and with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written,“ ‘after this i will return,
 and i will rebuild the tent of david that has fallen;
 i will rebuild its ruins,
and i will restore it, that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the gentiles who are called by my name,
says the Lord, who makes these things known from of old.’ ” [acts 15:15-18]
the new temple
the new temple that Jesus raised up was not one made with human hands; when Jesus died, the curtain in the holy of holies of the temple was torn in two, and today the blood of Christ makes the heart of every believer into a temple of the one Holy God. this is what the book of amos is talking about, and the reason james quotes it: the gentiles have already been shown to be holy by the evidence of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in them. any attempt to add further requirements for them to be made holy is a claim to know better than God what is holy! the gentiles’ holiness, foretold by the prophet amos in the old testament, is based on the atoning blood of Christ alone, not on works.
the issue of circumcision and whether it is required for believers might seem unimportant today, but there are many places we are tempted to do this same thing in our culture. what are you tempted to add to the list of things that make people holy before God? what do you want to add to the law to make people truly set apart for Christ?
there is only one who makes us holy, and it is Christ by grace through faith in him. the things we are called to do in obedience to scripture don’t make us holy, they allow us to partake in God’s calling to be his sons and daughters. obedience is a response, in thankfulness for the work Christ did in saving us. how would your actions change if you lived every day in thankfulness for who God is and what he has done for you? and how would your thoughts change if you trusted that your right standing with God depended not on your faithfulness, but his?
Lord, teach us to trust in your finished work on the cross, and to let thankfulness drive us to serve and obey you, not some desire to earn something you’ve already given us. help us to see those around us who need to hear the gospel and believe it for the first time, and give us the words and the courage to share the good news of your salvation!
~ stephen hall