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Salvation for All Who Believe in Jesus

When I was younger and not a Christian yet, my seniors used to say that Christianity is a Western religion, and because we are Asians, Christianity is not for us. The practices and rituals of Christianity are different from our Eastern cultures. I also thought that Christianity was exclusive to the Jewish nation because they are God’s chosen race.

When I became a Christian, I realized that salvation is not about whether you belong to the Jewish race or follow their rituals and ceremonies. It is about believing in Jesus Christ by faith as my Lord and Savior. Even though I am not a Jew, I am saved by the blood of Christ who redeemed me from the penalty of sin. Salvation is by grace, through faith in Jesus. There is no requirement that one must live like a Jew in order to be a Christian.

God has designed His salvation plan for all people right from the beginning, even before the foundation of the world. It is not an afterthought. God, in His sovereign wisdom, chose Israel to be a type and a shadow of the Church, but it is His plan that salvation will be extended to every nation of the world in the fullness of time.

Throughout the Old Testament, there are prophecies that speak of a coming Messiah who would bring salvation not only to Israel but to all nations. In Isaiah 49:6, God says to the Messiah, “I will make you as a light for the nations that my salvation may reach the end of the earth.”

In the New Testament, Jesus spoke explicitly about the extension of God’s salvation to the Gentiles.In the account of the Roman centurion who requested him to heal his servant, Jesus marvelled at the centurion ‘s faith and declared,” Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith”, indicating that faith in Him transcends ethnic boundaries.

After His Resurrection, Jesus gave the Great Commission to his disciples, telling them to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This commission highlights the universal scope of the Gospel message, emphasizing that the disciples were to take the message of salvation to everyone, regardless of their ethnicity or cultural background.

The inclusion of other races into the covenant of grace was ratified in Acts 11 where Peter mentioned to the church in Jerusalem about the vision that he received from God, which he understood to be the inclusion of the Gentiles into the Church. The vision was followed by the conversion of the Roman centurion Cornelius and his household, and they all received the gift of the Holy Spirit just as the Jewish Christians had when they believed in Jesus.

However, there were certain groups of Jewish Christians who believed that the Gentiles needed to be circumcised according to the custom of Moses or they cannot be saved. There was much debate and heated discussion over the issue. Finally, the apostles and elders met at the Council of Jerusalem and made the important decision that Gentile believers are not required to follow the Jewish laws, including practices such as circumcision for salvation and that they are justified by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, just like their Jewish brethren.

We thank God for the monumental decision by the Council of Jerusalem. We trust that God has, in His sovereign will, directed the apostles and elders to make the decision so that today, despite our differences in race, language, social class and culture, we can confidently proclaim that we are the children of God through faith in Jesus alone. We all share the same privileges and riches of inheritance in Christ. More importantly, we are all one in the body of Christ. All praise and glory to God, our all wise, all powerful Sovereign King.

- Deacon Lee Pak Choon

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