A Pernicious Doctrine


Daily Reform, Day 7

Galatians 1:1-5 & Ephesians 2:4-10

From the Reformer

The world brands [grace] a pernicious doctrine. The world advances free will, the rational and natural approach of good works, as the means of obtaining the forgiveness of sin. But it is impossible to gain peace of conscience by the methods and means of the world. Experience proves this. Various holy orders have been launched for the purpose of securing peace of conscience through religious exercises, but they proved failures because such devices only increase doubt and despair. We find no rest for our weary bones unless we cling to the word of grace.

The Apostle does not wish the Galatians grace and peace from the emperor, or from kings, or from governors, but from God the Father. He wishes them heavenly peace, the kind of which Jesus spoke when He said, “Peace I leave unto you: my peace I give unto you.” Worldly peace provides quiet enjoyment of life and possessions. But in affliction, particularly in the hour of death, the grace and peace of the world will not deliver us. However, the grace and peace of God will. They make a person strong and courageous to bear and to overcome all difficulties, even death itself, because we have the victory of Christ’s death and the assurance of the forgiveness of our sins.

—Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians

Pulling It Together

He tried and tried to feel good about himself. He partied with friends. He dabbled in the arts and took leisurely walks through glens and forests. He read religious books. And he volunteered whole days to the needy in his community. But the disquiet grew within him. No matter how hard he tried to stifle it or simply feel at peace within himself, it grew. He tried going to church and meditation and yoga and various religions. But the restlessness increased.

Then he finally understood what some had been trying to say to him his whole life: there is a man who is also God, who paid the price for what troubled him. That God-Man made things right between the troubled heart and its Maker. No amount of work would make things right, no matter how good the works. The only thing that would make things right was the God-Man’s free gift of forgiveness and friendship. This gracious favor from God changed everything in his life.

He tried even harder to do good but now, when he failed to do good or enough of it, he still had peace because he understood his efforts did not and could never provide peace. He also understood that God was still his friend even when he dd not measure up. God would continue to be faithful to him even when he was faithless. (2Tim 2:13) Peace would never again elude him or be taken away since the supply was continually being refreshed. All he had to do was receive it — not work for it, though work he still did, for the joy of serving and doing good but not for the sake of finding peace. That now was graciously provided.

Friends and family wondered at his change and could not imagine how he had become such a person. He had not been raised that way. They had offered him other brands of peace and considered his heavenly peace no good in this world. They laughed and derided but to no avail; he had experienced God’s wondrous peace and the grace to continue receiving it despite himself.

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