Summary: Is it law or faith, Moses or Abraham, curse or promise? The way of blessing must often be defended. Do you belong to Christ?
When was the last time you had a big argument? Some of you may not be able to remember it, on the other hand, perhaps you had one on the way to church this morning. Arguing is what we do with people when we want them to see our perspective about something we disagree on.
Galatians records one side of a crucial argument between Paul and the Judaizers who are disrupting the churches in Galatia by changing the gospel. This is crucial I say, because if the churches there end up leaving the gospel Paul preached to them, they in effect leave the only hope of salvation that there is. What is at stake here is the eternal life of those Galatian churches. This is a debate that Paul feels he simply must win!
To some degree I think most of us know what this is like. Don’t we all know and love people who have never committed their lives to Christ? Others, though they claim to know the Lord, by their lives and teachings are obviously far from walking in the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. How frustrating it is to try to reason with people who resist the truth and resent your efforts to help them! But we must try, and we should not underestimate the power of a loving confrontation to restore those who are erring, or a caring exhortation to strengthen those who are weak or weary or just losing sight of the focus of their faith. Galatians is a letter that shows us an example of going after those we love and not sitting by when we see them in spiritual danger. This letter even commands us to do the same. Look at 6:1 Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted. In other words, roll up your sleeves and get involved in helping people who are in spiritual trouble! I would add to that, don’t expect everyone to welcome your attempts to rescue them, but don’t let that stop you from making the attempt. God may just use your words to save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.
Let’s look at Galatians. So far Paul has made it clear that no one has the right to tamper with the gospel he preached because he received it directly by revelation through Jesus Christ. Then he offers evidence to support this claim by a look into his own life. He was advancing in Judaism and was a persecutor of the church until Jesus Christ personally appeared to him and called him to preach to Gentiles. Where did this huge change in his life come from? There is no way this change took place without God’s intervention. Secondly, Paul says he didn’t get his gospel from the other apostles, in fact, he had to straighten Peter out one time when Peter was visiting in Antioch and began walking out of step with the truth of the gospel. It was Peter, the apostle from Jerusalem who realigned himself with what Paul said, not Paul who got his gospel from Peter. No, Paul got his gospel message from God not any human source. That gospel is what he faithfully proclaimed. He is shocked that the Galatians could be so quickly turned away from the truth of the gospel. He will do whatever he can to bring them back into line with this truth of the true gospel.
The question comes to mind. What is this truth? Interestingly, the truth of the gospel is simply that we are saved through faith in Jesus Christ who died for our sins, was buried and rose again, not by the law, not by good deeds we do or have done, and not by our own righteousness. Jesus’ sacrifice is for all - and everyone from anywhere that comes to Jesus Christ and receives him as Lord is given the Holy Spirit and adopted into the family of God. The truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that salvation is all about his work for us, not our work for him. Salvation is received, not earned. But how does one receive it?
There is only one act mentioned in Galatians 3 that sums up faith and is part of the entry into Christ where we are clothed with Christ. It is not an act you do, but something that is done to you that you receive by faith. It is not in the Law. It is not a work of merit, and it is not a good deed that you do. Again, it is something done to you in the name of Jesus Christ.