Bible Studies for Life Lesson for July 10- Personal Checklist
June 23 2011 by Catherine Painter, author, speaker from Raleigh

Focal Passage: Galatians 3:1-3, 10-14, 19-26

A young serviceman suffered through his chaplain’s sermon on the Ten Commandments. Later, as he reviewed the list, his face brightened. He murmured, “Well, at least I’ve never carved a graven image!”

Everyone composes lists — for errands, shopping, appointments, and so forth.

Unfortunately, many adults approach their relationship with God the same way. Remember when offering envelopes included a checklist for present, studied lesson, brought Bible, made offering, and attended church? Checking those items suggested that we were winning God’s approval.

Now that we’re more spiritually mature, we make fewer lists. We’ve discovered that Christianity is a relationship with Christ, not a checklist.

In conversation with a friend recently, I asked where he planned to spend eternity. He said, “I believe I’ll go to heaven; I’m working on it.” He then recited an impressive list of his good works. I sensed he had fallen into the trap of legalism alongside some Galatian Christians who believed that Christ’s sacrifice alone did not provide sufficient basis for salvation; to become justified, they must add obedience to the laws of Moses.

In Galatians 3:10-14, Paul explained that justification by the law would require keeping the laws perfectly, and no one has ever done that. We are justified by God’s grace through our faith, plus nothing. Grace is a favor freely given without expectation of return. I like this acronym for grace: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.

We might ask, “What then was the purpose of the law?” Paul answered that until Jesus came, the law guarded us like a schoolmaster, showing us right from wrong.

Then Christ came and took our sins upon Himself on the cross. Now we live in the freedom of the Spirit-controlled life (v. 23-26).

We approach the cross by faith alone, and depart to live lives that issue into good works.

Isn’t it wonderful that in heaven we won’t have to listen as people recite how they worked to get there? We will all have arrived the same way — by the unmerited favor of God.

This lesson inspired me to make a list of my favorite scriptures, beginning with Ephesians 2:8: “For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift — not from works, so that no one can boast.” To Paul’s words I add one line from an old hymn: “Nothing in my hand I bring; simply to Thy cross I cling.”
6/23/2011 10:07:00 AM by Catherine Painter, author, speaker from Raleigh | with 0 comments

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