Focal passage: Galatians 1:1-10
Who doesn’t love getting gifts? Dictionary.com defines the word gift as “something bestowed or acquired without any particular effort by the recipient or without its being earned.” When someone decides to give a gift, they don’t expect the recipient to earn it – then it wouldn’t really be a gift.
Paul wrote to the Galatian churches after hearing that some of them were doing just that – trying to earn something that had been freely given to them. False teachers had begun to convince them that they had to obey Jewish laws to be saved. In his letter, Paul reminds the Galatian believers that only Christ’s sacrifice on the cross could make them righteous before God.
For anyone to know the truth about Jesus and turn away from it was unfathomable to Paul. He highlights the absurdity of this by saying he was “astonished” (Galatians 1:6). He goes on to say that any gospel other than that of Jesus’ death and resurrection was a false gospel and those who preach it were cursed. While his words may sound harsh, they only highlight the seriousness of believing we can attain salvation on our own.
Our culture esteems those who work the hardest. We measure success by what we attain from our work. And there’s nothing like working hard for what you want. But when this idea seeps into our understanding of salvation, then we’re in trouble.
There is no amount of praying, Bible reading, fasting or church-going that will amount to Jesus’ death in our place.
Trying to earn the grace we have in Christ is legalism. We must guard ourselves from the temptation of believing works can save us.
Paul’s greeting at the beginning of his letter reminds us that grace and peace are only found by resting in Christ’s finished work on our behalf. This is Good News! Jesus did everything required for our righteousness. We can know true grace. We can know true peace. Salvation is a gift that is ours if we receive it.