On Thursday evenings we have been reading through the book of Galatians which has been quite a roller coaster ride. The background is that some false teachers have managed to infiltrate the church with their own version of Christianity. This version is very much the cheap plastic imitation made in China as opposed to the mahogany real McCoy.
The false Gospel told people that Jesus’ death on the Cross was not sufficient to save anybody. Inevitably this meant that people were pointed back to the Law of God; if you want to make heaven then you need to make the grade and keep the Law. This Gospel was no Gospel at all, in fact it was an anti- Gospel proclaiming nothing less than that if people could earn heaven then they would be allowed in. This is a bit like me saying to you that I will give you a million euro if you can fly, unaided- simply flap your arms fast enough, from Westport to New York City....Any takers?
The fact of the matter is none of us could make such a flight and, what is worse, none of us could keep God’s law sufficiently to merit Heaven. What is much worse is that God’s Law proclaims that everyone is in mega big trouble who doesn’t fully keep this Law; “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”
Seen in this light pushing people to try a bit harder to spiritually shape up (a mark of all false teachers) is not only totally futile but also totally depressing. I know in my heart that no matter how hard I try morally I am still not even in the same universe as God.
For people who are broken by their own sense of failure this is where the Apostle Paul’s Gospel (the real McCoy) enters the scene. Paul knew that a DIY self-help message was worse than useless so he redirects our attention away from ourselves and onto the Christ who died on the Cross. Why?
The Bible is very clear about two things 1) Everybody is cursed who doesn’t keep the Law (as we have already seen). 2) Everybody who dies on a Cross is under the curse of God.
Putting this together, and this is what the Apostle Paul wants us to grasp, Jesus willingly took the cursed place of everyone who would believe in him by becoming a curse on their behalf on the Cross. In simple English Jesus took the blame, the full hit, the punishment, the Hell (all of this is what ‘becoming a curse’ means) for every single wrong thing that his believing people ever have done or ever would do!
The awesome Gospel message is that for all who will simply repent of their sin and place their sole reliance for Heaven in the finished work of Jesus- they WILL get a front row seat in Heaven bought and paid for by Jesus himself!
So what do you want to do? Curse your way through life labouring under the curse of the Law while you try to achieve the unachievable? Or live life under God’s blessing as you, by faith, rest in what Jesus has already achieved as you look forward to God’s ultimate blessing- Heaven itself?