Galatians 3:1-9 (ESV)
O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith—just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
As we saw last week, It is by grace we have been saved. Abraham was a man of faith. He left his home, traveled and lived as a sojourner many years to finally have the area known today as Israel given to him by God. Actually, he never saw the promise come to fruition, with the exception of the birth of his son, Isaac. He still lived as a foreigner in the land. From Isaac, came Esau and Jacob, and from Jacob, (renamed Israel after he wrestled with God–see Genesis 32:22-32) came the twelve tribes of Israel.
The Galatians, who began under grace, had now been influenced into thinking they needed to be obedient to the Law. Paul warns them that this is dangerous. The Law was given to show Israel that they could not be good enough. It was meant to point the way to grace. For the gift of God is salvation for all who believe, not those who believe and are good enough.
Don’t let the temptations of this world drag you down. Also don’t let the temptation to live by the Law drag you down. Are we to do good, of course. But what we do is out of gratitude. It does not gain for us our salvation. Contrary to popular belief, we do not have a cosmic balance sheet where we will be judged to see if we were good enough.
Those in Christ will escape judgment for salvation. Our works will be judged, but for whatever reward God will bestow upon us. Our faith determines salvation. Our works determine reward or lack of reward.
Personally the only reward I want, or even care about, is my Father saying: “Well done, good and faithful servant...” At the end of this life, I get to spend eternity with, and worshiping God. That is enough for me.
by Virgil Stripes
photo: Bird on edge of Masada, Israel