Gal 2:15-21, 3:10-14
June 17th – Father’s Day
† In His Name †
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
It had the reputation of being the toughest final at Pacific Christian College. The professor, who became a dear friend and mentor, was brilliant, and expected brilliance from his students. He had multiple master’s degrees, and could teach everything from Old Testament Theology and Greek, to Biology, or in the case of “the final”. In many cases, students found some other course to take, rather than deal with the question.
Just one question…
If we were to encounter life on another planet, how would we know whether to eat it, or find a way to proclaim the gospel to it?
The question seems, incredibly bizarre, but gets down to two incredibly basic questions.
What does it mean to be a person, and who can be saved…
Though we have never had to deal with life on other planets, this question has been asked before. There were those in the 16th through the 18th century, that questioned whether the heathen in India, and Africa were people, and once having that answered, they then questioned whether God could save them, or if he would even bother. One brave young pastor, would spend 41 years preaching in India, in dis-obedience to the pastors and leaders of his
In the 16th and 17th centuries, they asked the same question regarding what are called Native Americans.
Similarly, during the end of the Roman and Byzantine Empires, there were Christians in those who asked the same questions about the predecessors of the Germanic tribes, and those who eventually settle northern Europe.
Are they really people, or just barbarians? Do they really have souls, or are they fleshly manifestations of demons..
And n the days of the early church, the Jewish people who had received mercy, and grace and peace from Jesus Christ, the chosen people of God, asked the same question – about the rest of the world – those called ta ethne, the gentiles.
Would God be interested in them? Why would God be interested in saving them? If they are to be saved, how? Do they have to become Jewish first? How do they rid themselves of the stain of sin, attached to those “not the chosen people of God?”
That is what the epistle reading this morning is all about… Can they be saved, and how will they be saved….
What is evident about the Law
Paul starts out, with a quick comparison of those “born” into the people of God, to those born… gentile sinners. But in reality, it is not a comparison, as much as a set-up. You see, prior to getting into a real comparison, he states there, that though they are born Jews, even they know that what saves them, what justifies them, is not their obedience to the Law.
We need to talk about God’s law here, so as to avoid confusion. In the Old Testament, when we think of the Law, we think of the Ten… the Ten… now what were they called. Yes, I am talking about the 10 commandments. But really, it is better to call them the “Decalog”, the 10 words. There is an ever so slight difference in Greek and Hebrew, for the words are not in the command or imperative tense, but in the tense that is more descriptive the imperious. It changes the 10 from Thou shall not’s, to because of My love, it’s unthinkable that you would..not keep the Sabbath holy, or honor they parents, or kill or covet, or gossip…
The law sits there, a grim reminder that we did not behave like God’s people. Over and over, Paul tells us, that the only thing it can do, is to bear witness to our failure. We cannot prove ourselves to be God’s people – for the evidence of that very law is against us.
Hence Paul’s words,
• 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law because by works of the law no one will be justified.!
• 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor..
• 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written,
• "Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them."
• 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law
The option… trust
So then, what good is the law? It shows us, that we need Jesus! Here is how one pastor put it,
“If God has given His Word, He will not stop the work He has begun in you. First He gives temptations of the world, the devil, and the flesh, by which He rouses you. These are His embraces, with which He enfolds His bride in eager love. If we were without temptations, we would not seek Him, we would not learn to listen, look upon Him, or incline our ear. Therefore He urges us to cleave more steadfastly to His Word and believe Him, and He does this with infinite love for us.” (LW vol. 12)
It is interesting, as many times as Paul says works of the law cannot prove us to be God’s people – as many times as we hear that, we also hear that it is in trusting Jesus.
You seem there is a simple yes/no question regarding salvation, will God declare us guilty, or will he declare that we are righteous? Obviously, it is the to be declared righteous, guilt free.
Galatians, like all of the New Testament, is clear – there is only one way to be declared righteous in God’s eyes…
• so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ
• for "The righteous shall live by faith."
• blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith
It almost sounds too simple- too easy. Maybe we don’t appreciate it, because it is so easy, because it doesn’t cost us, personally.
All we have to do is trust, that Jesus came, was born of a virgin, lived a perfect life, suffered and died for me? And rose again, that I we could be found righteous?
Yeah.. that is it. Trust Him, Believe in Him, have faith in His love for you… and in the promises poured out on you in your baptism. For Paul describes baptism here..
19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. 20 It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.
The Judgement reckoned
SO what happens to the judgement we deserve? Here again Paul’s words,
13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree"—
There it is, the judgment, the curse that we deserve, he had nailed to the cross. We are free, righteous, and empowered to live life in that way.
It is true for all peoples, in every age, no matter race, or culture,,
TO live life in peace, that asses all understanding, which guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.