Acts 15: 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.
This is the first time the early churches came together for a conference. People were being saved; the gospel was going beyond the borders of Israel working its way toward Rome. Saul was on the Road to Damascus; a church was already there. They were growing and of course the devil was working within and without.
The Pharisees and some of the Jewish converts said all the new believers had to be circumcised. Some said they had to become Pharisees; some said they had to become Sadducees. They were trying to take away the joy in Christianity and change it. The gospel never changes. Jesus doesn’t need changing. Neither does the Bible. Truth doesn’t need to be changed. There are so many mutations of Christianity. If you don’t grow in faith you’ll get restless and want this or that to change. The only change needed is for us to get closer to God. We need to change and get back to God.
Peter spoke up telling how God sent him to the house of Cornelius, a Gentile. He was afraid not to go. Peter preached the gospel to him; he and his family got saved. A non-Jew got saved! Paul and Barnabas talked about going beyond the borders of Israel. People were saved. The Holy Spirit was in them as well because they were saved. Jesus is what saves. It doesn’t matter our ancestry. It’s who we are trusting and where we’re going. Other things are needless yokes.
There is enough to deal with in this world without ill feelings among the believers. It’s not my way or the highway. It’s God’s way. We must stick with Jesus. God forged a church out of all works of life. Peter, James and John were fishermen. We’re all equal in the sight of God. If he saves people from Egypt, or wherever, we should thank God for it. Philip went toward the borders of Egypt and told an Ethiopian about the gospel. He got saved and baptized. An Ethiopian? Yes! God will make things possible. He provided a way in the desert for him to be baptized. He took the gospel to his homeland. One of the earliest churches was in Ethiopia.
It was crazy of them to think only Jerusalem Christians were really saved. People didn’t have to live in Jerusalem in order to be saved. They didn’t have to be a Pharisee or a Sadducee. Anyone who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ was saved. There has always been the fake church. If you try to dress Jesus up a different way, you rob your own soul. He doesn’t need anything added to him or taken away. If we yoke ourselves or others with unnecessary things we get into trouble. Live a life consistent with faith in Jesus Christ. Purify your life by faith.
There will be more than Free Will Baptists in heaven. Over the years I’ve heard some say that only Free Will Baptists from southwest Virginia would go to heaven. Some of the meanest people I know go to church in Smyth County. If we trust the same Savior and follow the same book, if they follow the Word who am I to say they need something else. No Free Will Baptists or Methodists or Pentecostals will get to heaven. No Pharisees will get there. It’s not the handle you carry. You have to be saved. God is one God for the whole world. Jesus established one church so that whosoever calls on his name will have eternal life. We are to mind the same rules and serve the same God and put no unnecessary yokes on anyone. Anybody can be saved no matter what handle they carry. We were all unbelievers before we were saved. Now we’re what Jesus made us to be. Cast off the foolish yokes.
Stand for the right and the only true God. We might win others to Jesus. It’s not my side. It’s God’s side. Race, color and background don’t matter. Jesus saves anyone who believes. You don’t have to be young or old, rich or poor, a genius or ignorant. Jesus died for all. I’m glad we all have hope of heaven. Unshoulder the yokes. Live for the Lord and let nothing hinder us from reaching out to those who don’t know Jesus Christ.