Sunday January 19, 2014
Hope’s Only Foundation
Galatians 5:1 – 6
Read: Galatians 5:1 – 6
See: Acts 15:1 – 21, The Council In Jerusalem
Theme: Reliance On The Law Or Grace Never Reliance On The Law And Grace
“If the Galatians submit to circumcision, they cut themselves off from Christ and salvation, for they remove themselves from the only means by which they can be forgiven of their sins. Those who live by faith through the Spirit will receive the eschatological gift of righteousness.”
“In our postmodern and relativistic world, we are apt to accept different ways to God as equally legitimate. What is striking and perhaps even shocking here is Paul’s complete rejection of circumcision and the Torah as the way to God. Christ and the law are not compatible for Paul but polar opposites. Either one clings to Christ and the righteousness he gives, or one is damned. Salvation cannot be divided between the work of Christ and human accomplishment.
If keeping the law leads to salvation, then Christ is superfluous (unnecessary). If what human beings do becomes the basis of salvation, then praise and honor redound to those who perform the required works. But if salvation is the work of Christ, he receives the praise and honor for redeeming his people. Paul categorically rejects human works because they rule out the importance and centrality of Christ. They make the work of Christ a cipher (nothing). They deprive him of his glory, and human idolatry rather than God’s glory takes center stage” (Schreiner).
Quote from Martin Luther’s Lectures on Galatians 1535:
(Based on Galatians 5:5 – “we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.”)
“This is a very important and pleasant comfort with which to bring wonderful encouragement to minds afflicted and disturbed with a sense of sin and afraid of every flaming dart of the devil . . . your righteousness is not visible, and it is not conscious; but it is hoped for as something to be revealed in due time. Therefore you must not judge on the basis of your consciousness of sin, which terrifies and troubles you, but on the basis of the promise and teaching of faith, by which Christ is promised to you as your perfect and eternal righteousness.”
“Though it is divine mercy that pardons, it is divine justice that justifies (Anselm). Mercy alone may pardon. To pardon is, in the exercise of sovereign prerogative, to waive the execution of the penal sanctions of the law; to justify is to declare that the demands of the law are satisfied, not waived. Not so with justification, for only mercy and justice in unison can justify.” (Thomas Oden’s Systematic Theology).
“Circumcision is the seal of the law. He who willingly and deliberately undergoes circumcision, enters upon a compact to fulfill the law. To fulfill it therefore he is bound, and he cannot plead the grace of Christ; for he has entered on another mode of justification” (J. B. Lightfoot – English Bible scholar).