|Posted by Brian Linebarger on January 18, 2012 at 7:35 AM|
Sola Fide, By Faith Alone………………………..
Galatians 3:23-29 (NLT)
23 Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed.
24 Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith. 25 And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian.
26 For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. 28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.
The Faith and works debate. It has been going on for a long time, and will continue to go on. Continuing our study of Galatians, we will find that Faith and Grace are the only things that you need to be Saved, but that works will play a part. Works will be there, they are just not necessary to salvation. Rather, they are a product (fruit) of true Faith in Christ.
In our verses today, Paul is explaining things to the Church that he founded in Galatia. He is writing to tell the people in the Church to not listen to those who came into the Church and tried to bring them back to the old ways of the law. As we look and see what was going on, we will have a better understating of Paul’s writings.
So in the start of our verses, Paul is addressing why the Mosaic law was there in the first place. The law, or the Jewish traditions were put in place by God as a way to redeem His people. They were a way to redeem them from their sins until Jesus came. That is why Paul is saying that the law kept them under guard. The King James translation says that the law was our schoolmaster, keeping us safe and teaching us until Jesus was born. Under the law, Faith played a smaller part. You could have Faith, but still you had to sacrifice animals on the altar, you had to go to the High Priest in order for your sins to be forgiven. Once Jesus came to this earth, we “graduated”. We no longer needed a schoolmaster to keep us safe and instruct us. We could go directly to God through Jesus. We no longer needed a schoolmaster or a guardian. We were like a baby bird that is ready to fly. We needed to be pushed out of the nest and test our own wings.
There has been much made of the perceived contradictions in the teachings of Paul and the teachings of James. Paul taught and lived a Sola Fide (by Faith alone) Gospel, it has been argued that James on the other hand taught a works Gospel. To understand this, and to clear up any confusion, and also to show that there is no contradiction, we have to understand that Paul and James were from totally different backgrounds, and had totally different experiences with Christ.
James was one of the first Disciples to join Jesus. He (along with John) was called directly off their boat and told to drop everything and follow Jesus. Paul of course, persecuted peoples like James for a living, and it was not until Jesus appeared to Paul after His death and resurrection, that Paul literally saw the light (so much so that he was blind for three days) that he started to preach the Gospel. We also have to look at the people that both of them were writing to. Paul was generally writing to Churches he had planted. James was writing to the twelve tribes of Israel that had been scattered. Both were Jewish, but had totally different experiences with Jesus, so it stands to reason that if you look at both letters (epistles) in context, they will be different in their scope and composition because of the people they are meant to reach, and because of the way that these two men came to know Jesus.
So back to Galatians. This letter was written to a Church that was largely made up of pagan converts, and it was being “infiltrated” (for lack of a better term) by those who tried to bring the converts back under the Mosaic law. Much like what is going on in the Church today, this type of thing would cause a lot of confusion, and would cause new believers to just give up and go back to their old ways. Paul was very concerned about this (as we should be today), and he took action in the form of this letter to the Galatian Church. What Paul is saying to the Galatians is that Faith alone is all that you need to be saved. By Faith you accept the Grace of God that is a free gift to all, and by accepting this gift, you become a child of God, and a rightful heir to the kingdom. You are not longer Jew or Gentile, you are no longer male or female, you are only a child of God, and a such, you are entitled to share in the promise that God gave to Abraham. You are entitled to be a child of the King Of Kings. You are entitled to everything a father would give his children. In short, you are entitled to it all.
As a child of the King, you will as a matter of course, do good works. You will want to do good works. But unlike those who teach that works are required in order for you to reach Heaven, you will do these works out of love for your Father and out of love for your neighbors and those in need rather than out of an obligation. And when you do something out of love not out of obligation, your reward will be so much sweeter, your sense of satisfaction will be so much greater because you have done something because you wanted to not because you had to……….