That the truth of the gospel might remain with you. (Gal. 2:5)

I was afraid to serve the brownies. It was my bridal shower, and as a game, I’d been asked to bake brownies from scratch. Without a recipe. And from a random assortment of ingredients on the counter, some of which belonged in brownies, and several of which didn’t. Funny, right? Undaunted, I had drawn a deep breath, grabbed the . . . baking soda? . . . and started in.

In Galatians, Paul spoke of his need to visit Jerusalem to straighten out an important theological question. Since some people were teaching that the Gentiles had to be circumcised and obey other aspects of Jewish law, the question arose, what really was required of believers? Paul clearly stated that circumcision wasn’t necessary, but he also reminded us to be very careful about what we say needs to be part of the gospel message.

The Christmas season can provide wonderful opportunities to share the good news of salvation. However, as Paul demonstrated, we must be careful to avoid adding things that don’t belong, things that are legalistic, based in opinion, or outright unscriptural. God has the one and only perfect recipe for salvation. We must search for the pure and simple ingredients. Otherwise, we may serve something far from wholesome, like my brownies. Although, by some miracle, they actually ended up somewhat close to a real recipe, and were mostly edible.

For fun, try baking brownies without a recipe, and talk about what salvation really requires.

Diane Gardner is a freelance writer and editor. She lives in northern California, where she enjoys reading, painting, and exploring the San Francisco Bay area with her husband.