Dr. Luke again has brought us full circle from Acts 2 to here, showing us the overwhelming presence of God as the emerging church victoriously overcomes the works of Satan. He has shown us the character qualities of God: “a God of forgiveness, merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and unfailing in your loyal love.” [Nehemiah 9:17] Now, once again, Satan seeks to divide and conquer through a doctrinal controversy that the Judaizers (those religious Jews who followed the Law scrupulously) brought to a head by claiming one must be circumcised first before one can receive salvation.
We stand on the sidelines through this Jerusalem council, witnessing the debate between the believing Jews, the Apostles, and Paul and Barnabas. But, it is Peter who finally, after hearing all of the back and forth, stands and reminds them all that it is God alone who converts and cleanses the heart. God alone bestows the Holy Spirit on those who bow the knee. It happens regardless if one is a Jew or a Gentile, as witnessed by the conversion of the Samaritans and Cornelius. The key is this: “we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus,” and it is “ by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God;” [Eph 2:8]. What a gift God has bestowed upon us! We are saved not from obeying and following religious rituals but by taking a step of faith. Have you taken the step of faith?