BY PASTOR GARETH on September 20, 2017
I wanted to give a couple of days’ space between an entry on the first and second messages on our series on Galatians so people could have a chance to reflect on the first post.
On Sunday evening, our second message of the series focussed on Paul’s defense of his ministry in Galatians 1:11-2:10. We had already identified that Paul’s gospel and ministry are under considerable pressure in Galatia thanks to the influence of some Judaizers who were insisting that the Gentile Galatians need to adhere to the Mosaic law (i.e. become Jewish converts) before they could accept Christ (and be accepted by Christ). Paul continues to defend the good news (gospel) of God’s grace that welcomes Gentiles into God’s family based solely upon faith in Jesus Christ and not by adherence to the Mosaic law by sharing some of his story. Our focus for the evening was not so much on Paul’s defense per se, but on some of the striking claims he makes about Jesus in this section. First, that Jesus Christ is God incarnate, and Paul’s gospel was divinely revealed by Christ (1:11-12). Second, Jesus reveals himself through his chosen ones (1:15-16). Third, that Jesus has the power to transform even his most vehement opponents (1:23-4). Fourth, that life in Christ is for Jews and Gentiles alike on the same grounds (2:2-4): by faith. What Paul claims about Jesus from his own story has many parallels to our own stories.
(1) The divinity of Jesus Christ is foundational to the gospel message. If Jesus was not God incarnate, then there is no Gospel to speak of. The Good News is that God became a human being, lived a perfect life, and did what we could not do for ourselves. Because of his faithfulness and sacrificial death and resurrection, we who place our faith in him are united with him. This is absolutely foundational to our identity. Paul’s Gospel (THE Gospel) has its origin in the God-made-man, Jesus Christ. (2) Jesus reveals himself not only through Paul, but through us as well. As those whose identity is rooted in Christ, Christ dwells in us by the power of his Holy Spirit (Gal. 2:20). One of the primary roles the Holy Spirit plays in our life is our sanctification: becoming more like Jesus. Like Paul, we too have been “set apart by God” and “called by his grace” in order that Christ may be revealed in and through us. (3) The Spirit of Christ has the power to transform anybody. He transformed Paul! A man who was a violent and vehement opponent of the Gospel became its most zealous supporter because of his encounter with the resurrected Christ on the road to Damascus. If the Spirit of Christ can transform Paul, he can certainly transform you and I, or anyone else whom he so chooses. Therefore we need not despair of ourselves or anyone else because of the power of the one to whom we belong. (4) Our life in Christ is on the basis of faith through faith in Jesus Christ and him alone. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Therefore, as those who “live by the Spirit” of Christ, who
… is God incarnate
… sets us apart
… calls us by his grace
… is pleased to reveal himself in and through us
… and can transform anybody
let us “keep in step with the Spirit of Christ, by
… embraciing our identity as God’s children (in Christ)
… allowing Jesus to lead and guide us by his indwelling Spirit
Questions for Reflection:
- How do you understand yourself to be set apart and called by God so that Christ may be revealed in you?
- What might Jesus need to transform in you?