Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Freedom #10: Frustrating the Gospel of Grace

As we focus our attention on Galatians 2:14-21 in this article, we can see the Christian life can be summarized in two verses in this passage.  Galatians 2:16 teaches us that we are justified by faith in Christ. That is, we are clothed in Christ’s righteousness and  made fit for Heaven through His blood sacrifice on the cross and by His resurrection.  The second major truth is found in verse 20.  We are sanctified or enabled to live a holy life through surrender of our bodies to Christ.  He lives His life in us through His indwelling Holy Spirit.   

Satan hates that message   

He fights it wherever he can.  Satan used the Judaizers to fight Paul wherever he went as they attempted to corrupt his message and confuse his converts.  They denied Paul’s authority as an Apostle, replacing his authority with their own authority.  They denied his message of salvation by grace alone apart from works and they replaced it with a false message of salvation by works.  They denied his message of liberty in the Holy Spirit and replaced it with their message of legalism.   

Peter’s Duplicity   

Previously we dealt with Peter’s duplicity at Antioch when he, who knew and preached the Gospel of the grace of God, just as Paul and the other Apostles did,  frustrated that Gospel by caving in to the pressures of  some of the Jewish leaders from Jerusalem. You remember that Paul confronted him about it and rebuked him publicly before the others.  Peter’s life was contradicting the message that he preached. 

Paul’s gracious, straight forward correction of Peter  

Now here beginning in verse 16 of Galatians 2  Paul  summarizes the Gospel of Grace  and further shows Peter how inconsistent he is being.  Notice in verse 17  that Paul uses the pronoun “we” to refer to Peter and himself.  Both of them were Jewish Christians who had been  justified by faith in Christ.  He was recognizing Peter as a true preacher of the Gospel along with himself. But  in verse 21 he was reminding Peter that to put himself back under the Jewish ceremonial laws of the Old Testament as a New Testament Christian was to frustrate the gospel he was preaching. 

Jesus, a Minister of Sin? 

In verse 17 he shows Peter that by his duplicity he is implying  that the Judaizers are correct in insisting on the observance of the ceremonial laws and those who do not keep those laws are sinners and false teachers.  Worse yet, if the observance of the  ceremonial laws is necessary to be a good Christian, then JESUS is a minister of sin for teaching that Jews and Gentiles are one body in Christ and that the ceremonial observances of the Sabbaths and the Jewish feast days and the abstaining from certain meats are no longer necessary for Jews and Gentiles whose faith is in Christ. Can you imagine how Peter must have been feeling by this time?  

The Essence of Legalism 

John Piper gives an excellent illustration of the purpose of God’s laws.  Picture the Old Testament Law of God as a railroad track with its two rails and cross ties upon which the nation Israel was to travel, led by the engine of God’s grace and coupled to the engine by faith.

Even today, Christians in this Age of Grace are saved to  live in obedience to God. So, as Christians, we also travel down that track of God’s moral law, pulled by the engine of God’s grace and coupled to Him by faith.  Of course, this way of salvation by the grace of God apart from our works is not a popular message and the natural man rejects it.  So did the Judaizers of Paul’s day reject it.   Instead, they took that railroad track, so to speak,  and lifted up one end and leaned it against the door of Heaven as a ladder.  The railroad ties became the steps in the ladder for us to climb our way into Heaven by attempting to keep God’s Law.  That is the very essence of Legalism!  Legalism is making God’s Law a long list of steps which we must climb to demonstrate our moral fitness to attain Heaven.  

That was Peter’s  duplicity.  He preached salvation by grace as Paul did, but he contradicted what he preached by the way he lived and so frustrated the grace of God. Peter by his actions was  building that ladder again that had been torn down. He was guilty of what verse 18 says,  “Building again the things which  the Gospel of Grace had  destroyed.”

To attempt to justify myself before God and make myself fit for Heaven through my feeble attempts to keep the Law of God is to reject Jesus as my Saviour who  has already kept it perfectly and paid the penalty for my failure to measure up to its high standards. It is to frustrate the Gospel of God’s grace.

September 2, 2007 - Posted by | Freedom

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.