Just Jesus. Not Jesus + Religion
Passages: Acts 14:1-15:41 & Proverbs 22
As the early Church in Acts was growing, a group began teaching that unless you followed certain longstanding religious customs, you could not be saved. Essentially, they were saying, “Ok, ok, maybe we’ll give you this Jesus thing, but to get saved you have to do this other thing.”
So the first disciples met and prayed, seeking counsel from one another and from the Holy Spirit, and determined that these men were wrong. We shouldn’t lay a “greater burden” of religious tradition or cultural customs on new believers. The disciples did encourage new believers to abstain from idolatry and sexual immorality and sent godly leaders into the communities to teach and correct. Most importantly they said, “We believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus.” Not Jesus AND. Not Jesus PLUS. Just Jesus.
The work of Christ on the cross is complete and sufficient for our salvation. He is enough, and He is the only way for us to be reconciled to God. No religious custom, human action, or individual effort on our part can overcome the sin that separates us from God. Only Jesus can save us.
This is a concept some of the Church leaders in the 1500’s referred to as Sola Gratia, or simply “by grace alone.” Salvation from sin is a gift from God. It is a completely supernatural endeavor. Jesus + anything else assumes that our natural work is valuable, and His supernatural work isn’t sufficient.
As you continue to read through Acts, you’ll see the early Church willing to give their time, their possessions, their comfort, and their lives to advance the Gospel throughout the world. They did this because they believed the Gospel was truly Good News—that God sent His Son to die in our place and take on the burden of our sin. And they believed, as we should, that Jesus is enough.
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