How did you come to faith in Christ? Was it a friend who led you to Him? Was it in a church, at a youth retreat, a sweet friend or a spouse that ceased an opportunity to speak the truth to you? I have grown up my entire life in the church. I was saved at the age of 5 and at my own request, baptized at 8 and for my entire life I have struggled with my faith. At times it is strong and unwavering and other times the doubts mount and I fear I have lost faith and will be left behind.
Recently, the Lord made reminded me through some very old and familiar passages that it was never up to me anyway. My salvation and faith was not a logical process that I came to trust in at such an early age. In fact, it doesn’t matter who, what, where, when or how one comes to faith. It is always the Holy Spirit that does the work of faith. I am reminded again this morning after reading Paul’s words in Galatians. Of all people, Paul should have known right from the start that Jesus was the Messiah, but he didn’t. All his knowledge and logic did nothing for his faith. It wasn’t until his eyes were opened by the Lord that could finally believe.
“For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me.” Galatians 1:11-16a
This encourages me in my faith. It’s encouraging because it’s an important lesson that faith and belief in Christ is not earned, studied, wished or willed. It’s a gift given to us by the everlasting God of the universe. I was set apart before I was born and called by grace. What an amazing gift. It leads me to praise my great God. It leads me to want to please Him, praise Him, serve Him and never walk away but yet…. The warning at the start of the passage is alarming. How could one walk away? How could one get confused? How could anyone else promise anything greater then the gift of salvation found in Jesus Christ?
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.” Galatians 1:6-7
But yet it happens. All the time, day after day. In small ways and big. The slippery slope, the slow fade. Without a close connection to the word, a deep relationship with the Lord and a guarded heart the path away from the Him happens one step at a time. When I rely on my own works, service, good deeds and even my own faith I become prideful and selfish. I forget the truth of the gospel that Jesus died to give us the gift of salvation. I have nothing to do with it. That’s freeing and brings me to tears.
Lord, help me not lift my soul to what is false or prideful. Give me clean hands and a pure heart to worship you. May I not look to the right or the left but continually seek your face alone. Thank you for revealing to me the gift of salvation you offer through your son, Jesus. Amen.