Acts 15:1-6: The gloves are off.

“Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: ‘Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.’ This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. The church sent them on their way, and as they travelled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the believers very glad. When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them. Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, ‘The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.’ The apostles and elders met to consider this question.”NIV UK

Christian people can be unnecessarily contentious. All too often sincere believers savage fellow-believers (regularly in print) and the disagreements are over secondary issues. Brothers and sisters, this should not be. As I observed in a recent daily thought, we must not ‘major on the minors.’ However, there comes a time when you really do have to go into bat on an issue. This was one of those occasions for Peter, Paul and Barnabas. The question was, ‘What do you need in order to be saved?’ There were Jewish Christians who argued that you had to have faith plus circumcision; the apostles always insisted that it was faith plus nothing. Salvation is ‘by grace alone, through faith alone.’ It’s faith in Jesus that saves. It’s similar when Paul writes Galatians. He doesn’t hang around at the outset of the letter. Pleasantries are at a minimum. He gets right to it. He is at white heat.The gospel is at stake, and the gloves are off. Paul is facing pretty much the same question as the church in Acts 15. I don’t want to be a petty, petulant, argumentative sort, picking fights with people because they don’t see things the way I do. Nevertheless, may I not fail to go to war for truth when such a battle is required. At times it will be. Truth matters. Error destroys