Acts 15:9 — Hearts Cleansed by Faith
In Acts 15 at the conference in Jerusalem, Peter testified as to how God had used him as an instrument for the conversion of the Gentiles. In connection therewith, he declared that the Lord “made no distinction between us [Jews] and them [Gentiles], cleansing their hearts by faith” (15:9).
Some religious folks assume this means that salvation is given upon the basis of faith alone without additional acts of obedience. This is a tragic mistake.
First, underline the term “faith,” and in the margin of your Bible write “the faith,” a notation revealing that the Greek text has the definite article preceding “faith.” Under consideration is “the faith,” i.e., the gospel system as opposed to the Mosaic system. (Compare the objective use of “faith” in Galatians 1:23; 1 Timothy 5:8; Jude 3).
Second, make this notation: See 1 Peter 1:22. In that context the same inspired apostle affirms that the soul is purified by “obedience to the truth.”
Third, one should compare Peter’s comments in Acts 15, with Luke’s record of the Gentiles’ conversion in Acts 10-11. There, the historian makes it clear that several conditions were essential for the remission of past sins — belief (10:43), repentance (11:18), and water baptism (10:48; cf. 2:38).
When all of these passages are viewed in concert, the requisite conditions for pardon become abundantly clear.