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"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources
« Apologetics in a Post Christian Age (Audio) -- The Witness of the Holy Spirit (Part Six) | Main | This Week at Christ Reformed Church (December 10-16) »

"Baptized into Christ" -- Galatians 3:26-4:7

The Sixth in Series of Sermons on Galatians

Paul’s gospel is the public placarding of Christ crucified (Galatians 3:1)–the proclamation of the death of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins, and the affirmation of our Lord’s perfect obedience in fulfilling the demands of the law of Moses.  Justification (our right standing before God) and the gift of the Holy Spirit, the promise which God made to Abraham, both come to God’s people (Jew and Gentile) though faith alone (“hearing with faith”).  They cannot be earned by works of law.  Defending this gospel in the face a serious challenge is the reason why Paul sends this letter to the Galatians.

Paul was instrumental in the founding of a number of churches in the Galatian region, and now, soon after he had left the area, a group of false teachers known as the Judaizers began to infiltrate these churches.  Paul says these false teachers were “spying” on those Gentiles exercising their freedom in Christ, trying to prove that Paul’s gospel leads to licence (the abuse of grace).  The Judaizers were Jews who had come to believe that Jesus was Israel’s Messiah, but they also insisted that Gentile converts to Christianity must submit to ritual circumcision, keep certain aspects of the dietary laws, and obey the law of Moses in order to be justified.  These conditions were added to faith in Jesus.

The epistle to the Galatians is the Apostle Paul’s response to this very difficult situation.  Paul expresses his astonishment and his anger at the seeming ease and speed at which the Judaizers were able to throw the Galatians into confusion by introducing their false gospel which is, as Paul says, no gospel at all.  Paul’s response to the Judaizers begins with a stern warning to the Galatians–if anyone comes and preaches a gospel different from the gospel that he had previously preached to them, the one preaching such a thing was to be considered anathema (accursed).  

Paul defends his apostolic office on the ground that the gospel he has been preaching to all the churches was revealed to him by none other than Jesus Christ.  Since this gospel reveals we are justified by the merits of Christ, and not through any merit or works of our own, Paul points out that justification must come through faith in Christ, and not through our works.  Paul explains that the promise God made to Abraham in Genesis 12, 15, 18, is fulfilled in Jesus Christ (the promised seed–3:16).  This promise was given and ratified before God made a subsequent covenant with Israel through Moses at Mount Sinai.  Paul reminds his hearers that one purpose of the law is to expose our sin, so that we flee to Jesus Christ for forgiveness.  In fact both covenants (Abraham and Moses) point to Jesus Christ and his saving work.  

With this in mind, we pick up where we left off previously (vv. 15-25).  The Apostle moves on from discussing the fact that the promise God made to Abraham is not nullified by the law later given to Moses, to a discussion of baptism in Galatians 3:26-3:29.  Paul is speaking of all true children of Abraham (Jew and Gentile) when he states in verse 26, “for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith,” re-stating the point he in verse 25, which we considered, last time–“but now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian [the law].”  

By speaking of both ethnic groups (Jew and Gentile) as “sons” of God, Paul is making an important point in his argument against the Judaizers, namely, that sons, even adopted sons, are legally entitled to receive an inheritance from their father.  In this case, both Jew and Gentile are sons of God through faith in Christ, and therefore both heirs to the promise since both are the legitimate children of Abraham.  It is Jesus Christ who unites Jew and Gentile into one body through faith alone.  But it is the Judaizers who instead seek to divide Jew from Gentile.  This explains, in part, why the so-called “gospel” of the Judaizers, divides along ethnic lines those whom God has joined together in one body (the church).


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