No Religious Additives

Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers, with the following letter: “The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings. Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth. For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.” Acts 15:22-29.

Since salvation came first to the Jews, many of them thought that salvation belonged to the Jews, and that anyone who would be saved had to first become a Jew. So the Apostles decided to make it clear that salvation only came THROUGH the Jews, because the Messiah came through the lineage of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But when Christ died for the sin of the world, the world qualified apart from being Jews. The only requirement for Gentiles was that which the Jews were also commanded: no idols, no overt pagan practices, and no sexual immorality.

Now that God has made us all one through the sacrifice of His Son for all of us, we are ALL called to obey Christ’s commands. We are ALL to love one another, and forgive one another, as Christ forgave us. We are to extend the grace of God to ALL people, regardless of what tongue, tribe, or nation.

This was a tall order for many Jews, who had been persecuted brutally by the nations of the Gentiles for centuries. And the Gentiles also had a bone to pick over the way the Jews sought to eradicate them from Canaan. There were real opportunities to incorporate some payback for systemic racism and acts of genocide. But the blood of Christ was given to take ALL our sins away. And He came to make us one in Him.

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