God’s Hope for Your Heart from Acts 15

GOD’S GRACE REMOVES YOUR BURDEN

“…And [God] made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith.  Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?  But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”  (Acts 15:9-11)

Jewish Christians in the first century were very concerned that the Gentile Christians weren’t “doing it right,” and they were quite vocal about it.  They were convinced that to truly be saved, there was a whole list of rules people needed to keep in addition to trusting Christ for salvation.

While they would talk about grace, their actions and attitudes were more focused on what people were supposed to do rather than what Jesus had already done.

However, grace with conditions isn’t grace at all.

Peter and Paul and the Jerusalem council agreed that to lay great burdens of rule-keeping on the necks of Gentile believers was antithetical to the Good News of grace.  They recognized, both in this instance and in letters written later, that following Christ does include pursuing a holy life.  However, they also strongly affirmed that making holiness a condition for salvation rather than a joyful response to salvation is not what Jesus intended at all!

Of course, the same debate continues today.

There are some who are so focused on “doing it right” that they miss the Gospel of grace.  They will emphasize all of the moral instructions and commands of Scripture and insist that anyone who doesn’t follow their particular understanding is certainly in the wrong.

Yet, Jesus didn’t come to bring burdens, but to relieve them.  He didn’t come to weigh you down with law, but to lift you up with grace!

Because of Jesus’ finished work on the cross, all who come to Him and put their faith in Him are called righteous and holy, and nothing can change that!  When He calls and commands you to pursue a life that’s in line with God’s Word, it’s not a beforehand requirement for His love and acceptance.  It’s a grateful response after you’ve received them by faith.

May your life be marked by a desire to follow God’s instruction in Scripture, but don’t let an endless burden of rules keep you from living in the beauty of grace.  Trust in the kindness of Christ today, and as you do, you’ll discover the hope found in this liberating truth: God’s grace removes your burden.

-Pastor Phillip


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