|Today’s Scripture: But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. Galatians 2:11|
The church has one foundation – Jesus Christ. When the church begins to teach something that contradicts Him and His Word, it is teaching false doctrine. When Peter began to teach the Gentiles to follow the Jewish customs, Paul corrected him. He said, “If you, a Jew, live as the Gentiles, why are you urging the Gentiles to live as Jews?”
The Apostle Paul saw this as the hypocrisy it was. Even though it was Peter who was doing this, Paul knew it had to be corrected; he couldn’t just sit back and watch. Paul addressed Peter, “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” (Galatians 2:16) When Peter compelled the Gentiles to live as Jews, the Apostle Paul pointed out that following the law had nothing to do with salvation.
Even though Peter wasn’t teaching salvation through works, he urged the Gentiles to live as Jews so the Jews wouldn’t get upset. Because some people were misunderstanding this as part of salvation, it had to be corrected. If people were misunderstanding salvation, Paul knew it had to be dealt with – no matter who was teaching.
The gospel is what is important – not the church you go to, not the pastor, priest, pope, or anyone else. If the message of salvation is not clearly communicated, people will go to Hell. That is why it is of utmost importance to present the gospel as clearly as possible.
Salvation is “by the faith of Jesus Christ…for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” It is complete, apart from anything that we can do. Following God’s laws will not earn salvation; it is only by faith in Jesus Christ. Many churches teach that salvation is “by faith” but that faith must be demonstrated through works. They incorrectly combine our salvation and our service. Just as the Apostle Paul had to stand against the Apostle Peter when the gospel was being misunderstood, we must stand against those that teach this perversion of the gospel.
When people start interpreting works as part of the salvation process, a distinction must be made. We are saved by faith in Jesus Christ. After we are saved, we should live in service to Him, but that is not part of salvation. We are saved because of our trust in Christ’s death on the cross as a payment for our sins, whether or not we live in conjunction with our Lord’s commandments. The Apostle Paul commanded in Romans 12:1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” These were saved “brethren,” and Paul urged them to serve God not because they could have salvation, but because they already had it. It is reasonable to serve God because of what He has done for you. We must be willing to take a stand on the gospel because eternity is dependent on it. Let’s not be afraid to stand “on faith alone.”
Devotional by Pastor Jim Scudder, Jr.