Why do we need a Saviour? Because we are lost and dead in sin and can’t save ourselves. If we could save ourselves, there would be no need for the Gospel. If we could earn our way to heaven by the obeying all of God’s law, we wouldn’t need Jesus. He alone is the Saviour of the world and our only hope.
And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world. (1 John 4:14 ESV)
How is a sin stained person declared righteous before a holy God? Many believe that if a lifetime of good works outweighs our evil deeds, God will accept us and we will be declared worthy of heaven. Sadly, many are deceived and live in this hellish error. Paul teaches,
…yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ (Galatians 2:16a ESV)
In Galatians 2 we find Paul contending for the unity of the church and the purity of the gospel (see 2:5). He wanted to advance the gospel that was given to him by revelation from God, but here he had to defend and guard it against the influence of those who taught that it is not merely Christ alone who saves us, but Christ PLUS good works.
Paul was afraid that what had happened in Jerusalem would also happen in Galatia. Because of influence of the false brothers, some believers were being led back into the slavery of living by obedience to the law as the partial means of their salvation. Contending for the Gospel meant that Paul had to publicly confront Peter and his inconsistent behaviour. At one point Peter ate with Gentiles (as one free in Christ), but upon seeing the disdain of the Judaizers (false believers), he pulled back from eating with the Gentiles because of fear of the circumcision party. This betrayed faithfulness to the Gospel.
Judaizers taught that Christians must observe the Law of Moses as a necessary part of salvation. Their doctrine of was a mixture of the grace of Christ AND personal good works. We read more of how this false doctrine was dealt with in Acts 15. Peter’s behaviour affected other leaders including even Barnabas, and Paul was compelled to stop this hypocrisy in its tracks.
In our place, Jesus Christ absorbed the full wrath of God that was the just sentence of breaking God’s law. He took we what deserved to receive. This was the drastic price paid for salvation, and there is no other way to be saved but for the grace of God in Christ (Eph. 2:8-9).
When we turn to Christ as Saviour, we die to the law, that is, to our old way of living, and to any and all other means of salvation. You don’t earn your salvation or make God love you more because you come to church or read your Bible 7 days a week. Our life is in Christ. In Christ we are already loved and accepted. Christ is freedom from the law and freedom from justification by good works. With him we died and with him we live and are justified.
Does that mean that we are free to live as we choose? No. We still do “good works” (see Titus 2:14, 3:8) but this is not to earn our salvation, but rather, to live gratefully in response to God for his gift of salvation.
We give you all the praise Father for we are free at last. Free from performance. Free from earning your affection or forgiveness. Free to live in your amazing grace. It is our story and it is our song, and all because of Jesus. With him we are crucified. In him and by him we live. It is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us. And the life we now live in the flesh we live by faith in the Son of God, who loved us and gave himself for us. Amen.
Lead Pastor Jody Cross