OceanSide church of Christ

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Victor M. Eskew




A.   The title of our lesson is:  “Christ Is Dead in Vain.”

1.     These words strike terror within our hearts and send chills down our spines.

2.    These words are found in our Bible.

3.     However, they do not stand alone.  They are found attached to other words recorded in Galatians 2:21.


I do not frustrate the grace of God:  for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.


B.   The statement that forms our title falls within what is referred to as an “If-Then” statement.

1.     Facts about “If-Then” statements:

a.    The first part of the sentence is referred to as the hypothesis.

b.    The second part of the sentence is called the conclusion.

c.    If the hypothesis is sufficient, then the conclusion is necessary.

2.    Applied to our verse:

a.    Paul is arguing from the standpoint of the false teachers who have entered into the churches of Galatia.

b.    If their teaching were true, that righteousness could come from the Law of Moses, then the necessary conclusion was that Christ is dead in vain.

c.    Fortunately, they were wrong.  The hypothesis was not true.  Righteousness could not come from the law.  Thus, Christ was not dead in vain.  Those words should fill the heart of God’s children with great joy.


C.   In our lesson this evening, we are going to focus upon the words found in Galatians 2:21.  However, we will be stating our points in a different manner than they are found within the verse.




A.   Note that Paul said he would not do this.  I do not frustrate the grace of God.


B.   Let’s first look at two words:

1.     Grace:  favor, some refer to it as unmerited favor, unearned favor, but what does favor mean?  One simple definition is “help.”  (Substitute, sacrifice, blood, plan of salvation, the Word of God, preaching).

2.    Frustrate:

a.    Strong (114):  to set aside, disesteem, neutralize, or violate

b.    Thayer:  to do away with, to set aside, disregard, thwart the efficacy of anything, nullify, make void


C.   There were those who had entered the churches of Galatia who were frustrating the grace of God.

1.     We refer to them as Judaizing teachers.  Paul called them the concision or circumcision.

2.    We are introduced to their teachings at the Jerusalem council recorded for us in Acts 15.

a.    Acts 15:1


And certain men which came down from Judea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.


b.    Acts 15:5


But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees, which believed, saying, That is was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.


3.     Adding the Law of Moses to the New Testament would thwart the efficacy of the grace in the New Testament.  Think about it.  They were saying that the New Testament was not solely sufficient for man’s salvation.

4.    These men were either ignorant of, or ignoring, at least three things.

a.    The purpose of the Law of Moses was not to forgive sins.  It was designed to magnify sin.

1)     Romans 3:20


…for by the law is the knowledge of sin.


2)    Romans 7:7


What shall we say then?  Is the law sin?  God forbid.  Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law:  for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.


3)     Romans 7:13b


…that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.


b.    The Law of Moses was not kept by the Jews (Rom. 8:3; Heb. 8:7-8a).


For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.  For finding fault with them, he said, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.


c.    The Law of Moses was done away with at the cross of Calvary (Eph. 2:14-15; Col. 2:14).


Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to the cross.


D.   Any individual who adds to the New Testament thwarts the efficacy of the grace of God.

1.     Faith only misses the mark by having one saved before he touches the blood of Christ.

2.    Infant baptism misses the mark by attempting to save those who are not in sin.

3.     Works salvation misses the mark by trying to save men through works which have not been designed by God to save.

4.    Universalism misses the mark by removing all the conditions which God has placed upon man to receive His grace.

5.    The religion of Islam misses the mark by attempting to replace the gospel of grace with another book, the Qu’ran.




A.   Two words to define:

1.     The law:  The only law under discussion by Paul is the Law of Moses.

a.    It was what was given 430 years after the promise given to Abraham (Gal. 3:17).

b.    It was “ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator” (Gal. 3:19).

c.    It was the schoolmaster (Gal. 3:24-25).

d.    It was the law that contained the account of Sarah, Hagar, Isaac, and Ishmael (Gal. 4:21-31).

e.    It was the law that required circumcision (Gal. 6:13-15).

2.    Righteousness

a.    The righteous are those who have put themselves into a “right” relationship with God.  In fact, they had made themselves “like” God for He is righteous (Ps. 116:5; I John 2:1).

b.    The righteous stand in bold contrast to the ungodly and sinners (Ps. 1:5-6).


Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.  For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous:  but the way of the ungodly shall perish.


c.    More specifically, the righteous are those who are not guilty, having nothing laid to their charge, and ones not convicted of crimes and sin.


B.   Righteousness did not come by the Law of Moses.

1.     Why?

a.    The Old Law could not forgive sins (Heb. 10:3-4).


But in those sacrifices there is remembrance again made of sins every year.  For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take way sins.


b.    With no forgiveness, God could not pronounce one justified (Gal. 2:16a).


Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law…


c.    If man was not justified, then he faced the sentence of death, not life (Gal. 3:21).

2.    Some will argue that there were righteous people who lived under the Law.

a.    At that time, God had provided a way for His people to be in a right relationship with Him.

b.    This righteousness, however, was not based upon the law.

c.    There righteousness was based upon their faith in the coming Messiah whose blood would cleanse them and make them righteous before God.

1)     Isaiah 53:11


He shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.


2)    Hebrews 9:15


And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.


3.     This speaker believes that Paul described the state of men living under the Old Covenant in Romans 7.

a.    The law magnified their sin.

b.    They law could not take away their sin.

c.    Thus, the cry (Rom. 7:24).


O wretched man that I am!  Who shall deliver me from the body of this death.


d.    The answer comes in Romans 7:25.


I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.




A.   The death of Christ did exactly what God intended for it to do.


B.   Many passages could be given that reveal the power and the benefits of Jesus’ death.

1.     Matthew 26:28; Heb. 9:15-17


For this is my blood of the new testament which, is shed for many for the remission of sins.


2.    Romans 5:8-10


But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for for us.  Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.  For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his son; much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.


3.     Hebrews 2:14-15


Forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them, who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.


4.    I Peter 2:24


Who his own self born our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteous:  by whose stripes ye were healed.




A.   We live on this side of the cross of Calvary.  We have been informed of the benefits of the death of Christ often.  We might have a tendency to take them for granted.  This  neglect is seen when we live a life of ingratitude instead of a life of gratitude in faithful service.


B.   Dear friend, have you availed yourself of the benefits of Christ’s death?  Won’t you do this tonight?  Why leave without having your sins forgiven and being made righteous in the sight of God?