Empty Cross Ministries
January 27, 2021
Daily Devotion in Acts 15
How do You Get to Heaven?
The fledgling church in Acts had some of the same problems churches today face. People were adding something to what was taught (Acts 15:1) about salvation. It was being taught and spreading that to be saved one must trust Christ for salvation AND also keep the law of circumcision, as previously instructed by Moses. As James simply put it, they were adding something to salvation when “… we gave no such commandment” (Acts 15:24).
God’s way of salvation has often been modified. Perhaps it seems too simple to hearers that to be saved one must believe that Jesus has been raised from the dead (Romans 10:9) and trust Him for payment for one’s sins. Many think that it would make more sense if some ritual or good deed were added to it. People often do not truly grasp the biblical fact that Jesus did it all on the cross, and nothing should be added.
If false beliefs and good works were not added to salvation, then all churches confessing to being “Christian” would teach the same thing. Obviously, they do not, and that is why there are so many different “Christian” churches.
Some of the false beliefs added to salvation are:
- Good works and deeds. Salvation is a gift; it cannot be earned. After one is saved, the fruits that prove one is a new creature in Christ include doing what God commands. Good deeds will not earn anyone salvation. Many churches and “Christian” religions have added their beliefs to salvation.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” II Cor. 5:17
- “Being good” is something that is wrongly added in order to keep salvation by some. If you think salvation is “kept” by actions, then one believes it is earned and not freely given, as God says salvation is!
“They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Romans 3:12
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
- Baptism. Baptism is important to do AFTER one is saved, but it does not wash away sins or make one saved. Many have turned the act of baptism for believers into a good work that “earns” them salvation.
- Church membership. God commands a believer to become a member of a local group of believers, but just joining a church will not get anyone to Heaven. Obeying some unbiblical decrees, laws, or church commandments will not get anyone higher than the coffin lid. The Bible’s way of salvation is how God has shown this church age is the only way to Heaven.
- A different leader. When it boils down to it, many “Christians” do not believe that Jesus is the only way. They put their faith in what their religion’s founder or leaders have told them is the way, rather than believe what Jesus said.
As Paul and Barnabas found, some have added to what God says must be done to be saved from Hell. It is not what I think, you think, or what someone else surmises about the way to Heaven. It is what God says is the way. Jesus said that “… I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Are you adding anything to your salvation?
“There are only two choices to Heaven: do or done! God’s way is all the necessary work is “done” by Jesus.”
Words to Understand:
Circumcised: removed foreskin off of males
Disputation: disagreeing with another
Dissension: a confliction of other’s opinions
Fornication: most recognize this sin as having sex outside of marriage
Surname: a more common name; nickname; family name
Yoke: device joining animals to work together; bound by an oppressive authority to do a task
1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.
2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.
3 And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren.
4 And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.
5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.
6 ¶ And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.
7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.
8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;
9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.
12 Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.
13 And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me:
14 Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.
15 And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,
16 After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:
17 That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.
18 Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.
19 Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God:
20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.
21 For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.
22 ¶ Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren:
23 And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia:
24 Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:
25 It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
26 Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
27 We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth.
28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;
29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.
30 So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle:
31 Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation.
32 And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them.
33 And after they had tarried there a space, they were let go in peace from the brethren unto the apostles.
34 Notwithstanding it pleased Silas to abide there still.
35 Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.
36 ¶ And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do.
37 And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark.
38 But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work.
39 And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus;
40 And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God.
41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches.