Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Bethany Bullet - July 2, 2013

Continuing in the book of Galatians Chapter 3…
Sunday’s second Scripture reading was Galatians 3:23 – 4:7.

To date we’ve seen a group at odds with Paul’s proclamation of redemption, liberation and unification that the Gospel grants and brings.  The natural result of the teaching of those opposed to Paul was the differentiation and distinction of individuals based on ethnicity, gender and social order. Of course, that teaching was not their origination. Greek philosophers 500 to 600 years prior to Paul’s missionary journey’s said, “I am grateful I was born a human not a beast, a man not a woman and a Greek not a barbarian.”  It was in like fashion that the morning prayer of many a Pharisee and Rabbi of St. Paul’s day was, “I thank you Lord that I was not made a Gentile, a slave, or a woman.” 

So, when Paul states neither, “…there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, male nor female” he is proclaiming something radically new to both the Greek philosopher and the Rabbinical instructor – that UNITY in CHRIST transcends ethnic, social, and gender distinctions.  

All people, everyone Jew or Greek, German, African, Asian, or Latin American; all people slave or free, business owner or timecard puncher, blue or white collar worker; all people old or young, advanced or remedial, boy or girl, man or woman; all people whatever their temptations, whatever their orientation - ALL people are by nature broken and fallen and in need of God’s grace and mercy!  That is a unity that we all share.  There is an even greater unity found in the body of Christ.  This unity comes to all who believe. Everyone who trusts in Christ’s perfect life and innocent suffering and death stands equally before God as His own child. No one is more worthy or deserving of grace than another, because NO ONE IS WORTHY OR DESERVING OF GRACE to begin with – if they were it wouldn’t be grace!

Though everyone is equal through faith in Christ doesn’t mean that everything is equally permissible for the Christian.  Hence (though some might try) these words cannot be used as Biblical validation for the Supreme Court’s decision last week.  What Paul didn’t say is as important as what he did say in vs. 28 of Galatians 3. Paul did not say there is no longer gossip nor confidence holder, there is no longer supporter nor detractor, no longer patriot or traitor, no longer upstanding citizen or most wanted villain, no longer peace activist or blood thirsty terrorist.  Unity in Christ does not equal equality of all things. 

As a matter of fact in chapter 5 Paul forbids us from using our freedom to conclude that all actions are equally valid.  It is important to note that when the Church holds the Biblical position on marriage, that it ought remain as God ordained: the making of two unique and distinct creatures, one man and one woman, into one new union, husband and wife; that it is not a denial of the equality everyone one earth shares in our need for forgiveness nor is it a denial of the equality that everyone who trusts in Jesus for forgiveness and life shares in the name son or daughter of God. 

It is quite simply a holding to that which God has spoken, and when God speaks clearly, whether law of the state or resolution of the synod is contrary to such, we must obey God rather than man. 

What Paul was stating emphatically was that no one can lay more of a claim to the name Christian than another because of ancestry, intensity or advanced degree!  In Christ we are one with God and one with one another.  
“For all who were baptized into Christ, have been clothed with Christ.”  In Baptism God has made us one with Himself, and in baptism we have become one of His sons or daughters and thus one with all those who are God’s children. Acts 2:38, Romans 6, Titus 3:5, I Peter 3:18, and every other New Testament text on Baptism declares quite clearly that Baptism is God’s work, not ours!  It is something He does for us, not something we do for Him.

Galatians declares that to talk Baptism is to talk faith, to talk faith is to talk Christ, to talk Christ is to rest in assurance and certainty of what God has done for you and me.  When the ancients were tormented by doubts, when they were overcome with guilt, when circumstance and events seemed to challenge or outright deny the promise of their acceptance by God and status as His child they often turned to baptism.  “I am baptized!” was their source of comfort and certainty. They weren’t seeking comfort and solace in an external work of their own, but in an understanding that Baptism was God’s work, His gift bestowed, His action for them and to them and on them and through them.  He had washed clean and restored, He had connected them to Christ and incorporated them into His family through Baptism, so doubt not His promises and goodness, be not overcome with guilt and fear not, He is for you was the message they drew from the waters of baptism.

-Pastor Kevin Kritzer


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