Jesus Did the Heavy Lifting FOR US!
The books of Romans and Galatians give us the clearest teachings on the sufficiency of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. A careful study of these two books is greatly rewarding. The churches founded in the Roman province of Galatia—geographically, approximately in the middle of present day Turkey—were founded by the apostle Paul and his associates on“The First Missionary Journey”. The Galatians were further taught and strengthened on two subsequent journeys that reached the eastern half of the Mediterranean world.
The initial response to the Gospel, in the cities of Galatia, had been positive and encouraging, in spite of severe opposition that the apostle and his associates had to endure. Remarkably, this letter begins with a severe rebuke—that though they had begun well in their faith, they were in serious peril of moving away from that faith. Why did this turning away occur? Because they were enamored by teachers, who came later, telling them that they had been missing out; that there was further information that they needed, if they were truly to be Christians. These, who turned out to be false teachers, were judaizers: Jews who had been converted to Christianity and who, in effect, insisted that Gentiles must adopt certain practices taught in the Old Testament. They insisted that all the Gentile males must be circumcised, a sign that was exceedingly important in the heritage of the Jews. Paul very carefully reminds the Galatians that their hope is in Christ and not in special signs of spirituality. Note his strong words: “But even if we or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:8)
The book of Galatians reminds us that many who believe in Jesus have a feeling that they must do something extra. For them it was circumcision and other practices. Things that are good in themselves, but do not add to the sanctification of the Christian. The point is, that forgiveness of sins and acceptance by God is on the basis of faith and trust in Christ alone. We cannot add to what Christ has done for us. We are complete in him. Believing in him, we are to follow him and grow in his grace. We call this sanctification, God’s process of helping and guiding those who believe in him to become the people that he would have us to be.
We need to adhere to the basics: The faithful daily study of the scriptures, worship every Sunday, avoiding associations that damage us, and actively serving our Savior. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God—not because of works, lest any person should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8,9)
Foster H. Shannon
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Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note
Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth.
He is currently Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA. He is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. He is the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, which he established with others in 1981. Green Leaf Press, Inc. publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.
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