4.24.2016 Justification by Faith Alone
I’m so sorry you have to transition from listening to them to me now for a while but. There’s a video about grace graces. It’s an incredibly important topic for the scripture tells us it is our only hope for salvation. And yet it’s one that’s a topic that is so difficult to grasp because so few of us have ever actually really been shown grace. By another person in our life. And what happens is when we when we fail to really fully embrace grace we sort of really resort back to the way we’re naturally hardwired which is to say you know what the tone for the things i’ve done wrong by being a better person. And being good enough. But the trouble problem is that the trouble is of course that. Grace. In our efforts don’t co-exist. We can either trust in ourselves so we can trust in jesus christ we can either trust in our works or we can trust and grace. But not both. And really that’s the topic that our passes are scripture addresses to this morning and actual after fifteen if you’ve been here. You know we’re preaching through the book of acts. One chapter a week. And we come to the book of acts chapter fifteen well the early church. Addresses this whole subject. The big question of how do we get to heaven. The ultimate religious question. And so we’re going to take a look at that this morning i want to invite you to turn with me to the book of acts chapter fifteen x. is the fifth book in the new testament love to have you turn there with us. If not we’ll have the scripture on the screen behind me. In the book of acts chapter fifteen i mean for a start i want to just give you an insight into where this. This chapter lies in the big scheme of the book of acts is really strategically placed in the middle of the book of acts. Because it’s really it’s a can. It’s a hinge chapter. And it changes the trajectory of the whole church the outcome of this chapter does and the message that the church will communicate for the. Centuries to come. The message that we’re still communicating today. And it shows up in such a way that it interrupts paul’s missionary journey. So if you’ve been with us here the last couple weeks. You know there’s a man named paul’s an early leader in the church. And he’s taking this missionary effort he’s. He’s traveling abroad and he’s sharing the message about jesus christ. He traveled throughout the mediterranean region he traveled to an island in the mediterranean sea. Called cyprus and then he traveled north to modern day turkey or. At that time the go lation area. And he shared the message of jesus christ and we saw that as we try to minister to people just like paul does. Will have some successes will have some failures will have some exciting moments will also have some struggles all those types of things. But now we come into this chapter almost appears to sort of. Into rocked. Paul’s efforts but it really of reinforces the. The message that he’s sharing with people as he travels abroad. Here’s what the scripture tells us. Acceptor fifteen starting in the very first verse. Some men. We don’t know who they are. But some men we don’t know how many there are some men came down from judeo to antioch. And were teaching. The brothers. So they won from one reason to another where and. Church is a stablished. They show up to this church. And they start teaching some of the people who are part of the church. This message. Unless you are circumcised. According to the custom taught by moses. You cannot be saved. All right so they raise the ultimate. Religious question of salvation that is. How do we get saved now saved is a. Is a church a word that some of us are familiar with and others may not be familiar with. But essentially what we mean by saved is. How do we get to heaven. We use the word say because what we’re saying is we are being saved from the judgment of god and the end. At the end of everything we’re being saved from being on the wrong end of god’s judgment. And so therefore we go to heaven. So they’re really addressing the question of how do we get to heaven it’s under the premise that there is life after this that some people will go to heaven in some people won’t. How do we then make sure we’re amongst those who get to heaven. They have a suggestion. Unless you are circumcised. According to the custom taught by moses. You cannot be saved. So there. They have a proposal. And that is in addition to believing in jesus christ. These people were christian people who were part of the early church. They were part of the early followers of jesus christ. But in addition to believing in jesus christ. We also want to make sure that you were circumcised according to the law. Moses. Now. The tension. Is that in the early church this is. These are jewish people who are sharing this with. Gentiles people. So the early church was composed of both jewish people and gentile. People. This message would not bother the jewish church at all but it did bother the gentile people this was not a part of their custom so the jewish people are saying if you want to truly be saved sunday. You need to be circumcised according to the law of moses. So they’re saying not only do you need to be circumcised this appropriate. Religious act. But it also. All that the circumcision represented. Circumcision was really the gateway into the entire law all of moses. So they’re saying. Not only do we need you to be circumcised that religious act but. We need you to obey him to be faithful and obedient. Towards the law of moses. Be a good religious person. And be a good moral person. And that will get you into heaven. In addition to trusting in jesus so trust in jesus and trust in yourself some will put them together. And that will get you in to heaven. So that’s their proposal. We don’t have to wait very long to find out what the scripture thinks about this proposal. In verse two the scripture says. This brought. Paul and barnabas to of the early church leaders. Into shark to spew. And debate with them. So that paul and barnabas were appointed. Along with some other believers to go up to jerusalem to see the apostles and. Elders. About this question. So if there’s any confusion in the room. The early church leaders paul and barnabas. Thought this whole idea that you needed to be a good religious person and a good moral person in order to get into heaven. Was poor. Teaching. Bad theology. An accurate not in a line with the truth of god’s word or his will. But the early church was confused. Because they got some folks in their midst who were saying no you need to be a good religious person. Other people are telling them that’s not a part of the issue. So what they do is they send a delegation down to jerusalem. The hub of the early church and they say. We want you to go down there and bring back for us an answer. Once and for all about this whole question and their answer as i said earlier changes the church trajectory of the message of the church. From here on out as scripture tells this. Then in verse three that the church sent them on their way. And as they travelled through phoenician some area. They told how the gentiles had been converted. This news made all the brothers very glad when they came to jerusalem. They were welcomed by the church. And the apostles and elders. To whom they reported. Everything god had done through them. Now some of the believers who belonged to the party. Of the fairest seas in verse five stood up and said. The gentiles must be circumcised. And required to obey the law of moses. So here’s this proposal being restated again. And. Listen to what’s being. Restated by believers who belong to the party of the fairest seas. Now if you’re here today you’re familiar with the gospels matthew. Luke and john. The idea that there is someone who would be called a believer and. A fair see. Is almost shocking right. But apparently that’s the case. By at by this point time some of the members of the fair say group that often was resisting jesus’ ministry haven’t braced a relationship with jesus christ and begun following him. But they’re still holding on to the law of moses. Remember they add here more clearly force not only circumcision. But also the law of moses. So this is being repeated the proposals being restated. This is not just a person or two who believe this in the early church. A large contingency of important people are trying to share this message. And i want to pause and just invite us to think before we get into the church’s response to this proposal. I want us to discover the fact that i believe that there is a believer. Fair see. If you will in all of us. That there is this element of. Fairest see in each and every one of us who claim to be followers of jesus christ. Meaning. There’s a tendency in the us. An inclination and us to go back to the law to revert back to trying to be justified or made right by god. Through our proper behavior and. It comes from different places for different one of us. Different ones of us. For some of us we grew up in churches that reinforce this fair saic mindset that reinforced this whole idea that you should be a good moral person and a good. Religious person. In order to your way and to have it. Now i’m going to mention those of you who had a catholic upbringing and those of you who are connected of catholic church now. And then i’m going to pick on the protestants also in just a moment so will be fair here ok. All right so for those of you who grew up in a catholic upbringing or have a husband or wife who attends a coffee. Church or maybe you do yourself sometimes. Won’t let you know i can relate my family has a strong roman catholic background. My earliest memories of church were at a catholic church. But i think if we’re honest with ourselves. We need to embrace the reality that the majority of the people who attend a roman catholic church today not everyone. But the majority of them are hearing a message that is similar to what is being proposed here. In this passage of scripture. Which is in order to get to heaven you have to trust in jesus christ and believe in him absolutely. But you also need to combine with that. An element of being a good religious. And good moral person and the to end up determining. Coming together and up determining whether you get into heaven or not. Now there are also protestant churches that. Reinforce this mindset as well. So my point in sharing this is some of you can identify with the. The fair so you can at times find yourself. Reverting back to the law. Because that was talk to you as a child that you were brought up with that. But some of us got that also from a protestant church. You know and it’s actually more ironic. When we hear about it from protestant churches because the entire protestant movement. Was built upon the idea that we are saved by faith alone. And yet. Over the years protestant churches out there have been braced the idea that you not only need to trust in jesus christ. But you also need to. And then they’ve added things there are protestant churches that. That pointedly teach that unless you’re baptized for example. And baptized the way they want you to be baptized. Then you have no hope for salvation. And if i want to hear about those. Those movements and traditions i just want to say. Have you read x. fifteen. Do you not recognize that baptism here is is is that the new. Circumcision here. This is the new baptism or baptism of the new circumcision. It’s the same. Thing. Back then they were trying to say you need to be circumcised and today some church is saying you have to be baptized. Other protestant churches maybe. Reinforce this fair sick mind set but not so. Formally. It’s not a part of their official doctrine. It’s part of their church culture. Oh we believe that jesus is. You know you just to get to heaven you just need to trust in him right we’re saved by grace right we’re saved by grace through faith that’s what we’ve got to do just trust in jesus on the cross. But if you drink alcohol then you’re probably going to jeopardize your salvation. Oh we believe that jesus christ you know died on the cross for our sins and you just to get to heaven you just fully need to trust in him. But if you get divorced then you may end up having lost. Or jeopardize your salvation. So some of us grew up in traditions that didn’t. Formally. Right. Teach some other doctrine besides justification by faith. But the culture in which they created was so legal listing. They might as well have been saying that to their people. Because that’s the message they were teaching. Certain behavior has the ability to know a fire salvation. If that’s the case it’s justification by works. Not by faith. So i have a feeling that each and every one of us in this room if we’re willing to to discern. Our hearts we would discover that there’s a fair see in all of us there’s a temptation to fall back on the law. And all of us. But let’s listen to the church’s response to this proposal. Scripture says in verse six. The apostles and the elders met to consider this question. After much discussion. Peter got up and addressed them. Brothers you know that some time ago god made a choice. Among you. That the gentiles might hear from my lips. The message of the gospel. And believe this is very interesting that peter is the voice to get up and speak about this subject was some of you remember that just a few chapters ago. Peter and paul got in a huge fight over this very. Topic. Paul basically called peter out for being too legal listed for catering to the jewish people by being too legal istic and now. Peter is the one speaking up right. It’s as if got peter has done god has done a work in peter’s heart and peter has come around. And he now sees the folly of this mindset and now he’s beginning to lead the discussion. He says god. Who knows. The heart. Church i want to just read through what peter says and point out a few of the things that i think he is clearly telling us. Salvation is the result of. If salvation is not the result of our works and of salvation is not the result of our religious behavior. Then what is salvation. The result of. And he says here that salvation is the result of and he mentions. A few things that i want to point out to you first. God knows. The heart. Leave salvation one of the things that salvation is the result of is a changed and transformed heart. And you see the religious behavior. And the moral behavior those are. Outward things that truthfully someone could attempt to fake to put onto. To it. To achieve or aspire to but they’re all outward. And what peter starts off in response to that is by saying listen. Are god’s discernment. For whether or not we get into heaven some day is and has nothing to do with our outward behavior. It is about his understanding of our heart. It’s about an inward transformation of who we are this is not something that we can fake. We cannot pretend to god that we actually love him and put in place our trust and faith in him. God knows the heart so. Salvation is the result of a changed. Heart. You might be asking yourself well then how does my heart change. Well here’s what he says next. God who knows the heart. Showed that he accepted them. By giving the. Holy spirit to them just as he did to us. So salvation is always not only the result of a change of heart. But also the result of the holy spirits of work on our heart. Is the holy spirit it’s god’s spirit that works upon us. So that we place our trust in him. Not in ourselves is so it’s a beautiful thing when you think about it because the holy spirit is working on our heart. And then. To bring us to the point of salvation. And when we trust jesus christ with our life the scripture then says the holy spirit dwells inside of us. As a deposit guaranteeing our salvation. So it’s like the holy spirit is at work in our heart preparing an environment for itself. Preparing the way for itself to come in and tabernacle or dwell in. Side of us. Then. Peter goes on he says this. God who knows the heart as we said showed that he accepted them by giving the holy spirit to them. Just as he did to us. Then in verse nine he made no distinction between us and them for he purified their or hearts by faith. So not only is salvation the result of a change of heart. The result of the work of the holy spirit but is also the result of our faith being placed in got a notice. That is is tempted as we might be. To say that faith is finally finally the one thing that we get to do. It’s finally the one religious or moral act of our own right. We love this idea because it’s the one thing that we are finally putting in. Towards the equation. Look at how the scripture reads here in verse nine. It says he purified. Their hearts. By faith. God is the active agent. Here. And the scripture reinforces this in the book of if eason’s chapter two verse eight the scripture tells us this. As much as we want to be tempted by saying faith is the one moral thing that we put into the equation. Scripture says for it is by grace that you’ve been saved through faith. And this is not from yourselves. It is the gift of god. So man can take no credit for. Even the faith. In this situation. Towards our salvation. It is the work of god the scripture is telling us. So as the video said. It’s never about us. It’s always about. Gone and scripture goes on he says. This in verse ten. Now then. Why do you try to test god by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear. Do you see here this wonderful confession that peter just goes into. He says listen. Your church. Trying to tell this group of people they need to be obey the law so well that they can yield. Salvation as a result of that behavior and he’s saying. That’s not even something we could do as jewish people. God gave the law to us. We couldn’t even do it we have two thousand years of our history to prove to you that we messed up. Over and over again when it comes to the law. Abraham isaac jacob wonderful. Godly men full of faith. But they could not obey the law well enough to earn their way into heaven so he’s saying. Why would we place a burden on other people that we can’t even bear ourselves. If you’re here this morning in your still operating under the burden of. Of guilt from that comes from the law and moral responsibility. Please hear this passage. It is the scripture crying out to you saying. No one before you. No one. After you will ever be able to be good enough to earn their way into heaven stop trying to do that yourself. If you’re here this morning and you have a loved one who’s operating under that burden. Operating under that theological framework. Invite them to hear this passage of scripture. Why are you a part of something that is teaching you to try to live a certain way that the scripture claims. No one has been able to. And to this point. Are you better. Are you more righteous than the forefathers of israel abraham jake up and isaac are you more righteous than them that somehow. You might be able to attain what they were on able to peter says no way why would we make these people do that. It makes no sense that’s not what the laws about. He says no. In verse eleven. We believe it is through the grace of our lord jesus that we are saved. Just as they are. It’s by grace he says. So of ations always the result of a change of heart. The result of the work of the holy spirit. The result of our faith in jesus christ. And really to summarize it all to sum it all up. As a result of grace. It just boils down to this. God. Treating us. Better than we deserve. And that’s why we praise. And you can either. Count on the idea of standing before him sunday. And saying you know i want him to treat me. The way i deserve. Or you can stand before him someday and say. I count on him treating me better than i deserve. Grace. Or works. Paul wrote to the glaciers in chapter five or so lev and he said this he said brothers. If i’m still preaching circumcision. Then why am i still being persecuted. In that case the offense of the cross. Has been abolished. So he’s essentially saying listen you can either have a message of circumcision. Or a message of cross you can either trust in your works. Or trust and grace yourself. Or jesus but you can’t have both he’s saying. If i was preaching a message of. Of moral righteousness. In the law. And being a good enough person. Then no. None of these jewish people would be persecuting me. They wouldn’t be offended by the messes. I’m teaching. But i have left that. I recognize jesus is the fulfillment of all that. So i am not preaching a message of grace. That is based on the cross of jesus christ. And that they are offended by him persecuting me for. Do you see you can’t have both. Paul saying they wouldn’t both exist. But i’ve left the warren and entered into the other and that’s why i’m the recipient of all these people’s judgment. Church. At the beginning of our time together we watched the video. Our passes a scripture had absolutely nothing to do with the. Peterson counter with john. Other than the topic of grace which was raised from it. But it was in the passage of scripture that it alluded to it’s where peter has messed up in his life. You might have caught the reference where he had deny jesus. Three times. And he basically says. I’m still trying to make up for that and. Jesus talks to him about grace. So as we close our time together more i just want to invite you to consider i want to ask you the question. If if that was a video between you and jesus. And it was addressing the single greatest thing in your life. That you really need to see god’s grace wrapped around. You know the. The thing you did that your parents don’t know about thing you did that your spouse doesn’t know about. Thing you did that. You just sort of been pretending that god doesn’t know about what you need. What you need to talk to him about. And have him just remind you of his grace. And to tell you. Stop trying to earn your way out of that trust in my grace.