Christ Alone

Hello, my friends!

Have you ever found yourself wondering about the true nature of salvation? It's a question that has stirred hearts and minds throughout the ages, and today, we're going to dive into a pivotal moment in church history that settles this matter once and for all. Let's journey back to the early days of the church, where a heated debate was raging that would shape the future of Christianity.

Picture this: The gospel had begun to spread beyond the Jewish community, reaching Gentiles far and wide. Suddenly, confusion arose. Some were teaching that Gentile believers needed to be circumcised and follow the law of Moses to be saved. Can you imagine the turmoil this caused? It was as if someone had thrown a stone into calm waters, causing ripples of uncertainty to spread far and wide.

But God, in His infinite wisdom, had a plan to bring clarity. He orchestrated a meeting in Jerusalem, where the apostles and elders came together to discuss this crucial issue. It's fascinating to see how the Holy Spirit worked through this council to establish the true nature of the gospel. As we delve into this story, I want you to think about your own understanding of salvation. Have you ever felt the weight of trying to earn God's favour?

Let's start with Peter, who had a front-row seat to God's acceptance of the Gentiles. Remember his vision of the sheet filled with unclean animals? God was preparing him for something big. At the council, Peter stood up and declared, “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they” (Acts 15:11). What a powerful statement! Peter recognised that salvation isn't about what we do but about what Christ has done for us.

This reminds me of David's words in Psalm 32:1-2, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.” Isn't it beautiful how God doesn't count our sins against us when we put our faith in Christ?

Next, Paul and Barnabas shared their experiences, recounting how God had worked miracles among the Gentiles—a clear endorsement of the gospel of grace they were preaching. Their testimony was powerful, but it was James who brought it all together with a profound insight from Scripture.

James quoted the prophet Amos, speaking of the restoration of the tabernacle of David. Now, you might be wondering, what does this have to do with salvation by grace? Well, let me tell you, it's a beautiful picture of God's heart for all people.

The tabernacle of David was unique. Unlike the tabernacle of Moses with its restricted access and constant sacrifices, David's tabernacle represented a new relationship with God based on grace. It was a place where people could come freely into God's presence, where worship flowed continually, and where the focus was on God's mercy rather than man's performance.

Isn't it amazing how God uses these Old Testament pictures to foreshadow the glorious truth of the gospel? Just as David's tabernacle set aside the strict regulations of the Mosaic law, so too does the gospel of grace set us free from the burden of trying to earn our salvation.

This council in Jerusalem settled it once and for all—salvation is by grace alone, through faith in Jesus Christ. As Paul would later write, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

But here's the thing, my friends. This truth isn't just a theological concept to be debated. It's a life-changing reality that should transform how we live every day. Think about it: if we're saved by grace, not by our own efforts, how does that change our approach to God? How does it affect our relationships with others?

Let me share a personal story. I remember a time when I was constantly striving to be “good enough” for God. I would make mental checklists of my good deeds and bad deeds, always worried that I wasn't measuring up. It was exhausting, and frankly, it robbed me of the joy of my relationship with God. But when I truly understood the message of grace, everything changed. I realised that God's love for me wasn't based on my performance but on Christ's finished work on the cross.

This truth is echoed throughout Scripture. In Romans 5:1-2, Paul writes, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Isn't that beautiful? We have peace with God, not because we've earned it, but because of what Christ has done.

Now, you might be thinking, “If we're saved by grace, does that mean we can live however we want?” It's a fair question, and one that Paul himself addressed. In Romans 6:1-2, he says, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” You see, when we truly understand God's grace, it doesn't lead us to sin more—it leads us to love God more and desire to please Him out of gratitude, not obligation.

This understanding of grace should also transform how we treat others. If we've been shown such incredible mercy, how can we not extend that same mercy to those around us? Jesus told a powerful parable about this in Matthew 18:21-35. A servant who had been forgiven an enormous debt refused to forgive a much smaller debt owed to him. The message is clear: having received God's grace, we should be quick to extend grace to others.

But let's be honest—living in grace isn't always easy. Our human nature often wants to fall back into a performance-based mindset. We might find ourselves thinking, “If I just do this, God will love me more,” or “I've messed up too much, God can't possibly forgive me.” When these thoughts come, we need to remind ourselves of the truth. As Paul says in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”

So, my friends, I want to challenge you today. How can you live more fully from the grace of God? How can you extend that grace to others? Perhaps it's forgiving someone who has wronged you or letting go of the guilt from past mistakes. Maybe it's simply taking a moment each day to thank God for His undeserved favour in your life.

Be blessed today, my brothers and sisters. May you walk in the freedom and joy of the gospel, knowing that in Christ, you are fully accepted, completely forgiven, and eternally loved. Let this truth sink deep into your heart and transform the way you see yourself and others. For in understanding the grace by which we are saved, we find the power to extend that same grace to those around us. As you go about your day, remember the words of 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” In our weaknesses, failures, and struggles, God's grace shines all the brighter. Embrace it, live in it, and share it with the world.