Friend, are you drifting? Maybe you can’t answer that because you’re not sure what drifting looks like. Let me ask you some questions to help: Are you losing your zeal for Christ? Is the day of your salvation increasingly in the rearview mirror? Are you losing sight of the finished work of Jesus, focusing more on what you do than on what Christ has done?
One of the things the church continually needs is focus. This year has, it seems, hampered our focus in various ways. We are either focused on the wrong things or simply lack focus on anything.
However, one thing is certain. We need to focus more and more on Jesus in the present evil age. At our church we are walking through Galatians with this aim: Staying close to Jesus. That means we want our affections for Jesus to increase. We want to focus more intently on the good news of Jesus. Specifically, focusing more and more attention on what he has done for us and all that he is for us. He is our Sovereign, Savior, and Satisfying King!
If you’re reading this, that is what I want for you, too. I don’t want you to drift. I don’t want these weird days to lead you away from a passionate pursuit of Christ and his glory. May Galatians 1:24 be true of our lives!
Today, it seems a lot of people are drifting from Jesus and Jesus’ people (i.e. the church). People are finding it easy to stay home, skip corporate worship, leave the church, and opt for something else. Perhaps the warnings against moving to live stream/online only options during the pandemic were worth paying attention to after all.
Overall, I feel sad when I hear stories and see the numbers of people deciding not to re-engage the church. Jesus laid his life down for the church, which finds expressions in local bodies of believers who gather on a regular basis. And the reality is, we need each other. That is why the writer of Hebrews tells us not to forsake gathering (Heb 10:25). Gathering with each other is a central part of who we are as God’s called-out people.
But, again, many are drifting. Drifting from Jesus and drifting from Jesus’ people. I don’t want that to be you or me or our families. My prayer is that God would hold us close. At our church, I’m hoping he would use Galatians to warn us of the danger of drifting and cause us to cling closely to Christ. So, again, the big idea here is simple: Don’t Drift from Jesus.
Galatians and the Danger of Drifting
Drifting from the Jesus and God’s gospel is, I think, a banner hanging over Galatians. Why does Paul write this letter to these churches? Because the Galatians were Drifting from the Gospel. But, they were not merely drifting from a feel-good message, right? They were Drifting from the God of the Gospel. “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” (1:6). Did you catch that? They were drifting, or “deserting him…” That is, they were turning away from the Father.
Furthermore, they were drifting from God the Father who has called the Galatians to himself. This idea of calling is clear in the NT. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:44). The Father draws (calls) and who he draws, he raises up. That means the call is effectual. It works. If God the Father calls, you come. And if you come, God keeps you and raises you up on the last day. To say it simply, if you’ve come to Jesus in faith, you’ve been saved and will be saved. God will do it!
But, wait a minute! If God will keep those whom he has called, why is Paul worried…the Galatians won’t finally fall away, right? One way to read Paul’s impassioned opening in Galatians is to think Paul is worried the Galatians will lose the salvation they once had. I don’t think that works, though.
At our church, we don’t believe truly born-again believers can lose their salvation. We believe Christ will keep us safe. There are at least three reasons we believe God preserves his people: First, we believe we are safe in the arms of Jesus because Jesus says he will raise up those the Father calls (look back at John 6:44). Will Jesus fail? Not a chance. Second, other passages in the NT rule out the possibility that a true believer would finally fall away. Paul’s letter to Roman Christians paints this picture in bright colors.