I. THE SUBJECT IS SALVATION. WHAT MUST ONE DO TO BE SAVED? WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE SAVED?
A. What are we saved from?
1. Our past life in bondage to sin.
a. Sin has a way of wrapping its ugly tentacles about our lives and holding us in its grip.
b. Experience of catching squid when in sixth grade.
2. The consequences of our sin.
a. The wages of sin is death. Spiritual death, separation from God.
b. Facing the wrath and judgment of God. "For the wrath of God shall be revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who hold the truth of God in unrighteousness."
3. To speak of being saved assumes the condition of being lost. One must be lost to be saved. If you are not saved you are lost.
a. Jesus said that He had come to seek and to save, those who were lost.
b. What does it mean to be lost?
1. To be without hope and without God in this world.
2. To not know what it is to live now, and have no hope for life to come. "He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son, hath not life."
3. Paul said, "For me to live is Christ."
4. Paul spoke of those who were dead while they were still alive.
5. It means to spend eternity in hell.
B. What are we saved for?
1. To enjoy fellowship with God. To come into a meaningful, loving relationship with Him.
a. Fellowship with God brings contentment and satisfaction, for I am now discovering the basic reason for my being.
b. Fellowship with God brings indescribable joy that is full of glory.
c. This fellowship is not possible while you are bound up in sin. "If we say that we have fellowship with God and walk in darkness we lie and do not the truth."
2. To experience the eternal joy of heaven.
a. In His presence is fullness of joy, and at His right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
b. Jude tells us that Jesus is going to present us faultless before His presence with exceeding joy.
c. Jesus promises to His disciples, everlasting life. "And this is the record, God has given unto us eternal life, and this life is in the Son, he that hath the Son hath life."
II. THE PROBLEM. CERTAIN JEWS HAD COME FROM THE CHURCH IN JERUSALEM TO THE GENTILE CHURCH IN ANTIOCH, AND BEGAN TO TEACH THE PEOPLE THAT YOU CANNOT BE SAVED IF YOU ARE NOT CIRCUMCISED. i.e. IF YOU ARE NOT A JEW.
A. These people created a great dissension in the church as Paul began to dispute with them over the issue.
B. It was decided to take the issue to the whole church leadership in Jerusalem.
C. The early church fathers gathered to seek the mind of the Lord on the issue. This was the first general church council.
D. What must one do to be saved?
1. Are we saved through faith and works?
2. If works, what works?
a. Some were saying circumcision, and keeping the law of Moses.
b. Basically they were saying that you had to be a Jew to be saved.
c. This was a prevalent belief among the Jews, they felt that salvation was for the Jew only.
3. There are many today that still teach that salvation is by faith and works.
a. Most of the cults teach that there are certain works required for salvation.
b. It is interesting to find out what people are basing their hope for salvation and eternal life upon.
c. I had a young man come up to me who used to be in my Sunday school class and declare that he was no longer a Christian for he had become a Mormon. I knew that he did not fully understand what the Mormons taught by his declaration, but I asked him what was the basis for his hope for salvation and eternal life? He responded, faith in Jesus Christ, and my continued membership in the Mormon church. Or faith and works that are required by Mormons.
d. So many are led to believe that they must work for their salvation.
e. You may object saying, "Doesn't the Bible say that faith without works is dead?" Yes it does! True faith saves. True faith works. The works are a proof of the genuiness of my faith. But the works do not save me.
f. If we could be justified by works, then Christ did not need to come and die on the cross.
III. THE DECLARATIONS OF PETER.
A. God had chosen him to take the gospel to the Gentiles that they might believe.
1. When they believed the gospel they were obviously saved for God gave to them the gift of the Holy Spirit.
2. None of them were circumcised, nor kept the law of Moses.
B. God put no difference between the Jew and Gentile, purifying their hearts by faith.
1. In his letter to the Romans, Paul greatly amplified this very issue.
What then? are we (Jews) better [than the Gentiles]? No, in no way: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
There is none that understands, or seeks after God.
They have all left the path of God. They are all unprofitable; There is not one of them that does good.
Their throat [is] an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps [is] under their lips:
Their mouth [is] full of cursing and bitterness:
Their feet [are] swift to shed blood:
Destruction and misery [are] in their ways:
And the way of peace have they not known:
There is no fear of God before their eyes.
Now we know that what things the law saith, it saith to those who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law [is] the knowledge of sin.
But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
Even the righteousness of God [which is] by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference (that is between the Jew or Gentile)
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Where [is] boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
D. We believe that through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved even as they.
1. Paul wrote to the Ephesians,
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God:
Not of works, lest any man should boast.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Therefore remember, that you who in former times were Gentiles in the flesh, and were called Uncircumcision by that which are called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;
That at that time you were without Christ, and were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, you had no hope, and were without God in the world:
But now in Christ Jesus you who were at one time far off are now a part of the family by the blood of Christ.
For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the wall the partition that once stood [between us];
He abolished in his flesh the enmity, [even] the law of commandments [contained] in ordinances; that He might make in Himself of two one new man, [thus] making peace;
And He now reconciles both unto God in one body by the cross
And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
E. Thus the first divisive issue in the church was resolved by the conclusion that salvation is by the grace of God imparted to us because of our faith in Jesus Christ.