Law and gospel are two different words. They bring different news. This is for sure. Paul notes, however, that this does not make them incongruous or contrary. They have a chronological and logical relationship to each other in the lives of believers. They each serve a purpose. One diagnoses, the other heals. One exposes, the other absolves. One speaks wrath, the other consolation. Importantly, none of this is an abstraction. It happens concretely in the life of the believer. The law sets forth the sad reality and consequences of sin. The gospel forgives sin. And because this side of the casket we remain sinner-saints, both words remain necessary for the Christian. The baptized in their weakness daily sin and their sins are daily drowned. Continue reading “Galatians 3:21-22”
The law is God’s will. It is unchangeable. It is good. And yet, as sinners, our relationship to it this side of heaven is forever tied to our fall, to our sinful nature, to our transgressions. While the law was written on human hearts, it was written on stone as well to curb sin, to accuse and threaten, to show sinners’ need for a substitute. Continue reading “Galatians 3:19-20”
God wants us to take Him at His Word. He wants us to hold Him to His promises. As sure as Jesus hung on the cross, so surely God means what He’s said in the Scriptures. And yet, as fallen human beings, trust doesn’t come easy for us. We’re used to people breaking promises. We realize not everyone and everything deserves our confidence, let alone the benefit of the doubt. Continue reading “Galatians 3:15-18”
When I teach the two kinds of righteousness (Don’t worry, we’ll get there), I usually draw the same picture on the board. It’s not a very good drawing from an artistic standpoint, but it seems to help the students. Here’s what it depicts.
Joe Unbeliever is walking down the road in the winter, with his dog, which usually ends up way out of proportion, even with practice. Down the road drives Edith, a sweet old lady on her way to church. The road is icy. On one side of the road is the church. On the other is a deep lake. Edith’s car slides, skids, plunges into the lake (for this there are excitedly drawn arrows). Joe Unbeliever jumps in the lake (another arrow, usually a different color, if I have enough markers), and saves Edith. Continue reading “A Great Guy but No Saint”
Have you been a good Christian this week? I like to ask my students that sometimes. Where their minds go reveal a lot. Almost always, their minds go to their works, to their behavior, to the law. And that’s not bad. We should examine ourselves. That’s a most Christian and confessional thing. We do so before Absolution. We do so before taking the Supper. That being said, a good Christian, when all is said and done, isn’t measured by the law. Why? Because all who rely on the law to measure their standing with God—to assess whether or not they are Christian, are saved, are justified—are under a curse. Continue reading “Galatians 3:10-14”
Christ saves. Christ justifies. And yet He does so through faith. Faith, however, is not our work, but His gift. Faith is the beggar’s hand that receives unearned merits, divine charity. Faith is not our decision. We do not become children of God by human will, as we are reminded in John 1. Faith is the product of God’s decision, His election, His choice. We are the beneficiaries. And this faith is not restricted by race, gender, age, or anything else. Jew and Gentile (all non-Jews) alike have been saved by grace through faith in Christ, and thus been sons of Abraham and sons of God. What a wonder! What a reason to support the ministry of the Word here among us as well as throughout the world through missions! Continue reading “Galatians 3:7-9”
The Galatians made a good start. They had been properly taught and rightly believed that they were saved, forgiven, justified, only for Christ’s sake. And yet with the infiltration of false teachers and the arrogant nagging of the old Adam, they wavered. Yes, surely they were saved by grace and through faith in Christ, but they could play some part, even a small one, in that process, right? Continue reading “Galatians 3:1-6”