As regular readers of Write Thinking know, I am a participant in BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) and love to encourage others to find a BSF class in their area so they can participate in this in-depth study of Scripture. This year we are studying the Book of Acts (and related letters of Paul). As always, very rich.
This past week, we reached a verse that is (and has been for many years) brightly marked in my Bible:
Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” (Acts 15:1, NASB95, emphasis mine)
In the margin, I’ve written:
“Beware this phrase [“unless you are … you cannot be saved”]! It diminishes the grace of God. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone!”
I’ve been a follower of Christ for over 35 years, and I’ve seen the damage that can be done by legalism, damage that is caused by any additional condition or requirement that churches/believers try to put on people for them to earn salvation. “Unless you are (fill in the blank), you cannot be saved.” There is only one way to be saved: belief in Jesus (“if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;” Romans 10:9). Thank God I didn’t have to do anything else to receive His forgiveness. Thank God that He reached down and accepted and saved me just as I was—a mess!—and then He started me walking on the path of sanctification that I continue to walk today.
November is the month of Thanksgiving for Americans. A great time to remember to thank God for His mercy (not getting what we most surely deserve, i.e. hell) and grace (getting what we most surely don’t deserve, i.e. heaven).
I pray that you will join me this month in daily thanking God for His amazing, grace-filled, merciful blessings that He has poured out upon us.