In the book of Galatians, Paul enters into battle with the religious experts who try to force a legalistic life upon the new believers. Right from the first few verses of this letter Paul makes clear that our relationship with God the father is by God’s grace.  It is God’s grace that saves sinners. He writes in Chapter 1, verses 3-5, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,  to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” It is a true gift as Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:8-9, “it is a gift of God. It’s not of yourself. It’s not of works lest any man should boast.” But like the Galatians it’s so easy to turn from Grace to Works again. It appeals to our human nature and seems to be the default setting for mankind. Commenting on the radical grace of God Bush and Due write in their commentary, “The gospel’s radical negation of ceaseless striving and hard work is unfathomable to us. Our thoughts can’t produce it; our will doesn’t originate it. It’s otherworldly, ‘according to the will of our God and Father’ (Gal 1:4). Christ suffered not because we are worthy, or because we moved him to act, but only because it was the will of God.” They quote Peter’s sermon in Acts 2:23 then, “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” Their conclusion is, “It’s hard to imagine a statement better calculated to oppose the intrusion of human will in salvation.”

Many will argue that it’s human will that initiates our salvation and it’s human will that maintains our salvation. Yet John chapter 1 argues a more secure perspective on it.  John 1:12-13, says, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” When Jesus talked to Nicodemus about what he needed for salvation, Jesus said you must be “born again.” But he was talking about a spiritual birth of course. Jesus explained it all: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.  Nicodemus said to him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born? Jesus answered, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

If it’s up to me and my weak will, i’m in a tenuous situation in my relationship with God. But since it’s not my will that saved me it’s not my will that will preserve me! I was a pretty rebellious teen at times and I often regret the things I said to my parents. But there was something truer than my feelings, desires, or attitudes that maintained my relationship with them. I could denounce them and say “I’m not your son.” I could even change my name if I wanted to and try to be somebody else. I could ignore my parents and live a life without any relationship with them. But none of the efforts of my will, attitudes of my mind, dispositions of my heart make me less my father’s son. There is a force greater than me that maintains the bond! That’s what it’s like for all those born of the Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ.  The older I get, the more grateful I become for this fact!