(6) I am amazed that you have been turned away so quickly from the one (God) who called you by grace, to a different â€œgood news.â€ — Galatians 1:6
(4) But I have this against you: You have left your first love. — Revelation 2:4
Most of the time when we talk about turning away from God the argument immediately turns to whether it’s possible to lose our salvation. What sort of bad things do I have to do in order to lose my salvation and get sent to hell? Often there is even a hidden question: How much can I get by with without losing my salvation?
But I think there is a more important question to ask. What could possibly be more important than losing our salvation? I would suggest that living fully with our salvation is a more important topic simply because issues like the unpardonable sin or losing our salvation don’t impact most of us under anyone’s views. Some believe you can’t possibly lose your salvation, while others believe you can. But vanishingly few people believe it’s easy to lose it.
But we’re in constant danger of losing that first love, and if we lose that first love, we’re going to lose much of the benefit of our salvation. Oh, I know, people often think of â€œsalvationâ€ as simply a ticket to heaven. But salvation starts by putting you into a right relationship with God (we call this justification by faith), and continues by inviting you to a life of faith and faithfulness in relationship with God. That’s a wonderful invitation.
I don’t know about you, but I remember when I first personally accepted Christ at age 9. I remember when I returned to an active faith many years later. I remember the precious closeness to God that I found in those experiences and in many other times when I experience God’s presence. This morning I experienced closeness with God in my time of personal Bible study. I certainly wouldn’t want to give up those experiences, each of which is a gift of God’s grace, and then comfort myself by saying that I have a ticket for heaven.
In Galatians 1:6, Paul is amazed at the speed with which the Galatians have turned away from the good news and instead gone to a different â€œgood news.â€ This morning I was studying some about Paul’s teaching of the gospel and about the likely nature of this different â€œgood news.â€ I put it in quotation marks because I feel that in what Paul wrote. He had to use the term, because other people were using it, but he thought this other â€œgood newsâ€ was anything but good!
The key element of the other â€œgood newsâ€ was to put the things that one does, actions that are required by the law, ahead of the freely given grace of God. Both versions of the good news offered people entrance into God’s favor and into a relationship with God. But only one was based on God’s gracious gift, and only one was based on God’s creative power.
The Galatians were quickly tempted into the second option. You see, it gave something visible to grab hold of. Those who were part of the new covenant did specific things, like circumcision. Now I can’t for the life of me see why they thought that particular sign was so attractive, but it certainly provided a definite action, an identifying moment. And so they gave up the true good news and took hold of one that was based on the doing of stuff.
I think we are generally tempted less radically. For us, we replace the love of God in our hearts with activities. Church attendance replaces worship. (Note that both involve being in church on Sunday morning!) Busyness replaces time with God. Soon our first love is gone. We’ve turned from our Savior to â€œa different gospel.â€
If you’ve felt your first love slip away, spend some special time with God today. Talk to him, listen for him to speak to you. Get back on the true gospel track!