In the Apostle Paul’s day, just like today, religious people tried to change the Gospel by adding rules and requirements. The first Christians were Jews. So naturally, one of the first questions that came up was, “Do you have to become a Jew before you can become a Christian?” Those who believed this to be the case were putting spiritual bondage on the Gentile (non-Jewish) Christians telling them that unless they were circumcised and obey the Law of Moses they couldn’t be saved. Today’s text…
Then fourteen years later I went back to Jerusalem again, this time with Barnabas; and Titus came along, too. I went there because God revealed to me that I should go. While I was there I met privately with those considered to be leaders of the church and shared with them the message I had been preaching to the Gentiles. I wanted to make sure that we were in agreement, for fear that all my efforts had been wasted and I was running the race for nothing. And they supported me and did not even demand that my companion Titus be circumcised, though he was a Gentile. Even that question came up only because of some so-called Christians there—false ones, really—who were secretly brought in. They sneaked in to spy on us and take away the freedom we have in Christ Jesus. They wanted to enslave us and force us to follow their Jewish regulations. But we refused to give in to them for a single moment. We wanted to preserve the truth of the gospel message for you. And the leaders of the church had nothing to add to what I was preaching. (By the way, their reputation as great leaders made no difference to me, for God has no favorites.) Instead, they saw that God had given me the responsibility of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as he had given Peter the responsibility of preaching to the Jews. For the same God who worked through Peter as the apostle to the Jews also worked through me as the apostle to the Gentiles. In fact, James, Peter, and John, who were known as pillars of the church, recognized the gift God had given me, and they accepted Barnabas and me as their co-workers. They encouraged us to keep preaching to the Gentiles, while they continued their work with the Jews. Their only suggestion was that we keep on helping the poor, which I have always been eager to do. Galatians 2:1-10 (NLT)
There are of course many religious people today who do the same thing as the false brethren of Paul’s day. They tell you unless you keep all the rules of their particular religious organization you can’t be saved. But the fact is that only Christ saves. And Christ alone saves. Whenever a church or religious organization tries to tell you that you need Jesus plus anything else, beware! You are likely dealing with a cult and not true Christianity.
Stand in the liberty of God’s amazing grace in Christ!