Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
“FGalatians 1:4 - “Who gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father”
Paul ‘s primary purpose in writing the letter to the Galatians was to clarify and defend the truth of the gospel in the face of a false gospel. That false gospel that was permeating and gaining traction through the area at the time was the concept of a works-based gospel. A works-based gospel suggests that we have some element of control in our salvation based on our deeds (a.k.a works). For many of us that have grown up in church, this may not actually seem too far off from what we have been taught, but the reality is, this is a misinterpretation of the gospel that must be corrected.
But where does this idea stem from and how did it become a false gospel that permeated the early church? Since many of the early Christians were former Jews, this way of thinking stems from the Mosaic Law, which was a set of rules and regulations meant to help keep the conduct of the Jews in line with God’s teaching and set them apart as a people. While the Law was good and was the way that God related to His people at the time, the Law was truly powerless to save His people from the grip that sin had over the world, and needed to be fulfilled by a savior. This was accomplished when Jesus poured out his blood in sacrificing his life for us, atoning for the cost of all sins of the past, present, and future. This act fulfilled the law, and established a new covenant and way for God to relate to His people; not one based on our works, but based on His completed and finished work on the cross.
If we are honest with ourselves, if we have been a Christian for any length of time, it is very easy to fall into the mindset of a works-based gospel. We often judge others for behaviors that we may consider to be bad or unholy. We often think that if we go to church every week, or if we serve in the Sunday School, or sing the choir, that somehow we are a better Christian because we are serving God, and that because of those things we earn God’s love and forgiveness of our sins. But this is a false gospel and we must actively fight against this mindset when we begin to have those thoughts.
We must remember that it is only by God’s grace that we have been saved. Humanity is totally broken and sinful by nature, and nothing we could ever do would help us meet God’s glorious standard. This is outlined beautifully in Jesus’ sermon on the mountain, where he juxtaposes the Mosaic law with what the true standards of holiness are, focusing on the heart. As an example, he says in Matthew 5:22, “But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother will; be subject to judgment.” Does this mean that if we ever get angry that we don’t meet God’s standard? If that’s the case, I think we’re all in trouble, because we all get angry. And that is the point of Jesus’ sermon; to show that we are in desperate need of a savior.
Paul does his best through the letter to the Galatians to squash out the notion of the works-based gospel, and highlight that it is only through God’s love that he initiated towards us and his grace to send Jesus to bear our punishment that we are able to have right standing and relationship with God. It’s not because of anything that we did, or any level of status that we can attain. Let us continuously remind ourselves of this fact and humble ourselves through prayer and in thanksgiving to God for what He has done for us and all he continues to do for us.
Jesus, we thank you so much for the sacrifice that you made on the cross, taking our place and dying the death that we deserved. Holy Spirit, help us to remember this as we live our lives daily, and help us to continue to be transformed into the image of Jesus each and every day.
Thought for the Day
“How would our day-to-day lives be different if we woke up each morning grateful for the sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross? Try orienting yourself with the prayer above every morning for a week, and see how everything in your life begins to change as you see everything through the lens of God working for your good and His glory.
Alex Thomas, Long Island MTC, New York