A rapidly moving account of God’s dealings with one family, His choosen people, in spite of intrigue, lies, jealousy, disloyalty, betrayal which we have been reading over the last week.
(It is hard to stop reading. What WILL be he next disaster?) It is overall an awe inspiring picture of the carrying out of God’s perfect purposes for humanity even in the face of human weakness and failure. Read on!
How comfortable it is to hang on to what we know and like even if it is outdated, no longer appropriate, or just plain wrong! How often do we cling to old ways and understandings even when we have worked hard to change?
This was the problem Paul was encountering. He is totally frustrated with Gentile believers who are responding to the teachings that they must observe Jewish tradition as well belief in Christ.
Paul counters their argument and encourages those who have come to Christ to hold strongly to the truth that it is FAITH alone that brings us to righteousness. As it was for Abraham (v6 & 9) so it was for them and so it is for us.
Saving faith is believing God’s promise. Paul uses the trusted example of Abraham. ”Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness’ – (v6). That is – he finally believed what God said. The promise of an heir depended solely on God, not on Abraham. Some Galatian believers had turned back and were persuaded to ‘rely on observing the Law‘ ( v10 & v12) which Paul says is an impossible way to become righteous before God. How encouraging to discover we are loved and accepted by God even though we are still sinful and imperfect.
Now, that may not be our temptation here in Figtree, but the underlying belief for us can easily be that we believe we CAN contribute to our salvation by effort and good intentions. Doing salvation ‘my way’ brings God’s curse but an overwhelming release comes when we acknowledge that ‘Christ became the curse for us‘. (v13) and by faith we are accepted by Him.
There is even more in today’s Galatians passage! God’s promise to Abraham wasn’t simply about the Jews, but for ALL nations. Abraham’s family was chosen to bring God’s plan of salvation to the WHOLE WORLD. But as Bishop Tom Wright points out – ‘ ‘the physical family of Abraham, the Jewish people, had overturned like a huge truck in the road and were now blocking the original intention. God’s promise still held good: God still intended to bless the world through Abraham’s family; but Israel, the promise bearers, were not only themselves failing but getting in the way of the wider fulfillment.’
BY CHRIST ALONE, THROUGH FAITH ALONE.
Peter and Elizabeth Smart.