Writing to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul after greeting them launches into a tirade:
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are confusing you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.”
~Galatians 1:6-7 (NRSV).
This is not a welcome message or one desirable to please; but it’s necessary. How is it that the discipleship to which all Christians are called falls on so many deaf ears? Is ‘Christ and him crucified,’ and the grace set forth, really at the centre of most believer’s lives?
We can suppose that many infant believers are led astray or never learned to challenge the spiritual status quo.
The tension that many find impossible to bridge between works righteousness and cheap grace is common—some ever guilty for their past, not feeling saved; others taking far too much liberty with their new birth status.
Paul was “astonished” at just how “quickly” these Galatians had departed from the Gospel—the only one. It’s as if they’d been converted again, but to something entirely different.
Who can hear the message of grace and then turn asunder to a typology of Christianity that fits perfect the individual’s frame? Many, many is the answer. The Gospel is not about that type of freedom.
Signs of True Belief
Everything about true belief is emergent from the cross. It’s the centre of the Gospel.
Out of that basis comes a true theology that vanquishes falsity and expands the imagination to God’s character, greatness, goodness and grace.
Grace is neither insufficient in its scope or power nor is it so magnanimous that it covers wanton sin. It is power for new life, beyond to the shattering of insidious realms, but it’s not a license to break God’s law. True belief fully respects grace and rivers of living water issue from within, the flow of which sees righteous intent convert to fruit.
A true believer is separated from one that’s stunted in his or her growth by what they produce—by how they’re being transformed day after day. Can a true believer—one clung hard to the foot of the cross—really not grow?
A.W. Tozer denounced in his day the ‘static Christian’ and he saw far too much of it. It made him sick, and it should make us sick too. Still, many of these are close to us, and we’re positioned so as to learn tolerance, not getting conceited, but we’re warned not to go their way of superficial belief. Least of all do we judge, but our eyes cannot lie; wisdom is advised upon evidence en masse.
The ever-changing life is a constant challenge—the wish of which is to become so used to change and growth that change and growth becomes a necessary constant.
Certainly as I write these words I’m compelled by the Spirit residing within to be searched and found wanting. The grace that saves reminds us—without a hint of condemnation—of our place in this world: take the high ground and be prepared to be knocked down.
So be it. What cost is it to laud the Jesus of the gospels—and his Spirit that lives on in me—and have the flesh crushed? That event is welcomed.
Cases against hypocrisy stand at the fruit shown of the life lived. That will be everyone’s final test; that, the judgment ground. In the meantime, let the Gospel be preached without interference!
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.