Just as contemporary churches struggle with defining laws, public policy, and practices as it pertains to religious beliefs, the early church struggled and met and prayed for guidance. The question at hand in Acts 15 is about circumcision. Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” Acts:15:1
The apostles and elders met to consider this question. After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them; “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” Acts 15:6-11
I find it concerning that in pop culture today you can read articles that claim Biblical support for each side of an opposing view. I should find this chapter quite perplexing, but what I really want to focus on in this text are the words “God, who knows the heart showed that he accepted them. . .” He knows me, as the children’s song says, “in right, out right, up right, down . . .” As long as we understand this and believe in our heart, we have the grace of God with us. Sounds simple.
Dear Lord, we understand that life is not simple, that we are met daily with hardships and temptations that could cloud our hearts and minds. Please be with us as we travel through this life and know in our hearts that You are loved. Amen.