Some people think the illness that brought Paul into the orbit of the Galatians (4:13) was an eye condition. Here is one reason why (11; see 4:15) Paul suffered unimaginably for the gospel (2 Corinthians 11:21-33), yet he gives this fact only a cursory mention in (17). There is something profoundly touching and sad about his words. Paul was ‘’persecuted’’ (12; see 4:29) because he was cross-centred (12-15). One reason why the message of the cross leads to a backlash is because it crucifies pride. It gives you no ground for boasting about yourself and your achievements. You can’t say, ‘I’m in the Kingdom of God because of my efforts; my religious activity. I’m here because of my own merits, because I was circumcised (or some other religious thing.)’ The cross gives you nothing to ‘’boast’’ about except ‘’the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.’’ (14). Simply through faith in ‘’Christ crucified’’ (1 Corinthians 1:23, 24) people are born again and made anew by the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 5:17). We could argue that (15) sums up the entire letter to the Galatians. It is about ‘’grace’’ , ‘’mercy’’ and ‘’peace’’ (18, 16). We don’t earn anything; we don’t deserve anything because of some religious thing we do. We receive forgiveness of sins and a right standing with God through trust in Christ and His finished work on the cross. He puts His Spirit into us and makes us brand new people. ‘’When I survey the wondrous cross, on which the Prince of glory died, my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.’’ The cross of Jesus gives you nothing to brag about, and that is one reason why it gets its preachers into so much trouble. Paul knew that the very people who insisted on the need for circumcision/keeping the law, in fact did not keep the whole law themselves. They were highly selective in what they did (13)
Bill Hybels, the senior pastor of ‘Willow Creek Community Church’ ,Chicago, was attending a party on a boat one night. Just as he was stepping onto the ladder to leave, one of the guests shouted to him, ‘’Hey Bill, What’s the difference between religion and Christianity?’’ He knew that he only had a moment or two in which to answer, but this is what he said: ‘’Well, I spell religion ‘D.O.’ because it’s about all the things that people do to try to get right with God. But I spell Christianity ‘D.O.N.E.’ because it’s about what Jesus has done on the cross to make it possible for us to come to God. We just have to receive this as a gift.’’ We could say that the message of ‘Galatians’ can be summed up in terms of ‘do versus done’. The Judaizers were saying, ‘Do’. They said there are things you have to do to be saved, in addition to believing in Jesus. Notably, they argued, ‘You have to be circumcised’. Paul, however, resisted that notion. ‘It’s all been done for you on the cross by Jesus,’ he retorted.’ You simply have to receive this gift.’ In every generation of the church, people will come along who in some way pervert the truth of the gospel. They will re-shape it in their own image. The error may take on a subtle form, or it may be glaringly obvious. However it appears; whatever shape it takes, ‘Galatians’ shows that Christians must stand for the truth standing on the truth. I don’t believe we should get obsessed with erroneous teaching. Some Christians do, it seems to me, and I don’t believe it is healthy. They become spiritual ‘bloodhounds’, with their noses perpetually to the ground, sniffing out heresy wherever they can find it. They end up finding it where it isn’t! Nevertheless we need to be always on the alert, and ready to put the ‘gloves’ on for the sake of truth.
Well, we can do no better than leave the final word with Paul: ‘’May what our Master Jesus Christ gives freely be deeply and personally yours, my friends. Oh, yes! The Message.
Prayer: Thank you Father God for your amazing grace!
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