Summary: Individuals are given only two choices where eternity is concerned.
THE ETERNAL CHOICE
When we boil down the religious choices all people have, throwing out the denominational names, broad characterizations and different names, we are left with only two choices that a person might make. They can choose the religion that states that they must work for their salvation, or they can choose the religion that proposes that salvation comes by the grace of God only.
It was a self-willed effort that caused Cain trouble in the Garden of Eden. He wanted to offer his own kind of sacrifice to God in an attitude that was not acceptable to God. As a result, God rejected his offering. Adam and Eve made their own efforts by eating of the fruit God commanded them not to eat, thinking they would be like God and know all things. They were in turn cast out of the garden.
A study of the religions and cults of the world will reveal that all are based to some degree on the idea that one can work to make themselves acceptable to God. All the religions and cults that deal with the supernatural also trace their origins to angels, extraterrestrial creatures or some other spirit beings.
In the Mormon religion, the angel Moroni is said to have presented the Book of Mormon on golden plates to Joseph Smith. In the religion of Islam, the angel Gabriel supposedly dictated the Koran to their prophet Mohammed. It was supposedly angelic revelations to Mrs. Herbert Armstrong that led to the founding of the Worldwide Church of God.
In addition to teaching that one must work for their salvation, these world religions and cults also deny the Trinity, the divinity of Jesus and his sacrificial atonement for humans. Muslims, for example, believe Jesus to be a prophet, but they accept Mohammed as their great prophet. It is the same for the Jehovah Witness. They see Jesus as only a prophet, though they may try and convince you otherwise.
Even the religion of the Jews taught a salvation by works. The Judaizers represented this belief, and Paul rebukes them throughout this epistle. The Galatians accepted Paul's teaching that salvation was by grace through faith in Christ, but they came along and told them they needed to add their good works. The beliefs of the Jews, as seen in the Old Testament, was the most perfect expression of belief in God. Many of the ceremonies along with the sacrificial system pointed to a time when the Messiah would come and make the perfect sacrifice. When Christ did that, Judaism was no longer valid in God's sight. A Jew who rejected Christ was as bad as a pagan. This is why Paul confronted the Judaizers so vehemently.
There is only one religion that teaches salvation by the grace of God only. It is bible-based Christianity. According to the teachings of the Bible, only through believing in the work Christ did on the cross is a person made right with God. It teaches salvation through faith not works, even though good works will proceed from that relationship.
Paul tells his readers in these final verses that he will boast in the cross. The cross was more than a piece of wood. It was the place where his Savior gave his life for the sins of the world. Jesus' work on the cross was Paul's source of righteousness as well as the source for all believers. It brought about an end to the ceaseless effort to please God by one's own good works. In Corinthians, Paul wrote; “God made him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” (II Corinthians 5:21) Here God did for us what we could not do for ourselves through the work of his Son.
It is only through choosing the cross that one can be made right in the eyes of God. We can never be good enough to please God. His standards are too high and impossible for us to reach. Jesus said we must be perfect to please God. Since this is impossible, we must attain that perfection through someone else, and Jesus is that person. If it was possible to please God through something good we might do, the death of Christ would have been meaningless.
It is the power of the cross and Christ's death there that purifies us in the sight of God and makes us presentable to him. The Bible says; “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (I John 4:10) He bore our sins in his body as he hung on the cross. Because the episode on the cross has so much meaning, we too must learn to boast in it even as Paul did.