Gleanings – Nullifying Grace

Galatians 2:11-21

“For before certain men came from James, [Peter] ate with Gentiles; But when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party.”

Peter was in retreat. At first he acted boldly upon the vision God had given him. He accepted that God’s invitation did not distinguish between Jew and Gentile. He accepted that adherence to kosher food laws was no longer a requirement for being “clean.” Now, however, he was in full retreat. Peter could no longer hang with Gentiles unless of course they first became compliant Jews. He feared the wrath of the circumcision party who maintained Gentile converts to Christianity also had to become Jews.

Paul immediately saw the danger. This was Jesus plus – Jesus plus Judaism, Jesus plus circumcision, Jesus plus kosher food. This meant Jesus’ sacrifice was not sufficient to save. It was not complete. It denied the words “It is finished!” To the contrary, if we want to enjoy fellowship with converted Jews and be full members of the Kingdom, we Gentiles must add to Jesus something else like the 8th day procedure. So say Peter’s actions if not his words.

For Paul this could not stand. Because if it’s “Jesus Plus,” then it could be Jesus plus anything including perfection. Do you ever grow weary of trying? Striving? I read my bible and say my prayers daily and then without notice I let gossip fly out of my mouth, or entertain a perverse thought or let the sun go down on my anger. Immediately I am searching for the means by which I can get right with God. I search in vain because God has already made me right with him.

“Jesus Plus” makes it all about me the sinner. “Jesus Only” makes it all about God the giver of Grace.

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