Galatians 3:15-18

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”

A Great Guy but No Saint

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”

Galatians 3:10-14

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”

Galatians 3:7-9

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”

Galatians 3:1-6

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”

A Father by Grace with and in the Father of Grace

Being a father comes with a lot of responsibility. I am expected to provide, protect, love, forgive, teach, correct, model, and all manner of such things. I mean, at least, I expect myself to do so, and my own father’s selfless love for me has set a pretty high bar. Add to that my heavenly Father’s example, and I have a near impossible task. Continue reading “A Father by Grace with and in the Father of Grace”

Galatians 2:17-21

In other words, if you could have saved yourself, there was no need for God to be on a cross. But God was on a cross, wasn’t He? Why? To save you, because you could not save yourself. And so we do well not to believe, live, or proceed as if God were not on a cross. Christians do not live under law and we do not live in sin. Christ has fulfilled the former and absolved the latter. We now love because He first loved us, serve because He served us, keep the Commandments, not because they are a guide to heaven, but rather because they are an expression of what pleases Him who has granted us heaven as a free gift, though not a cheap gift, costing Jesus His very life. It is, as Paul says, “no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me,” so that “the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Christ does not make us sinners by dying and rising for us, making plain our inability to keep the law perfectly, which is how it must be kept if it is to give life. No, we were already and have been sinners from conception. The law had plenty of which to accuse us and for which to condemn us even had Christ not exposed the depths of our fallen race’s and our own personal sin through His passion. What Christ has done, then, is stopped its mouth and pardoned us, justified us, declared us not guilty, all for His sake. He has become one with us, dwelling in us, working through us, renewing our will and bringing forth fruits of repentance in our actions. It’s all Christ or no Christ. There is no in-between, and comfort is found only in the Christ who is all in all, Alpha and Omega, advocate and judge, all for us. And so, may Christ and His Word dwell in your richly so that all things in your lives abound in Him, for Him, and through Him, to His glory, and sanctified in His name. Continue reading “Galatians 2:17-21”