Family Bible Study lesson for July 6: Good News! Saved by Grace
June 20 2003 by Kim D. Shaver , Galatians 1:6-12; 2:15-21

Family Bible Study lesson for July 6: Good News! Saved by Grace | Friday, June 20, 2003

Friday, June 20, 2003

Family Bible Study lesson for July 6: Good News! Saved by Grace

By Kim D. Shaver Galatians 1:6-12; 2:15-21

The gospel of Jesus Christ stands apart from all other world religions in one primary way. All other religions teach salvation by works. In all other religions, a person has to "do something" in order to be made right with God. Perhaps they have to go through certain rituals to gain God's favor.

One major world religion teaches that redemption comes by "relinquishing all desire" and "becoming one with the universe." And, worldly wisdom says: "If you are 'good enough,' you will get to go to heaven."

The good news of the gospel is that we are made right with God - not by anything we do - but simply by faith in Jesus Christ and His life, death and resurrection. From start to finish, the gospel is a message of God's grace.

When Paul wrote his letter to the church in Galatia, some people within that church were teaching that, to be saved, Gentile believers had to follow Jewish laws and customs, especially the rite of circumcision. Paul is bold in condemning what he calls this "perversion" of the true gospel.

Centered in Christ (Gal. 1:6-7) As Paul opened his letter to the Galatian church, he skipped over his customary thanksgiving for the believers and cuts right to the chase. The situation is urgent. "Evidently, some people are throwing you into confusion," Paul wrote. They are turning to a false gospel and are "perverting the gospel of Christ," he warned. The people Paul referred to were a group of Jewish teachers who believed that salvation came by following the law of Moses in addition to faith in Christ. In other words, they were saying that faith in Christ was not enough. Paul responded by proclaiming, in effect: "Faith in Jesus plus nothing is enough!"

Even today, if we set up additional requirements for salvation, we deny the power of Christ's death on the cross. Jesus Christ, crucified and resurrected, is the one and only gospel, and Paul resolved early in his ministry to preach nothing else. (1 Cor. 2:2)

Revealed by Christ (Gal. 1:8-12) No matter how angelic or attractive a person looks, sounds or acts, they are to be "eternally condemned" if they twist the pure and simple message of the gospel, Paul said.

Paul's double condemnation of those perverting the gospel in Galatia is one of the harshest statements in all of his epistles. He used strong language because he was dealing with a matter of eternal life and death. Paul was more interested in speaking the truth and preserving the truth than in winning a popularity contest.

He went on to ask, "Am I trying to please men or God?" We would do well to ask ourselves the same hard question. Which is really most important to you - the approval of God or the approval of people? No matter how hard you try, you will never, ever please all of the people all the time. Often, the harder you try, the more you spin your wheels. What a freedom is ours when we can truly say that we are living our lives "for an audience of One." If this is not the case for you, pray that God will release you from the bondage of "people pleasing" and set you free with a single-minded passion to please Him and Him alone.

Received by Faith in Christ (Gal 2:15-21) It is impossible to please God without faith, the Scriptures proclaim.

Faith is the starting point to be in right standing with God. How, then, are we "justified," or counted as righteous before God? Paul answers that question in these verses when he says, "Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ."

While the law provides an essential guide for righteous living, we could never keep the Ten Commandments perfectly. In the marvelous grace of God, he has provided a way of salvation that depends on Jesus Christ, not on our own efforts. But Paul goes further than justification when he talks about living for God. "I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me." Now Paul is talking about sanctification, the process of allowing Jesus to live through us daily.

If our sins and old self have been crucified with Christ, then we have also been raised with Him to walk in liberty and love. That is our "hope of glory" - Christ in us. (Col 1:27)

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6/20/2003 12:00:00 AM by Kim D. Shaver , Galatians 1:6-12; 2:15-21 | with 0 comments
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