S (Scripture): Acts 10:45 The circumcised believers who had accompanied Peter were greatly astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles,…11:1 Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles too had accepted the word of God. 11:2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers took issue with him, 11:3 saying, “You went to uncircumcised men and shared a meal with them.”
O (Observation): The circumcised believers (those who we might call Jewish Christians) were those who believed that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, but also felt that following a lot of the Jewish customs and religious practices was necessary to be a “true” believer.
By default, those customs put them at odds with the Gentile Christians, those who who believed in Jesus Christ, but didn’t find it necessary to follow Jewish customs, such as circumcision, or avoiding “unclean” foods.
A (Application): When I talk about God’s relationship with the Hebrew people of the Old Testament, I remind them that God loving on the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was about God showing the WHOLE WORLD what love looks like. That love happened to be focused on one nation, but God never DIDN’T love the whole world. God used a promise (COVENANT) to Abraham to show what a covenant really looks like. And then, God made good on God’s own promise to be one with the descendants of Abraham.
Uncircumcised basically equated to “not a descendant of Abraham” and therefore, outside of salvation. But through the gift of the Holy Spirit, by God’s direction, all who believe become Abraham’s descendants by virtue of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
This also means that females have a direct place alongside men in this inherited covenant with Abraham. I’d be interested in getting a female’s perspective on this matter.
So, what marks exist for a believer? Does one have to live a certain sin-free lifestyle? Does one need a particular exterior mark? How do you measure one’s faith?
These are difficult questions, but hopefully they help us to understand that we do not have the final say in matters of salvation. I hope we also understand that anyone who believes in Jesus Christ is a welcome believer.
P (Prayer): Lord, you direct our days and you gift us with the Holy Spirit. Give us wisdom in sharing your message of hope, joy, and love. Shine your light on us, so that every believer might be a light to nations. Amen.