Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Crucified with Christ

Part 6 of a series through Galatians

Text: Galatians 2:17-21

WHAT IS FAITH?

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul emphasizes that justification is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

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  • Faith is not irrational confidence. Example: "I believe the Edmonton Oilers can win the Stanley Cup this year. It doesn’t matter that they’re in last place. I have faith!”
  • Faith is more than intellectual belief. “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder” (James 2:19). Paul: “King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.” (Acts 26:27). Agrippa: “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” (v. 28).
  • Faith is personal trust. You may believe that a bobsleigh driver can get to the bottom of the course without crashing (150 km/h). But do you have personal trust? Would you get in the bobsleigh?

DOES GRACE PROMOTE SIN?

"If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not!" (v. 17).

Does grace promote sin? And do we need to add works to faith in order to be justified? Paul gives three reasons why the answer is, “No."

  1. Because the law condemns us. "If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker (v. 18)."

  2. Because grace changes us. "For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God…" (vv. 19-20a). Faith unites us to Christ. In his writings, Paul often uses the phrase “in Christ.” (a) My old life has ended. I have been crucified with Christ. (b) A new life has begun. I have been raised with Christ. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17; cf. Galatians 6:15).

  3. Because Christ’s death alone saves us. "…who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" (vv. 20b-21).
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