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The Law and Salvation

August 8, 2016

The book of Acts describes the beginning of the church and the spread of the gospel. It is a book of beginnings and firsts including the first major theological conflict in the church. Conflict raged about the relationship of the Mosaic law to salvation. A group within the church began to insist that the Gentile converts had to become keepers of the law, essentially becoming converts to Judaism, to be saved. Paul and Barnabas vigorously opposed this false teaching. The conflict resulted in a meeting of the apostles, church leaders from Antioch and the church elders in Jerusalem. The events of this historic meeting is recorded in Acts 15. The truths declared during that council clarified for all time the Biblical doctrine that salvation is entirely the grace of God and only received through faith. Any effort to earn, deserve or accomplish salvation is futile and ultimately contrary to true salvation. Peter, Paul, Barnabas and James each addressed the gathered leaders. The doctrinal truths they declared show the fullness of God’s gracious salvation received through faith.

  • Salvation is received by believing the gospel (15:7)
  • The reception of the Holy Spirit is the sign of genuine salvation (15:8)
  • The Gentiles received the Holy Spirit without the keeping of the law (15:8)
  • At salvation, the heart of the believer is purified (15:9)
  • The law is a burden which cannot make men righteous (15:10)
  • All men are saved by the grace of Jesus (15:11)
  • The miracles of the apostles testified to the truth of their message (15:12; Hebrews 2:3-4)
  • The experiences of the apostles Peter and Paul were in complete agreement with the teaching of the Bible because the Old Testament foretold the conversion of the Gentiles as part of God’s eternal plan (15:15-17; Amos 9:11-12)
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