“For it is by His grace you are saved, through trusting Him; it is not your own doing. It is God’s gift, not a reward for work done. There is nothing for anyone to boast of. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to devote ourselves to good deeds for which God has designed us.”
We — you and I — are designed by God “to devote ourselves to good deeds.” Yet, “we are God’s handiwork.” He designs us and saves us. “It is not [our] own doing. It is God’s gift.” Our salvation, even our good deeds, are not “reward(s) for work done.” We do not earn the right to perform those good deeds; we do not earn our entrance into the heavenly places. Jesus goes to prepare a place for us; the place is His handiwork, not ours.
“God, rich in mercy, for the great love He bears us, brings us to life with Christ even when we are dead in our sins; it is by grace you are saved. And in union with Christ Jesus He raises us up and enthrones us with Him in the heavenly realms, so that He might display in the ages to come how immense are the resources of His grace.” (Ephesians 2: 4 – 7)
God’s mercy is rich; His grace is resourceful. His kindness is beyond us. If we are to boast, we are to boast of the Lord — of His mercy, His kindnesses, His grace. Amen.
Paul bemoans what is happening in the Galatian church, writing: “I am amazed that you are so quickly turning away from Him who calls you by the grace of God and are turning to a different gospel –”
The “turning away from [Christ]” happens in error due to the influence of Judaizers who call for men in the church to be circumcised. (Who knows to what Law these Judaizers might subject women!) At any rate, Paul is bewildered and disturbed that the Galatians are falling prey to people who demand full obedience to the “old covenant.”
In Paul’s mind, there’s no doubt these men (and women) of Galatia are called “by the grace of God.” They’re now deceived. Paul is distressed that they’ve been deceived “so quickly.”
Paul defends the gospel. He calls the gospel what it is — “the good news about the Messiah.” (Galatians 1: 7) He curses anyone who “preaches to [us] a different gospel contrary to what [we] receive.” (Galatians 1: 9)
He tells us that he is “advanced in Judaism beyond many contemporaries among [his] people.” (Galatians 1: 14) He understands more than anyone what it means to obey the “old covenant” in order to please God. He fully comprehends the futility of human effort. He asks the Galatians (and us), “You foolish Galatians! Who has hypnotized you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ is vividly portrayed as crucified? I only what to learn this from you: Do you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now going to be made complete by the flesh?” (Galatians 3: 1-3)