Thursday, September 5, 2019

2019.09.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 2:15-16

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the apostle say that he and his readers are by nature in Galatians 2:15? From what group were they not? How do these two groups compare? Even with their covenantal advantages by what could they not be justified (Galatians 2:16)? By what alone could they be justified? So what have they done in order to be justified by Him? What have they determined not to be justified by? Why not—who could be justified by the works of the law? 
It is a little bit jarring to read Galatians 2:15. I suppose that those of us who are at all familiar with the Bible—or at all honest about the human condition—are not so much surprised by the apostle referring to the nations as “sinners” (of the Greek words for ‘sin’ this is the one that means “to miss the mark”). What is jarring is to hear that it would make so much difference to be a Jew.

But it does! Or rather, it did at that time. To borrow a phrase from an old credit card advertisement, (covenant) membership has its privileges (cf. Romans 3:1 and Romans 9:4-5, where the apostle deals with this very issue). Those privileges include being part of a people who have been set apart unto God by His own provision of signs and sacrifices (or, in the case of the New Testament, the single sacrifice of Christ).

Now, we’re not talking in verse 15 about that aspect of Christ’s atonement in which He has endured wrath in sinners’ place to make them right with God. That’s what Galatians 2:16 is talking about! We must remember that Christ’s sacrifice replaces all of the Old Testament sacrifices—even those by which the worshiping community was set apart, and their worship was made acceptable. Perhaps you have noticed the Scriptures talking about the tabernacle being atoned for, or the holy things being atoned for.

The apostle’s point is that people who are part of the covenant community, and people who participate in the acceptable worship, STILL need to be made right with God ONLY through faith in Jesus Christ. If even we who have these privileges must be made right with God only through faith in Jesus Christ, then there are no works of the law at all (circumcision or anything else) that can make a man right with God!
Do you have membership, and its privileges? Even so, what must you still have?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH354 “Not All the Blood of Beasts”

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