Online Bible Commentary
We Go to Heaven on Jesus’ Ticket
Acts 15:6 Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. 7 And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: "Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, 9 and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on 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 in the same manner as they." 12 Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles. (NKJV)
The time is A.D.49. Paul, Barnabas and Titus have come to the church in Jerusalem from their home church in Antioch, Syria to attend the meeting of the Jerusalem Council. The topic of discussion is should new Gentile believers be required to be circumcised like the Jews were required to be under Mosaic Law. A group of Jewish believers were engaged in this false teaching.
“The apostles and elders” came before the church to discuss this issue (v. 6). After “much dispute”, Peter took the floor (v. 7a). Peter stated to the church that God had appointed him to take the gospel to the Gentiles (v. 7b). This resulted in him converting the Gentile Cornelius and his whole household to Christianity (Acts 10).
Peter continued by stating that God “acknowledged” their belief by indwelling the Gentiles with the Holy Spirit, in the same manner that he did with the Jews (v. 8). God had “made no distinction” between the Jews and the Gentiles (v. 9a). The hearts of the Gentiles had been circumcised, purified, by God because of their faith (v. 9b).
Peter continued by saying “why do you test God” by requiring the Gentiles to obey the Mosaic Law through circumcision when even his fellow Jews and their “fathers” were not able to obey all of the Mosaic Law (v. 10). Peter concluded his discourse with the Christian belief that both Jews and Gentiles alike are only saved “through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 11).
Finally, “all the multitude” in the church “kept silent” and listened to Paul and Barnabas as they told of God performing “many miracles and wonders” through them as they ministered to Gentiles (v. 12). This was just further proof that Gentiles were worthy of receiving the Gospel without being circumcised.
The testimony of Peter, Paul, and Barnabas at the Jerusalem Council affirmed that salvation is received by faith through the grace of God. Neither circumcision, as the false teachers claimed, nor any other works could purchase salvation for the Gentiles.
Salvation is a free gift given to those who believe. It cannot be bought, for it was already purchased by the blood of Christ. No amount of works, or good deeds, can obtain for us a ticket to Heaven. We go to Heaven on Jesus’ ticket, not our own.