Monday, August 31, 2009

Galatians Journal: Chapter 3, Verse 14

Galatians 3:14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

Paul completes his argument. In verse 13, Paul shows us that its Jesus who is the key, his death on the cross being the fulfillment of the law’s requirement, and the antidote for the “curse.” He finishes the thought here with the reason whey Jesus became a curse for us – to redeem the entire world. He also connects his first argument -- the one about Abraham in verses 6-9 – with this one. Paul quoted Genesis 12:3 – God made a covenant with Abraham that “all nations” or “all the peoples of the earth” will be blessed through him. Paul connects Jesus to that promise, and the concept he laid out in verses 6-9 – that of faith. We have a nice tidy package here. In verses 6-9, Paul lays the foundation that God’s covenant with us was based on faith (and the concept of the law followed, which is discussed in verses 21-25). In verses 10-14, he shows that relying on the law, rather than faith, brings a curse, and that Jesus redeems us from that curse, and that because God had promised Abraham that the blessing of faith (see verse 9) was to go to “all nations” (see verse 8), then God always intended that “the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus.” God’s plan was always going to be to save us through his son Jesus, and to have faith be the foundation of the covenant. ( Verses 21-25 explains that the law was designed to help us live apart from sin and protect us from the evil of the world – NOT to save us).

It also shows that ethnic diversity was part of God’s plan all along. “ALL NATIONS!” That is, all the people of the earth! The Jews did not have an exclusive deal. Today, no one denomination, racial group, ethnic group, or nationality has an “exclusive deal” or the “upper hand.” God is on the move in exciting ways everywhere, even in places we couldn’t imagine. I recently read an article about a spiritual revival among the Palestinians in Gaza. We stereotypically connect the Palestinian people with Islamic extremists and terrorism, yet, there is a tremendous outpouring of God’s spirit among those folks. (There has always been a large ethnic-Christian minority among the Arab people in Palestine). That is just one small example.

Its interesting. This section of Galatians explains the basic concepts of our faith. Many scholars place this book as one of Paul’s earliest letters. He would expound on themes of salvation by faith rather than works or following the law again and again, most notably (in my mind) in Ephesians and Romans. For me, today, for any person with a living relationship with Jesus, this concept – being saved by faith and not by works – is so basic and elementary, we accept it without thinking. Yet, if we embrace the heart of this concept – that salvation is for everyone – it must cause us to radically change our attitude toward those who are different than we are. And this is not being politically correct – Oh no! It is seeing others through the eyes of God. It comes down to this – attitudes of racism or ethnic prejudice in the church fly in the face of the essence of the message of the Gospel. We need to be careful that we aren’t incrementally giving in to this heresy – becoming “foolish” like the Galatians.

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