Attack on the Sufficiency of Christ’s Work on the Cross

“Fill my eyes oh my God with a vision of the cross, fill my heart with love for Jesus the Nazarene”.

What does it mean to fill my eyes with that vision Lord? Why is it so important?

When Adam and eve were in the “Garden” the serpent asked them the question “did God really say…?” After the initial interaction with the serpent, he says your eyes will be opened when you eat from the tree”. The woman looked and saw the fruit and she found it desirable. By looking and seeing, the wrong desire was provoked. So our motivation and purpose to act is often provoked by our vision. What is the counter to that? To fill our eyes with a vision of the Cross and Jesus the Nazarene. Yet we cannot actually “see” Jesus in reality – nevertheless one can “see” Him in multiple ways in your mind’s eye and that vision of Him will determine your love and desire for Him with your actions flowing from that. Now that vision doesn’t just come from our pure imagination – it comes initially through God’s word. His word paints pictures constantly adding to the original in depth, quality, colour and variety – but the Word is the true source of the vision – yet we can build on that vision all the time by worship, prayer, daily interaction with God by faith and through His word, often even subconsciously to our original vision from His word.

Now the danger is that false pictures can intrude, held up by false prophets and teachers and wrong, negative interaction with other people and even our own sinful desires. So at the beginning of the day we can sing “Be thou my vision, oh Great King of heaven, be thou my all….”

Now we are back in Galatians. From 1:11 to 2:10 Paul goes into great detail to establish his status of apostleship and grasp of the gospel and how he received it directly from Jesus. In such a short letter why would he take up almost a whole chapter on this subject? Well why don’t you think through that and then what the important relevance that has for us today.

In 2:11-2:14 Paul comes to the reason or motivation which has set him off to write this indignant letter. It is clear that Peter has reneged on his original belief that the Gentile believers, who had accepted the Lord by faith were fully equal to the Jewish believers under the new order and now, (notice the remark in vs 12b that he did this out of fear), was aligning himself with the Jewish believers who believed that to be a complete Christian you still need to fulfil the requirements of the law, and in this case especially circumcision. Now today many would say why the fuss, surely this is a point of doctrine and many people have different views of certain doctrines? So yes, why the fuss?

This is such an important issue that I am going to stop there for today and am going to leave you with a few questions to ponder and I will deal with them next time before getting into the rest of ch 2 which is quite complex.

So here are the questions, if you wish to you can place one or more answers on the blog comments so that others can interact.

  1. Why would Paul take up a whole chapter in such a short letter to establish his authority as an apostle and his grasp of the gospel and why is that very relevant for us today?
  2. Why is it so attractive to people, both saved and unsaved to believe that obeying the law can contribute to their salvation?
  3. Why the fuss about this whole issue, surely it is a minor point of doctrine?

Consider also, as part of our discussion for next time “what is the role of the law in salvation”?

So I thought I would like to hear what your takes are on these questions are and at the same time getting our half-frozen brains ticking again.

And what is Jesus saying to me today? “What is your understanding of the role of the law in salvation under the New Covenant? Think it through carefully.”

3 Replies to “Attack on the Sufficiency of Christ’s Work on the Cross”

  1. Dear Ian, thank you for shining Christ’s light here on the world wide web! And for the invitation to share our views on grace, and the law. Here is what I’ve learnt in His Word:

    I absolutely agree that Christ’s offer on the cross was complete and sufficient. Nothing that we can do can pay that price. It’s all or nothing. Christ gave all!

    Those who held onto circumcision struggled to see that Christ embodied the covenant of salvation, that previously was symbolised by the act of circumcision. They were still blinded by the vision of an earthly nation that was set apart for a holy purpose.

    Every male child, even foreigners brought into the fold, had to be ‘grafted’ into this hope, this foreshadowing of the Second Adam. There was no other way to belong to the nation of God. No other God.

    Circumcision pointed to the Seed that was to come, through the line of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David. It wasn’t part of the moral Law (the Ten Commandments written in stone), but a sign of the Covenant between God and His people.

    Christ was the Seed, born through this line of patriarchs that held onto the Promise. He is the sacrificial Lamb, without blemish, whose blood was sprinkled onto the Holy altar where the Law was held as standard, reflecting the pure character of our God – as justification for OUR sins.

    Just like the Israelites were, we are so far removed from that standard, that we are unreachable, unable to save ourselves… But Christ did the impossible. Only our Holy, perfect God could have done that. Only our Almighty Lord can annihilate sin and evil. Only our King and Creator can make us and this earth new, and make retribution for the damage and havoc caused by sin.

    Just like the Israelites had to do, we have to come to the altar through the blood of Christ offered for our sins, to claim the Promise. We have to cover the door posts of our heart with His blood so that we can be freed from the slavery and tyranny of sin. Now we are grafted into Christ!

    Christ fulfilled, manifested and upheld the Law, His Righteousness and Holiness. He is our perfect God, who never changes. He invited us to ‘become His righteousness’, so that ‘His joy may be fulfilled in us’… incredibly.
    That was why He came, why He became fully man like us, with all its limitations. He did not hide His face from our sin, but was spat on, despised, rejected, and crucified. The Word became flesh, and will not return to the Father void – He will accomplish what He set out to do: save us.

    Sin is still sin. Devastating, alienating, deadly sin. Yet, His love for us is so vast, so deep, so powerful and unselfish, that nothing can separate us from Him – except our rebellion and refusal to accept His grace and mercy.

    He has silenced the accusation of the enemy forever, and His supreme reign and Kingship has been vindicated and justified. His perfect Law didn’t change; He didn’t change. What did change was that we were lost in the dark, but now we are covered by His grace.

    Death as the result of sin is inevitable. There is no darkness or sin in Christ, no deceit, no half-baked truths. Upholding the righteousness and law of Christ is non-negotiable. Either we die in our sin, or we die to our sinful selves and are born again IN CHRIST. Oh, grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved!

    Christ Jesus said: “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” (John 14:23)

    To think that the all-powerful, holy God wants to come and make His home with me, in my heart! To be the clay in the Potter’s hands… For Him to guide my every step, shape my thoughts and actions, strengthen me to face trials, fill my cup with His grace and love until it overflows!

    That would be to be perfect, and holy in His sight, and living within His Law, His will.

  2. Paul experienced huge opposition by his opponents. Because of his conversion through the grace and power of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Paul spoke sharply against the teachers of Mosaic law. Paul declares in no uncertain words that our justification comes solely through our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ alone. Remember our study of Acts 15. When Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3 6 ” The letter kills but the Spirit gives life” he is contrasting the old mosaic era where the command approached from without to the new era of the Spirit , the new covenant era where the believer is obedient because the Holy Spirit is living within his heart through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is most important for our lifes as Christians. All.power and glory be to our Holy Lord forever and ever. Amen

  3. Thankyou both for your excellent, insightful contributions. I hope the other co-bloggers will enjoy them as much as I did. I will deal with answers to the specific questions in the main blog today.

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