The Fourth of July and Galatians

While Paul didn’t know anything about our 4th of July, one of his letters should be the official 4th of July document.  The theme of Galatians is independence – freedom from righteousness by works.   After his personal greetings to the church in Galatia he wastes no words getting to his reason for writing.  “ I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – which is really no gospel at all.  . . . If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!”

After Paul moved from Galatia others came with the following.  “Yes, we are saved by grace, but . . .” Everything that follows that “but” is heresy.  “But, you have to be circumcised.”  Circumcision was the particular item but the issue was more profound because we can substitute any work for the word circumcise.  “We have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified. . . . if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing.”  Chapter 2.   “You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. . . The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” Chapter 5

Does that mean we are free to do anything stupid and evil?  Of course not.  “Do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. The entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”   Chapter 5

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 4, 2014

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