Today I decided to just sit and enjoy the presence of the Lord – without my usual introductory chatter. As I sit, I sense one word pervading the room – “Peace”……. “My peace – I have invited you to lay down your burdens at My feet and promised you Peace – that is what the whole concept of the Sabbath was intended to picture and represent – the world is fretting because of its disturbed relationship with me – so through My Covenant, I come bringing peace – peace with Me – so that you can have a relationship with Me – peace in your heart because you can entrust yourself completely to Me. And peace with everyone around you and your environment. That is what true Christianity looks like – ‘I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me, the life that I live in the body , I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me!.’
“This is the secret that Galatians explains – the secret of the new life in the Spirit – yet so many people find it so hard to give up the idea that they control their lives and their destinies – true peace lies in understanding this life in the Spirit and living it. Know therefore that this is what the Sabbath was looking forward to – you are now in the eternal Sabbath”.
So before we look at the rest of ch 2 in Galatians, let us look at the 3 topics I suggested you should meditate on last time. Remember we are examining these in the context of this letter.
- Why did Paul give so much space to his testimony about the authority he had? Firstly we must remember that Paul was not part of the original ‘band’ of disciples who became apostles, as he explains in this letter. So he was being regarded with some suspicion by the other apostles, and we see some of that interaction in Acts 15. This letter was probably written early in his ministry after his first missionary journey. Secondly he had some very serious words to say to the Galatians who had been influenced by other teachers, called Judaizers, who were trying to bring the law back into the gospel. Paul therefore had to show clearly where his authority came from so they would listen and accept what he was saying. The important application for us is that this passage lays down the authority which the whole of the scripture has for us, as coming from God through His inspiration. It says Yes you may believe, yes you must believe, yes it is imperative that you believe and trust the Word.
Remember the question Satan asked in Genesis which led to Adam’s downfall? “Did God really say?” So today we are experiencing an unprecedented attack on Christianity from within as well as without and much of that is aimed at twisting and casting doubt on the truth and purity of God’s Word and the gospel as the center point of it. We need to go back and look at how serious Paul was about proving that the gospel he was preaching was the true gospel from God. And that is why I am so serious that each one of us that reads this blog believes and lives the true gospel.
2. Why is it so attractive to people to believe they can benefit by adding to the gospel? Well I think this is a very important issue because it goes to the very basis of our sinful DNA. It is hard for us, and let me say the more successful you have been in life the harder it is to accept that one can do nothing to add to Jesus’ work of salvation and that we must just accept it and receive it and give Him the glory. We want some of the glory. We like to flatter ourselves that we have a useful contribution to give. We are uncomfortable to receive unconditionally and therefore our default thinking is that what I do shows me to be a better Christian, more acceptable to God and who knows, maybe get ahead of some others in the queue. Last year Emily had a wound on her ankle that would not heal. I was referred to a nurse who specializes in wound care and after an initial consultation, which she charged me only for the materials she used, she then went ahead and treated Emily for three or four months completely free. I really needed this but it was hard for me to accept this absolute generosity, I so badly wanted to do something in return, but I realized it was from God, so was able to ultimately worship and thank Him for what this angel He had sent was doing and give Him the glory, while being extremely grateful to her as well.
3. Why the fuss? It is worth the fuss because every teaching which pollutes the gospel is an insult to God, who gave His only Son to die on the cross so that no one may perish but everyone who believes may have eternal life. He went to the most extreme lengths to win our salvation, if we dilute that in any way we are actually saying “what you did was not good enough, I want to add to that”. Western middle-class Christianity is pervaded with this attitude and it has taken a huge amount of power out of the ordinary person’s life as they struggle to live their Christian lives in the flesh, rather than the Spirit.
Now back to Galatians ch 2. This discussion on the relationship of the law to the gospel provides the background to Paul’s setting out of the true gospel which he summarized in vv 17-21. These few verses, true to Paul uses a bit of convoluted language, but the message is actually quite simple. As a clue the first part resonates Romans 6:1 ff. So why don’t you read these verses carefully and see if you can pick up the main points Paul is making. Lets try and stick to this passage and while we may go elsewhere to help us understand, let us try and simply explain what he is saying here.
For me today, God seemed to be saying, ‘do you truly understand vs 20 and are you consciously living it out in your life today?’