Everything on the Line

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

You live in a world awash in religious ideas, ideologies, and philosophies. But there is one fundamental difference between all of them and the true gospel. That difference is the Father’s grace brought to you through My death, burial, and resurrection! Paul summarized this message well in some of his first words in his letter to the new believers in Galatia:

May the grace and peace of God the Father and the Lord Jesus the Anointed live in you; He is the very Savior Who rescues us from this present, perverse age dominated by evil by giving His life according to our Father’s will to deal with our sins.

As Paul and Barnabas completed their first mission trip, they returned to Syrian Antioch. Gentiles from all over the region of Pamphylia and southern Galatia had come to faith in Me. They trusted in what I did to save them. As Paul said in his letter to the Galatians, they placed their faith in Me by putting Me on in baptism:

It is your faith in the Anointed Jesus that makes all of you children of God because all of you who have been initiated into the Anointed One through the ceremonial washing of baptism have put Him on. It makes no difference whether you are a Jew or a Greek, a slave or a freeman, a man or a woman, because in Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King, you are all one. Since you belong to Him and are now subject to His power, you are the descendant of Abraham and the heir of God’s glory according to the promise.

(Galatians 3:26-29)

The Galatians became children of God and descendants of Abraham — that is, heirs to the promises God made to Abraham — through this experience of baptism based on their faith. All walls dividing them as people were torn down and they became one in Me (Ephesians 2:13-22). Grace had won their hearts (Ephesians 2:1-10). The Father had adopted them into His family as full heirs of all that grace has to offer.

Unfortunately, people in every era have had a tendency to add requirements to this grace. This tendency is what happened to many new believers both in Antioch and in Galatia. Some tried to make non-Jewish believers become Jews before they could be saved. They pushed a “distorted version [of the gospel] which is not the gospel at all”! So Paul made one important truth very clear: If you add some new requirement to the gospel, it is no longer My gospel (Galatians 1:6-9). It devolves into legalism, law-keeping, and falling from grace:

For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace.

(Galatians 5:4)

Verses to Live

Paul didn’t invent the gospel he preached. He received that good message from Me. He and Barnabas spoke this good news. They defended it. They spoke strongly against all who would add to it or take from it. Paul used the words “eternally cursed” for anyone who adds to it or takes from this good message of grace.

Everything was on the line for My early believers. They would either devolve into works-based attempts at righteousness like most other religions, or they would trust in My sacrifice to make them right with the Father. They would recognize that their salvation came by grace through faith demonstrated in baptism (Galatians 3:26-29), or they would keep trying to earn the Father’s favor by doing good works. To give way to legalism, to return to law-keeping as the way of righteousness, is to give Me up for what is not salvation!

Then they [Paul and Barnabas at the end of their first missionary journey] passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia. And when they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia, and from there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had fulfilled. And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. And they remained no little time with the disciples.

But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question.

(Acts 14:24-28 ESV; Acts 15:1-2 ESV)

Paul, an emissary commissioned directly by Jesus the Anointed One and God the Father (Who raised Him from the dead) — not (as some claim) an agent of men or any person — and all the brothers and sisters with me to you, the churches of Galatia.

May the grace and peace of God the Father and the Lord Jesus the Anointed live in you; He is the very Savior Who rescues us from this present, perverse age dominated by evil by giving His life according to our Father’s will to deal with our sins. May God’s glorious name forever receive honor. Amen.

Frankly I am stunned. I cannot believe that you have abandoned God so quickly — even after He called you through the grace of the Anointed One — and have fallen for a different gospel. Actually there is only one true gospel of the Anointed, and you — because of divisive prodding by others — are accepting a distorted version which is not the gospel at all!

No matter the source of the false gospel, even if it is preached by us or a heavenly messenger, ignore it. May those who add to or subtract from the gospel of Jesus be eternally cursed! Listen again: if anyone preaches to you a gospel other than what you have accepted, may he find himself cursed!

Do you think I care about the approval of men or about the approval of God? Do you think I am on a mission to please people? If I am still spinning my wheels trying to please men, then there is no way I can be a servant of the Anointed One, the Liberating King.

Know this, dear brothers and sisters: the good news I brought to you isn’t the latest in fiction or the product of some creative mind. It is not a legend I learned or one that has been passed down from person to person, ear to ear. I was gifted with this message as Jesus the Anointed revealed Himself miraculously to me.

(Galatians 1:1-12)

Response in Prayer

O Father, may I never trust anything or anyone but Christ alone as my Savior. I thank You for giving me grace. I thank You for adopting me into Your family. I thank You that I did not have to earn it or achieve it. I thank You that Jesus paid my debts and won me life. I trust in this grace. I trust in Your loving mercy and Jesus’ sacrifice to save me. Thank You! In Jesus’ name, I thank You! Amen.

‘A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware.

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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.