Does Christ Suffice?
Galatians 2:16: 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
Galatians 6:14-16: 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. 15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.
In my mind, the book of Galatians really revolves around one central question: Is Christ alone sufficient to save us from our sins and put us into right standing before God? At the expense of leaving you in suspense, let’s go ahead answer that question. Paul’s reply is a resounding “YES!” We are saved when we repent of our sins and put our faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. It is not based on what we do but on what He accomplished for us in His life, death and resurrection.
The conflict at hand in the church of Galatia out of which our central question arises revolves around the concept of circumcision. That may sound odd to our 21st century ears, but for the Jews circumcision set them apart as a people. It was the covenantal sign given by God Himself for them to perform on young males to signify that they were a part of God’s chosen people. From the Jewish perspective, the significance of this sign cannot be overstated.
Some in the church of Galatia were telling the Gentiles (non-Jewish) believers in the church that they had to be circumcised in order to truly be a part of the family of God. To my ears, that almost seems like an understandable confusion that might take place given the inbred utter importance of circumcision in the minds of the Jewish people. Yes, the Gentiles believed in Christ, but surely they had to be circumcised in order to be legitimate members of the family. Did the Gentiles seriously think they were in the family of God solely based on what Christ did?
In Paul’s mind however, this was no small question. As a matter of fact, it gets right to the heart of the Gospel. Is Christ alone sufficient to put us in right standing with the Father and make us a child of God? Or, do I also need to do something in order to seal the deal, to really be a part of the family of God? Along the way in Galatians, Paul will teach us about the true meaning of the symbol of circumcision pointing to the true circumcision of our hearts by the Spirit of God, a casting off of our flesh (sin nature). This only happens when we are born again of the Spirit and that was made possible because of the finished work of Christ on the cross. He did what we could not do and we receive His righteousness as a gift when we put our faith in Christ. It is finished. Complete. We are not second-hand citizens. We are legitimate children based solely on what Christ has done for us.
He alone is necessary. He alone is sufficient.
- Author Michael Green
- Date September 21, 2016