, God’s great name is glorified in both His forgiveness, and His justice. Anything which takes from His glory and hands it to man must be rebuked. As always, dear ones, be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved.