Monday, April 14, 2014
On this day the church could have died
Let me tell you about a day when the church and the Christian faith could have collapsed just like that pool did. I would argue that this day in history was bigger than when the Berlin wall came down. Bigger than when Germany surrendered in World War II. Bigger than your birthday. In fact, this day may have been bigger than anything in recorded history except for the three days when Jesus Christ was born, crucified, and resurrected from the dead.
I am talking about the day the Jerusalem Council met in or around year 53. The leaders of the church came together because of a controversy brewing in the church world. There were some Jewish believers in the twenty-year old Christian faith who wanted to require every Gentile convert to Christianity to first become a Jew. They said, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Do you get that? They were telling Gentile followers of Jesus that Jesus needed Moses to complete what He had done. They were saying in effect, “Hey, the cross was great, but it is the law that really matters.” They were teaching that salvation is not by faith alone but by faith plus works. So when the Jerusalem church leaders met to discuss the matter, it was the biggest day since Pentecost, because what was at stake was none other than the Gospel. If the Gospel had been changed, Christianity would simply have been added to the list of all the other world religions, each of which has as its unofficial motto, “Will work for salvation.”
You can read the story in Acts 15 and see how the matter was settled. It was a big day in Jerusalem. It was a bigger day for the church. What started as a small deception could have ended up in disaster, and changed history as we know it.
Thankfully, what threatened the church was quickly dealt with through godly leadership and biblical truth. The church did not lose its way or collapse like a cheap pool. The truth of the Gospel, that salvation is found in no one else but Jesus Christ, was not compromised but further confirmed.