Christian Essentials, Controversial Issues, Evangelism & Apologetics, Religious Movements, Salvation

Salvation is by Faith not Works: The Gospel According To Acts 15:7-11

Salvation by Faith not Works

The Gospel according to Acts 15:7-11 Jews and Gentiles Saved by Faith not Works

Salvation is by faith not works is a discussion and debate that has been around for hundreds and hundreds of years. In Acts 15:7-11 we see that Peter stood up for the Gentiles in that they were saved by grace through putting their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, just as they did. (Jews) Some believe that salvation is not by faith alone but is accomplished through doing some type of works, whether being water baptized or keeping the 10 commandments or some other law keeping perspective. What does Acts 15:7-11 teach about being saved by faith? What does Peter demonstrate from Acts 15:7-11 that is relevant for today?

“7 After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; 9 and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.”” (Acts 15:7-11 NASB)

Acts 15:7

“After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe.”

The apostle Peter takes a stand for gospel and that the gospel is for all people, Jews and Gentiles. This is great news! The message of the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ gives hope for all people, the world, anyone, sinners, the unjust, lost, helpless, whosoever, all nations, for Jews and Gentiles. When Jesus came He came to minister to His people, Israel, the Jewish nation. When Jesus died on the cross and rose again, He did so for the world, and Peter got that message made more clear to him in Acts 10:34-48. To understand properly Acts 15:7-11 one must understand Acts 10:34-48.

“34 Opening his mouth, Peter said: “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, 35 but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him. 36 The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all)– 37 you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. 38 You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. 39 We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross. 40 God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible, 41 not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. 42 And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. 43 Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.”” (Acts 10:34-43 NASB)

Acts 15:8

“And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us”

Peter acknowledges and testifies that the Gentiles received the same Holy Spirit as they (the Jews) when they put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit according to what Jesus taught the disciples in John 16:7-15 comes to lead sinners to Jesus Christ, so that they may know Him and be saved. The Holy Spirit is for all who turn to Jesus Christ, and when they (anyone) believe in Him they then become born again, spiritually alive, they receive the Holy Spirit and are changed. (2 Corinthians 5:14-21, Ephesians 1:13-14)

Acts 15:9

“and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith”

The gospel finds it’s root in the Old Testament, of which the apostle Peter quotes in his epistles. For example: “21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. 25 For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:21-25 NASB) These are quotes from the book of Isaiah 53 which are Messianic prophecies that were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. In 1 Peter we read in many places that the gospel was for Jews and Gentiles, and that people are saved by faith not by works, in Jesus Christ.

“3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time”…”18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 19 in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, 20 who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. 21 Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you–not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience–through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.” (1 Peter 1:3-5, 1 Peter 3:18-22, NASB)

Acts 15:10

“Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?”

Peter is stating that before Jesus Christ came, died and rose again for the forgiveness of sins for all who put their faith in Him, that people could not earn their salvation or do enough good works to achieve it. Before Jesus Christ came there were many false and misguided leaders who emphasized to be saved meant keeping a set of laws and works. Being people of faith is found in both the Old and New Testament, and that people have always been saved (forgiven) by faith not by works. (Habakuk 2:4, Romans 1:16-17, Hebrews 10:38-39)

Acts 15:11

“But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are”

This is the heart of the gospel message of Jesus Christ, that we are saved by grace through faith and not of works. This is the message that the prophets prophesied that was to come, what Jesus taught, what the apostles taught, and it is what we should believe and teach as well. Notice what Peter taught in 1 Peter 1: “10 As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, 11 seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven–things into which angels long to look.” (1 Peter 1:10-12 NASB) Notice what Jesus taught in Luke 24:44-47: “44 Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” Notice what Paul taught in Ephesians 2:8-10: “8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

Saved by Faith not Works

In summary of Saved by Faith not Works the apostle Peter in Acts 15:7-11 (and many other places) makes it very clear that anyone who is saved is saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. It is the finished work of Jesus Christ shed blood, His sacrifice for the sins of the world, bringing reconciliation and peace, and defeating sin and death through His resurrection. For all who put their complete trust in Jesus Christ they can have the full assurance that they are saved, set free, born again, and salvation is by grace through faith, not the result of works.

“19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. 21 And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, 22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach– 23 if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.” (Colossians 1:19-23 NASB)

“1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” (1 John 2:1-2 NASB)

“4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith. 5 Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”…”10 The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. 11 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. 13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:4-5, 1 John 5:10-13, NASB)


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