When they had read it, they rejoiced over its encouragement.
The church in Antioch had just received word from the Jerusalem apostles and elders that in order to be saved, it was not required to adhere to the Mosaic law in addition to accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior. Up to this point in redemptive history, God had used the nation of Israel to reach the world, but Jesus’ atoning death and resurrection had changed everything. Yet even some believing Jews had trouble reconciling the new covenant and they still clung to observance of the Law as a necessity to be saved. For thousands of years, the Jews enjoyed the status of being God’s chosen people through whom God reached the world,and some of the believing Jews continued to see themselves through that lens. Therefore they felt it necessary to observe the Law.
God revealed to Peter that faith is the device which purifies the heart, thereby erasing any distinction between the Jews and the Gentiles (Acts 15:9). Peter realized the power of the new covenant and proclaimed to the elders in Jerusalem that, “through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they” (Acts 15:11). Jesus changed everything in terms of salvation. It is by His work, and His work alone, that we are saved. Solely by the grace of God are we accounted as righteous when we place our faith in Jesus. This grace removes any and all burden on us in terms of earning our salvation, and in this knowledge we should rejoice and be encouraged. We serve a loving, merciful, and gracious God. May you rest in that truth today.
Pastor Jeff Mericle