Posted by: Jim Black | August 10, 2010

Some Preliminary thoughts on reading through Galatians…

On Sunday I began a new series of lessons entitled “Finding Freedom in Christ” from Paul’s letter to the Galatians. What a challenging series this promises to be!  As I am reading it afresh, I continue to be challenged by its message. God has set us free in Christ. He has rescued usfrom bondage to “this present evil age” and calls us to live as free citizens, not as slaves to our
past. I hope everyone will read the Galatian letter again this week and come to worship on Sunday prepared to really dig in to that wonderful message! I mentioned last week that the reading of this book is liable to shake things up for us. It is liable to challenge our beliefs, our traditions and the way in which we practice our faith. I am wondering, where will it challenge you?

The Galatian Christians were being tempted to return to the law, the rituals and practices, the customs and traditions that characterized Old Testament Judaism. Paul writes to remind them that Christ has set them free from all of that. His coming has fulfilled that law, and that they are set free from those things. While there might be much good in “tradition”, it is not to be imposed as “gospel truth” on new converts, Gentiles who are coming to Christ. While I don’t suppose there are many of us today being tempted to go back to the Old Testament system of things, I wonder if we still aren’t tempted to bind “customs” and “traditions” of men on folks in this day
and age? Are there traditions and customs which we practice (and which may be great and good) but aren’t “gospel truth”? Do we do this unintentionally or implicitly in the way we speak or in the way we do church today?  This is where the letter of Galatians is so relevant to today!  It reminds us that Christ is sufficient for our salvation! We need nothing else.
“If the Son has set us free, then we are free indeed!” (Jn 8:36) There is nothing else!

I hope you’ll join us on this exciting journey through Galatians together!

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Responses

  1. “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; stand firm and do not submit to the yoke of slavery.” (5:1). How different and better things would be if we just took this verse seriously. I’ve had little patience with legalistic traditions ever since I came to understand Paul’s marvelous letter to the Galatians.

    One thing I’d add to your comments: the more I study Galatians the more it strikes me that FAITH is so important–it’s what connects us to God & guides our lives. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me, and the life I now live in the flesh I live BY FAITH in the Son of God.” And the best way I’ve found to understand faith is found in Romans 4: 21 (or 22–I don’t have a text with me right now): Abraham’s faith was reckoned to him as righteousness because he was “fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.”

    I also hope you’ll note in your sermon that 5: 4 is perhaps the most misinterpreted verse in the NT: “falling from grace” isn’t referring to backsliders (like I heard once in a class there), but it’s referring to legalists–who’ve cut themselves off from Christ because they’re trying to save themselves.

    Random thoughts on a late monday night–good luck with the series & have fun!


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