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The grace that leads to real freedom

I am amazed that you are so quickly turning away from Him who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are troubling you and want to change the good news about the Messiah. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel other than what we have preached to you, a curse be on him! As we have said before, I now say again: If anyone preaches to you a gospel contrary to what you received, a curse be on him! Galatians 1:6-9

It was customary for Paul to write a letter that begins with commendation but not in this case in his letter to the church at Galatia. He was instrumental in starting the church in Galatia and now he sees this church as turning away from the gospel preached to them. What is at stake is nothing less than the gospel itself. Since what he has preached to them was the good news of freedom, they must not abandon it for the bondage of religious legalism. He was astonished that they were deserting their belief in God and His gospel of grace. It was almost beyond his comprehension that they, having once been delivered from the bondage of law, would go back into this religious prison. Even today, this error is repeated when people say, “This is what you have to do to be saved; join our church, obey our rules, submit to our baptism, practice our ritual, worship the way we do, work hard, prove your worth, and earn God’s love. In the end, if you are good enough, God will accept you.” A works-based gospel is different from the message of grace. Salvation is by faith alone in Christ through His grace. “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). In fact, a works-based, human-effort driven gospel is no gospel at all. How is a demand for impossible human achievement good news? Anyone who presents a way of salvation that depends in any way on works, rather than God, has contaminated the gospel message and could not be called “good news.” The good news of Jesus Christ is unique and unchangeable. Therefore, when you abandon it in favor of the confusion and legalism you escaped when you accepted Christ, you are actually abandoning the grace of God. “Christ has liberated us to be free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).


Noel De Guzman

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