Daily Word

God knows hearts | Acts 15:6-11

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.”

Acts 15:6-11 (ESV) 中文

Church dispute

Paul and Barnabas have concluded the first missionary journey of the church and were back in Antioch sharing. Some Jews from Judea came down and interrupted saying the Gentiles must (also) uphold the law of Moses (as they do) in order to be saved. Paul and Barnabus vehemently argued with them so the argument was taken to the apostles in Jerusalem. Let’s drop in on the meeting…

Great debate

The debate that began in Antioch now resumes here in Jerusalem: do Gentiles need to observe the law to be saved? In particular, the right of circumcision is in question – but the whole law is implied. “Much debate” probably means it was heated. 

Peter’s position

Peter had direct experience on this subject and was himself a Jew and, even more, an apostle of the Lord. He was most qualified to weigh in. Remember in Acts 10 (the whole chapter) when he was sent by God to Cornelius, the Roman soldier who had converted to Judaism. He preached the Gospel and Cornelius and his whole household were baptized with the Holy Spirit. So Peter was firmly committed to the truth that Gentiles can be Christians – and shouldn’t be burdened with Jewish OT law. “Requiring that Gentiles become Jews before God would save them would “test” God in that it would question the rightness of His action in giving the Spirit to Cornelius.” (planobiblechapel.org)

God knows the hearts

This short phrase, “God, who knows heart” sticks out to me. Does it to you? In the midst of the argument, it’s the anchor of the truth. How can we, humans, judge the heart of another sinful man? Surely we can observe fruit and draw conclusions, but only God truly knows the heart of a man. 

Saved by grace

And Peter’s final, salient, point is: Salvation is by grace! And in his statement, Peter clearly “levels the field” of salvation – it’s available to all equally. Paul later hammers this home in passages like Galatians 3:28. And all who believe have their hearts cleansed by faith (v9)


  • Ponder these truths for a short while. God knows hearts. Our hearts are cleansed by faith. There is no distinction between each of us – we are all part of the body of Christ, all children of the same Father. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in the finished work of Christ alone. 
  • Have you been convicted by the Holy Spirit of God that you are sinful and separated from God? This is not just now, it will be for eternity – unless you repent and believe. For more on salvation click here.
Idols of the heart. Image from azquotes.com *

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