12 The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. 13 When they finished, James spoke up. “Brothers,” he said, “listen to me. 14 Simon has described to us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles. 15 The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written:
16 “‘After this I will return
and rebuild David’s fallen tent.
Its ruins I will rebuild,
and I will restore it,
17 that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,
even all the Gentiles who bear my name,
says the Lord, who does these things’—
18 things known from long ago.
19 “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. 21 For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.” Acts 15:12-21
James was the disciple to speak up this time. He said what was said all along: why are you making it difficult for others to enter the Kingdom of God? It’s actually a relevant question for today as well.
On the face it, the Gospel is easy: believe and you will be saved. Obviously a lot more goes into it than that because there’s a repentance and the realization that we’re all sinners in desperate need of a saving God. But believing on the Lord Jesus Christ is all that is necessary to be saved.
Leaders pile on, though most of the time they don’t mean to:
- Be a good person
- Give generously of time and money
- Do good for others
Those three are the “works” burdens that religious leaders often put on well-meaning Believers. Those are all by-products of “Believing on the Lord Jesus Christ”, and are not requirements. That is an important distinction. Or the Bible calls those three tasks “working out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Philippians 2:12
Again, the beauty and mystique of the Gospel message is that it’s deceptively simple. In doing so, God removed all possible excuses and hindrances to the message.