Friday, March 18, 2022

So Easily Fooled?

 Read Galatians 3

Consider reading a letter that you received and the author says, “Hey knuckleheads.  Who tricked you?”

How did you fall for this?

Were you not given the truth?

Was my message to you given in vain?

It’s been said that it is easier to fool someone than to convince them that they have been fooled.  There might just be some truth in that statement.

Paul is writing to believers who have been fooled.  How hard is his job now to convince them that they knew the truth at first but set it aside for a gospel that it not even a gospel?

The Judaizers were insisting that following the law was essential to salvation.  Paul had taught them and continued to teach that we are saved by grace through faith. 

The con men were insisting that the law went back to Moses and could not be ignored.  It was essential to salvation.

Paul noted that the promise that the Galatians received predated the law by 430 years.  The law did not replace the promise given to Abraham that by his seed—through Jesus—their salvation would come.

Paul jumps to the heart of the matter.

I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard?

Paul noted that he was not just talking semantics.  These were not talking points about whether the carpet in the sanctuary would be white or green. This was not whether we say sins, debts, or trespasses in the Lord’s Prayer.

This was about salvation coming from the grace of God himself or from our works.

After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain?  So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?  So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

Paul would go on to note that all who relied on the law for their salvation were under a curse.  In other correspondence, he notes the law is not bad.  We know it was given for our own good, but salvation does not come through the law.  Salvation comes by grace through faith.

Practice the law as you need to but don’t hang your salvation on it.  Thou shalt not murder is solid counsel.  Who can argue with it?

Have no other Gods—NO OTHER GODS!  We get that.

Don’t covet your neighbor’s stuff or his wife or her husband or the Amazon packages that block their front entryway.

God’s directives are for our own good but as far as salvation goes, all they can do is tell us we can’t get there from here by our compliance, obedience, or regularly scheduled observance.

Paul wrote to many churches with many issues, but all should note this.  All come to right standing with God from a condition of disobedience—even the one most obedient to the law.

We are saved by grace through faith!  When we get to the next letter, Paul will note so that nobody can boast about their own works, at least as far as salvation goes.

 Paul says that the law was like a guardian.  It was necessary to get us to the point where we could receive God’s grace.  We are not made to live with a guardian all of our lives.  At some point, we must truly live to the full.

Other translations might use the term tutor instead of guardian. I think in this analogy, at some point the tutor must become a mentor.  The didactic gives way to the guide.

Today, I use the example of training wheels.  They were good to help us learn the mechanics of riding a bicycle without falling over every five seconds.  But at some point, the training wheels are excess weight.  We have our balance and have mastered the idiom of riding our bicycles.

Neither we nor our bicycles were designed to have training wheels throughout our lifecycles. The training wheels were not bad.  They were for our own good.  They helped bring us up in the way we should go or ride.

The law was not bad.  It is given for our own good, but only grace gets us to salvation.  The law could not give us salvation. 

The Spirit of God came in our belief in the Son of God, through whom we know the Father.  Our salvation comes by grace through our faith.

We are made right with God by our faith.

Abraham was justified by his faith.

Salvation comes by faith not works.  It is completely the gift of God.

We live by faith!

Our works will be in response to this unfathomable gift of God that we know as grace.  We will do good acts before others so that we may bring glory to God.  We will live by love so that our very lives are our best offerings to God and thereby bring glory to his name.

We are only three chapters into this letter, but we should be certain of this.

There is no other gospel than that of grace.

The Spirit comes to us in our belief in the one and only Son of God.

Works are in response to the gift of salvation, not an added condition.

Let’s go forth with a bit of provocation to ponder.  How are the followers of Jesus to be called?  We are to be known by our love, but let’s talk nomenclature.

Are we law-abiding citizens?

Are we believers?

Neither is a bad thing, but only one leads to salvation.

Thanks be to God that we are saved by his grace through our faith.


No comments:

Post a Comment