One Thing to Believe
By: Dudley Rutherford
“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.”
David penned these words in Psalm 63:1 when he was in the dry desert of Judah as his own son, Absalom, led a rebellion against him. David could have turned to many things during this difficult time. He could have turned to despair and helplessness. He could have turned to allies for help, or to false gods, or even to his own strength and military prowess. But instead, David’s psalm makes it clear that in arid seasons, we must turn to God because our closeness with Him is water for the soul.
LAW OR GRACE?
Fast forward to the New Testament in Galatian 3:1-3. The Apostle Paul is concerned for Christians living in Galatia because they had wandered into the metaphorical dry land of relying on the works of the law rather than grace. The law points out our sin and declares us guilty, but it can’t do anything to set us free. Grace provides freedom from our sin through the work of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.
The New Testament reveals that Jesus, God’s One and only Son, is the Living Water. He declared that whoever believes in Him will have rivers of living water flowing from within them (John 4:13-14; John 7:38). He is our Shepherd who leads us to springs of living water (Revelation 7:17). He is our Source, our Hope, our Redeemer, and, incomprehensibly, our Friend. He is the Savior of the entire world, and our faith in Him is the one thing we need.
DON’T MUDDY IT UP
It’s beautifully simple, but doesn’t it seem that people often take something clear and then muddy it up a bit? We like to take that which is uncomplicated and straightforward, and add to it. We take a good thing and we tack on distracting bells and whistles or steps and procedures that are not only unnecessary, but also exhausting.
This is the confusing and tiresome predicament the churches in Galatia found themselves in—so soon after they were taught the simple truth of the Gospel. The Apostle Paul wrote a letter, we now know as the Book of Galatians, to a group of churches in the area of Asia Minor who had been thrown into confusion. Some off-base religious people told them that in order to obtain salvation, new believers needed to observe Jewish customs—including circumcision. (Say it with me: “Ouch!”) Paul’s response to this false teaching was compelling and forceful. In Galatians 3:2 he wrote, “I would like to know one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard?”
TRYING OR TRUSTING?
Every Christian today is also faced with the question of, “What is the one thing that saves us?” Is it observing the Sabbath on a certain day? Is it obeying a set of rules or laws? Is it doing enough good deeds? In other words: Are you saved by God’s grace, working through your faith and belief—or are you saved by works of the law? Trusting or trying. Trying or trusting. The two will always be at odds.
If you are a believer in Christ and have wandered into a spiritual desert of works and the law, it’s time to turn to the Living Water. It’s time to recognize that the law cannot save us from sin. Imagine your car breaks down on the side of the road in the middle of the night. You grab a flashlight and pop open your hood to see what the problem might be. That flashlight is like the law. It shines a light, exposing what is wrong, but it can’t do anything to fix it. You can’t fix a transmission or a gasket with a flashlight, right? No, you need the right tool. Likewise, Jesus is the answer to the problem. Our belief in Him is the one thing that saves us.
Yes, out of our faith in Him and our decision to follow Him, we become new, and we desire to do right things. But our neither our good works, nor the law, saves. So, embrace the sweet salvation that flows from Christ alone.
Adapted from Pastor Dudley Rutherford’s new book, One Thing: Rediscover a Simple Faith in Our Complicated World, available now on Amazon and wherever books are sold. Pastor Dudley Rutherford is the senior pastor of Shepherd Church, which has three campuses in the Greater Los Angeles area. You can watch services online or connect with Dudley at www.LiftUpJesus.com and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.