CHRIST CHURCH exists to lead people into a deeper love for Christ, His Church and Our City.
This Sunday we will continue our series in the book of Galatians. Before jumping back into our study, I thought it might be fun to reacquaint ourselves with the storyline of Galatians so far.
The churches in southern Galatia were among the first churches Paul and Barnabas planted. Unlike the churches in Jerusalem, that were decidedly Jewish in character; and the church in Antioch, that was a healthy mixture of Jew and Gentile, the churches in Galatia were predominantly Gentile.
Shortly after the churches had been established, some well meaning evangelists from Jerusalem showed up and tried to convert the churches that had already been converted to Christ to a distinctly Jewish form of Christianity. Their message seems to have been, “Faith in Christ is a really good first step, but there is so much more to being the people of God and inheriting the promises of God than simply trusting the Messiah. For starters, you need to embrace ritual circumcision, and after that you need to embrace the Law and adopt a distinctly Jewish lifestyle. If you become like us, we can be one happy family. Paul’s gospel is great as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go far enough. It is nothing like the gospel we received from Peter and James.”
Paul counters their argument on several levels:
First he tells them, your right, this is not Peter’s gospel or James’ gospel. I didn’t receive it from Peter or James, I received it from Jesus. When I shared the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles with Peter and James, they affirmed that it was the very gospel they preached among the Jews. In fact, on one occasion, I had to remind Peter that he was not living consistently with the gospel both he and I preached and wholeheartedly believed.
Second, the ultimate promise of God is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all people, and you have already received that promise apart from circumcision, law keeping and embracing a Jewish lifestyle. Therefore, the promises are obviously realized through faith, rather than adherence to the Law.
Third, Abraham is a great example. He believed God, and God credited it to him as righteousness. Abraham’s standing before God was not based on Law keeping, but on faith. He received God’s promises nearly a decade before he was circumcised, and 400 years before the Jewish people received the Law at Sinai.
Fourth, we are related to Abraham by faith, rather than physical decent. The true seed of Abraham is Christ. We do not become Abraham’s children through physical decent from Abraham or Law keeping. We become children of Abraham through our organic union with the one true Son of Abraham-that is through faith in Christ.
Fifth, the only way you could obtain right standing before God through keeping the Law is to keep all of the law all the time. If you fail to keep any part of the Law, you fall under the curse of the Law, rather than receiving the blessings of the Law. God doesn’t grade on the curve. It is all or nothing. If you keep the Law, all of the Law, all the time, you will receive all the blessings promised in the Law. If you break the Law, any part of the Law, just once, you fall under its curse.
Sixth, this is where Christ comes in. He redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us. He kept the law perfectly, and through faith in him, his obedience becomes our righteousness. He took our curse upon himself, became our substitute, bearing the penalty for our sin, so that through faith in Him we are declared righteous in God’s sight.
Seventh, the Law has its purpose. The Law does not make us righteous, it simply shows us how unrighteous we really are. The Law and Law keeping are not our Savior, they simply point us to the Savior. To trust in the Law as our Savior only leads to bondage and condemnation. To trust in the Savior leads to joy and freedom.
Eighth, the Law was a temporary arrangement whose time has come and gone. The Law was put in place to lead us to faith in Christ, but now that Christ has come the Law’s purpose has been fully realized. We no longer serve God in the old way of the written code, but in the new way of the Spirit.
Ninth, while it is incredible that we could be considered a part of Abraham’s family, we are in fact much more than that. We are all adopted sons and daughters of God, because we have been united with his true Son through faith. Our inheritance is far richer than anything anticipated in God’s promises to Abraham. We are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. We are fabulously rich in Him.
Take some time to read and meditate on Galatians 3:23-4:7, and join us with joyful and expectant hearts this Sunday morning as we lift our voices in worship, and trust God to renew our hearts through the teaching of his word.