Monday, July 21, 2008

Good Works

Last week, we left off discussing Galatians 1:6-7 which says, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.” Grace is “unmerited favor.” However, we have a tendency to corrupt everything. And with grace, the Bible addresses two problems that we as sinful humans introduce. First, we tend to abuse it. I’ve heard people say, “If I'm saved by grace, not by my works, then I can sin all I want!" No, it does not work that way. Those are teachings of the ungodly. Jude said in Jude 4 “For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Second, we tend to think that we must perform religious rituals and obey rules and regulations in order to be deserving of it. In the New Testament, men who thought this way were called Judaizers. These men taught that faith in Christ was not sufficient in itself, but that one must keep the Law of Moses and be circumcised. They believed in salvation in Jesus Christ, but taught that the Law must be kept as well to maintain it.

That attitude is still very common in the church today. Judgments are made against people who enter the doors of the church all the time. "Look at him - he needs a haircut!” “Look at her – she needs to learn how to dress!” Hey! I thought that grace was undeserved? It is not that we take the first few steps, and then God jumps in. It is that God is the initiator. Just look in the Garden of Eden at the fall of Adam and Eve. God had to seek reconciliation with Adam. Instead of coming to God and saying, “I’m sorry”, Adam hid himself.

And so the message of the Judaizers was very dangerous. It was not the gospel. It was a different gospel. And today, too many are preaching a similar gospel - which is really no gospel at all. It is a message of good works to earn salvation, good works to deserve salvation, and good works to keep salvation.

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