It is with a lot of fear and trembling I embark on something new in blogging.
I am a faith blogger and a lifelong student of the Bible with a degree in Practical Theology, yet I still feel hesitant to put myself forward as an authority on God’s Word.
Yet, you, my readers, are hungry for more Bible study resources and pray that this will serve as an adequate resource.
And there is no better place to start than in Galatians.
Galatians is Paul’s letter of appeal to the Galatian churches to return to the authenticity and purity of the gospel.
Paul had planted a number of churches in the region of Galatia – which is located in Asia Minor, but after him came opportunists, false teachers called Judaizers, who began perverting the gospel.
While they believed that faith in Jesus was necessary for salvation, they also believed that you had to do other things in addition to faith in order to be fully saved.
Paul begins the book of Galatians by laying a foundation for the authority of his apostleship and quickly expresses his astonishment at their departure from grace and into a false gospel.
What is the false gospel?
The false gospel addressed in Galatians is a gospel that justification alone is not sufficient for salvation.
Justification is just a big word that simply means: just as if you’ve never sinned.
This is what Christ’s blood did for us, when He died on the cross; and when we experience salvation by faith alone, by grace alone, and in Christ alone, we are justified.
The judgement that was against us for our sin is annihilated because Christ took our place.
However, when justification is no longer sufficient; when we place additional requirements of the old law – in this case circumcision – the gospel becomes perverted.
What is the danger of a perverted gospel?
There are three dangers that occur when the gospel becomes perverted.
1. We come under a curse – But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. Galatians 1:8-9
The Greek word “accursed” in these verses is anathema and literally means to come under a great curse. Not just any curse, but a great curse. Other translations use the word “damned” or “condemned to hell”.
To preach that salvation – acceptance into the family of God and acceptance before the face of God – and justification can be accomplished by any other means other than by faith in the final work of Jesus Christ and His shed blood, is the worst kind of perversion.
It is another gospel. It is not the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is man’s gospel!
And anyone who would dare to preach that anything mortal man does could hope to earn the acceptance of a holy God is the worst kind of impertinence.
2. True salvation doesn’t occur – “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.” Galatians 2:16
Man simply cannot be saved by any other means other than justification. Without true justification, salvation does not occur and there is no justification by the works of the law.
All the baptism, Bible reading, prayer, fasting, tithing, church attendance, good works, giving to charity, and Sunday School teaching will never make you any more acceptable to Christ than you are right now.
If we can earn justification then Jesus died for no reason at all.
Then His blood wasn’t necessary.
“I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” Galatians 2:21
3. We come under the judgement of the law – “But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.” Romans 7:6
Jesus’ death on the cross fulfilled the requirements of the cleansing and sacrificial laws of the Old Testament. These laws were designed to act as a veil between holy God and sinful man so that God could look upon man with favor and not see man’s sin.
But the sin was still there.
Jesus’ sacrifice did away with that. God chose Jesus to be the substitute for the judgment against us and now God can look upon man without that veil – the veil was torn away – because through justification our sin no longer exists!
When justification, however, is no longer sufficient for salvation, but we throw in works of the law as additional works of justification, we once again come under the judgement of the law!
“For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.” – Galatians 2:19
This doesn’t mean that all of the Law is no longer relevant.
Old Testament Law (the commandments) exist to lead us to Christ (the new covenant) because the Law alone doesn’t give us the power to overcome sin. Only Jesus Christ can!
The Law leads us to the Law Giver and through Him we receive salvation, justification, and the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit to live to God….to live free from sin!
If we want to live the Christian life with joy we must first understand the gospel! Join me next week as we look at Galatians 3!
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