Last year was the five hundredth anniversary of the Reformation, and the Pew people did a survey and found out that the majority of Protestants believe that salvation is by faith plus works. That’s exactly what Catholics believe. They aren’t protesting anymore, those Protestants who believe what the Reformers protested against. There is large confusion looming over the head of Protestantism and even Evangelicalism about the gospel. Part of the problem is that there is no courage, there is no boldness, there is no conviction to stand for the true gospel against the encroachment of those systems that demand works as a part of salvation.
We have a responsibility – and you’ve heard it several times even today – not only to preach the gospel, but to guard the gospel. Reference was made to the twentieth chapter of Acts where Paul declared that he has warned for a space of three years the church at Ephesus with tears about what is going to happen when perverse men among them rise up to twist the truth and wolves come from the outside to tear up the flock.
There really are only two religions in the world, and they’re pretty simply defined. There is the true religion, which is salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone; and then there is every other religion that is some form of human works – religious works, moral works, ethical works, ceremonial works. The reading of Galatians was enough to set in your mind with absolute certainty that works play no role in salvation. And if that didn’t do it, you can go back to wherever you are tonight and read Romans 3 and Ephesians 2 and will hear the same thing.
Turn in your Bible to the fifteenth chapter of the book of Acts. “Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.’” This was a way of saying that, “You don’t go from paganism to Christianity; you go from paganism to Judaism to Christianity. Judaism is the vestibule, Judaism is the foyer, Judaism is the porch, Judaism is the door. You can’t just go from paganism into the kingdom of God.”
“And when Paul and Barnabas had great dissension and debate with them,” – and obviously they knew better, because they had been preaching the gospel to Gentiles. And as in the case of the Galatians they were believing and being saved and empowered by the Spirit.
“And so, Paul and Barnabas had great dissension and debate with them, the brethren determined that Paul and Barnabas and some others of them should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders concerning this issue. Therefore, being sent on their way by the church, they were passing through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and were bringing great joy to all the brethren. When they arrived at Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them. But some of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed” – believed what?
Well, certainly they believed in Jesus as Messiah. They must have believed in His death; they must have believed in His resurrection; they must have believed that you had to believe in Him. But they hadn’t shaken their Phariseeism, their legalism, so they stood up, even after all this report about Gentiles being saved apart from the law, and they were saying it is necessary, in any case, to circumcise them, and to direct them to observe the law of Moses. And what they meant by that was the external law, those particular externals which were designed for Israel only in a period of history when that kind of design protected them from the nations around them and their paganism. They wanted to impose those same externals on the Gentiles.
“So the apostles and elders came together to look into the matter. And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, ‘Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe.’ – that takes you right back to Cornelius, doesn’t it? – ‘And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us;’ – Acts 10 – ‘and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.’”
There was only one church council recorded in the book of Acts, and it was a council that met to decide whether salvation was by grace and faith alone, or grace and faith and works. The conclusion of the apostles was that it was by grace and faith alone. It was not too long after the Jerusalem Council that Paul wrote Galatians; and he wrote it to the churches that had been planted there, at least four different cities, because some of these same Judaizing Pharisaic types had followed his footsteps in his apostolic ministry preaching the gospel to the Gentiles and then gone into the very churches that had been established with the truth.
They had told the people that they only thought they were saved; they were not saved. They upheld the same statement that is in verse 1: “Unless you’re circumcised, unless you follow the other customs of Moses, you can’t be saved.” And as we read in the third chapter of Galatians a few moments ago, the foolish Galatians were bewitched by this. They were bewitched by it. Paul wrote Galatians, again, chasing down the application of what the council at Jerusalem had decided.
Now with that in our minds let’s go back to the book of Galatians again. These are believers, they are identified as believers. But these are believers who have been bewitched, and part of the bewitching is that they have been bewitched about the gospel, and they have been bewitched about the role that works plays in the gospel. Now, these are believers again. “They have” – according to chapter 3, verse 3 – “begun by the Spirit.” “They have been” – verse 5 – “provided with the Spirit.” They have been truly converted, but they have become bewitched about the role that works plays, if any, in the gospel.
I don’t want to discuss circumcision – that’s obvious to all of you – or all of the external laws of ancient Judaism, but they were sucked into this. It doesn’t say anything about any of them being circumcised; that’s a little bigger commitment. But it does say, in chapter 4, verse 10, “You observe days and months and seasons and years,” that they had injected into that Gentile environment some utterly unknown old Jewish festivals. And Paul says, “Look,” – verse 11 of chapter 4 – “I’m afraid that I’ve labored over you for nothing, for nothing.”
And then he says in verse 12, “I beg of you, brethren, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. As far as Mosaic ordinances go, I pay no attention to them; I’m like a Gentile. Become like me. I’ve abandoned all of that; it plays no role in salvation.”
Now, this whole letter is really an expression of righteous indignation. If you go back to chapter 1 for a moment and verse 6, just reminding you, Paul indicates that these people who are believers are deserting God and God’s grace and Christ by accepting a different gospel. “There isn’t another one,” – he says in verse 7 – “but there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.” And he says this: “Even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be damned!” Did you hear that? Just file that, anathema. He said it again: “As I’ve said before,” – he probably said it many times – “I say it again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be anathema, damned, cursed, consigned to everlasting damnation in hell!”
The Jews had been saying to the Gentiles, “Well, Paul doesn’t want to impose that on you because that’s a burden he doesn’t want you to bear, and he wants to be popular because he’s a man-pleaser.” In verse 10, Paul responds to that by saying, “Since I’ve just pronounced damnation on folks, does that sound to you like I’m a man-pleaser?”
You’ve got to get the gospel right, men. You’ve got to get the gospel right, and you’ve got to address those people who get it wrong. They have to be exposed. They can’t get away with it, but they are getting away with it.
In the five hundredth anniversary of the Reformation, a year full of celebrations of the Reformation, the majority of people surveyed who are Protestants believe salvation is by faith and works. That is a large error, not a small one. In fact, for those people who are trusting in any of their works of any kind – ritual or moral or ethical – there’s only damnation. And for anybody who preaches that, there is a pronounced curse.
You don’t hear a lot of preachers going around today cursing people who preach faith and works. When’s the last time you heard anybody declare a curse on the Roman Catholic system of the pope, or any other works system? Where’s the courage of our convictions? In this age, which demands acceptance and tolerance, we have lost our courage. So Paul wants to help us to understand how urgent it is.
Now for that, let’s turn to chapter 5. And having given his arguments for the importance of this issue early in chapter 1, and then given his arguments in support of justification by faith alone, in the first and second chapter he gives arguments basically from his own experience with the Lord, which was revelational. And in chapters 3 and 4, he defends justification by faith alone from Scripture, Old Testament. So, first, from his own life, his own encounter, long encounter with Christ, including the confrontation with Peter over the very issue; and in 3 and 4, he looks to the Old Testament both by way of statement and by way of illustration. Now he’s going to come a little later in chapter 5 into his final defense of justification by faith, which is experiential or practical, because of the power of the Spirit made evident in a truly regenerated believer. If you’re in Christ you’re being led by the Spirit and you’re seeing the fruit of the Spirit.
But before he gets to that there’s this very, very severe section in chapter 5, verses 1 down to verse 12. You might think, “Well, circumcision is not a big deal – small, minor surgical task for someone. Why make a big fuss out of it? Some people think it’s, you know, healthy. Maybe in ancient times that was part of the purpose, that the people of God would, as the Old Testament says, have none of these diseases. Why is Paul making a big fuss over false teachers pushing circumcision as just a ceremonial ritual? Doesn’t it have some symbolic meaning?” It does. It does.
“Well, what was the symbolic meaning of circumcision? Why was that a sign of a people basically devoted to God, set apart to God?” I’ll tell you why: because never is human depravity more evident than in procreation. You will never understand fully how profoundly sinful we are unless you understand that we produce only sinners. We just produce sinners, and sinners, and sinners, and sinners, and sinners. We’re so corrupt internally, and so that simple rite on that very part of the human body where sinners are basically conceived was a declaration by God that, “You have a sin problem that is so profoundly deep that it’s the very essence of your nature; and you need a cleansing equally profound.” It was a symbol of that utter wretchedness that shows up in reproduction.
But it was only an outward sign. It never did bring salvation to anybody, neither did any other ritual. Nobody was saved by the blood of bulls and goats. Mosaic ritual, circumcision had no righteous merit, it had no saving value. Circumcision was just this painful realization that you needed cleansing at a profound level. But only a symbol.
So Paul is going to help us to understand that you can’t push it past that and make it something necessary for salvation any more than you can make baptism necessary for salvation, or any other rite, or any other ceremony. And listen to how he presents this. Verse 1: “It was for freedom that Christ set us free.” Freedom from all those external laws.
Yes, freedom from the law in the sense of its bondage. Yes, freedom from the law in the sense of its penalty. But he’s in particularly talking about freedom from the externals of the law which were attempting to be imposed back on these believing Galatians. And they were buying into it. And so, he says to them, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm, do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Don’t go back; you’ve been freed from those externals.”
Those were the shadows; Christ is the substance, right? “Do not be subject. Do not take that yoke.” It was the very issue of what I read in the fifteenth chapter of Acts. And he starts to give reasons that are, frankly, absolutely stunning reasons.
Reason number one, verse 2: “Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you.” What a statement; you just canceled Christ.
If you think there is any merit in circumcision you just made Christ useless. This is not a small issue. “I, Paul, behold.” This is pretty stunning stuff. “I, Paul, am saying to you, if you think circumcision plays any role in salvation you have just made Christ useless.” Why does he say, “I, Paul”? Because he was circumcised the eighth day.
Go back to Philippians 3. Well, you know what it says there, “The Hebrew of the Hebrews, externally blameless as regard to the law, zealous for the traditions. But I’m telling you, I, Paul, that if you receive circumcision as a work required for salvation, Christ profits you nothing. If you get yourself circumcised you’ve just eliminated Christ.”
Romans 11:6 says, “If it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, or grace is” – what? – “no more grace.” Christ will be useless to you. That just seems so radical. That just seems so extreme.
“I believe in Christ, I believe in His death, I believe in His resurrection, but I also believe that I need to do this. I believe that this is required for me to be saved. I believe I need to be baptized. I believe I need to receive the Mass. I believe I need to do certain works.” You just made Christ useless. You must choose between a religion of law and works, and a religion of grace and faith; and there’s no hybrid tolerated. You add anything to Christ you lose Christ.
You’re sitting there thinking, “Yeah, I know all of that, but I don’t hear people saying that. Where is that being preached? Where are those who advocate works being confronted and unmasked?”
Many of the Jews actually were disqualified on this very basis. Paul makes reference to them in the ninth chapter of Romans in verse 30: “What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. Why? Because they didn’t pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works.” They never got there. They nullified Christ. He goes on to say, “They became a stumbling block.”
So false doctrine, this is Paul’s kind of pathology of false doctrine. So, first, if you add any works to faith you have rendered Christ of no benefit. Secondly, you are debtor to the whole law.
Verse 3: “I testify again to every man who receives circumcision,” – just that simple surgery as a way to add some merit necessary for salvation – “to every man who receives circumcision, he is under obligation to keep the whole law.” You just put yourself under law. And James says in James 2:10, “Whoever shall keep the whole law and offend in one point is” – what? – “guilty of all of it.”
Back to Galatians 3 where we read, verse 10: “As many as of the works of the law are under a curse.” Why? “Cursed is everyone who doesn’t abide by all things written in the bool of the law, to perform them.” Perfect obedience all the time throughout your whole life. You look at circumcision or any religious ritual or rite, or any work as a part of your salvation and you have just put yourself under the law.
It gets worse. Verse 4: “You’re severed from Christ.” First of all, he said, “The work of Christ is no benefit to you at all if you hold to any work, even one work, even one thing like circumcision, or baptism, or whatever.” Secondly, “You, by that one work, have placed yourself under the entire law as a way of salvation; it’ll crush you eternally.” And, thirdly, “You’ve been severed from Christ,” katargeō apo. It means “cut off.” “Have that skin cut off and you’ll be cut off from Christ.” Pretty dramatic stuff.
He’s not finished. “You” – back to verse 4 – “who are seeking to be justified by law;” – and all it takes in one thing, one set of rituals; this is how it usually reads – “you have fallen from grace.” That’s a little misleading.
This is a simple statement. To say you’ve fallen from grace gives the impression that you were in grace and you fell out of it, you lost your salvation. I think a better translation would be to understand that this term, this verb here “fallen” is used twice in Acts 27, verses 26 and 29, of shipwreck, of shipwreck. In fact, it might be good just to read its use there: “Run aground,” verse 26. “Run aground,” verse 29, the ship. What he’s saying is this: “Trust in your works and you have just destroyed grace. You’ve made shipwreck of grace.”
Mark was talking about 1 Timothy – this is a good illustration: “I command you,” – chapter 1, verse 18 – “I entrust Timothy my son in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that you fight the good fight.” This is a fight, men, is it not? But it’s a fight for the truth. “Fight the fight, keep the faith, have a good conscience, because some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith such as Hymenaeus and Alexander, and they were handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.”
You trust in any work, you bring any work into salvation whatsoever and you have shipwrecked grace. A good ship of grace if crashed on the rocks. Pretty serious stuff to hear Christ is no benefit, He’s useless to you; you’re under the whole law, you’re completely severed from Christ, and you’ve shipwrecked grace. That’s how devastating it is to add any work to faith.
He’s not finished. He says in verse 5 – this is important: “For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.” Up to now he’s been saying “you.” We started out with “us,” verse 1; and then he turned to the people who were being seduced by works, and he says in verse 2 “you.” And then in verse 3 “every man.” And then verse 4 “you, you, you.” And he’s talking to anybody who goes that route. And then he comes back to the saints in verse 5, “For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.”
The next thing that has to be said about people who inject works into the gospel is that they are excluded from the very thing they seek, they’re excluded from the very thing they seek. They are in a yoke of slavery. They have rendered Christ of no benefit, useless to them. They are under the obligation to keep the whole law or be damned. They have been severed from Christ, they have made shipwreck of grace, and they will never attain the righteousness they seek. You miss out on what you’re working to get. “By the deeds of the law,” Paul says, “no flesh is” – what? – “righteous, justified.”
The “you” are the ones in the legalistic system. The “we” are the true believers. “We through the Spirit, by faith, don’t work for righteousness, we” – what, what? – “we wait for righteousness.” Now here he’s not talking about the imputed righteousness that’s credited to our account by God, he’s talking about the actual righteousness granted to us in the future. “I do not work for righteousness, I do not work for the imputed righteousness,” – listen to me – “and I do not work for final righteousness; I wait for it. I can’t earn it.”
The final righteousness is glorification. “And I wait eagerly. We have hope.” The implication is people who come by the means of works have no hope. Key words: the Spirit, by faith, waiting, hope, righteousness. So all there: “Through the Spirit, by faith, we are waiting for the hope of righteousness.” And again, not for that righteousness credited to our account, but for that righteousness granted to us that makes us as righteous as Christ in glory.
Sums it up in verse 6: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision mean anything, but faith working through love.” Circumcision is meaningless, it is irrelevant, absolutely irrelevant.
Somebody might say, “Well, faith, is that all?” No, faith works through love. If you’re a true believer, the faith that the Lord gave you is a powerful faith, it is an enduring faith, it is an undying faith, and it is a faith that works through love; not through law, not through fear, but through love. That’s enough for another discussion; I know you know about that.
So that’s Paul’s opening presentation of false doctrine, and it’s devastating. It is devastating. Just say, “I believe in Christ. I believe in His deity. I believe in His virgin birth. I believe in His endless life. I believe in His death. I believe in His resurrection. I believe in His ascension. I believe in His exaltation. I believe all of that. But I also believe that I can’t be saved without baptism, or moral goodness, or compassion, or philanthropy,” and you have just been put into a category where Christ, no matter what you believe about Him, is useless to you. You are under obligation to keep the whole law. You’ve chosen law. You are severed from Christ, you have shipwrecked grace, and you have no hope of righteousness.
You owe that to somebody who thinks their works are part of their salvation, do you not? Will you leave somebody in the condition they’re in? Will you not tell them that they’re hoping in their rituals and they’re hoping in their works? Would you put your arms around the pope and say, ‘He’s my brother’?”
From the character of false doctrine with regard to what it does, he turns to the false teachers, starting in verse 7. First of all, the false doctrine, and then the false teachers. He starts in verse 7 with a rhetorical question: “You were running well. As a congregation you were doing fine, you had begun in the Spirit. Who messed up your thinking?” And, of course, what he’s concerned about here are, first of all, the people who are part of that congregation who haven’t yet come to Christ. But what he’s concerned about particularly is the people in the congregation who are believers who are now confused about the message. And I would say, most Christians in most churches are bewitched, and they’re bewitched on this issue of the gospel.
So he leaves the doctrine and attacks the purveyors of this deadly error. He makes several statements. Number one, they hinder the truth. “You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth?” Metaphor of a race, “You start running well,” which is the general pattern of the Galatian churches.
False teachers come and they start hindering, they start interrupting, they attack apostolic authority, they attack the gospel of grace, they attack the singularity of faith; that’s what they do. They hinder you from obeying the truth. False teachers move you away from obedience to the truth. And he’s talking here about the truth of the gospel. It is frightening to think that the majority of Protestants surveyed think you’re saved by faith and works. That means the majority of Protestants are preaching a different gospel, and whoever preaches it is – what? – cursed.
Secondly, false teachers are not of God. Verse 8: “This persuasion didn’t come from Him who calls you.” Anytime you see “call” in any of the Epistles it’s always “the effectual call.” Only in the Gospels is it a general call. “This isn’t coming to you from the God who effectually called you to salvation, this is assuming,” – listen – “this is assuming that true believers can actually be confused about the gospel.”
Those who’ve been effectually called and saved can lose their sense of understanding of the gospel they believed in and were saved by. There are many preachers who are true Christians, and they were saved by believing the true gospel, who are throwing their arms open to false gospels. “This did not come from God, He’s clear on the gospel. This didn’t come from the God who calls you.”
Just a reminder that the very fact that you’re saved is because of the goodness and kindness and sovereign grace of God; and you owe Him the integrity of His gospel that saved you, and you owe Him the courage to be faithful to it. It’s impossible to forsake the pure gospel and not have forsaken the God who called you.
Thirdly, false teachers, he says, contaminate the church. Verse 9: “A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough.” Kind of a familiar proverb, isn’t it, used several times in the New Testament. A little yeast is a permeating influence in dough to make it rise, fills it up. Leaven is permeating influence. It is usually representative of something that is evil – a permeating evil influence.
If you have in the association of pastors people who think Roman Catholic Church is fine, maybe even the Mormons are fine, maybe even people in a liberal church, an Episcopalian church who believe that their good works are going to get them to heaven, and you embrace them, you have brought contamination into that realm in which you accept them. False teachers contaminate.
It’s inescapable to understand the words of Jude. “Woe to them!” he says in Jude 11. “They are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear.” They embed themselves in the church. “They are clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.”
False teachers in the church; they’re very effective, they’re very effective. They are described; go back to 2 Peter chapter 2, parallel passage, but adds a little more. Second Peter 2, “They are like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, and they will in the destruction of those creatures be destroyed.”
“They are stains” – verse 13 – “and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you, having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed.” They’re greedy, and they find unstable people and they entice them. And by the way, they offer them freedom, they offer them freedom. They need to be unmasked; they’re deadly dangerous. So Paul is saying, “You have to understand the danger of these false teachers.”
Down in verse 10 he adds, “They will face judgment; they are under judgment.” “I have confidence in you in the Lord” – he’s saying to the believers – “that you will adopt no other view. Look, I’m not saying that you’re going to lose your salvation, one, but I’m also confident that in the end you’re not going to hold onto this bewitching deception. You’re not going to; I don’t think you’re going to do that. But the one who is disturbing you will bear his judgment, whoever he is.” “If you’re a true believer,” he says, “I believe the Holy Spirit will rescue you from this.”
So they hinder the truth, they rebel against God, they contaminate the church, they end in judgment; and hurrying a little bit, the fifth characteristic, they persecute true teachers. Verse 11: “But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished.”
This is an interesting verse. “These Judaizers are persecuting me.” But in a weird twist, he says, “If I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted?” This is a bit of a paradox. What was obviously going on was some of these Judaizers were saying, “Oh, look, Paul has no problem with circumcision; he’s circumcised himself, and he circumcised” – whom? – “Timothy,” Acts 21. “Paul is playing some kind of game with you.”
We know the story of circumcising Timothy, because he had one parent who was a Jew. He did that, not as a way to see Timothy saved, but as a way to get him in a synagogue; otherwise he would be kept outside. But they were twisting even that; but it still was not enough to stop them from persecuting Paul. False teachers defend themselves by sort of trying to demonstrably undermine and discredit true teachers; they have to, it’s a game they have to play.
So Paul has spoken with such candor and such direct language, but it’s nothing like the last verse, verse 12: “I wish those who are troubling you would castrate themselves.” What? “They’ve ignored the cross, they’re persecuting those who preach the cross. I wish they’d castrate themselves.” I mean, I’ve heard of imprecatory prayers, but that’s pretty serious. The cross is so offensive because it leaves no room for works, right? What in the world is he saying here?
Galatia was near Phrygia. In Phrygia the great worship of that part of the world was the worship of Cybele, and it was the practice of the priests and very devout worshipers of Cybele to castrate themselves. They were eunuchs. Paul is not wishing on them some painful physical injury, he’s just saying this: “If you believe circumcision is necessary for salvation, why don’t you just go all the way and become a pagan priest? Why don’t you just go all the way and become a pagan priest? You’re a pagan.” That’s stunning.
If we men do not wake up to the corruption of the gospel, this thing is going to get worse, and worse, and worse, and worse. We’ve got to call it what it is.
No matter what they call it, or no matter how often you hear the name of God and Jesus, it is paganism; and they might as well go ahead and castrate themselves and become pagan priests. I can’t imagine how that rippled through the Galatian congregations at Iconium and Lystra and Derbe. These condemnations are not for godless atheists, they’re not for immoral agnostics; they’re for so called Christians who corrupt the gospel.
You are, dear men, for the sanctification of your people and the protection of the gospel. Let’s bow in prayer.
In all honesty, Lord, we’re a little stunned, because these people talk about You. They say things like, “God bless America,” and things like that; and they talk about Jesus, and they say they believe in God and they believe in Jesus as the Son of God, and they believe that You died and rose; and it just seems so familiar and so close. But haven’t we been warned, “The devil is disguised as an angel of light; his messengers are angels of light”? And therein lies the deadly danger.
We are the protectors of the church. Our glorious head has given us the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit to stand against the assault against the gospel. Give us boldness, courage, conviction, for the sake of the truth, written and incarnate, and the gospel that saves. We cannot be content that someone who holds to any work as a part of salvation is okay; they’re not. When the Holy Spirit does His work He convicts of sin and righteousness and judgment; and then comes the message of grace.
May we be faithful, Lord, faithful to this gospel. We talk about it, we understand the doctrine of substitutionary atonement, imputation. And this seems almost a benign little footnote; but it destroys everything, because if anyone contributes anything to their salvation, then we cannot say, “All glory goes to You,” and we have robbed You of Your glory; and You will not give Your glory to another.
May we see how desperately needed we are to rescue these people who know the terms, but are depending on their works. Give us opportunity to proclaim the truth to them, that they might genuinely be saved. And with thankful hearts we say, “May Jesus Christ be exalted,” we pray in His name. Amen.