Paying your own way??
What is the biggest goal that you have for your life? Make a lot of money? Live in a bigger house? Be seen to be successful by all your friends and neighbours? Maybe it is time that we learnt a lesson from the Apostle Paul.
On Thursday evening we looked at Galatians 2 .1-10 at our Bible study. This was a very challenging passage of Scripture as we saw the Apostle Paul's biggest concern for the people of God; that they live according to the 'truth of the Gospel'. Now what on earth does that mean,- you ask? A good place to start in our journey of discovery is to understand what the Gospel means. This word is used a lot in the Bible to describe how we are to understand the heart and soul of the Christian faith. And what the Christian faith is all about is what Jesus did on our behalf, not just in his life but, more especially, in his death and resurrection. From start to finish the Bible declares that the Gospel is NOT about what we have done, are doing or will do it (I don't know about you but if Christianity was some kind of DIY self- help programme based upon what we do, that sure would not be good news for me!). It IS about what Jesus Christ did do 2000 years ago. The Bible tells us that Jesus died to take the punishment for everyone who would believe and then rose on the third day to offer this forgiveness to everyone who would come to him in simple faith. This means that salvation is a free gift.
It is at this point that we come to Paul's passion- 'the truth of the Gospel'. To understand what Paul means we need to understand that there were certain people, Paul calls them 'false brethren', in Jerusalem who were teaching that Jesus' death on the Cross wasn't enough to get somebody into Heaven. The way that the false teachers were coming at this was quite subtle in that they were making circumcision a necessary requirement for salvation. Although quite foreign to most of us today circumcision was a church sacrament amongst the people of God in the Old Testament.
Sadly, people do the same thing today when they seek to make church sacraments (which are great thing in their proper place) a necessary condition for salvation. Like with Paul's opponents this is a terrible insult to God as it is really saying that Jesus' death on the Cross wasn't enough to save us.
The massive contrast between Paul and the false teachers was this.
Paul Christ + nothing = salvation Faith in Christ= salvation God's free gift= salvation
False teachers Christ + our good works = Salvation Faith + sacraments= salvation Man's works + merit= salvation
Are you living according to the 'truth of the Gospel' which means total dependency on the free grace of God, or are you lining up with the false teachers to try and 'pay your own way'?