|Posted on April 1, 2014 at 4:00 PM|
This week we celebrate the national holiday for all atheists, April 1st, April Fools Day. Unfortunately, those who deny the existence of God are not the only fools; anyone who trusts in and depends on the wisdom of man is just as foolish. Even God's kids can fall prey to this kind of foolishness as did the baby believers in the churches of Galatia when Paul asked them, "O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?" (Galatians 3:1) Admittedly, this is a mouthful and may be difficult for us to understand today; but it is just as relevant a question in our present culture as it was in Paul's day.
The Galatian believers had become foolish in their thinking when they began to believe the false teachers who told them it was not enough to simply believe on the Lord Jesus Christ being crucified as a sacrifice for your sins, you must also submit to religious rituals and try as hard as you can to keep the rules. While the rite of circumcision was a main issue among the early churches, today it may be baptism, communion, speaking in tongues, or some other religious ritual that is deemed necessary for eternal salvation. The principle is the same. What Jesus did for us on the cross was not enough, we must do something else beside believe on him in order to be saved. This kind of religious philosophy is a perversion of the gospel today just as it was in the first century.
The root of such foolishness comes from the natural pride of the human heart. Because of this pride we do not think what God has done for us in Christ is enough. We believe that we must do something other than just believe on Jesus to earn God's approval and gain his blessings. It was this message of grace and truth that Jesus proclaimed that irritated the religious leaders of his day to the point they wanted to kill him. He offended their pride when he told them they could not be good enough for God on their own. What really sent them over the edge was that he claimed to be God saying that he and the Father were one and announced the good news that we can only be saved by becoming one with him. Rather than rejoice at the prospect of being one with him and the Father, they were offended when he told them that. "Except ye eat my flesh and drink my blood" (become one with him, John 6) they had no life in them at all. Many of his disciples said this is a "hard saying, who can hear it" when they realized what Jesus was saying.
Becoming one with Jesus is the very heart of the good news. It is called by theologians our "union with Christ" and is illustrated by baptism into his death, burial, and resurrection. It is what Jesus was illustrating as he fed the multitudes and promised his disciples that they would know that he was in the Father and they were in him and he was in them. Paul uses the phrase, "in Christ" or "in Him", or "in whom" some 164 times in his letters to emphasize the fact of and describe our union with Christ. When we are born again of the Spirit Jesus is in us and we are in him! This means that what is true of Jesus is true of us. As John put it in his first general letter, "because as he is, so are we in this world". (1 John 4:17) The only reason God accepts us is because we have been made a new person in Christ and are holy and without blame before him in love.
Ignoring our union with Christ is the biggest mistake that anyone can make. It is absolute foolishness to think that there is any other way to please God than by believing what he has done to make us one with his son, Jesus. This is why Paul refers to the wise men of this world as fools because they think God's plan of salvation by joining us to his son (God's wisdom in the cross) is foolishness. To all those who scoff at the wisdom of God, happy fools day!
John C Glenn