Monday, July 19, 2010

I Cursed Christ - Galatians 3:13

"Christ redeemed us 
from the curse of the Law,
having become a curse 
for us -for it is written,
'Cursed is everyone 
who hangs on a tree.'"
(Galatians 3:13)

Sometimes I tend to just "poo poo" my sins away - thinking of them simply as slight slip ups, minimal mistakes, and average accidents. "Oh, this is really no big deal. What's it really matter? What'll it really cost?"

If, like me, you've ever thought that sin is just really "no big deal" then let this note help us think again.

You know, my sin and your sin cost Christ His life. Jesus came and "gave Himself for our sins." He "delivered Himself up for me." That folks is a big deal- a BIG big deal. Our sins killed Christ!

OK -'nuff said? 
Nope!  Not nearly enough!

Friday, July 16, 2010

By Faith - Galatians 3:10-11

"For as many as are under the works of the Law
are under a curse; for it is written,
'Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all
things written in the book of the Law,
to perform them.'
Now that no one is justified by the Law
before God is evident; for,
'The righteous man shall live by faith.'"
(Galatians 3:10-11)

"The curse of God is like a flood that swallows everything that is not of faith. To avoid the curse we must hold on to the promise of the blessing in Christ." (Martin Luther)

So begin Dr. Luther's thoughts on this section of holy writ.

Matthew Henry writes in a similar vein:

"We cannot be justified but by faith fastening on the gospel, because the Law condemns us. If we put ourselves upon trial in that court, we are certainly lost and undone."
These fathers of the faith are clear because the Word of God is clear. Paul himself could be no clearer than he has been about all of this. Yet he continues on with reminding reproof because we are...
                             ...because we're hard headed. 

Repetitive reminders regarding our redemption are a good thing.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Gospel Beforehand - Galatians 3:8

"And the Scripture, foreseeing that God
would justify the Gentiles by faith,
preached the gospel beforehand
to Abraham, saying,
'All the nations shall be blessed in you.'"
(Galatians 3:8)

Justification is no new thing. It is not a New Testament invention. It is not the new and improved way of salvation. The way to heaven didn't used to be through works and suddenly somewhere around 33 AD it morphed into grace. No, since the dawn of time the people of God have been saved by grace, through faith, in Christ. No man has ever been justified by the works of the Law. Every saved sinner has always been justified by faith in Christ Jesus.

"How can it be?" You may protest.

"Come on, Jesus didn't even pop on the scene until the dawn of a new time marker. What about all of those sacrifices that were required? What about all of that blood that was spilt? What about...?"

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Abraham Believed - Galatians 3:6

"Even so Abraham believed God,
and it was reckoned to Him as righteousness."
(Galatians 3:6)

There are two key ingredients to the recipe of righteousness that is found here in Galatians 3:6.

"Abraham believed!"

We are not told that Abraham reasoned,
     nor that he understood,
     nor that he had it all figured out. 

No, we are told that he "believed".

And what did He believe? "Abraham believed God!"

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bewitched - Galatians 3:1-3

"You foolish Galatians,
who has bewitched you,
before whose eyes Jesus Christ
was publicly portrayed as crucified?
This is the only thing I want to find
out from you;
did you receive the Spirit by the
works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?
Are you so foolish?
Having begun by the Spirit,
are you now being perfected by the flesh?"
(Galatians 3:1-3)

Are you sensing a theme in Paul's letter? Does anything in particular seem to be a pivotal point in his writing?!

Our salvation is all of Christ, only of Christ, freely of Christ, and fully of Christ! Justification is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. We bring nothing to our salvation but sin and to think that we can "do" anything to earn our way to God's favor is the height of deception.

Well, here we go again. The theme is still weaving its way - and weave on it must for if we miss this point we have missed everything!

At the start of chapter 3, Paul is speaking to those who have embraced Christ BUT are still trying to do something to merit His favor and to earn their keep. He is about to question them on several fronts.

First, he asks "what in the world has gotten into you?!" In the Biblical language he writes: "You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you?"

Oh, how easily led astray we silly sheep can be.
We are so quickly drawn away.
We are readily deceived.
We are seduced so simply.
We are "bewitched" without much effort at all.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Needlessly - Galatians 2:21

"I do not nullify the grace of God;
for if righteousness comes through the Law,
then Christ died needlessly."
(Galatians 2:21)


Amazing Grace!

Marvelous Grace!

Wonderful Grace!

Grace That is Greater Than All My Sin!

Surely the Law kills and truly no man is justified by the works of the Law.

We know this is true because the Bible declares it to be true. Over and over and over Paul has driven this fact home in his letter to the Galatians. He has shot straight. He has spared no punches. He has not minced his words. "A man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Jesus."

Here in Galatians 2:21 he is going to give us a slightly different twist on this exact same truth, though. Here, he is going to show us how the very fact that Christ died proves his point.

If there was ANY other way to be saved, then why did Christ come?

"If righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly."

Friday, July 9, 2010

For ME? - Galatians 2:20

"...the Son of God, who loved me,
and delivered Himself up for me."
(Galatians 2:20)

I was rolling along. I was moving forward. I was storming right on into verse 21 and then two words stopped me in my tracks.

"For me!"

"For ME!"

Wow! You know, the gospel is not just for the masses. Christ didn't simply die for the multitudes. Jesus didn't give Himself only for the many. My Savior delivered Himself up for ME!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Crucified With Christ - Galatians 2:19-20

"For through the Law I died to the Law,
that I might live to God.
I have been crucified with Christ;
and it is no longer I who live,
but Christ lives in me;
and the life which I now live in the flesh
I live by faith in the Son of God,who loved me,
and delivered Himself up for me."
(Galatians 2:19-20)

Wow! Are you longing for freedom? Well, here's where you'll find it - in Christ crucified for you. But first, let us realize just how NOT free we are apart from Him.

This section of Galatians begins with some bad news - the Law kills! That bad news simply serves as the honest backdrop for the good news of the gospel which is about to be proclaimed - Christ gives life!!

Truly, no one can be justified by the Law. The Law condemns us. It shows us just how terribly we miss the mark. It accuses us - and rightly so. Honestly, as Paul proclaims, the Law kills us - it is a taskmaster that mercilessly drives us to our grave. The more we try to live the Law the more we die to the Law. ("through the Law I died to the Law....")


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Faith Alone - Galatians 2:16

"Nevertheless knowing that a man
is not justified by the works of the Law
but through faith in Christ Jesus,
even we have believed in Christ Jesus,
that we may be justified by faith in Christ,
and not by the works of the Law;
since by the works of the Law
shall no flesh be justified."
(Galatians 2:16)

Paul wants to make it clear. There is NO working our way to heaven or to holiness. Clearly and emphatically he tells us that a man is NOT justified by the works of the law.

This is the cardinal and foundational starting point for being a Christian. It is imperative that we begin with an understanding that we can't "DO" a single thing to get in good with God. We are sinners - all of us. We have fallen short of the glory of God and there is no ladder long enough, no bridge broad enough, nor any work wide enough to get us to Him.

We are sinners and what we naturally do - all the time - left to ourselves - is sin!! We are by nature bad trees bearing bad fruit (Matthew 7:17) and no matter how hard we may try to produce good fruit it just won't happen. It cannot happen! Our most righteous deeds are but filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) and our wicked hearts are continually producing wicked things (Mark 7:21-23). 

Bottom line - apart from Christ - we are only and always sinning.

As a matter of fact, the more we work for our salvation the more we, in reality, are simply storing up wrath and judgment for ourselves for the wages of all the labors of our hands is death (Romans 6:23). Since "whatever is not from faith is sin" it is easily deduced that "those who seek to earn the grace of God by their own efforts are trying to please God with their sins" (Luther). Friends, that is foolish.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Justification - Galatians 2:16

"Nevertheless knowing that a man
is not justified by the works of the Law
but through faith in Jesus Christ,
even we have believed in Christ Jesus,
that we may be justified by faith in Christ,
and not by the works of the Law;
since by the works of the Law
shall no flesh be justified."
(Galatians 1:16)

The message of Galatians 1:16 is clear: justification is ONLY by faith in Jesus Christ and not by the works of the Law. Over the next few posts it would appear that justification is going to be the grand theme. Honestly, it's the grand theme of Paul's entire epistle. In light of that perhaps it would be wise to make sure that this important term is defined and understood.

I know of no fuller and better definition than the one found in the Westminster Shorter Catechism. It states:

"Justification is an act of God's free grace, wherein He pardons all our sins and accepts us as righteous in His sight only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone."
Webster defines it as "the act, process, or state of being justified by God." He then goes on to define "justified" as "having been proved right " or "legally absolved".

Monday, July 5, 2010

Behind the Back or To the Face? - Galatians 2:11

"But when Peter came to Antioch,
I opposed him to his face,
because he stood condemned."
(Galatians 2:11)

In the last post we looked at Peter's blunder, today I want to look quickly at Paul's response.

Peter has fallen into some foolishness. Paul has seen it. What will he do about it?

Well, one thing he WON'T do about it is talk about Peter behind his back! We don't see Paul sneaking around to all of the Gentiles saying, "Hey, did you see what Peter did? Did you see how he was all buddy buddy with you guys up until the Jewish Christians popped up on the scene? What's up with him? Can you even believe that he would act that way?"

Nope. Paul is not going to talk about Peter. He is going to talk to Peter. Please, please take note of that fact.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Perfected in Our Imperfections / Acquitted of our Condemnation- Galatians 2:11-13

"But when Peter came to Antioch,
I opposed him to his face,
because he stood condemned.
For prior to the coming of certain men from James,
he used to eat with the Gentiles;
but when they came, he began to withdraw
and hold himself aloof,
fearing the party of the circumcision.
And the rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy,
with the result that even Barnabas
was carried away by their hypocrisy."
                                                   (Galatians 2:11-13)

True confession time! In reading over these verses, which were next on my list, I found myself initially saying: "Oh well - nuttin' today!" Some days that is how it seems.

The Word looks empty and impractical.
It appears more historical than devotional.
You know, I came close to simply skimming over this section and going on with the duties of the day, checking my Bible reading off of my "to do" list.

I am learning that my Bible reading is no "to do" it is a "to digest". I thought there was 'nuttin' and once again I am proved wrong. I am amazed yet I not surprised at what has pierced my heart this morning from this "impractically historical "section. Truly, this is the living Word of the living God and surely every jot and tittle of it is inspired and is profitable for our teaching, reproof, correction, training and full equipping for every good work.

Here's the condensed scoop that has so radically grabbed my attention this morning:
There are no perfect people... there is One perfect Propitiator!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Set Apart to Proclaim: the God-Glorifying Goal of Gospel Grace - Galatians 1:15-16

"... it pleased God,
who set me apart from my mother's womb,
and called me by His grace,
to reveal His Son in me,
that I might preach Him among the heathen..."
(Galatians 1:15-16)

I almost passed it by. I almost read right through it and never noticed how dear it was. I glanced at it as if it only applied to Paul and then it hit me. This isn't just about Paul and his calling, no - this is about me and mine and you and yours.

True, the context is about Paul's life and conversion and call to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, but I do believe there is an appropriate application of encouragement and exhortation to us as well.

Five things jumped out at me pretty quickly this morning. Again, they are statements Paul makes about himself - but they are statements that, to some degree or another, are true of all Christians.

First, "it pleased God" to save me, sanctify me, and set me in His service.
Does that not blow your mind? God - Almighty God - the holy One - the Maker of heaven and earth - the King of Kings and the LORD of Lords has been PLEASED to call me out as His own and to set me apart to serve Him.