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Pastor Randy’s Top 66 – Galatians

  |   Words of Grace

“You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”Galatians 3:26-27

 

As I mentioned back when I was writing about 1 Corinthians, Paul often wrote to Churches because there may have been a theological, doctrinal, or behavior issue that needed to be addressed. Paul was a very wise man. He would start his Letters with some words of encouragement, emphasizing the church’s faith and their dependence on the Lord, and then he’d begin to bring correction. And that’s how we should deal with people also:  start with some honest and true encouraging words – words about a person’s strength and ability – and then if correction is necessary you can speak truth to them. Well, that’s good advice, and Paul followed this advice 99% of the time. Galatians is the one time he didn’t.

 

There are no encouraging words about their faith, or inspiring stories about the generosity or love displayed by the Christians at the Galatia Churches (this was a region, not a city, so this Letter was going to a number of churches in the area).  Paul digs into them regarding his concerns from the get go. And he’s mad! Oh, don’t worry, it’s righteous indignation, but boy, he’s one unhappy apostle. And what is the problem?

 

There was a group of “professing” Jewish believers in the churches who were propagating the false doctrine that encouraged the Jews who converted to Christ to continue to practice all of the Jewish laws, rites, and festivals in order to be ‘really’ spiritual; and that flowed over to the Gentiles as well – they were being told to be circumcised and follow the Jewish laws along with ‘having faith in Christ’. These false teachers were referred to as ‘Judaizers’, and in Paul’s mind, their teaching was the worse kind of heresy.

 

We are NOT saved by following the works of the Law, but by having faith in what Jesus Christ has done upon the cross, which perfectly fulfilled everything about the Law, and this saving faith itself is an undeserved gift of God’s grace, so no one can boast about doing anything of ‘value’ that ‘ought to now save us’. It’s grace alone that makes us right with the Triune God.

 

So, this is why Paul jumps right into it as he begins his Letter to the Galatian churches. Okay, Paul does start with a general greeting, but by the time we get to verse six, he has both of his six-shooters ablazin’!

 

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again:  if anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!”

 

And as a side note, verse eight kind of blasts the Mormons out of the water with their belief that the angel Moroni delivered the ‘new and complete gospel’ to Joseph Smith. “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!”

 

In any event, as Paul is dispelling this idea that we have to add something to grace (Romans 11:6) in order to be ‘more holy’ he shares some amazing truths about the nature and character of Christ, as well as the complete sufficiency and efficiency of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross in procuring our justification/regeneration/salvation.

 

To drive this truth of the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice for our salvation, Paul reminds the Christians in our verses for today of who we really are in Christ:

 

“You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”Galatians 3:26-27

 

By “sons” of course, Paul is really saying “sons and daughters”, but you just need to understand the culture to grasp that. So, the Jews were trying to say that because they were ‘children of Abraham’ then that made them righteous – as long as they followed the Mosaic Law, and if the Gentiles and the Jews both wanted to be real ‘Christians’, then they needed to follow the Law as well.

 

But Paul is saying that instead of being ‘sons and daughters of Abraham’, it is more important to be ‘sons and daughters of God’, and the way that happens is not through natural birth (as a Jew gives birth to another Jew), but rather they become a son or daughter of the Lord God through their faith in Jesus Christ, which once again, has been granted to them through the Lord’s undeserved grace. To be ‘baptized into Christ’ does not mean being water baptized after you come to faith, because if it did, then that would mean that it was your baptism that finished or completed your salvation, but then that would be a work that we did – and we are not saved by anything that we do!

 

To be ‘baptized into Christ’ means to be placed into. Baptismo means ‘placed into’, and that’s why we at Grace Christian Fellowship are credobaptists – we believe that you have to have saving faith first (credo – creed – belief) and your water baptism symbolizes what has already happened – you and I have been ‘placed into Christ’ and He into us.

 

Just read the Book of Ephesians and other Letters of Paul and notice how often it says that we as Christians are ‘in Christ’, ‘by Christ’, ‘through Christ’, and on and on. I use this illustration a lot, but being ‘in Christ’ at our conversion is like putting a smaller piece of paper inside the middle of a book. The book is Jesus and we are the paper. When we come to faith we are placed in Christ, and are hidden with/in Christ in God (Colossians 3:3).

 

And as these two verses from Galatians 3 tell us, being baptized/placed into Christ at our conversion also means that we have clothed ourselves – covered ourselves – with Christ. Not by following any rituals, being ceremonially circumcised, participating in the festivals, or any of the ‘Gentile’ Christian rituals of baptism, the Lord’s Supper, confirmation, prayer, church attendance, tithing, etc. All of those things are good to participate in as a Christian, but none of them make us a Christian. We are Christians by having faith in Christ, which one more time, has been given/granted to us by God’s undeserving grace.

 

One more important point, and I could’ve spent my entire comments on this verse on this point, but let me just throw it in for good measure. Many people today identify themselves as ‘spiritual’ but not ‘religious’, which means that they sometimes think about God, whoever He may be, but they aren’t a member of a church, or practice any particular denominational faith. Along with this is the idea that God is the Father of all, so we are all children of God. And a related belief:  since we are all children of God, then we are all brothers and sisters.

 

These two beliefs are known as the Universal Fatherhood of God (God is the Father of all); and the Universal Brotherhood of Man (all people are our brothers and sisters). Well, I hate to be a party-pooper, but that isn’t even close to being the truth, and our verse twenty-six of chapter three proves it: “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus…”. We are not all children of God and we are not all brothers and sisters. God the Father is the CREATOR of all, but He is only the Father to those who have faith in Christ Jesus. We are to love ALL people, because ALL people are created in God’s image, but only those who have come to faith in Jesus Christ – no matter what their Christian denomination – are our brothers and sisters.

 

We are told in Matthew 22:37-39 to ‘love our neighbors’, and neighbors does not refer to just the people who live within three houses of you! Neighbors are everyone else who isn’t your brother and sister in Christ, so there’s no possible way that we can not love people who are not in the faith. We are to love them, pray for them, be Jesus around them, and let the Holy Spirit do His job of transforming those called into the faith.

 

So, from Galatians, and these two verses we learn that:

  1. Christ fulfilled the Law perfectly so I don’t have to follow the Old Covenant laws (unless the New Testament reaffirms them: ‘loving your parents; not murdering; etc.) in order to be declared righteous. Jesus paid it all, and our salvation is granted to us by God’s grace and by His grace alone.

 

  1. If you have come to faith in Jesus Christ, then you are a son or daughter of God.

 

  1. When you came to faith in Christ you were permanently placed (baptized into) Christ, and you are safe and secure ‘in Him’.

 

  1. The Lord has taken off our old filthy garment of unrighteousness and clothed us in Christ’s righteousness (Psalm 30:11, 132:16; Revelation 7:14, 19:13; Romans 13:14; Ephesians 4:24, 6:14; Colossians 3:10, 12).

 

  1. If you have come to know the Christ as your Savior by God’s grace, then you are a son or daughter of the Lord, which means that ALL other professing Christians who have trusted in Christ and preach/teach and live by the truth of Christ, and Christ crucified are family members.

 

  1. We are to love ALL other people because they are our neighbors and they are made in God’s image.