Accept No Substitute

With some things people expect the original!  Maybe it doesn’t matter what kind of doughnut you like to eat.  Paul was writing to the Galatian Christians because there were people known as the Judaizers who were confusing the true gospel message of Jesus.  The Judaizers wanted to add works to Jesus.  In other words the Judaizers said you need to believe that Jesus died for your sins AND still keep all of Old Testament laws.  If those Old Testament laws are not kept then you can’t be a Christian.  Paul challenges this thought in our sermon text this morning.  He does this in two ways.

First he defends his Apostleship.  Paul was not one of Jesus’ 12 Apsotle’s.  He did not follow Jesus around for three years, but he did receive personal training from Jesus in Arabia and then Damascus.  This wasn’t second hand information.  This is important because when people challenged Paul, they were really challenging God who trained and sent him.

Next he points out that the gospel of Jesus praises God alone.  When people, like a Pharisee, would get sucked into a life of work righteousness, there is a fundamental shift as to why the person lives their life.  God want us to live in thanks for all that he has done for us – this is Gospel motivation.  The Judaizer was focused on work righteousness, hoping in vain that he was good enough for God, never being sure.

On this confirmation Sunday it is fitting for us to remember to guard our hearts against that little voice inside of us that wants to twist the gospel of Jesus.  Do we ever think, “God loves me in Jesus, no matter what!”  Or does the thought ever slip in, “God loves me because I’m a good Christian.  I attend worship and try to follow his will for my life.”  The second phrase sounds good, but it adds a dangerous and blasphemous theology to our faith.  May we never add our works to Jesus sacrifice!  May we live our lives in thanks for what he has done!

The sermon is based on Galatians 1:11-24.

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