SO VERY ANGRY.
After Paul went around preaching salvation by grace and through faith in Christ alone, some religious teachers began following behind him to ‘correct’ his incomplete message about God’s grace.
Our english translations temper the tone of his letter to Galatia a little. For example, our versions read something like, “Oh foolish Galatians” which is far too soft. “You idiots” is closer to the tone in the original manuscripts. Our versions say, “Let him be accursed” when “they can go to hell” is closer to the level of intensity Paul was going for.
Yes, I am a Greek novice and yes, when I read it during my sermon preparation I sound like a small child straining to get through a page of Clifford the Big Red Dog. That being said, I can grasp Paul’s tone in Galatians. He’s so very angry.
Christ took all of our sin or none of it.
He kept the law or we have to keep it.
He took all of the curse or none of it.
He took all the wrath we deserve or none of it.
Our sin is gone – past, present, future – or it isn’t.
Christ is everything or nothing.
Those are the options.
The doctrine of justification by faith that Paul lays out in Galatians reveals that we can’t add to Christ without erasing Him.
The reformers used to say that ‘faith alone saves, but saving faith is never alone” , meaning that the result of saving faith was always love and good works, and that is true. What Paul does in Galatians is takes a scalpel and separates the basis of our justification in Chapters 1-4 from what follows our justification in Chapters 5-6.
Somehow the message of ‘behold your salvation!‘ changed to ‘behave to secure your salvation!‘. Instead of Christ being the main actor in their faith – they had become the main actor. Paul didn’t call that a sub-par gospel message, he called it an anti-gospel message.
There is no other gospel.
Paul had a lot to say to the Galatians about what the power of God’s grace would do in them, but only after he invested the bulk of the letter to reorient their burdened hearts to revel in the gravity of what God’s grace was for them.
Enjoying and glorifying God is precisely what hearts gripped by grace want to do.
It changes the way that we live our lives on campus, at the office, in our marriages and parenting our children. It changes the way we relate in our friendships and in romances. It changes how we face our depression, anxiety, how we go through challenges, trials and seasons of intense suffering.
The chief aim of preaching is not to get more Christian activity from the church any more than the chief aim of parenting is to get your kids to do more work around the house. The chief aim of both preaching and parenting is to serve those we love to grow into maturity.
If spiritual maturity was lots of religious activity and commitments, Jesus would have praised the Pharisees. Spiritual maturity is learning to love what God loves and then living our lives from our recalibrated hearts.
The gospel is not simply the message that serves as the entrance into Christian faith – it is the power by which we live it out. God’s grace is not something that fades into the background after He has saved us. That same grace teaches and sustains us.
It is the grace of God that compels our hearts to desire the law of God.
For the next 13 weeks at KW Redeemer, we’re going work our way through Galatians because implications of this letter are and vast.
May God reorient our hearts to to His grace where we find rest and renewal, loving what He loves and as a result, live life from true freedom.
The gospel changes everything.