Acts 15 The first Christian’s debate upon the religious doctrines is recorded in Acts 15. Jewish Christians, Paul, and Barnabas were arguing whether Gentiles can only be saved after circumcision. The two parties cannot reach an agreement, so they brought it to the council at Jerusalem and let the apostles and elders to decide on this matter. In the council at Jerusalem, believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees insisted that Gentiles be circumcised and keep the law of Moses. There were also disagreements between apostles and elders, therefore, Peter got up and addressed them, “… God, who knows the heart, showed that He accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as He did to us. He did not discriminate between us and them, for He purified their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” Afterward, James spoke up, “… as it is written: ‘After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who bear my name…’ It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.”
Brothers and sisters, let us comprehend how important it is to stand up bravely for the Truth. Let us not sacrifice God’s Truth in the name of unification. If Peter tried to play it safe and did not get up and speak, or if James was indifferent and did not made the conclusion, then the Christianity doctrines would be totally crooked. None of us can add a thing to the salvation of Jesus Christ, because the salvation of Jesus Christ is complete and whole. No one can be saved through his/her own work. We are all justified by our faith; this is a Truth that cannot be altered. As Paul wrote “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (Gal 2:21)
In Galatians chapter 2, Paul wrote, “When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.” We do not know whether Peter’s behavior here was prior to or later than the incident in Acts 15. Even though Peter was a great apostle, he was still a blessed sinner. He has his weakness, just like everybody else. Here, Paul opposed Peter to his face, and pointed out his mistake. However, Paul and Peter did not turn against each other after this event. In 2 Peter, chapter 3, Peter called Paul dear brother, and publically acknowledged Paul to be given wisdom by God.
Later, Paul and Barnabas held different opinions about Mark, so they separated. This time, they did not argue over the Truth, rather, it is a matter of different personalities and opinions. However, Paul also said in 2 Timothy that Mark is helpful to him in his ministry. After we believe in Jesus, God wants to change our lives, not our personalities. We should all have the life of Jesus, and yet we can embrace and make good use of the characteristics God has given us. We should all love and serve Lord our God with all our hearts, with all our souls, with all our minds, and with all our strengths.