Galatians 1:1-5 – Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— and all the brothers who are with me, To the churches of Galatia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
God is holy and lives in heaven. We are unholy and live on earth. For this relationship to be restored and the gap to be bridged, someone needs to do something.
One thing that various man-made religions hold in common is teaching that you are the someone who needs to do something. In the book of Galatians, the error was saying that men needed to be circumcised. With Mormons and Jehovah’s Witness cults, there is another book in addition to the Bible with lots of new rules and regulations. In Islam, Jesus is superseded by Mohammed and the Bible replaced with the Koran. In Hinduism, you reincarnate to suffer thereby repaying your debt to karma. In Catholicism, you die and suffer for a season in purgatory.
Even in Christianity, there are often good things that get added to simply trusting in Jesus to make you a varsity Christian who can be confident in your eternal life – examples include speaking in tongues, being baptized, tithing, fasting, doing missions, or having the right Bible translation and attending the right church that holds to the right confession of faith.
In contrast, the gospel of Jesus Christ is about Jesus, and not you, as the one person who does something. This is why Paul begins his letter stressing the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for sins. In this way, we are saved by Jesus’ works and not our own. This is what Jesus meant when saying on the cross “It is finished!” The sinless Jesus paid our price for our sins and no one and nothing and can replace Him or add to His work of salvation. We receive the benefits of Jesus’ works by faith or trusting in Him alone. All of this is what the Bible means by the simple word “grace”.
Have you added anything to the grace of Jesus Christ that you think makes you a Christian or closer to God?