“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.” (Galatians 1:6-7 NKJV)
Oh, those foolish Galatians! (vs 3.1) Usually, Paul had kind words for the churches that he wrote to. There were no kind words for the Galatians. He began letting them know what was wrong immediately after his introduction. They were turning away from the gospel. Most people who turn away from the gospel after believing don’t go completely off the “Christian wagon.” Often,much of what they say is true. What happens is that they begin substituting human wisdom for the truth of the gospel. Usually that manifests itself in their understanding of grace. Paul’s comment here that they were called in the grace of Christ is a reminder of how they began. As we read further in the book, we’ll see that the Galatians apparently have sought to mix Jewish legalism with the grace of God. Legalism, in any form, is the belief that God’s grace isn’t enough to either save us or to make us grow, when in truth, it’s the only way of salvation and growth.
We see similar problems understanding grace today. Some move from the good news of Christ saving to a legalistic platform of behavior that looks for ways to judge and condemn others. They are like Puritans of old who were described “Somebody out there is having fun and they don’t like it.” It’s a persistent belief that we should work for what we get, but that belief discounts the amazing grace of God who saved us not because of what we had done, but through His grace as shown in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. The other misunderstanding of grace would discount the cross by saying that God’s grace is all inclusive so that everyone, whether they want to or not, will be in heaven forever with God. Grace is seen as a one time event that encompasses every one for all time. (or so it seems as I read what these people say.) In the long run, Jesus’s crucifixion really wasn’t necessary for people to have a relationship with God according to this kind of teaching. My understanding of grace is that it’s necessary because we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Because of that, Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. We didn’t do anything to deserve that grace, it came from God’s love for us and He makes it available to anyone who will accept it. Then, having come to fellowship with God because of His grace, we continue to seek Him and we grow because of His grace. I can’t tell you exactly how that happens, which is part of the mystery of God’s amazing grace. Seek Him today and experience His grace for the first time, or experience His grace in a deeper way.
Lord, let me know You and the power of Your grace.