A decision had to be made. Clearly, God made the choice to spread the Gospel to both Jews and non-Jews. Clearly the Holy Spirit was working in people’s lives even when they had not and would not follow Jewish law., This was causing an uproar inside the Jewish church and out on the road where Paul and Barnabus were on mission. So, all the leadership gathered and sought the Lord to decide the issue firmly and finally. As they listened to Peter, Paul and Barnabus, it became clear that God was working in the Gentiles’ lives, without them conforming to Jewish law and tradition.
The decision was made by the Apostles and Elders that Gentiles need not follow Jewish Law to be saved. They did need to live lives that Honor God–so no sexual sin and no practicing other heathen faith traditions. But, trying to live up to Jewish law did not work for the Jews, and will not be demanded for the Gentiles. This is what God made clear to the Church leadership and this is what the church has practiced ever since.
Men always want a to do list to show that their accomplishment somehow affects their holiness and salvation. God sent Christ because, try though they may, Men simply cannot live perfect lives and earn their salvation. We are incapable of checking enough boxes or living perfect enough to overcome the sin in our lives and our desire to be in control. God’s gift of salvation was wholly that, a gift. It had no extra requirements. Even now, we still try to do things to win favor with God, believing somehow, we will get some preferential treatment. It is simply not the case. Paul said it best, in Ephesians 2: 8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith and not of yourselves. It is a gift of God, not of works, lest, any man should boast.”
God Bless You
But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question. 3 So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers.[a] 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they declared all that God had done with them. 5 But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.”
6 The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. 7 And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. 10 Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”
12 And all the assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. 13 After they finished speaking, James replied, “Brothers, listen to me. 14 Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. 15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written,
16 “‘After this I will return,
and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen;
I will rebuild its ruins,
and I will restore it,
17 that the remnant[b] of mankind may seek the Lord,
and all the Gentiles who are called by my name,
says the Lord, who makes these things 18 known from of old.’
19 Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, 20 but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood. 21 For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.”