March 15 Reflection, Galatians 4:1-7

Galatians 4:1-7 KJV (NIV Link Below)

1Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;

2But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.

3Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:

4But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,

5To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

6And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

7Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

NIV Link to Text

An Adopted Son

If the law had remained in place, then those under God’s covenant, his children, would not have the freedom that comes from growing into adulthood. The law acted as a guardian until the “proper time.” While the guardian is in place, from an outsider’s perspective there might be little difference between a servant and a son of God. The son still has to listen to the guardian or trustee, and may even have chores or other tasks to perform. The role of the guardian in the first century Roman Empire was to train and instruct the soon to be heirs. It was a system grounded in the ethics of Greek philosophy. A good ruler, even over a single estate, had to be trained properly. If a child was not properly trained, including understanding how the servants lived and worked, then he would not be able to manage the estate well once he took on his inheritance. He might be abusive or uncaring or not altogether frugal and waste the inheritance. Instead, the son needed training in various tasks even if he was never to perform them as the adult heir. While outwardly the heir appeared no different from a servant, the inward reality was radically different. And, at the appointed time when training ended, the son took his rightful role as the heir and ruler of the estate.

At the proper time, God, to show his “first-born son” Israel what its true identity was, sent his actual begotten* son, Jesus, to them. And Jesus became born of the flesh under the law, like all other Israelites, that he might redeem them out of the law.

Paul has used a few different metaphors for salvation so far, and it may be useful to specifically identify some of those. He has talked about salvation as rescue. We’ve discussed salvation as the transition from childhood to adulthood. Paul refers to salvation as the move from bondage to freedom, and from division and isolation to unity and community. Now he talks about salvation as the move from servitude to adoption.

The inclusion of the gentiles in redemption is so radical that the metaphor of an heir growing into his adulthood must be broadened. It wasn’t just the right time for Israel to grow up, Jesus also broadened those who could be called son, and we became adopted sons of God. This isn’t just a legal status, either, because by this adoption we have a Spirit within in us that cries to God as son of birth does: Abba, Father. God changes your status: from slave to son, but he also changes your very being. It is a transformation that goes to your very core. You are now more than fallen human flesh because God’s spirit is within you by the transforming power of adoption. God is transforming your very character and personhood into a true son.

Add your thoughts below. Here are some reflection questions to help you get started: What does it mean to you that you can now call God “Father” in a very real and informal sense? Do you sometimes struggle to understand how we can be God’s son (and Christ’s brother), especially since we don’t always act like it? What does it mean to you to know that Christ, who was above the law and made the law, made himself subject under the law to redeem us from it? How would you contrast the life of a servant with that of the heir to a rich estate? How would you compare this to your life before and after Christ?

*Sorry for the somewhat arcane use of the word “begotten.” I was attempting to distinguish it from “first-born,” which in the Hebrew of Exodus refers to a legal, social, and relational standing and actually says nothing about the act of birth. Jesus is the only one who is “born” in the sense of being God’s offspring (John 3:16). Without getting into a lengthy discussion of the Trinity, let me just leave it by saying that Jesus has been described throughout Church history as being “eternally begotten of the Father.” That is a difficult thing to get our minds around, but it is an important distinction because everyone else is the adopted son of God. For a good infographic on the Trinity you can click here for a WordPress blog featuring one that is taken from Tim Challies blog.

**Ladies you’re sons too. (In the idiom of my former professor Gerald Bray “If I can be a bride of Christ, you can be a son of God”)


March 14 Reflection, Galatians 3:26-29

Galatians 3:26-29 KJV (NIV Link below)

26For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

27For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

29And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

NIV Link to text

From Rags to Riches

Even after becoming adults, we are nevertheless children in a different sense. Though I am an adult, I am still the child of my mother and father. Likewise I am being made the adult child of God. The former by birth, the latter through faith. All of us who have been immersed in Christ have put on the clothes of Christ. In Isaiah, the prophet states that his righteousness is as “filthy rags” before God. Praise God! We don’t wear the rags of our righteousness, but put on the righteousness that is Christ. So we become the righteousness of God.

Here we also have what is probably the most quoted verse from Galatians. All of our distinctions have been removed. Because of what Christ has done there is no longer distinction between the Jew and the Gentile, but the dissolution of our division doesn’t end there. God doesn’t just transform our spiritual being, but he begins to transform our society as well. No longer is anyone distinguished as slave or free, or as male or female. The early church was overwhelmingly composed of women and slaves. In the Roman Empire the two groups that had the least rights were women and slaves. Paul is declaring, without equivocation, that God transforms their social standing. They are truly free and truly equal. Society no longer defines who they are. God does. In the Kingdom of God, neither wealth, nor heritage, nor popularity, nor gender, nor any label that anyone puts on you matters. We are all equal because we were all sinners and are now covered in the same blood of Christ. This is the community of the Church and it is God’s transforming power upon our world. Because we are in Christ we are now heirs to this Kingdom that is coming and is already here. We are no longer distinct, at least according to social standards, because God has made us equal by making us his heirs.

What do you think? Join the conversation and post your reflection on the passage or these questions: What does it mean practically in your day to day life that God has removed all social distinction? Do you sometimes fall victim to the “cult of celebrity”? What does it mean to you to be considered an heir of God’s promise?

March 13 Reflection, Galatians 3:21-25

Galatians 3:21-25 KJV (NIV link below)

21Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.

22But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

23But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.

24Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

25But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

Link to NIV

Time to Grow Up

Yesterday I began talking about the positive relationship the law and gospel have. The two are not opposed. That said, the law does not give us life. The best it can do is restrain us. The promise to Abraham of righteousness by faith could only be fulfilled by Jesus. In Jesus we can be made righteous through faith. The law was a guardian, or a schoolmaster. But once the promise had been fulfilled, continues Paul, it’s time to grow up.

That’s partly what’s going on here. We are justified by this faith. But that justification, as fantastic as it is, comes with some responsibility. Once you are under faith you are no longer under the law and the law was your guardian/schoolmaster (vv. 24-25). The justification of Jesus that comes by faith changes you from a child into an adult. Think about what that means.

Once you are an adult, you have an incredible measure of freedom. It’s a wonderful thing. However, with that freedom comes responsibility. The same holds true spiritually. While the law limited our freedom, it made our spiritual life an easy one. All the decisions were clear cut and handed to us. The thing is, though, that once you become an adult, you can’t go back to being a child. You can’t stay in Neverland.

In J.M. Barrie’s play and novel about Peter Pan, the audience or reader is taken in by the magical wonder of being a child. Childhood really is a wonderful thing, and even as adults we can get lost in the drama and adventures made somehow alive through the eyes of a child. But there is an element of subtle tragedy that is often missed. Barrie’s work opens with the line “All children, except one, grow up.” It is a good thing to grow up and become an adult, even if we lose some bits of childhood that we wished we hadn’t. The lost boys return (with Wendy and the Darling children) back to London. Peter alone remains in Neverland and, as illustrated in the “Afterthought” added a few years later by Barrie, Peter finds it incredibly difficult to cope with the real world; unable to see the goodness of it, he ends up all but alone in Neverland. Peter Pan is not a hero, but a tragic figure. We all need to grow up. Growing up brings with it both freedom and responsibility.

Jesus tells us we have to take up a cross and follow him. Part of the responsibility of being an adult is that you are no longer allowed to be accountable only to yourself. In my adult life I’ve found I’m accountable not only to my wife and my children, but also to others within society. We have a natural revulsion when we witness the immaturity of people acting without concern for others. In our Christian walk, there is a responsibility to God and Christ, who is our spouse in a manner of speaking, and to our fellow Christians, the Church, to bear each others’ burdens. Becoming a disciple of Christ means taking on freedom and with it responsibility. It means it’s time to grow up.

Add your thoughts and finish the post: What does it mean to be an adult spiritually? In what ways is living as a disciple of Jesus more difficult (read: entailing more responsibility) than not? In what ways is it more rewarding?

March 12 Reflection, Galatians 3:15-20

Galatians 3:15-20 KJV (NIV Link Below)

15Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto.

16Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.

17And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.

18For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.

19Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.

20Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.

Link to NIV

God the Promise Keeper

Paul wants to make things tangible to the Galatians. He knows they aren’t theologians and, if historical research is any indication, a large number of them (if not the majority) were illiterate. As such, they probably had some vague idea about what Paul was talking about, but they couldn’t thumb through their bibles to look up all these references to the Jewish Torah. The promise given to Abraham, though, that was something they would have all known. So Paul uses an analogy, one that works pretty well even now. Consider a contract. A contract is a binding legal agreement between two parties. One party in the contract cannot violate the terms of that contract and still be within the bounds of the law. Paul says that the promise God gave to Abraham, to bless the nations through “his seed” was a binding contract. God loved us so much that, even though he had no real benefit to it, he drew up these terms to the contract. And God fulfilled his obligation. Through the seed of Abraham, which Paul rightly identifies as Jesus Christ, God would bless all nations.

If that’s the case, then what was the point of the Jewish law? The law was given between the promise and fulfillment, but just like a legal contract, it didn’t negate those initial terms given to Abraham. Instead, argues Paul, the law was given not in the place of God’s grace, but because of God’s grace. Even though God would not fulfill that promise to Abraham by coming as a man for some 2,000 years, he was not going to abandon the children of Abraham in the mean time. They needed to be saved from their own destructive ways. The law gave guidance and restraint until the promise could be fulfilled in Jesus, and it was given by a mediator (which Paul subtly suggests is pointing to Jesus Christ and understanding God as Trinity). This all leads to a powerfully motivating question: so what?

While this may seem like an interesting tidbit of information that appears to have little impact on our day to day lives, Paul is trying to help the Galatians understand the proper relationship between the law and gospel. On a basic level it is this: the law does not supplant the promise of the God of salvation. God’s redemption, his rescue plan, is founded upon a promise given out of grace and love and is received, ultimately, through faith alone. Further, the law is not worthless, but is part of God’s intervention into the midst of human history to offer his grace: first by the law and then by the fulfillment of his promise, when he personally became a person. Before I get too carried away, Paul has much more to say on this subject that I’ll talk over the next several posts.

What about you? Add your thoughts below. If you need help getting started consider this: People are sometimes able to get out of contracts through clever legal maneuvering, but Paul makes a very subtle description here. If human contracts are so difficult (and sometimes impossible) to get out of, how much more so would this be true of a divine contract? What does it mean to know that God has freely decided to bind himself to this contract of rescue by faith? Sometimes I tend to get impatient or frustrated at how long I have to wait for things to happen. I often feel like I’m in a holding pattern, just waiting for the real action to get started. Yet God waited 430 years after Abraham to give the law, and that wasn’t even the fulfilled promise, which would come another 1500 years later. Do you ever feel impatient waiting on the next thing to happen? Yet those 1500 years didn’t mean that God was inactive. The majority of the Old Testament was written in that interim and God was clearly active and involved in amazing ways. Do you think that, even though you may be waiting, God is nevertheless active in amazing ways in your life? Have you sometimes failed to notice this until it’s been right in front of you? Do you take comfort knowing that God is going to finish the work he started in you?

March 9 Reflection Galatians 3:7-14

Galatians 3:7-14 (KJV)

 7Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.

8And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.

9So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.

10For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

11But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.

12And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.

13Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

14That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Link to NIV text

Father Abraham Had Many Sons

Surely I’m not alone in this, but I remember growing up and going to Sunday School in elementary school. During that time, one of the songs that we song was “Father Abraham had Many Sons.” It was one of those where you gradually make different body parts move (first arms, then legs, then head) until you are flailing around and the song ends. As a refresher (especially if you don’t have young kids yet) here are the lyrics:

“Father Abraham, had many sons,

and many sons had Father Abraham

I am one of them, and so are you

So let’s just praise the Lord [begin reciting body parts that will be moved]”

It’s a memorable song; made even more memorable by the time I spent playing “Exodus” on the NES (by non-Nintendo approved company Wisdom Tree) that had the tune as the background. But as I thought about it, I guess I just kind of assumed that I was a blood descendant of Abraham. I mean he had a lot of sons. In my first and second grade mind I somehow got him mixed up with Noah or something. But that’s not what the song’s about. It’s also not what Paul is talking about when he says that we are children of Abraham.

If you remember, yesterday’s passage ended with Paul declaring that it was Abraham’s faith that counted as righteousness. It is in that sense that we are children of Abraham. This, says Paul, is partly what God meant we he declared that “all nations” will be blessed through him. However, this doesn’t find fulfillment until Jesus of Nazareth, who was a blood descendant of Abraham. Jesus widened the scope of the covenant so that it was no longer ethnic. Although the covenant has always been one of Grace, as it existed under the law, it was based upon your first birth. Christ made possible a second birth; one brought about by faith. Although we were an enemy of God, rightly deserving God’s curse, Christ bore the curse in our place allowing us to follow him by faith and so be born again, this time as a son (or daughter) of Abraham.

What do you think? Add your thoughts to the comments and join the conversation. Here are some reflection questions to help you get started: What does it mean to you that Christ was cursed for you? If you are living by faith, then the bible says that makes you righteous. You stop being a sinner and are being made into a saint. Does it change your opinion of yourself, and how you act, to think of yourself as a saint? Promise is future oriented word. What do you think Paul means by the “promise” of the Spirit?

March 8, 2012 Reflection – Galatians 3:1-6

Galatians 3:1-6 KJV (NIV Link below)

1O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

2This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

3Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

4Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.

5He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

6Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.

(Link to NIV Text)

The Spirit’s Work versus Ours

For someone who has experienced the transformative power of Jesus’ salvation, what Paul has been talking about seems basic. The only conclusion Paul can draw from the behavior of the Galatians (who have been trying to perform the works of the Jewish Torah in order to “gain” salvation) is that they have been bewitched. Yes, Paul is using a bit of rhetoric at this point, but the emphatic sense of outrage mixed with bewilderment stands. This is especially true for the Galatians, who were within a generation of the life and death of Jesus Christ. God had come in the flesh and died in the living memory of the church. Paul, recognizing that this has apparently been unconvincing, therefore asks the Galatians about the Spirit, the person of the Trinity whom every Christian is intimately acquainted. Did this Spirit come because they had circumcised themselves, or held to a food law, or observed the Jewish holy days? This highlights an interesting contrast in the covenant before Christ and after Christ.

In the Old Testament, the Spirit of God was indeed active and even came upon people with power. However, every time this occurred, at least from the information we have, the Spirit only rested upon a single individual. The Spirit came upon a lone deliverer in Judges. In Samuel it rested first upon Saul, but once David was anointed, the Spirit departed from Saul and was with David. At Pentecost, however, all that changed. The Spirit came upon them, like the sound of a mighty rushing wind and as a tongue of fire. This would be readily understood as the Spirit of YHWH. Then, something curious happens: the Spirit doesn’t come upon one of them, but upon all of them. Not only did the death of Jesus Christ blow wide open the door of grace, making it available to all, but he blew open the presence of the Spirit. Anyone who accepts this new covenant receives the Spirit. Not for a time, or a brief period, but forever. The Spirit of God indwells the believer. It is by the Spirit’s presence in our hearts that we say that Jesus resides there as well. With such a marked distinction between the covenant under law and the covenant under Christ, how could the Galatians think they needed to return to the law?

In God’s covenant under Christ, he begins to transform people by the Spirit. It’s nothing we can do. This wave of transforming forgiveness is something that every believer has begun to experience. Yet, we live in a tension between the beginning of the Spirit’s work and its conclusion. Why, though, would God begin a transformation by the Spirit, out of Grace, only to require its completion by works? The fundamental question Paul asks is: how wide, strong and far is the scope of God’s grace? Is it only to get things started, or is it to finish it? Which sounds more like God? In the way of example, Paul reminds us of Abraham: his faith is what counted as righteousness, not his works. God is transforming you, but works of righteousness are the result, not the cause of this transformative effect.

What do you think? Join the conversation. Here are some reflections questions to consider: Do you remember the transformative effect of the Spirit upon your life when you first became a Christian? Are you sometimes tempted to think your transformation is dependent on your actions? Do you find it liberating to be reminded that God loves you and is powerful enough to complete what he began in you? What do you think about the suffering that Paul mentions the Galatians had gone through because of their faith? How does that relate (positively or negatively) to understanding the relationship between faith and works?

March 7 Devotional- Galatians 2:19-21

Galatians 2:19-21 KJV (NIV Link below)

19For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.

20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

21I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

Link to NIV text

Death for new Life

This section probably contains the second most quoted verse in Galatians. Paul is speaking about death and life in the here and now. While we have been talking about the Grace that was surprisingly present in the law (the Jewish Torah), there is nevertheless an inescapable conclusion to a life lived by the law. Ultimately, the law cannot grant life. The law leads to death. No matter how good you are, no matter how rigidly you try to keep to it, you will never be able to fulfill it perfectly. This was recognized even at the giving of the law: God instituted a means of atonement. Sacrifices offered on Passover cleansed the sins of the nation. An animal temporally took on the identity of the individual who had sinned, and then the animal was killed. The sinner died through the law vicariously by an animal. However, and this is important, we no longer require the intermediary of the law. We die by the law, but–Hallelujah!–death is not the end!

Because Christ was a sacrifice like none other, death need not be permanent. Unlike the previous animal sacrifices, which are slaughtered once never to live again, Jesus was resurrected from the dead. Paul asks us to look at that in the context of Jesus’ radical claim that he came to fulfill the law (and not upend it). If he is our Passover sacrifice, then our lot, our identity, is found with him at his death: “I am crucified with Christ.” If we keep our identity with Christ, and we die with him, we are also raised with him. His resurrection necessarily entails the resurrection of those who cast their lot, who throw their identity, upon him.

Paul reminds us elsewhere that this means an actual resurrection of ourselves after death, something that Jesus himself declares. Our own resurrection some day in the future, though, does not negate the effect Jesus’ resurrection has on us right now. We are already dead according to the law, but Jesus came to give us life abundant. We no longer live, but Christ lives in us. And Christ lives in us so that we, in him, might live for God. Therefore any life we have is ours by faith in Christ. We are only alive so long as we are alive in Christ. Those who are not alive in Christ are walking dead.

This is so, declares Paul, because righteousness could not be gained through the law. That was the fundamental mistake of the Judaizers. They had forgotten that the righteousness from the prior covenant was not one that they had gained. It had been given by grace. And since God widened the perspective of his grace by coming in person, eliminating the intermediary, the law was no longer the means of righteousness. If it were, then Christ came for no reason. If righteousness could be earned, then grace is unnecessary. Paul urges us not to set aside grace, but to die to ourselves and let Christ live through us.

What do you think? Leave your thoughts, comments and questions below. If you need help getting started, here are some reflection questions: What do you think it means that you no longer live, but Christ lives in you? Have you found it difficult to do this through your own effort? Death is not something that you do, but something that is done to you. It’s beyond your control. Do you find it hard to release control to God, especially when you know it leads to death? Paul counterbalances our loss of identity (“I no longer live, but Christ lives in me”) with God’s particular and specific love for us (“who loved me and gave himself for me”). Does knowing that your identity is found in God make it easier to release your identity? How does this impact your perspective of Christ’s death and resurrection?

March 6 Lenten Reflection- Galatians 2:15-18

Galatians 2:15-18 KJV (NIV link below)

15We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,

16Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

17But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.

18For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.

Link to NIV text

Shifting Focus of Grace

Paul’s main point for chapter two can be found here. The question with which Galatians is primarily concerned is the relationship between Jews and Gentiles in the early Church. There’s a bit of subtlety here and if we read to quickly we’ll miss it. Paul declares that, formerly, he was a Jew “by birth.” The covenant established with Israel at the time of Moses was not a covenant of righteousness achieved by works. It was a covenant by grace. He was a Jew “by birth” and not by any act he had performed. This was not earned; he did not deserve a favored status. Nevertheless, there were some in the Galatian church (and elsewhere) who were trying to take this covenant of Grace and add works to it. This group correctly understood that the covenant had changed in its scope because of Christ; grace had expanded and the gentiles could now be included. And so, this group, whom are sometimes called “Judaizers,” sought to understand the old revelation of the covenant in light of this new revelation found in Jesus by maintaining the same relationship they had previously had with the gentiles. According to the covenant, those within the covenant are considered righteous; those outside are sinners. In order to avoid being counted as a sinner, the Judaizers argued that one must keep to the old signs of the covenant, particularly circumcision. This was an outward expression that marked people as part of a special covenant relationship with God. The mistake was, however, that they confused the outward sign with the inward reality. As Moses declared in Deuteronomy: it is a circumcision of the heart that matters, the inward commitment. The justification of the righteous, or circumcision of the heart, is found not by any work of the law, but is now in Christ alone.

This is Grace: we needed to be made just and righteous. Since no human on earth is righteous, we needed God to meet us and transform us in our sin toward righteousness. Previously, Israel had been able to meet God in the law (see my Valentine’s post for more on this). Now, in Christ, God came and met us in a single person, Jesus who is the Christ. It is no longer by the law that God is near, but by his incarnation in Jesus. The intermediary has been removed and we have a direct connection with God.

Paul then relays the objection the Judaizers had. If we no longer meet God in the law, and if our justification is apart from the law, then does that mean that sin doesn’t matter, that Jesus encourages sinful behavior? No! exclaims Paul. Sin is incredibly devastating. It required Christ to die in our place. That’s how damaging sin is. To ignore that sacrifice, though, and put hope only in the law is to set God himself aside. That is why we don’t go back to the law, but to Christ alone.

What do you think? Add your thoughts or ask questions. If you need help getting started, here are some things to think about: Do you sometimes feel like you need to do something to make yourself more acceptable to God? Does knowing that Christ is completely sufficient for our freedom take some of the stress off of you? What does understanding the severity of sin, along with the all surpassing grace of God in Christ mean to you?

March 5 Lenten Series – Galatians 2:11-14

Galatians 2:11-14 KJV (NIV link below)

11But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.

12For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.

13And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.

14But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?

Link to NIV text

Nobody’s Perfect

Simply put, Peter goofed. He started out really well, accepting the Gentiles, but when peer pressure came into play he lost his way. It’s interesting that Paul, who had been mentored by Peter, now has to confront him for his mistake. I know that I have sometimes been silent, or failed to express the radical truth of the Gospel because of peer pressure. I didn’t want to make waves or upset anyone or make someone uncomfortable, so I caved to the pressure and opinion of others. Paul calls Peter out on it. When I was hiding, I needed someone to call me on it. The Gospel is too important, too radical, and too transformative for that. If that’s you right now, I’m calling you out on it. God’s grace is for everyone, and it’s free and radical and transformative. Don’t hold back. Let the love of God flow into you and out of you. Be a mirror to reflect God’s glory and let others know the power of God’s forgiving love.

Join the conversation and share your thoughts, opinions, or questions you have. Here are some things to reflect on: Even Barnabas, who had been with him since the start of this “gentile controversy,” left Paul. Have you ever felt abandoned by a friend? Have you ever failed to support a friend? Do you find it hard to “swim against the stream” of the world?

New Article at Soul Fusion

Functional Nihilism and Awkward Questions.

Note the Lenten Reflections series (on Galatians) is a weekday series, the next post in that series will be Monday. This is more of an FYI post.

For those of you unaware, I also write for an online e-magazine in a monthly column of the same name (Why Theology). This month’s article is about the relationship between the Church and capitalism or the corresponding Occupy movement, particularly in light of Lent. Check it out if you want to here: Working Between the Cathedral and the Catwalk.