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Bible study: Galatians 2:20-21

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Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Christ Alone

Part 2: Text: Galatians 2:20-21

“I have been crucified with Christ: and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me, and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”

The book of Galatians has been called the Christian “Declaration of Independence.” In Galatians 5:1, the Apostle Paul writes, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free, therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to the yoke of slavery”.

What was the yoke of slavery? The book of Galatians was written to address Judaizers, Jewish people who had ascended to believe in Jesus Christ. These folks thought, however, that in order to “stay saved” they had to continue to observe a number of the ceremonial practices of the Old Testament. They still thought that they could only come into the presence of God through the mediation of a priest for intercession and atonement of their sins. They had not yet understood that Jesus is now the only Priest, Sacrifice, and Mediator for sins, based on his death and resurrection; and that on the Cross, human priestly mediation of any kind; past, present, and future, came to an end (for further clarification, please take the time to read John 19:30, Matthew 27:50-51, 1 Timothy 2:5, Hebrews 4:14-16, 1 John 1:9, 1 John 2:1,Hebrews 9:11-16, Hebrews 10:11-18). Moreover, they thought that they could earn salvation by obeying God’s law, the Ten Commandments.

In Galatians 2:16, Paul twice writes that salvation comes by faith in Jesus Christ, and that no one will be justified, or declared saved by works of any kind. In our text, Paul says that when he became a Christian, he died with Jesus Christ. Paul formerly thought he had earned Heaven as a self-righteous Pharisee. But when the truth about Jesus Christ was revealed to him (Acts 9:1-22), he embraced God’s grace and followed Christ. He now considered all of his religious accomplishments as garbage, (read Philippians 3:2-11). Paul exchanged his worthless works for God’s grace.

Verse 20 tells us that when a person is convicted of sin and makes a decision to submit to what Jesus did for him, he makes an exchange. He gives up doing things his way in favor of submitting by faith to the Lordship of his Sin Bearer. In verse 21, Paul says that he does not nullify, or make void the grace of God. Why? Because if righteousness (or salvation) comes through anything that we can do, religious or non-religious, then the death of Jesus Christ had no purpose.

Friend, when we trust in God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, we are then truly dependent on Jesus Christ to save us, and transform our lives (Romans 12:1-2). To add man-made religion or religious acts will add burdens, not set you free, and not deliver what it promises. As verse 21 says, they cancel God’s grace, and make the death of Jesus Christ meaningless for you. We will see this illustrated further in next week’s text, Romans 11:5-6.

Steve Visconti

 

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Calvary Baptist Church is located at 515 Riverleigh Avenue in Riverside. (Tel. 631-727-4112) For information about services and activities visit the church’s website  or Facebook page.