In Galatians 5:1 the Apostle Paul writes, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” As Americans, liberty is something that is very important to us. It is a privilege for which many have sacrificed their lives. But as important as our physical liberty is to all of us, this is not the kind of liberty Paul was writing about. He was writing of a much greater liberty – the liberty that comes from Jesus Christ.
It is possible for those who enjoy the liberties secured by God and government, to still be in bondage to their passions and sinful appetites. But thankfully, the same God who providentially grants the physical freedoms we enjoy as Americans has also secured for us a freedom from sin through the sacrifice of His Son.
“The Gospel is good news, not because it gives a moral standard by which to live, but because it gives us the life lived by the standard of righteousness, Jesus Christ.”
This freedom is extended to all of us through the Gospel. The Gospel is good news, not because it gives a moral standard by which to live, but because it gives us the life lived by the standard of righteousness, Jesus Christ. Christ completely and perfectly lived a life that we cannot live. He then died a death in our place, and through His death and resurrection, He extended to us the righteousness of God.
For many, however, the simplicity of this great exchange is missed by a misrepresentation of the Gospel. For example some have sought to misuse Scripture to the point of bringing those who have been made free back into bondage. Some, perhaps with noble motives, have reduced the Gospel to a formula or plan. The unintended consequences of a “plan of salvation” may lead those who hear this message to believe that they are the agents of their own redemption. Excluding Christ from a salvation that He alone secures and grants is a gross violation of the power of the Gospel.
“…a billboard that reads “Obey Acts 2:38” may be helpful in some instances, but eventually these formulations put the intellect and ability of man at the center of the salvation story.”
The reduction of the Gospel to a formulation of “following the Roman road” (a tool designed to lead people to helpful verses concerning salvation in the book of Romans) or a billboard that reads “Obey Acts 2:38” may be helpful in some instances, but eventually these formulations put the intellect and ability of man at the center of the salvation story. The focus should be on the magnificent, glorious gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
“The only plan of Scripture has God at the center and not man.”
Put another way, if one is smart enough to follow the plan, then what are we to make of Paul’s declaration in Ephesians 2:8-9? “For by grace are ye saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not of works lest anyone should boast.” If it is according to a plan, then I should be commended for my ability to obey the plan. There would be a place for my boasting. But God’s plan is not about me, it is all about Jesus. The only plan of Scripture has God at the center and not man.
Consider Ephesians 1:4-6 “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” It was God who purposed in Himself before the foundation of the world to save us. So may our words echo those of the Apostle in Galatians 6:14; “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” My liberty was secured in Christ.
Thank God that salvation is not based on intellect that would exclude some, nor is it based on talent, money or ability, which would exclude many. Salvation is based solely on what Christ has accomplished, according to God’s plan, not ours! In this liberty we should rejoice. As Jesus declared in John 8:36, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”