I have been spending a lot of time lately thinking about Christians. That is, I have not been thinking about those who by words, say they are Christians.  I have been thinking about those who have faith, in Jesus Christ. I have been thinking about those who by faith believe He was God in the flesh, and is God. By faith that He died and was raised again, and believe by faith, that in Him and Him only is salvation.

I began wondering how do these Christians understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

With that thought, I began to think about those early Galatian Christians, where legalist came into the Galatian church and began preaching that they needed the law to complete their faith in Christ for salvation. Because of that false teaching, Paul wrote a letter to them.

In that letter, he begins by telling them that Christ won the victory over the law, sin, and death.  “Paul and apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead.” He then greets those Christians in the Galatian church, by writing, “Grace be to you, and peace, from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Then not very far into his letter, He calls these legalist, teachers of the law, false apostles.

Grace remits sin, and peace quiets the conscience. Sin and conscience can torment us, but Christ has overcome these fiends now and forever. Grace involves the remission of sins, and peace, a happy conscience. Sin is not canceled by lawful living, for no person is able to live up to the law. The law reveals guilt, and fills us with despair. Grace and peace make a person strong, and courageous to bear and to overcome all difficulties, because we have the victory of Christ’s death and the assurance of the forgiveness of our sins.

Sin cannot harm those who believe in Christ, because He has overcome sin by His death. The genius of Christianity takes the words of Paul “who gave himself for our sins” as true and efficacious.

The false apostles objection to Paul’s Gospel is identical to that recorded in the fifteenth chapter of the Book of Acts to the effect that it was not enough for the Galatians to believe in Christ, or to be baptized. But that it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.

I must say that every teacher of work-righteousness is a trouble maker. Paul continues in verse 7 to say that they pervert the Gospel of Christ, or in other words, “these false apostles do not merely trouble you, they abolish Christ’s Gospel.

Christ and the law cannot dwell side by side in the conscience. It is either grace or law. To muddle the two is to eliminate the Gospel of Christ entirely. To mix law and Gospel not only clouds the knowledge of grace, it cuts out Christ altogether.

The Bible clearly teaches that we are all naturally depraved. Let man’s free will, strength, wisdom, and righteousness be condemned. We attain grace by the free mercy of God alone for Christ’s sake.  I know this is a hard saying to hear, and brings disfavor to those who say it. But I am reminded of what a preacher, not so long ago said, “If you preach the Gospel of Grace, and no one condemns you, then you are not preaching the same Gospel of Grace that Paul preached.”

The truth of justification is fragile. Not that justification itself is fragile, for it is not. Ah, but our knowledge of it is. I know how quickly we can forfeit the joy of the Gospel in the midst of trouble. In those times of conflict, we should be consoling ourselves with the Gospel.

Knowing that the flesh resists the Spirit, or as Paul puts it, “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit.”  We by our own reasoning, say that to know Christ, and to believe in Him is no achievement of man, but the gift of God. This Gospel of Grace gives glory to God alone, and none to man. Never can too much glory, goodness, and mercy be ascribed unto God.

On the question of justification, one must remain solid, or else we lose the truth of the Gospel. It is a matter of life and death. It involves the death of the Son of God, who died for the sins of the world. If we surrender faith in Christ, as the only thing that can justify us, then the death and resurrection of Jesus are without meaning.

Some will tell me the Law is divine and holy, and to that I agree. So it is divine and holy, but it has no right to tell me that I must be justified by it. The Law has a right to tell me that I should love God, and my  neighbor. It has every right to tell me that I should live in chastity, temperance, patience and so on. But it has no right to tell me how I may be delivered from sin, death, and hell. It is the business of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to tell me that. We must listen to the Gospel, for it tells us not what we must do, but what Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has done for us.

I conclude that the true Gospel is; we are justified by faith alone, without the deeds of the law.

My thanks to the Apostle Paul and Martin Luther.

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