Reading Paul's epistle to the church in Galatia highlights an age-old issue in the history of the Church. In Galatians 2:21 Paul beautifully summarises the essence of this post, 'I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!' He does not stop there, but goes on to make a very striking statement, 'Those of you who try to be put right with God by obeying the law have cut yourselves off from Christ. You are outside God's grace.' Reading this sent chills down my spine, especially because there are many I love who oppose the doctrine of Sola Fide. It saddens and frustrates me to know that many today still miss the point of the greatest event in history!
One of the most common oppositions refers to the law - the ten commandments: 'Why would God give us His law if He didn't want us to follow it? If we had to follow it, surely it determined our eternal well-being.'
While He does want us to follow it, the purpose of the law was not to save, but to lead to salvation. The law humbles one and reiterates their need for a Savior; it is also what characterises repentance, the result of salvation. Can any of us boast of observing the whole law? No! James in his epistle to the scattered Jews reminds us that 'whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.' Hence we're all law breakers.
God's judicial system does not differ greatly from ours, in fact it is the perfected version of our own. A law breaker is not justified and set free by his 'good deeds' elsewhere - a mass murderer could have been a very charitable man, however that by no means dismisses the fact that he has taken lives away! Like wise, no matter how many of the laws we have observed and no matter how good a life we have lived, we are still obliged to serve our sentence.
Forgiveness does not work in a court, but redemption does...He was our ransom; He paid our fine so that we can go free. God graciously in His love, offered us an easy way out. It is up to you and me to accept or reject it.
Obedience to the law needs to be the RESULT of our FAITH in Jesus and His sacrifice on the Cross - salvation leads to a change of heart, brought about by God alone, making obedience possible. He HAD to die for you, for me and for humanity itself. If there was a better way, any other way, by which we can be saved, He need not have come!
'Twas indeed a purposeful death. Don't you agree?
May this Gospel truth continue to fill each of us with wonder and gratitude this Easter and Good Friday as we never cease to recognise our need for the Savior.