The Solid Rock
Since our firstborn Adelyn was a baby, Brendon and I have sung the old hymn “The Solid Rock” to our children as a bedtime lullaby. God has used this song often to encourage me after long, tiring days of parenting little ones.
On Christ the Solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
During the past few months, Brendon has been teaching in Galatians at Wednesday night youth group time. Slowing working through this book has helped me fill out with greater depth what it means to claim that Christ is my Solid Rock. So much could be said about Galatians, but here are a few lessons I have learned thus far.
No Other Gospel
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— Galatians 1:6
After a brief greeting, Paul passionately pleads in Galatians 1:6-10 with the church to stand firm in the true gospel and not to be deceived by false teachers. These false teachers were attempting to persuade the church in Galatia to add adherence to the Old Testament law to the gospel. They were tampering with how we understand our salvation. Paul desperately wants this church to be reminded that salvation is through faith in Jesus’ work alone. The urgency with which he writes correlates with the seriousness of forsaking essential truths about the gospel.
The Sinking Sand
For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse… Galatians 3:10
In the first two chapters of Galatians, Paul builds an argument for the church to better understand this false gospel that had infiltrated into their midst. After his initial rebuke, he defends his role as a trustworthy apostle called by God (Galatians 1:11-24). Paul then explains the origins of this false teaching. He describes that “false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery” (Gal 2:4). These false brothers were influential people in the Christian circles of that era and the doubt they casted over the Gospel caused much turmoil amongst these early believers. They were pushing for new Gentile believers and Jewish believers to become obedient to obsolete Jewish ceremonial laws, such as circumcision and regulations about who could eat meals together.
The problem is that the law these Judaizers were prizing was not sufficient. Obedience to the law can only restore you to God if you abide by it perfectly. Paul teaches that the law is instead a curse to those who cannot keep it perfectly (Gal 3:10). Trying then to build your own salvation on the law and your works is, just like the hymn says, like building on sinking sand.
God Justifies by Faith
…yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ… Galatians 2:16
Halfway through chapter two, Paul begins to focus his argument on the heart of these disagreements. We are justified – made right before a holy God, declared righteous in His sight, cleansed from our sins – because of faith in Jesus alone. The Old Testament laws, ceremonies, and sacrifices were all a foreshadowing of the miraculous work Jesus would accomplish on our behalf on the Cross. The end of verse 16 says clearly, “so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified”.
The curse that should be placed upon us for not being obedient to God’s law was instead poured out on Christ (Gal 3:13). Christ perfectly fulfilled and obeyed every part of the law. Instead of claiming his right to go to heaven and be with God, Christ laid down his life for us. Paul describes the transaction this way, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21). Christ’s life became the sacrifice that satisfied the debt we owed to God for our disobedience.
Our Only Hope
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
Working through these passages and understanding that there is nothing we can do to earn salvation could be seen as discouraging. My often pride-filled heart desires to prove myself worthy before God, to just be able to work hard enough and be good enough on my own strength. The freeing truth taught in Galatians is that we are called to cast ourselves completely on the only true hope found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are to consider ourselves “crucified with Christ” – what powerful imagery (Gal 2:20)! Elsewhere in the New Testament we are reminded, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself…” (2 Cor 5:17-18). The great gift of salvation is that God saved me apart from any work of my hands and completely because of His great love and mercy. He raised my dead heart and has shown me abundant life in Christ.
The church in Galatians desperately needed this refreshing reminder. They were being pressured to return to slavery – that is, slavery to the law, slavery to the need to justify oneself before God. Paul reminds the church that in Christ, we are now sons of God, adopted into God’s family (Gal 4:5). The life we now live is by faith in Jesus (Gal 2:20), trusting in His work on our behalf alone, but then living a life of love in response to the great love with which He loved us (Gal 5:13).
Returning to the old hymn “The Solid Rock”, I want to encourage and remind each of you to be thankful for the truth that Christ alone is our Solid Rock and that truly; all other ground is sinking sand.
Julie is currently a stay at home mom with three beautiful girls ages four and under. She is married to Brendon who recently became the Student Pastor at FBC Canyon last November. Julie is a originally from Wheaton, IL, a suburb of Chicago. Just before her teenage years, her parents were called to foreign missions in rural northern Kenya where she lived until she graduated from high school. She then moved to Lynchburg, VA where she completed her BSN at Liberty University. Upon graduation, Julie moved to Louisville, KY, married Brendon, started working in the world of nursing, and established a family all while serving at Immanuel Baptist Church during Brendon’s time at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Julie loves spending time in the outdoors whether it be by long walks in the evenings, challenging hikes, camping, or backpacking.