The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
The early Christian dispute over circumcision came to a council assembled in Jerusalem in Acts 15. In verses 6-11 we find that there was a heated debate among those present. The elders and the apostles were weighing the issue carefully. Finally, Peter spoke out in the meeting.
Peter’s speech is important. Not long before, he had been God’s instrument to bring the Gospel to a group of Gentiles, the household of Cornelius. On that occasion, the Holy Spirit had fallen upon the entire crowd, they were recognized as Christians, and baptized. Peter’s testimony is relevant. The apostles and elders agreed that Cornelius’ household became Christian without converting to Judaism. This answers the question at hand precisely.
Peter’s argument says that salvation is by grace through faith. It is not through the physical conversion to Judaism. If it were, the elders and apostles, and all the generations of the Jews, would have been saved from their sin through the works of the law they pursued. Yet they were not able to bear this burden. They needed to turn to God in faith. In these last days, Jesus has provided the cure for the burden of the law. He has provided salvation by grace through faith. At heart and center of the Christian life is the way God saves his people. It is not open to alternatives.
God has saved his people through their trust in Jesus. This is great news. Salvation is available to you and to me just as it was to Cornelius and his household. Jesus rescues his people from sin and death through his resurrection, not through our obedience. Our role is simply to live in that salvation, rejoicing that he has given himself on our behalf.
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