Reflections Week of 10/31/16

Different members of our church family write these reflections each week to go along with the two year reading plan the church is participating in. It is our hope that these reflections help you to get in to your Bible throughout the week and be challenged by the word of God.

Read Acts 15:7-11 (Monday 10/31)

Through the years, some Jewish leaders adopted a legalistic “holier than thou” attitude toward the Gentiles. Even after Paul’s and Barnabas’s account of the Gentiles’ conversion, they still insisted that one needed to become Jewish to be saved. They missed the point: the Jewish Law was a requirement from God before Christ to set His people apart, but no one was saved by it. Salvation could only come through perfect fulfillment of the law, which was humanly impossible; it only highlighted their need for a Savior. The Law in itself couldn’t save. Salvation came only through faith in Jesus’s perfect fulfillment of the Law by the grace of God. In this, God proved that we can’t earn salvation by our works, and we don’t get to add our own conditions to His gospel. 

Today, it’s still so easy to judge others by our imperfect standards, and make up rules for others to follow. But we aren’t the ones who save nor condemn. As Christians, we aren’t called to decide who can or can’t be saved; we’re called to speak the truth and point people to Christ. Only God saves, and He’s free to extend His grace to anyone.

For Reflection: Do you ever compare your “holiness level” to others’? How does the fact that we are all sinners, saved by God’s grace alone, change your view of yourself and others?

Read Acts 19:1-7 (Wednesday 11/2)

Like Abraham and the people of the Old Testament, John’s disciples were saved by faith in a future Savior. John’s message and baptism of repentance weren’t wrong, just incomplete, like the old prophecies of a coming salvation. After hearing Paul’s news about Jesus, John’s disciples no longer needed to wait for a future Savior to fulfill the gospel. Now they had all the pieces of the gospel John had preached: they knew who was their savior, and knew that He had done His work. Now, they could commit their lives to God more deeply than before. They were not committing only to repentance, they were committing to be specifically like Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.

I asked to be baptized when I was about six years old, with the thought that the point of baptism is “to show everyone that I’m a Christian.” While that’s basically true, I think I missed the deeper meaning of the act. What did my Dad dunking me in water really have to do with Jesus or the rest of my life? Since I’ve grown in the knowledge of Christ, I understand that Christian baptism is an outward act to display God’s inward work of salvation in my heart. It is a symbol of dying to sin and rising as a new creation, to live like Christ. 

For Reflection: For whom do you live? Were you ever baptized into the name of Jesus? Why or why not?

Reflections written by Sarah Rico

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