“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive if from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received if through a revelation of Jesus Christ. “
(Galatians 1:8, 11-12 ESV)
It is nothing new that we are bombarded by various “alternative” gospels, or supposed answers to the great question of life, “Why am I here?” Even in church circles, there are many different “versions” of the gospel, and I’m not talking about Bible Versions, but depending on one’s view of Scripture, their take on the gospel may become skewed. What sounds good and appealing to TV viewers, or others who more fair weather folks might not be so rooted and grounded in Scripture. Paul saw the same thing going on in Galatia.
He had planted the gospel there while apparently dealing with an illness of his eyes, (ch. 4:13-14) and had given them the gospel of Jesus Christ based solely upon salvation through faith in Christ, not upon works of the law. After he had continued on his missionary journey, someone else, namely the Judiazers, came along and required them to be circumcised in order to be saved. So now the Galatians were putting their trust in the works of the law, namely the rite of circumcision, instead of in the grace of God offered through faith in Christ alone.
This concept of a “works” salvation works itself into our minds so subtly that even those who have been in the church for most of our lives can be drawn into it without realizing it. When we start mentally weighing our good deeds against our bad, and justifying our actions as a result, we have allowed this “works” salvation to creep in.
The bottom line is that our works, our good deeds, our best efforts at being righteous will never be enough to make us righteous before our holy God. Only the grace of God, and our faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ can make us right and holy before Him.
It’s not that we shouldn’t do good works. Ephesians 2:10 reminds us, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” But the verses prior to that indicate, “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
There will be no boasting in heaven about how good we were, or what great deeds we may have accomplished. These will all be dwarfed by the realization of how rich and merciful was the grace of God that saved us, and how underserving we all were. That’s why it will be such a rich time of the worship of God because of the realization of His greatness, His love, and His benevolence toward those who are there in His presence.
Let’s begin that recognition of His goodness to us even now, as we offer back ourselves to Him as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1), and by making this true gospel known.
By His Grace Alone,
Pastor Bruce Jacobsen