I was so pleased to have so many of you log on to read Galatians with me. The Bible comes alive to us no matter how many times we might reread a passage like this. The “living” part is because of the connection between the Holy Spirit and our minds and hearts. That is why we should pray before we read, asking for guidance and understanding.
Paul talks a lot about himself in these first two chapters. (There are a lot of interesting details with which we could get diverted. Let’s stick to his main point.) He is using his personal experiences as a way to explain his premise that salvation is through faith alone not by adding faith to the cultural traditions of the Jews.
“I kept my people’s traditions better than most. I never ate pork or shrimp; I was circumcized to mark me as a Jew; I even tried to stamp out those who were following Jesus as the Christ,” he said. “Jesus himself appeared to me and revealed the truth that he was the Messiah I knew had been promised. And I was humbled before him and believed him. I came to you non-Jews with the good news that you could also be saved through your repentance and faith, and you believed me. Now are you going to turn away from this and impose regulations like giving up your shellfish and pork in order to be considered God’s people?”
In Galatians 2:9-10, Paul tells them that James, the brother of Jesus, Peter, and John, all had given their approval that salvation was not for the Jews only, but to all who had faith. Then, he tells how he defended this doctrine by pointing out to Peter that his refusal to eat with the Syrian Christians seemed to teach that faith wasn’t enough. If you wanted to really be right with God, you had to add Jewish customs to your faith. And, if you did eat pork or shrimp or crab, then you were excluded from being a child of God.
“Why would it be necessary for Jesus to die if our keeping Jewish traditions could satisfy God’s justice in condemning us for our sins? Everything he did is for nothing if we turn away from the good news that our being made right with God is through our faith in what Jesus, the Son of God, has done for us.”
APPLICATION: Are you counting on anything else besides your faith in Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection to make you clean and to enjoy God’s forgiveness? I have had people imply that eating certain “health” foods or sending their children to Christian schools made them “better.” In other words, they had a secret to pleasing God. Today, it could be about organic foods and home-schooling or love of America. These are cultural norms. They may be good things, but should never be added to faith inthe Lord Jesus Christ. Don’t turn aside from the gospel. After all, who will train your children or grandchildren in the faith if you turn away to a different gospel which is not really good news at all?