When one first experiences God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness through faith in Jesus, it is a wonderful thing. I remember a song back in the 1960s before I was a believer, that made it high up on the charts. I think it might have been number one for a little while. It was by the Edwin Hawkin Singers, and it was “Oh, Happy Day.” The happy day was when Jesus washed my sins away. It’s hard to imagine that a song about the wonders of salvation in Christ made it to the popular charts at all and possibly to number one. But it did.  Unfortunately, the joy of salvation seems much more profound at first. Something happens to our human psyches after some time passes. We begin to take things for granted and look for a new, different, and more earthly pleasure. It doesn’t take long for the aura of our initial salvation to wear off. As a matter of fact, it didn’t take very long for the Galatians to turn their attention from their Savior to their own efforts again. Paul says so in Galatians 1:6. He writes, “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.”

 The term translated by “deserting” in many modern translations was always confusing to me when I studied King James. It says, “Removed from.” But it has been widely acknowledged that the phrase in Greek translated as “deserting” is actually a Military term. It’s used by those who deserted in times of war. According to Richison, “The Galatians changed from the gospel of grace to the gospel of works. They became renegades from the true gospel and capitulated to another gospel. The present tense indicates that the defection of the Galatians from the gospel of grace is not yet complete. They are still in the process of shifting to another gospel. They are transposing the gospel from grace to legalism. They are altering the gospel itself and thus were deserting or turning apostate from the true gospel. This changes the nature of the gospel into a works gospel.” James Boice says, “It is not merely that they have deserted an idea or a movement; rather, they have deserted the very one who had called them to faith. This one is God the Father. According to Paul’s reasoning, embracing legalism means rejecting God because it means substituting man for God in one’s life.”

 We are “called in the Grace of Christ.” This means that it is the Grace that comes through faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross to which we’ve been called to come for salvation. Christ procured our salvation for us on the cross. It comes to us as a gift. That means it’s all of Grace, not of works. Richison adds, “It comes from the unadulterated generosity of God with no strings attached. Christians are the objects of God’s eternal favor. To revert to law is to completely miss this truth. God saves and sustains us by the finished work of Christ on the cross.” Some people today, much like the Galatians of Paul’s day, believe that some form of religious ritual, performance, or sacrifice is essential in order to receive God’s grace. This is patently false! Others might believe that Grace saves them through faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross, but that works must sustain their salvation. That is also patently false and makes our salvation dependent upon ourselves and not on the wonderful, marvelous grace of our God and Father and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s only when we recognize the complete sufficiency of Christ in our salvation that we can sing, “Oh, happy day!”