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. – Acts 15:10-11
Though not the “apostle to the Gentiles,” Peter quite necessarily was used of God to validate the extension of the Gospel beyond its Jewish roots. When he first began to report to the Jerusalem Council that the Gentiles had been saved, they balked a bit and wanted to add some “old” covenant tradition to the Gentiles’ new-found faith in Christ. Peter reminded them all that salvation had come, not by tradition, but through the grace of the Lord Jesus. Jews and Gentiles were no different in their means or mode of salvation; therefore, why would the Jerusalem Council want to introduce a division where God had not?
Peter’s statement may be the most significant in the history of the Church. What if he had not fought for this unity of faith? What if the council had not listened? If not, there would probably be separate Jewish and Gentile denominations to this day, another major manmade schism beyond those that already exist.
All true Christ-followers should look for the common ground in Christ and when possible, work together in the proclamation of the Gospel. How important is this obedient and unified response to Christ’s command? I leave you with the words of our Savior who said, “My prayer is not for them (the original disciples) alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message (that’s us), that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. I have given them the glory that You gave me, that they may be one as We are one — I in them and You in me — so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that You sent me and have loved them even as You have loved me (John 17:20-23, NIV).”
I have never yet known the Spirit of God to work where the Lord’s people were divided. – Dwight L. Moody