As regular readers know, I am a participant in BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) and love to encourage others to find a BSF class in their area so they can participate in this in-depth study of Scripture. This year we are studying the Book of Acts (and related letters of Paul). As always, very rich.
Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” (Acts 15:1, NASB95, emphasis mine)In the margin, I've written:
"Beware this phrase ["unless you are ... you cannot be saved"]! It diminishes the grace of God. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone!"I've been a follower of Christ for over 35 years, and I've seen the damage that can be done by legalism, damage that is caused by any additional condition or requirement that churches/believers try to put on people for them to earn salvation. "Unless you are (fill in the blank), you cannot be saved." There is only one way to be saved: belief in Jesus (“if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;” Romans 10:9). Thank God I didn't have to do anything else to receive His forgiveness. Thank God that He reached down and accepted and saved me just as I was—a mess!—and then He started me walking on the path of sanctification that I continue to walk today.
November is the month of Thanksgiving for Americans. A great time to remember to thank God for His mercy (not getting what we most surely deserve, i.e. hell) and grace (getting what we most surely don't deserve, i.e. heaven). I pray that you will join me this month in daily thanking God for His amazing, grace-filled, merciful blessings that He has poured out upon us.