Galatians absolutely rocked my Saturday! I read it while sitting in the waiting area at Wal-Mart getting my oil changed and tires rotated. If you haven’t read the book of Galatians in one sitting, I highly recommend it. So, let me get to the “rocking my world” part.
There’s a popular saying that goes something like this: “What got you here, won’t get you there.” Now, I agree 100% with this statement as it is intended to be understood. The strategies and ideas that got you to the present will not take you into your desired future. It emphasizes the necessity of change in any situation: personal life, career, church, business, etc. Its a great point, really. One that should be stated over and often. That’s for a different post though.
Paul opens his letter by basically defending the message he has been preaching. It came from God and wasn’t intended to get him in good with the apostles in Jerusalem. He was preaching grace because God revealed that message to him. However, after receiving salvation by grace, it seems the Galatians have been swayed to try to maintain their salvation by works, circumcision most likely. Paul is beside himself, even declaring that those preaching this to them should go cut off… well, just read it for yourself.
I know no one reading this has probably ever been tempted to undergo something like circumcision in order to remain saved. See, back then, in the early days of the church, people struggled with adding a lot of extra layers to their relationship with God. They would be redeemed by trusting in Christ, but afterward felt they had to perform a certain way, wear the right robes, sing the right songs, read the right number of scriptures, pray the right words… you get the idea. The grace that saved them wasn’t powerful enough to keep them saved. Thank God we don’t struggle with similar issues today.
Paul, seeing this trend in the church, went after it with all he could muster. He spelled it out – what begins in faith must continue in faith. He coins a phrase, “falling from grace,” to describe the move from grace and faith to something more centered around the action and activity of the person. He goes on to write the famous, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” In other words, if we are born by the spirit, let us also continue to live by the spirit.
Here’s the thought that captivated me this past Saturday: Jesus doesn’t save us so that we can turn and save ourselves. How often do we get caught up in that trap? Jesus will transform our lives, then we end up abandoning the same grace that saved us. Most of the time, this doesn’t happen in a vicious, walking-away-from-God kind of way. Instead, it happens when we depend on how good we’ve become, how much we are doing for Jesus, how much we’ve changed for him. It happens when we place our faith in our faith than in God, when we trust in our ability to trust God more than we trust in God.
In other words, the grace that saved you is the same grace that will keep you. What got you here, will take you there!