Summary: God includes all of us as his sons and daughters. Everyone who believes in Jesus for salvation is part of God’s family; brothers and sisters to one another and co-heirs with Christ.
Who are we?
The answer to this question will be different for each of us because of the many roles we have in our lives. We could be a spouse, parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, doctor, dentist, lawyer or any one or more of thousands of roles. There is one answer that all of us who have come to faith have. We are Christians. There are no barriers of class or ethnic segregation. The Christian identity includes all of us, and that is the point Paul is making in Galatians 3:23-29.
Paul specifies the dimensions of the family of God: its height reaches up to God’s throne, its depth reaches down into baptism in Christ, forever loved and accepted in him; it is wide enough to bring natural enemies together; and it is long enough to trace its ancestry back to Abraham. All who accept Christ as their Saviour becomes members of this family.
This passage is a commentary on the struggle between law and grace. The law teaches people about God and brings us face to face with our sins, but it also keeps us locked up in sin. The law does not provide for salvation from our sins. Even the Old Testament sacrifices could not provide for salvation because they had to be repeated. The animals that were sacrificed had to be perfect in the eyes of the priest. The priest also had to atone for his own sins as well as for the sins of the people. Christ was the perfect, ultimate sacrifice for our sins. He was sinless in nature. All we have to do is believe in him and what he did for us on the cross.
In the Greco-Roman world, a guardian prepared a child for maturity. Once the youth came of age, he didn’t need the guardian any more nor did he have any responsibility to the guardian, although the two of them might remain friends. The same is true for the Old Testament law. The law served as a guardian for us. The law prepared Israel for the coming of Jesus, who was the ultimate fulfillment of the law.
The law’s inability to bring life did not mean that the law was useless. The law was put in charge as our teacher to lead us to Christ. It is like a straight edge to show us how crooked we are-and to highlight our need for a Saviour. It is the code by which our lives and society are kept in an orderly manner. When the law becomes destructive or conflicts with God’s will, we must obey God rather than man. It is our responsibility to teach others about the faith until they claim God’s promise of salvation for themselves. When we receive salvation, it means that we take up Christ’s cross and fulfill his ministry of salvation and reconciliation. When we receive Christ in faith, we are clothed in Christ’s righteousness and we receive garments of salvation and robes of righteousness.
Following World War II, there were more than two hundred French soldiers with amnesia who returned to Paris. They had been prisoners in Japanese camps and suffered through horrible ordeals of privation and torture. These men had been so psychologically devastated by their imprisonment that they lost the conscious awareness of who they were and where they had lived before the war.
Most of the soldiers' identities were quickly established from Red Cross records or with the help of fellow prisoners, but after all known efforts were exhausted, there were still thirty-two men whose existence seemed impossible to trace. Not only were there no records of them, but none of the other soldiers knew anything about them. The doctors who were treating these thirty-two men believed that their chance for recovery would be impossible unless they were reconnected with family and friends.
Someone proposed publishing photographs of the men on the front page of newspapers throughout the country. A date, time, and place of meeting would also be given, hoping anyone having information about them would come. The plan was implemented and French newspapers soon published the pictures, adding that the Paris Opera House would open its doors for the potential identification and connection with loved ones.
On the assigned day, a huge crowd gathered inside the opera house to view the veterans. Every seat was taken and people spilled out onto the streets. Finally, in a dramatic entrance, the first of the amnesia victims walked onto the stage of the darkened room and slowly turned around under the glare of the spotlight, giving everyone a full view. Then, according to instruction, he and the other thirty-one soldiers who followed asked the same pleading question: "Does anybody out there know who I am . . . does anybody know who I am?"