But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son…to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:4-6, ESV)
Salvation frees us from the penalty and power of sin, it adopts us into God’s family, and it provides us an eternal inheritance.
Paul explains that through salvation, we receive God’s adoption – He places His spirit within us and makes us His children. As such, He promises us a heavenly inheritance. Our salvation is complete! Our adoption is final! Our heavenly inheritance is secure! Our Heavenly Father is truly an amazing and awesome God!
Legalism Versus Grace
But there were people in the early church who struggled with the transition from the Old Testament Law to the Dispensation of Grace. When “the fullness of time had come,” God made that change possible by sending Jesus to the earth. His death and burial (in our place) satisfied the legal requirements for the penalty of our sin. His resurrection qualified Him as the immortal and invincible conqueror before whom death must flee, every knee will humbly bow, and every tongue will loudly confess Him as Lord.
God established His entire plan of salvation before time began (II Timothy 1:9). Before He created the world and started earth’s “time clock” to ticking, God designed salvation by His grace through our faith – not by our good deeds (Ephesians 2:8-9). Yet, somehow, people keep trying to include their good works or requirements into God’s finished plan of salvation. This futile effort is comparable to me adding some finishing touches to a Michelangelo painting!
This is specifically what Paul was fighting against – people who were saved by God’s grace alone, yet still wanted Christians to abide by the requirements of the Law. In essence, it was another form of works-based salvation. Certainly, there are good deeds that accompany the Christian faith. Christianity without works is lifeless (James 2:17). Christians should exhibit the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Even Christ Himself said that true Christians are identified by their love toward each other (John 13:35). All of these require works – but these works are evidence of, not requirements for, salvation.
Since God’s grace brings spiritual freedom (Romans 6), Paul rightfully wonders why anyone would want to return to the “weak and worthless” bondage and fear of the Law (Galatians 4:9)? I wonder the same.
- Name some of the good deeds you do as a result of your salvation.
- On what good deeds might you be mistakenly relying for assurance of your salvation?
- What does it mean to trust and rest on Christ’s finished work of salvation?