Salvation is found in the cross of Jesus not the law of Moses | Faith
by The Press and Standard | December 16, 2018 5:00 am
Last Updated: December 12, 2018 at 8:23 am
As we open the Word of God, I pray we humble ourselves before the Creator and ask that His Holy Spirit guide and teach us in this study. Let us begin where we left off, Galatians: chapter 3.
The theme of the entire book of Galatians (as we have discussed in our previous studies) is that a person is not justified by the law in any capacity. Truly, only by the grace of God though faith in His Son, Jesus, may a sinner be reconciled to God. And thus, this chapter follows in that same theme; however, let us pay careful attention to the shift in focus Paul applies in this chapter: that believing Gentiles (those not of Jewish descent) are, like the Jews, credited righteousness by faith in Christ and adopted into the family of God. Without careful contextual consideration of this third chapter, people have misinterpreted and misapplied the Word of God (specifically verse 28) to rationalize scores of unbiblical matters.
Nevertheless, starting in this third chapter, Paul breaks from his historical aside (in which he rebukes the apostle Peter for compromising the gospel message in the face of imminent opposition from the Judaizers) and turns his attention, again, to his Galatian readers. Gentiles by their birth, Paul reminds the Galatians that — through their faith in Jesus — they are also considered heirs of the salvation promised to the Jews: specifically, Abraham. Through this wonderful gift from God for all those who will call on His Son’s name in faith to be saved, the Galatians (and we as well) are saved the same way that all people of God have been saved since the beginning — through trusting in the Savior, not obedience to the law (Romans 9:30-33). Paul illustrates this truth by examining the scriptures concerning Abraham, the man in whom God ratified a covenant to bless the nations of the world through his seed (Genesis 17 & 22:18). And, that seed was our Lord, Christ Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). Indeed, the true salvation of God is given apart from works of the law, for even Abraham himself was saved by faith a part from the law, which was yet to be handed down to Moses, some 430 years later (Galatians 3:6 &17).
What we must understand as Christians, under the grace of Christ, is that the law was a God-ordained means to bring sin into the light, that we may understand it as evil until Christ’s coming (Galatians 3:19). Paul informs the Galatians of this in an eye-opening statement, “For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on the law” (Galatians 3:21). The law was not designed as a tool of salvation, that we may wield to achieve righteousness. On the contrary, the law was intended for our humility, to humble ourselves before God. For if we truly understand the law’s demands, we can only bend our knees toward the throne of God under such a heavy burden. We could never fulfill such a demand.
Nevertheless, God expects perfection, a state of being we are unable to achieve in this body of sin (Matthew 5:20). Paul expounds on this unachievable height concerning the law, declaring, “For as many as are of the works of the law are under a curse…” (Galatians 3:10). Cursed is all who fall under the demands of the law, for all will fall to its demands.
But Paul is not preaching the law, he is preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, who became on the Cross of Cavalry the curse of the law for us, so that we may live in freedom in Jesus, our Lord. Jesus’ atoning sacrifice satisfied the Law of God, for all those who would believe in His saving name. The righteousness that He perpetrated in this world, being perfect in every way, is now credited to every believer as righteousness. So that on one joyous day, when we stand before the judgment throne of God, we may stand there with blessed confidence, for Jesus died that we may live through His righteousness, not our own. The law then is our holy tutor that leads us to the cross and to the Savior Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:23).
The remainder of the chapter contains beautiful scripture centered on God’s unfathomable love and our adoption into His family as heirs and co-heirs through Jesus’ sacrifice, no matter our earthly distinction. “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor freeman, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:26-29).
What a wonderful God we have in heaven who is generous and long-suffering to save all who call on His Son as Savior, regardless of their earthly distinction (Galatians 3:28).
(Jeremy Breland of Ruffin is a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)