(23) Before this faith arrived, we were high security prisoners under the authority of the law, until faith would be revealed. (24) Thus the law was put in charge of us as a teacher until Jesus came, so that we could be made right through faith. (25) But now that faith has come, that teacher is no longer in charge of us.
(26) You’re all God’s children through faith in Christ Jesus. (29) For as many as have been baptized into Christ are wearing Christ as a garment. (28) There is no longer Jew nor Greek, slave or free, male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (29) For if you belong to Christ, then you’re Abraham’s seed, and according to the promiseâ€”heirs! — Galatians 3:23-29
I’m going to risk starting this devotional by quoting from a commentary:
In short, Paul is concerned in letter form to repreach the gospel in place of its counterfeit. Rhetorically, the body of the letter is a sermon centered on factual and thus indicative answers to two questions, â€œWhat time is it?â€ and â€œIn what cosmos do we actually live?â€ — J. Louis Martyn, Galatians, p. 23.
Now I want us to notice several things from that quotation. I’m using it because I think it gets the essence of the message of Galatians:
- There’s a counterfeit gospel. It looks like the real thing, but it isn’t.
- The response to the counterfeit centers on facts
- Question 1: When are we living?
- Question 2: In what world are we living?
We tend to focus our understanding of salvation on the individual. When did you accept Christ? How are you living now that you have accepted Christ? Did you really put your trust in Jesus for your salvation?
Those are good questions, but they are secondary questions. For Paul, there was not merely a new creation in the individual when that person accepted Jesus. There was a new creation in the world itself that began when Jesus died. You make a choice about where you’re going to be in relation to that, but the focus of salvation is Jesus.
Now the first point is rather simple. There is a counterfeit gospel. In the case of the Galatian churches, this was the expectation that the gentile Christians in those churches should become Jews in external form and external ritual. We can argue back and forth about the law and what we’re required to keep as followers of Jesus, but that would be missing the point.
The world changed when Jesus died and rose from the dead. All of the old ways of looking at things passed away. We may still find good information there, but to be part of the authentic gospel, we get on board.
The response to the counterfeit gospel centers on facts. First, Jesus died and changed everything. That’s the answer to â€œwhat time is it?â€ It’s the time of the end, when God invades the world. But that invasion isn’t merely futureâ€”God has already invaded. Before that, you had no choice about your citizenship (see yesterday’s devotion.) Now you have a choice. So the first fact to recognize is that, through the death and resurrection of Jesus this is the time of the end, the time when God provides us with the opportunity to be citizens. God’s kingdom doesn’t recognize all the old distinctions. God’s kingdom is a new place where there is neither Jew nor Greek, rich or poor, slave or free, male or female, or any of those other categories. They have all been overwhelmed by the simple distinction: Part of God’s kingdom or not?
That leaves us with the last question. It’s a simple one. Which world are you a part of? Are you a part of God’s world? The alternative is too ghastly to contemplate!