Coming of Age in Christ: Oct. 1
The Gospel Matters
“…not that there is another gospel.” (Galatians 1:7)
Coming of Age in Christ
Galatians 3:1-25 | October 1, 2017
Review: Last week, we looked at Christ’s law fulfillment and were invited to reflect on the question, “Where are we trying to earn God’s favor instead of trusting Jesus?” As you look back on the week,
where did you trust in Jesus and what made that difficult?
Introduction: In C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the first book of his Chronicles
of Narnia series, the evil Witch claims that the young boy Edmond’s life is forfeit to her. He has betrayed his brother and sisters, and according to the deep magic that holds the land of Narnia together, this demands satisfaction. Someone has to pay. So Aslan, the great Lion and Son of the Emperor across the sea, steps in to take Edmond’s place. The Witch and her minions put him to death on the Stone Table, but the next morning he is alive! When the two girls Lucy and Susan find him, they cannot believe their eyes. Then he tells them “there is a magic deeper still which she did not know…when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backward.” There is a law before the law. A deeper magic the Witch did not know.
When Paul comes proclaiming salvation because of God’s grace through faith in Christ alone, the response of every faithful Jew would have been similar: “Paul, you’re crazy. God gave us the law. He gave it to us so that we could be righteous; so that we could be justified before God and be in relationship with Him through obedience. This is how it has always been. Why are you trying to bring in some new idea that contradicts everything that we have known? Jesus himself said that he did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it!” How do you argue with that? Yet what Paul points out is that the Law has not always been the way God interacts with His people. In fact, before there was the Covenant of the Law, there was another covenant; the covenant God made with Abraham; a covenant that depended not on Abraham but on God; a covenant that Abraham participated in by faith.
It was Abraham’s faith that was credited to him as righteousness, not his works. He was justified before God not by what he did, but by what God did. This is the “magic deeper still.” God justifies by grace through faith, and Paul reminds the church that we who believe in Christ Jesus are heirs and recipients of the covenant God made with Abraham. He then tackles the question, “Why the law? Why was the Law ever brought into existence if it was never intended to bring salvation or justification?” Paul’s response at the end of this passage is that it was put in place to keep sin at bay and to watch over God’s people until Christ appeared. The law, according to Paul, was like a tutor. When Paul says in verse 24 that the Law was our disciplinarian (guardian in the ESV), the Greek word is where we get our English word pedagogy. It was used in the ancient world to refer to a trusted slave or servant who would watch over a young child and teach them until they came of age. No parent wants their child to stay under a tutor forever, and in Christ, says Paul, the community of God is finally coming of age.
Pray: Almighty and everlasting God, You have redeemed us through the blood of Christ. He was crucified for us and for our salvation so that we might be justified by Your grace through faith. Thank You that we do not come into Your presence trusting in our own righteousness but in Your faithfulness. Thank You for the gift of Your Spirit that confirms our adoption as Your children. Now by the Spirit’s power, open our ears to hear Your Word. Speak to us and lead us to maturity in faith, for Jesus sake. Amen.
Read: Galatians 3:1-25
1. What are some ‘laws’ that you had growing up or what are some ‘laws’ that you have in your home today? What would you say is or was the purpose of those laws?
2. Eugene Peterson puts verse 3 this way, “only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it?” In what ways was the church trying to complete what God had begun? How might you find yourself falling into this same trap? What makes it difficult to let God finish what He starts?
3. Talk about justification: How would you define justification? Share any experiences where you tried to justify yourself to someone else. What does it mean to be justified before God? According to Paul, how does this happen?
4. In verse 11, Paul quotes Habakkuk 2:4 that “The righteous (or the Just, KJV) will live by faith.” Who are the righteous or just? What does it mean for the righteous to live by faith? What does this look like?
5. Throughout this passage, Paul is alluding to the sovereignty and foreknowledge of God.
God had a plan to save the Gentiles, to save you and me, all the way back when he called
Abraham, roughly 4000 years ago. How does it make you feel to know God plans this far in advance? As you look at your own life, do you believe that God has a plan that involves you? Why or why not?
6. Paul says that the Law served as a disciplinarian/guardian until Christ came. Now that Christ has come, is there any role left for the Law? If so, what purpose does the law serve?
Application: Sometimes it is hard to let others do stuff for us. As the old hymn goes, “Will you let me be your servant, let me be as Christ to you. Pray that I might have the grace to let you be my servant too.” For many of us, serving is easier than being served. Helping is easier than asking for help. Doing for someone is easier than having something done for us. It’s hard to recognize and admit need. It is the same in the Christian life. While we all know that we have a need (if we are being honest with ourselves), it can still be hard to ask for help from God. Though we may know that we don’t save ourselves – that we don’t justify ourselves by anything we do – it is not always easy to accept the free gift of grace that God offers to us in Christ. Yet there is no other way to come to the Father. There is no other way to be justified, and as long as we are trying to bring something to the table that God can use to justify us, we miss the point; we miss the gift. This week, every time you catch yourself trying to ‘justify’ yourself, pause and say thank you. Thank God for the work that He has begun and that He will carry to completion.
Pray: Most gracious and loving God. You have made us for yourself so that our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You. Thank you for the gift of Your grace that you give to us freely. Thank you for justifying us by Your work on the cross and not by anything that we do. Thank you for the gift of Your Spirit by which You have made us Your children and through whom You enable us to live in obedience. Keep us mindful of you this week and guide us into Your truth for Jesus’ sake. Amen.