A recent survey by Ligonier Ministries and Lifeway Research identified pluralism as the real religion of many Americans. For example, 45 percent agreed, “There are many ways to get to heaven,” and nearly as many agreed, “There will be people in heaven who have never heard of Jesus Christ.” Most do not understand the gospel; 71 percent said, “An individual must contribute his/her own effort for personal salvation.”
Surprisingly, 54 percent of evangelical Protestants agreed with that last statement. With such theological ignorance, the message of Galatians is needed now more than ever! If you do not stand firm but instead step back into slavery, the consequences will be enormous. First, Christ and His work of salvation “will be of no value to you at all” (v. 2). Second, you’ll be obligated to obey the entire Law (v. 3), which is impossible. Third, you’ll be “alienated from Christ” and fall away from grace (v. 4). In truth, these three consequences are all the same and amount to damnation. No one can be justified by good works. Putting faith in works is not saving faith.
Circumcision was the physical sign of Jewish identity and faith. The Judaizers were telling the Galatians they needed to be circumcised in order to join God’s family. In itself, as Paul knew, circumcision didn’t matter (v. 6), but presented as a condition for salvation it was a return to slavery under the Law.
By contrast, the true gospel involves faith (not works), Christ’s righteousness (not ours), and the power of the Holy Spirit (not the flesh) (v. 5). We stand justified already, are being sanctified or made progressively holy, and are awaiting salvation’s future, complete fulfillment. This is “the righteousness for which we hope,” a hope “guaranteed by God” (1 Thess. 5:8; Heb. 6:19).
Apply the Word
Faith expresses itself through love (v. 6; 1 Cor. 7:19). As you consider your plans and schedule for today, how might your faith express itself through love for God and others? Make this a prayer and see what opportunities the Lord brings your way! Thank Him for the opportunity to express your faith in tangible ways that show love.