Scripture Focus: Galatians 2.21
I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!
Reflection: Downgrading Grace
By John Tillman
Grace, once gained, can be forgotten and replaced with a smug and damaging form of self-righteousness. We can forget too easily from what Christ saved us and at what cost. This is a dangerous form of amnesia and Paul will not allow the Galatians or even the prominent leaders of the church to fall into it.
Paul shows us a model for biblical confrontation in Galatians. He is direct. He is personal. And he is restorational.
Galatians may not seem as stridently corrective as some of the passages from the letters to the Corinthians, but Galatians is the only letter of Paul to contain all correction and no praise. Paul gets straight to the point and does not hesitate. He confronts the Galatians head on telling them that he is amazed they are abandoning the gospel of grace through which they were saved. And he relates his story of boldly opposing Peter to call out this downgrade of grace and cheapening of the gospel.
Paul got personal with the Galatians and with Peter. When confronting them about favoritism, Paul quoted Peter’s testimony from Acts 10.34 saying “God shows no favoritism.” When he confronted Peter, he discussed personal practices and details with Peter, telling him exactly what Paul considered to be wrong about what Peter was doing.
Paul never lost sight, even in a corrective mode, of the unity and grace for all found in Christ. Paul’s often quoted passage about being “crucified with Christ, and I no longer live but Christ lives in me,” demonstrates a shared life in Christ and is a part of his dramatic speech to Peter on his visit to Antioch.
Christ’s sacrifice is at the center of Paul’s argument against any other action being any part of salvation. The sufficiency of faith in Christ cannot be reduced. Paul would not allow the council at Jerusalem, or Peter, or the Galatians to downgrade grace through faith. When we downgrade grace through faith, we chip away the cross of Christ, making it an additive to our life rather than the sole source of our life.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Know this: The Lord himself is God; he himself has made us, and we are his; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture. — Psalm 100.2
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.
2 Samuel 22 (Listen – 5:22)
Galatians 2 (Listen – 3:44)
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