“We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law. But if, in our effort to be justified by Christ, we ourselves have been found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of Sin? Certainly not! But if I build up again the very things I once tore down, then I demonstrate that I am a transgressor. For through the Law, I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification comes through the Law, then Christ died for nothing.”
[Taylor Mertins] “For through the Law, I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.” Paul’s letter to the Galatians, written around 50 AD, offers a window into the formation of what we know as Christianity. As I noted in my sermon on Romans 5 two weeks ago, one of the largest debates in the 1st century was delineated between the validity Jewish-Christians and Gentile Christians. I tried to raise Paul’s admonition that is does not matter WHO you are, Gentile or Jew, God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
In his letter to the Galatians, Paul addresses yet another debate on what it means to be a follower of Christ. Paul had founded the churches in Galatia and after his departure some Jewish-Christian teachers urged his converts to adopt Jewish laws and customs including circumcision, Sabbath observance, dietary laws, and Jewish festivals. Paul rebukes these claims and attempts to show the people of Galatia that is does not matter WHO you are, or WHAT you do.
Paul contends later in chapter 6, that all who live under the cross of Christ in the new creation are members of the “Israel of God.” He also notes in chapter 3 that the Jewish Law was “our disciplinarian” until Christ came, so that we may be justified by faith.” The late and great theologian Jaroslav Pelikan described the Jewish law as the custodian or tutor of the Jews until Christ came.
Because Christ gave himself up for us, because the Holy Spirit has been poured into our hearts, we are justified by our faith, not by what we do. God loves us no matter what, unconditionally. Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Paul knew that even with his past, persecuting Christians before his CONVERSION on the road to Damascus, Christ lived in him. I think what Paul was trying to tell the Galatians could be summarized this way:
It does not matter who you are.
It does not matter what you do.
But what does matter, is WHY you do it.
- I attended church regularly as a child/youth
- Went every Sunday with my family [Sue a day school teacher + jay as Sunday school and commitment campaign]
- Active youth group member
- Went because I was told
– Puerto Rico Mission trip
- Was not really interested in going
- Wanted to hang out all summer
- School was over – I didn’t want to work
– Of course my Mother had other plans
- Cannot argue with her
- Ended up going on this mission
- LITTLE DID I KNOW BUT THE PERSON THAT BOARDED THAT PLAN WAS NOT BE THE ONE COMING BACK
– Arriving Puerto Rico
- Hot, Humid,
- Split into groups of people we have never met before
- Showed our worksite
- Old woman confined to a wheel chair lived there
- Made me realize everything was going to be ok
- Old woman confined to a wheel chair lived there
– Time went on relationships developed
- Attempts to communicate in Spanish
- (Painted houses, tarred roofs, fixed up property)
- Made close friends with others in my group
- Found the light of Christ
- Did not want to leave
- Came home a changed young man
- Christ did not come into me while I was in Puerto Rico… He was within he all along.
– Who is about to kneel at the altar?
- Hope is that they will be truly transformed and find that Christ lives and has always lived in everyone of them
- Some already know scripture, some come to church everyday
- Our hope is that they will extend their Christianity beyond simply following the Christian guidelines
- No longer an obligation – but the right thing to do
- Christianity is not a tally system
- There are not a certain amount of marks you need to attain during your life in order to get into heaven
- It is Christ’s love and Christ’s warmth within you that will unlock your heart – allowing you to see the kingdom at hand.
[Taylor Mertins] What Jake and I are talking about is not limited to those who are going on mission trips. Each and every one of us is called to help and to serve your neighbors.
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me; who lives in you.