Today’s Bible reading plan from the Five Day Bible Reading Plan: Genesis 43-44; Psalm 24; Galatians 1
So the recovery of the blessed doctrine of Scripture and Scripture alone is our rule of faith. And what did Scripture teach? Scripture teaches that salvation is by ‘grace alone.’ In Galatians 1:6, Paul in sheer exasperation tells the Galatian church,
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel — not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8-9).
Notice Paul says that they are deserting the God who called you “in the grace of Christ” and are turning to a “different gospel.” Paul is saying, “The grace of Christ is the Gospel.” The Gospel is the Good News. The reason we see that the Gospel is such good news is only truly possible when we see that our soul is in such bad shape! In Galatians 3:10, the Apostle Paul quotes from Deuteronomy 27:26 in saying, “For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.’”
You say, “I know I’m not perfect, but I’m not as bad as so many others are. I may not be a Christian, but I am a good person!” You say, “The Book of the Law is not my authority. I don’t see it like that.” Well, in a situation like that, your opinion is not only missing the mark but misses the point. What matters is what God says! And whether we see it as our authority or not, it will be the standard by which we will be deemed fit for heaven or not.
During the time of the Reformation, the church taught that salvation could be bought by indulgences. The Pope at that time (Leo X) wanted to build St. Peter’s Basilica and used this horrid doctrine of indulgences on the people so they could buy salvation for their family members who were in purgatory. “When a coin clings in the chest, a soul flies up to heavenly rest,” indulgence-advocate John Tetzel would say. Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenburg church questioning this practice.
Without grace, we have the law looming over us and we live in fear of its dictates. But we also must not add to grace. The Reformation was a fight over the Scripture’s teachings of grace alone. Not grace partly, then us coming along partly so that we may decide for it and ultimately earn it. Grace stands alone — otherwise, it’s not grace.
From my sermon from October 30, 2005, preached at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY.