What Do You Bring to God?
June 27, 2023
-Dr. J. Vernon McGee, from the Galatians Bible Companion
How do you want to live your life in God? You have three choices: By the Law. By license. By liberty. The Law strangles you with rules, but license kills you with permissiveness. Only when you live as free as you are in Christ does life work out for you as God intended.
The apostle Paul wrote this letter to Christians living in Galatia (modern Turkey). Years before, he visited them when the church was just getting started. Now he heard that false teachers were telling them to go back to their old ways.
Graceto you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. -Galatians 1:3
This is Paul’s formal greeting that he uses in most of his letters. The word grace (charis) was the gentile form of greeting in that day, while peace (shalom) was the religious greeting of the Jews. Now the grace of God must be experienced before the peace that is from God the Father can be experienced.
These Judaizers attacked the heart of these Christians’ new faith. Don’t believe them, Paul said loud and clear: Faith in Jesus Christ is enough to save.
This is Paul’s fighting epistle. It has been the backbone for every great spiritual revival in the past two thousand years. Grace revolutionizes lives. Here’s his message:
Not only is a sinner saved by grace through faith plus nothing, but the saved sinner lives by grace. Grace is a way to life and a way of life. These two walk hand in hand.
The message of the book in one verse: Jesus gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father (see 1:4).
We can’t add anything to Jesus’ sacrifice to make it more effective or valuable. Jesus Christ gave Himself. He couldn’t have given any more. But why? To deliver us from this present, evil world. The gospel has the power and genuineness to deliver you. Do you have some sin chained around your feet? Jesus can deliver you. He can and wants to break that chain around our hearts. That’s why Jesus gave Himself—so we can be set free.
This is the gospel of grace and glory that the false teachers in Galatia were mutilating. No wonder Paul comes out fighting. He’s fighting for grace. He’s fighting for us.
The Judaizers cast a sly and subtle cloud over what Jesus did for us on the cross. They say, “Oh, faith will get you started but you also need to keep these rules or you’re not really saved. What Jesus did wasn’t enough.”
This old heresy is still with us today. It says you have to do something rather than simply believe something. But the truth is you can never be good enough to be saved. Jesus came to save sinners—that’s you.
Funny, most of the time, most people don’t think about being “good enough” to be saved, but they think they’re not “bad enough” to be saved. They refuse to believe they are lost. They don’t need a Savior. They’d rather hear how valuable and loved and special they are. All they need is a helper. They just try to balance good works against sins and have enough on the plus side to be saved.
But that never works. We need someone to save us.
God never asks you to live the Christian life. He knows you can’t. He wants to live the Christian life through you. This is the message of Galatians. First, we come to Jesus as sinners and are saved. Then He takes your sin and gives you life (see Romans 6:23). It’s as simple as that.
Have you accepted God’s offer of life in Jesus Christ? This is where it all begins.
This excerpt is from our Galatians Bible Companion. Download yours for free.
My Turn: Discussion questions from the Bible Companion
- Why is it so appealing to us to attempt to live by the Law, even though we come to Christ by grace through faith?
- How can you make grace a way of life?
- Why do you think it is necessary that grace comes before peace?
- The gospel means that Jesus delivers us. What does this freedom mean for you personally?
- How hard is it for you to rely on what Jesus has already done, as opposed to what you can do?
- What is the difference between you doing works and God doing works through you?
- Imagine being one of the Galatian believers who spent their lives keeping the Law before finally getting freedom after coming to faith in Christ. What would that feel like?