The king gives strict instructions to the two guards: “Make sure the prince doesn’t leave the room until I come and get him.”
To which the guard replies: “Not to leave the room, even if you come and get him.”
The king, clarifying: “No, no, until I come and get him.”
The guard (“repeating”): “Until you come and get him, we’re not to enter the room.”
The king: “No, no, you stay in the room and make sure he doesn’t leave.”
The guard: “We don’t need to do anything apart from just stopping him from entering the room.”
The king (patiently): “No, no, leaving the room. It’s quite simple. You just stay here and make sure he doesn’t leave the room.”
The guard, pondering, asks a probing question: “Oh! Can the prince leave the room with us?”
Again (three more times, in fact), the king repeats his instruction and finally asks: “Is that clear?”
To which the guard responds, “Oh, quite clear! No problem!”
At this point, the king begins to exit the room, followed closely behind by the two guards leaving along with him.
Do you ever feel like you’re just not communicating? This scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail describes exactly how Paul must have felt when he entrusted the gospel to the Galatians, only to have them turn to “another gospel” (Galatians 1:6) which looked nothing like the one he had first preached to them.
The problem with this “alternative” gospel was that it was no gospel at all. This “new gospel,” rather than preaching faith in Christ alone, had a list of additional requirements that essentially advocated a return to the law as a prerequisite for salvation.
And Paul would have none of it.
Calling the Galatians “foolish” for even entertaining the idea, he made a very clear distinction between faith and the law and how radically different the two are. In verse 10, Paul explains that “all who rely on works of the law are under a curse” and that “it is evident that no one is justified before God under the law” (v. 11). He says that Christ came to redeem us from this curse “by becoming a curse for us” (v. 13), and his sacrifice made it possible for us to experience “the blessing of Abraham”(v. 14) – not through works of the law but through faith.
The difference between the two approaches — by works and by faith — cannot be overstated. Paul makes it clear that the law, rather than being the source of our salvation, was “our guardian until Christ came” (v. 24) – leading us and pointing us to the only One who could ultimately save us. “But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian” (v. 25). Instead, those who believe in Christ Jesus “are all sons of God, through faith” (v. 26).
This faith has no strings attached and no fine print. The grace that is ours in Christ is available by faith and by faith alone. Anyone who tries to add anything to it is misguided, no matter how “reasonable” they may sound. While it may be tempting to think that we have to “do something” in order to earn our salvation, any “something” we would do would be a regress back into the law, and can only bring the curses promised to those who fail to live up to its strict demands.
If the Galatians were foolish enough to think that they could somehow earn their salvation by following the law, how much more foolish would we be to do the same? The same curses still hold true for those rely on good works to be saved, but the blessing of salvation also remains true for those who will put their trust in Christ alone.
Our King’s instruction is clear: Guard the faith that has been entrusted to you and don’t allow the truth of the gospel to escape you. Make sure you don’t abandon it for something that is gospel-ish, but altogether different.
Are we listening?