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Midweek Devotionals

Published weekly on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays.

Midweek Devotional 1/29/2015

Robert Chen

Dear Church:

http://www.presbyterianmission.org/devotion/daily/2015/1/29/

Galatians 3:1-14

1You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly exhibited as crucified! 2The only thing I want to learn from you is this: Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard? 3Are you so foolish? Having started with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? 4Did you experience so much for nothing? — if it really was for nothing. 5Well then, does God supply you with the Spirit and work miracles among you by your doing the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?

6Just as Abraham “believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” 7so, you see, those who believe are the descendants of Abraham. 8And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, declared the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the Gentiles shall be blessed in you.” 9For this reason, those who believe are blessed with Abraham who believed.

10For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the things written in the book of the law.” 11Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law; for “The one who is righteous will live by faith.” 12But the law does not rest on faith; on the contrary, “Whoever does the works of the law will live by them.” 13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us — for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” — 14in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Did I say 'unfriendly' -- with respect to the Apostle Paul? Paul is not above rebuking, reprimanding, or correcting followers of Jesus. As with his confrontation with Peter, Paul's life-and-death commitment to the gospel pushes him into confrontation, for what is at stake is a matter of ultimate concern and importance and there are times when niceties and good manners get in the way. "You foolish Galatians," Paul tells them. Why the epithet? They are "fools" in Paul's eyes because they are seriously tempted by the Judiazers' argument that the Cross of Jesus is insufficient for justification. Something else needs to be added to the recipe, some requirement from the Law. For Paul, acquiescing to the Judiazers is a return to a life of bondage and curse. Christ has set us free. Christ Alone and Sufficiently has set us free.

 

And because the Crucified and Resurrected Christ has Accomplished what was Required for Justification, the Spirit of God has been given. The Giving of the Spirit is the Sign that Justification is Complete. Had Jesus' death been incomplete, no Spirit would have been given. From the biblical perspective the giving of the Spirit is the ultimate evidence that Jesus has indeed accomplished what He was sent here to do: to bring about salvation, which includes reconciliation and redemption of humankind and all of the universe. Where the Spirit is, there is Salvation.

 

The background contrast in this section of Galatians is this: Spirit vs. Law. What the Law (Torah) was unable to accomplish, the Spirit accomplishes. The Law by itself could not make people love God from their own heart, whereas the Spirit in people enables them to love God from their own heart. Where the Law brought about a sense of burden, the Spirit brings about freedom. Where the Law constantly reminded people their state of sinfulness, the Spirit constantly reminds the people of God their adoption as sons and daughters. Where the Law drew an unbridgeable chasm between a Holy God and an Unholy people, the Spirit became a living bridge between a Holy God and a Forgiven People.

 

Therefore, we can connect the following dots: the life, ministry, death, resurrection, and glorification of Jesus brought about the outpouring of the Spirit. We can say in other words that Jesus served the purpose of God's desire to pour out His Spirit on His people and all creation. Where the Spirit is, there is Life. And this Life is accessed by faith in Jesus and sufficiently so. In sum: this is the gospel of Jesus Christ. PTL.

 

Let's pray: Eternal God, we thank you once again for your Son, who came to give of Himself for the sake of love and for the sake of salvation. Because of your Son, we receive the Spirit. And because of your Spirit, we have Life. And because we have Life, we have Love and Hope and Power. And because we have Love, Hope, and Power, we can overcome all things. Thank you. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

 

Blessings,

pjohn