Being Ready to Answer the Honest Seeker
“I don’t know what I believe regarding whether or not someone can fall from grace.” This statement was made recently by a man who has been attending the Wednesday morning coffee shop study for over a year now. This man has proven himself to be incredibly knowledgeable and sincere in his faith, but in this matter, he seemed to struggle to decide for himself what he believes. The study quickly turned to Galatians 5:4, and his reaction and words were very, very encouraging.
Galatians 5: 1-6 “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore, keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love."
The language from this text is very clear when making the point that someone can in fact fall from grace. Notice in verse one where it says “us.” Paul is saying that “we collectively have been set free by Christ Jesus." Because of this, Paul says “we ought to stand firm in our faith in Christ Jesus and not go back to the yoke of slavery,” which was law keeping. Paul continues by saying that for those who have received circumcision (as a requirement or a check list item to be right with God) have been severed from Christ. The word severed of course means to be cut away from, or separated from what you were previously attached to, and this word is perfectly used in the context (it’s no wonder… it was inspired writing!). Paul in the beginning of the chapter says, “we were freed,” or in other words, we were connected to Christ, but here he makes a distinction between those who have remained in Christ and those who have adopted a “different” gospel of holding onto portions of the old law. He says those individuals have been severed, and because you have been severed due to your seeking to be justified by law, you have fallen from grace.
This is a passage many of us know well due to studying and hearing the meaning from our youth, but this seemed to be a new passage to the gentlemen who made the statement “I am not sure what I believe regarding whether or not man can fall from grace.” His reaction to the passage was simple but profound. He simply said, “Huh, I guess that answers my question doesn’t it? I guess man can fall from grace.” He was willing to allow the Word of God to persuade him in an area he had previously been perplexed. He didn’t try to find loopholes or twist the passage any which way, but rather, he took it for what it said and submitted his thinking to it. He allowed himself to be led by the truth.
A few lessons from this story.
1) This opportunity to teach took place at the very end of the study, when people had already started to get up and leave. The gentleman was making a point regarding something we had been studying, which really had little to do with whether or not falling from grace was possible. But because he phrased his point in the manner in which he did, an opportunity arose for timely teaching to take place. 2 Timothy 4:2 says “Preach the word, be ready in season and out of season.” We need to be ready to provide answers found in the Bible for those seeking them. Are we all studying and preparing for the opportunities that arise in our lives?
2) The gentleman’s reaction to the simple teaching from the Word of God is to be praised. He was humble enough to allow the word of God to mold his ideas and thinking, rather than trying to make the Word of God mold and twist to previous conceptions. Do we approach the Word of God in the same way as this man did? Do we allow what we find in scripture to change who we are and how we think? Or do we approach Bible study as a means to confirm what we already “know”? We should all study with open hearts and minds allowing the Word of God to work in our lives. Sometimes our study will confirm what we already believed, but sometimes we will learn something new, which will ultimately draw us closer to God.
- Travis Starling
In your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect. – 1 Peter 3:15-16 (ESV)