Today’s Bible Journaling is from Acts 15:11, “But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.” (NASB)
To give a little background on this verse, the Apostle Paul and Barnabas had been ministering to the Gentiles and many were being saved through their preaching. Acts 15:1 says, “Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.’” (NASB) This brought confusion and arguing among the congregation, some saying circumcision was not required and some saying that it was. Paul and Barnabas were commissioned by the congregation to go to Jerusalem to talk to the elders of the church concerning this issue. As Paul is explaining, he appeals to them, “Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?” (NASB)
There were some in the church who wanted to require a strict adherence to the law in addition to being saved by grace. They advocated a grace plus works salvation. God never placed that upon us as Believers, and I for one am grateful. We can do nothing to obtain our salvation, it is given as a free gift from God with no strings attached. If someone gave you a present and then required something of you in order to receive that gift, then it would not be freely given, there would be strings attached…something you would have to do to receive it. In my book, that’s not a gift, that is a duty, something to be earned by your actions.
I have been in churches that required a strict adherence to their denomination’s book of laws as a requirement for salvation. Trust me when I say, I’ve never seen such unhappy, joyless people. They were under a yoke, a burden, that they were unable to bear. Regulations on outward appearance, requirements of things that must be done to appear holy. Perfection was the goal…I am here to tell you that no one is perfect, and God most certainly does not expect us to be perfect. We are not required to clean ourselves up before coming to Jesus and asking for forgiveness and salvation.
I am so thankful that my salvation comes freely by grace. Oh, how much God loves us! Because of His great love for us, salvation is free! We can live our lives for Him without worrying about whether we are measuring up to a set of laws that are impossible to keep. Does He require us to live a holy life? Absolutely! But we do the works because of our love for Him, and as proof of what God has done in our lives. (James 2:17) We are not bound by man-made laws demanding us to live a life that is impossible and brings no joy or peace. His salvation to us is offered freely. His grace is extended to us because of His love for us.