Saved Through Christ
6I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. 10For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
11But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. 12For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. 13And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. 14But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? 15We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
17But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. 18For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. 19For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. 20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me. 21I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
We, as Christians today, can hardly realize how fanatically the first-century Jews held themselves apart from the Gentiles. To go into a Gentile’s house was out of order. To eat with a Gentile was unthinkable.
And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath showed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
The first Christians were Jews, and it seemed that they thought no one but Jews would ever be Christians. Acts 10: 1-23 and Acts 11:2, below, record the unusual method God used to break down the barrier between Jews and Gentiles. Jews and Gentiles alike are saved through faith in Christ. Jewish law was a yoke that even the Jews could not bear.
1There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, 2A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. 3He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.
4And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. 5And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: 6He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.
7And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually; 8And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa.
9On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew near unto the city, Peter went up upon the house top to pray about the sixth hour: 10And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, 11And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: 12Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. 13And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.
14But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.
15And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. 16This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.
17Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate, 18And called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there.
19While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. 20Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.
21Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come?
22And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee. 23Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him.
24And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends. 25And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshiped him.
26But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man. 27And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together. 28And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath showed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him.
It seems that some of the Galatians were giving up their freedom in Christ and accepting the yoke of the Law, and Paul felt that he must warn them. They were being told that Christ could not save them unless they would become Jews and keep the law of Moses.
Some of the Galatians were beginning to believe the new message. Paul wrote this message to stop it because they were perverting the Gospel of Christ. Paul had been called of God, not of men. His message of salvation was all one needed to be saved. Paul’s Gospel was dependable and right: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.
This lesson teaches that we are saved through Christ, not through the Law of Moses or through any good we do. Of course, good works will follow after we are saved.
There is no distinction between Jews and Gentiles or between people of different nations or races. All are saved through Christ or not at all.
Peter once failed to live up to what they taught. Paul pointed out his mistake and the two went forward in unbroken fellowship. Antioch became the home base for Paul’s three famous missionary journeys. After expressing his amazement at the instability of the Galatians, the apostle next described the activity of the false teachers. They were troubling the Galatian Christians by causing perplexity, confusion and unrest. The false teachers were perverting the Gospel.
Paul pronounced a curse upon anyone who would distort the Gospel. He felt that the Gospel was at stake. The reason is that there is only one authentic Gospel, and it is Christ’s. Because it is Christ’s, it is complete, final and unchangeable. Christ is all that we need.
Peter is opposed by Paul as understood in Galatians 2:11-12, above.
At Antioch, Peter did eat with the Gentiles in the church, indicating full and complete Christian fellowship with them, but Peter made a change when certain Jews came. These people from Jerusalem were Peter’s old friends, and now there were newcomers where Peter had been staying for some time. It would seem ungracious for him to turn his back on them to eat with Gentile brethren as he had been doing.
Peter is known for his acting or speaking impetuously without thinking things through. The great church at Antioch was being split in two sections, Jewish and Gentile. Paul pointed something out to Peter: If Peter, the Jew, was acting as a Gentile, why in the world did he want to make the Gentiles act like Jews?
Probably, Peter did not realize that he was doing that, not by words, but by actions. He was taking the side of those false teachers who said that Gentiles must become Jews.
And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren: Except you be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.
Peter separated himself from Gentile brethren to be with his Jewish brethren, and that action said clearly to the Gentiles: If you want to be fully accepted in our brotherhood, you must do as
we Jews are doing. Thus, he would bind on the Gentiles the yoke of bondage that he himself had said they should not bear.
10Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.
Peter, Barnabas and the others who were guilty of hypocrisy in this instance were all Christians. The unpleasant truth is that Christians can be guilty of sinful attitudes and behavior and may need to be sternly rebuked or disciplined.
The Christian who repents of doing wrong will be forgiven and will continue with Christ to become a better Christian than ever before, but the Christian who refuses to repent when confronted with the fact that he has sinned, will draw away from Christ and may eventually be lost BECAUSE OF APOSTASY: walking away from known truth and never returning to living a lifestyle Christ requires.
With all their effort to keep the Law, both Paul and Peter knew they had fallen short of its requirements. Neither they nor anyone else could be justified by the Law. The only way to become justified is to be forgiven.
Since Jesus died to “atone for” human sin, forgiveness is offered to those who believe in Him. Paul used the word “I” to make a general statement: If I or anyone else rebuilds what he has destroyed, he shows that he is a transgressor. If it was right to tear it down, then it is wrong to build it up again. Of course, it was Peter, not Paul, who was doing this. Peter had taken the Gospel to Gentiles and he had taken lead in tearing down the barriers between Jews and Gentiles. He knew what was right, for God was leading him every step of the way, but now he was separating himself from the Gentiles. Thus, he was taking the lead in building again the barrier that he had torn down. That had to be wrong.
The law could not justify anyone. It could only condemn. Jew and Gentile alike are condemned as sinners, but Jesus died “to atone” for sin.
1There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh. 4That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
In all his writings, Paul united grace and the cross. If Jesus had been only an ordinary man, the story of his death on the cross could have been told by any newspaper reporter in a few paragraphs. Jesus, however, is our Savior and our soon-coming King and the cross is therefore the fullest expression of his grace.
4But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, 5Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
The blessings of faith are many, but all the blessings of faith can be summed up in the one word: salvation. Salvation from sin by faith in Christ opens the door to every blessing God wills to bestow upon us in this life and in the life to come.
The misguided Galatians thought they could have more of God’s favor and power by imposing the religious and ceremonial requirements of the Law of Moses on themselves. This was an error. In fact, being right with God and having His favor and power come only by faith in Christ in obedience to the Gospel, not by extra things we do.