Today is day 86 in our journey through the Bible in 90 days.
It would be a major understatement to say that Martin Luther really enjoyed the book of Galatians. He said this:
“It is my epistle; I have betrothed myself to it: it is my wife.”
I love the book too, but I wouldn’t take it quite that far!
Galatians was Paul’s very first letter, and if I could sum up Galatians in one word, it would be “Grace.”
Galatians was written because of an enemy (or a group of them) who were attempting to add to the work of Christ. Paul had come through the region of Galatia, preached the Gospel, planted churches, and continued moving on, as he normally did. However, behind him came a group of men who became known to us as “Judaizers.” Their message was clear: Jesus is a good start, but you need Judaism’s laws, customs, and regulations to really be saved. In other words: Jesus + works = salvation.
Galatians was written to clear up that misunderstanding. The real equation is Jesus + NOTHING = salvation.
As Paul writes…
“yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” – Galatians 2:16
Although Paul had every right to call out the Judaizers, we have to be careful of falling into a similar trap. It’s easy to begin thinking that in addition to Jesus, we also have to be doing a lot of good things, read a certain amount of the Bible each day, attend church a certain amount of times each month, etc. Those are all GREAT things and we should be doing them, but if they’re done with the purpose of earning favor with the Lord, we’re failing. They don’t do that. He’s not impressed.
Just like the Judaizers, we have a tendency to complicate the equation…so let’s review:
JESUS + NOTHING = SALVATION
The good works, fruits of the Spirit, desire to attend church, read the Bible, etc., will come with it. A genuine experience with Jesus will create a deep passion within you to do all of those things. But beware of doing those things to earn favor, forgiveness, or love. God’s love simply can’t be purchased.
Another key verse is Galatians 5:1 about not putting on a yoke of bondage any longer. The Law was given to point out our sin, but it doesn’t fix our sin. Instead of living in freedom, however, these Christians had yoked themselves under the bondage of the law again – something that was unnecessary and damaging.
Paul pleads with them to not do this. In chapter 6, he tells them that he’s writing this letter with his own hands in big letter, hoping that they see how important this is to him and to their salvation.
On Friday, we’ll be reading the book of James, which focuses on the flip side of this topic: works. Some people have criticized the Bible and the 2 books by saying that they give opposite viewpoints and conflict with each other, which is obviously not the case. Both sides are necessary.
We need to understand the simplicity of the Gospel and salvation through Christ alone, but we also need to question our faith if there’s no fruit to show for it…but that’s a different blog.