Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Salvation By Grace, Not Works: Galatians 3

Theme: Salvation is by grace, not works.

2. Because Christ freed us from the law (3-4)
      A. The Galatians were justified by faith alone (3:1-5)
      B. Abraham was justified by faith alone (3:6-9)
      C. The Law cannot justify (3:10-18)
      D. The Law points to Christ (3:19-29)

Having shown his gospel came from God not men (1-2), chapters three and four now prove men are justified by faith in Christ alone, rather than faith plus keeping the Law.

The Galatians were justified by faith alone (1-5). As on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), and in the household of Cornelius (cf. Acts 10:34-48), the Galatians received the Spirit of God by faith in the gospel (cf. Romans 10:17). Having begun in the Spirit, they should have known they could not, now, perfect themselves by the flesh (3).

Abraham was justified by faith alone (3:6-9). In Genesis 12:3, and chapter 15, God promised Abraham a "seed" which would become a blessing to him and the whole world. Genesis 15:6 says, "Then he [Abraham] believed in the Lord; and He [the LORD] reckoned it to him [Abraham] as righteousness."
 
Since Abraham was justified by faith in this promise well before the Law ever came, and the promise was extended to "all nations" (cf. Genesis 12:3), all men are justified by faith in God's promise of blessing through Abraham's "seed" (Christ), rather than the Law.

The Law cannot justify (10-18). First, it is impossible for men to keep the law (10-12). Romans seven gives a good illustration of the purpose of the law, and its effect on people (Read Romans 7:7-25). When a person tries to keep one of God's commandments, the commandment activates his sin nature, which then opposes God's will (cf. Romans 8:6-8) by disobeying the command. When a person sees he has disobeyed a direct command of God, he realizes he has sinned, and deserves the curse of the Law (Deut. 27:26; cf. James 2:20).

Thus, the purpose of the law is to reveal our sin and inability to meet God's standards, and point us to Christ. By hanging on the cross, Christ bore the curse of the Law which all men deserve (Galatians 3:13-14). This work opens the door of blessing to Gentiles, to receive the promise of the Spirit (given to Abraham) through faith.

Next, the Law cannot annul God's promise (15-18). Even in human covenants, once it is ratified, it cannot be annulled. God ratified the covenant of promise with Abraham in Genesis 15:7-21. Also, Christ is the "seed" who was the heir of Abraham's promise (16). For 430 years before the Law came, men were being justified by faith in Christ (Genesis 46:1-4; cf. Exodus 12:40). Since God ratified the covenant with Abraham, since men were justified by faith for 430 years prior to the Law, and since Christ succeeded the law as the heir of Abraham's promise, the Law cannot annul God's promise.

Third, the Law points to Christ (19-29). As shown above, the purpose of the law was to convict men of their sin and inability to meet God's standards (cf. Romans 7:7 - 8:11). Since anyone who failed to keep the Law at any of its points was guilty of breaking the whole Law (Deut. 27:26; cf. James 2:20), and since no one is capable of keeping it, the Law shuts all men up in their sins, so they will see their need for justification by faith in Christ (cf. Romans 7:24-25). Now that Christ has born the curse of the Law which we deserve, by hanging on a tree (Galatians 3:14-15), all men can be justified by faith in Christ. Trusting Christ as savior makes us all one in our standing in Christ, before God. The Law cannot justify, and points to Christ.

Having shown his gospel came from God not men (1-2), chapters three and four now prove men are justified by faith in Christ alone, rather than faith plus keeping the Law.
 

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The Gospel


Have you heard Christ died for our sins, and God raised Him from the dead? Did you know God saves you from hell and gives you eternal life through faith in this finished work alone, not your merits (Jn. 3:16; 1 Cor. 15:1-3; Eph. 2:8-10; 2 Thess. 1:8-9)? This is so man cannot boast, and God alone gets the glory (Eph. 2:8-9).

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