Soon after Jesus returned to heaven, the Holy Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost and the Apostles began to spread the Good News about Jesus. Soon, Saul turned to Christ and using the name Paul, he too spread the message that God declares people righteous on the basis of their faith, not on the basis of what they do. But some Jewish Christian teachers taught that salvation by grace was not enough, that to be saved, people had to be circumcised. The apostles saw that this dispute could hinder the spread of the Gospel. So in Acts 15, we find them meeting to resolve the issue. The circumcision teachers gave their side, and the Apostle Paul gave his side. Paul also told how God was saving Gentiles on the basis of their faith alone without circumcision. After both sides had presented, Peter added support of Paul’s position. Finally James, the half-brother of Jesus, gave their verdict: He said we should not make it difficult for Gentiles who are turning to the Lord. Yes, they should avoid any activities linked to idols; they should guard the morality of sex and marriage; and they should avoid serving food offensive to Jewish Christians. But they added nothing to the truth that salvation is a free gift of God’s unmerited favor. So still today, God declares anyone righteous who repents of sin and trusts in His Son—without any add-ons.
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