Note from Jesus
Dear Child Saved by Grace,
When you offered your heart to Me in faith trusting in My death to pay the penalty for your sins, the Father counted you righteous. The law could not make you righteous. Your works could not make you righteous. Only your trust and participation by faith in My sacrifice could do this for you.
The law, however, did play a role in your coming to God. The law showed you where you have sinned and fallen short of Our holiness. The law reminded you that you did not measure up to the righteous character and gracious compassion of your Father. Like looking in a mirror, reading the law could point out what was wrong with you; however, the law had no power to correct what was wrong in you. But when your faith was expressed in baptism, when by faith you shared in My crucifixion, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:3-7), you put on Me like a new garment and you became righteous (Galatians 3:26-29; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
You were saved by grace based on your absolute trust that what I did for you would make you righteous. As Paul said it below in his teaching on law and grace:
I [Paul] have been crucified with the Anointed One — I am no longer alive — but the Anointed is living in me; and whatever life I have left in this failing body I live by the faithfulness of God’s Son, the One Who loves me and gave His body on the cross for me.
There is no room for you to glory in your national origin, your racial heritage, or your religious pedigree. None of those things can save you or make you righteous. Your source of glory and your source of righteousness are found only in My death and resurrection. My death and resurrection have liberated you from the burden of law-keeping as an attempt at righteousness. My death and resurrection have provided the basis for your adoption into Our spiritual family, “the Israel of God.” (Compare Galatians 3:29.)
There will always be religious people who will pressure you to accept some basis for your salvation other than faith in My death, burial, and resurrection. However, there is only one gospel that can save you (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)! There is only One Who can bring you salvation (Acts 4:12). There is only One Who is the way to the Father (John 14:6). Don’t retreat from the grace that you have found in Me.
Know and rely on the source of your identity, your glory, and your salvation. I died for you. You died with Me. You died to the law and to the concept that law-keeping can be the way to be made right with God. I am now alive in you and you are part of My people, “the Israel of God”! No law can do that for you. No religious leaders, no matter how important they appear to be, can offer you more. Any other gospel is not really good news. Don’t forsake the one gospel by which you were saved!
Verses to Live
As you read through Paul’s complex reasoning below, remember to grab hold of what is said near the end: “God’s new creation is what counts, and it counts for everything.” Remember what matters: My death, your faith, the Father’s grace, and the power to make you into a new creation and a part of Our forever family!
But when Cephas came to Antioch, there was a problem. I [Paul] got in his face and exposed him in front of everyone. He was clearly wrong. Here’s what was going on: before certain people from James arrived, Cephas used to share meals with the Gentile outsiders. And then, after they showed up, Cephas suddenly became aloof and distanced himself from the outsiders because he was afraid of those believers who thought circumcision was necessary.
The rest of the Jewish believers followed his lead, including Barnabas! Their hypocritical behavior was so obvious — their actions were not at all consistent with everything the good news of our Lord represents. So I approached Cephas and told him in plain sight of everyone: “If you, a Jew, have lived like the Gentile outsiders and not like the Jews, then how can you turn around and urge the outsiders to start living like Jews?” We are natural-born Jews, not sinners from the godless nations. But we know that no one is made right with God by meeting the demands of the law. It is only through the faithfulness of Jesus the Anointed that salvation is even possible. This is why we put faith in Jesus the Anointed: so we will be put right with God. It’s His faithfulness — not works prescribed by the law [or any law] — that puts us in right standing with God because no one [in all humanity] will be acquitted and declared “right” for doing what the law demands. Even though we are seeking a right relationship with God through the Anointed, the fact is we have been found out. We are sinners. But does that mean the Anointed is the one responsible for our sins? Absolutely not! If I reconstruct something I have worked so hard to destroy, then I prove myself a sinner.
The law has provided the means to end my dependence on it for righteousness, and so I died to the law. Now I have found the freedom to truly live for God. I have been crucified with the Anointed One — I am no longer alive — but the Anointed is living in me; and whatever life I have left in this failing body I live by the faithfulness of God’s Son, the One Who loves me and gave His body on the cross for me. I can’t dismiss God’s grace, and I won’t. If being right with God depends on how we measure up to the law, then the Anointed’s sacrifice on the cross was the most tragic waste in all of history
May I never put anything above the cross of our Lord Jesus the Anointed. Through Him, the world has been crucified to me and I to this world. Let me be clear: circumcision won’t save you — uncircumcision won’t either for that matter — for both amount to nothing. God’s new creation is what counts, and it counts for everything. May peace and mercy come to all of you who live by this rule and to the Israel of God.
Response in Prayer
Father God, as I see Peter and Barnabas led astray so easily by pressure from their friends, I am reminded of my own susceptibility to peer pressure. I don’t want to depend on the law to save me. Neither do I want to depend on the acceptance of my religious contemporaries to validate my own faith. Like Paul, I never want to put anything above the cross of Jesus as my source of salvation. I thank You for this gift in Jesus’ name. 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.