The Gospel of Grace Leads with Relationship Over Rules: Galatians 3
How many of you have had people break promises they made with you? It hurts and causes us to respond with anger, frustration and finally with walking away from the relationship. Think about those who fail to show up, drop the ball, betray trust, break agreements, lie –and corporations who file bankruptcies and leave lives/retirements in financial ruin behind them.
It feels awful.
How about, how many of you have had people keep their promises with you? It helps cement a foundation under your relationship. Peace, security and a closeness grow between you and those whom have kept their promises. Think about those who have stood by you when no one else would. They backed up their words with acts of kindness – sometimes at great sacrifice. Those who will go out their way to help you and do what they said they would do for you.
It feels great.
God has been at work in human history. Christians today are experiencing in Christ part of the unfolding plan of God – His promise to mankind. The promise of God is for redemption and relationship via Christ. It can be seen around the world in countries like Vietnam, Guatemala, Romania, Dubai, Belize, the Philippines, Nigeria and more – What God has embarked upon touches people all around the world – regardless of the culture and context – it’s been happening for generations now.
As we roll into Galatians chapter 3, Paul gets up in the Galatians business with a pressing question. “Only want to know one thing – did you receive by the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?”
· Do you intend to complete in the flesh (human efforts) what was begun in you by the Spirit?
· Did you suffer in vain (Acts 13-14)? Declaring faith in Jesus wasn’t easy!!!
· Is the work of God – miracles – done among you by works of the law or hearing with faith?
Paul is putting the question back to the believers in Galatian – is your faith resting in the law or in Jesus?
The Apostle Paul puts forth2 considerations: Faith and the person of Abraham.
1. Faith: Is Christianity just a blind faith?
Let’s first define what faith isn’t:
a. Faith isn’t “The Force.” – It’s not an unseen power that when enough people think and contemplate hard enough on something – we can move it to do what we want. It’s not a thing that we can manipulate or tap into. We’ve known people who have prayed and strained in their faith for something to happen. Maybe it happened or maybe not – but its not a thing we conjure up. That’s magic and shamanism. People are told you need more faith to get what you want!
b. Faith isn’t “a formula.” Say the right words, do the right incantations or rituals to make something happen. This is where we come into trouble with prayer – we can fall into making it a formula and when the formula doesn’t work – ugh – God has failed us. Or we’re not doing it right – need to know the secret language or sequence!
Christian faith is based upon evidence, reason and experience.
To answer what faith is, we can reference Hebrews 11: 1-2, “Now faith is the assurance (confidence in) things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval.”
Hope: “Wanting something to be without any guarantee.” How to you move from hope so to it will be so?
Example A: I really like Janis and want to ask her out on a date.
When I text Janis – “Will you go out with me” = Hope.
When she replies – “Yes, I will” = Faith – I believe it because she said so and has the ability, power and proven track record of doing what she says.
Example B: My son (Chase) works for a large aerospace company in Oklahoma.
Boss comes to Chase and says – “You’re doing good work. I’m going to give you a raise.” Chase doesn’t come home to Kaitlynn (his wife) and say I hope I’m getting a raise.” Chase says, “I believe I’m getting a raise” = his statement is an expression of his faith because his boss has the ability to make it happen.
We don’t believe in God because of faith and we don’t believe in His promises because of faith – be believe because of evidence and the movement of the Holy Spirit – but let us not forget through experience, reason and evidence – God shows us Who He is and history, archeology, science back it up.
Jesus Himself said, “If you don’t believe in me – believe in the works I do.” (John 10:38)
Leaves us to have confidence (a warranted belief) to say God is and will do what He promises…
Read down in Hebrews 11 – Here is the track record – Israel’s history.
2. Abraham – the patriarch and a man of faith.
Abraham was called to go to a land that God would give to him. He was to leave all he knew and follow God. In Genesis 15:6, Abraham’s faith – belief in God’s promise to fulfill His covenant becomes the basis of his justification//righteousness before God. It is worth remembering that Abraham’s justification by faith alone is 430 years before the law was given to Moses on Mt. Sinai!
The Gospel of Grace leads with relationship over rules.
As you go into this week:
1. How do you view faith? Do you believe with eyes closed?
a. Maybe there is more history/evidence involved than you realize?
b. Be reflective and review God’s interaction in your life – leading you to hear the Gospel – bringing you to a place in your life to hear that God loves you! You don’t work for your salvation – grace. Why? Because God loves you!
2. The Gospel of grace through you.
a. Do you lead with rules over relationship?
b. Do people have to earn your love?
c. Do people have to maintain a standard to keep your love?
3. What is God showing you this week that is calling you to believe He will move from “hope so to be so?”
a. What is keeping you from believing?
God used Abraham in a powerful way – chosen purely by God’s prerogative. Nothing about Abraham nor the people of Israel warranted their selection. God still uses everyday people – just like you and I. Will you trust Him? Will you follow His lead?
We grouse about a faithless and faulty world – you might be the very person to change at least one person’s perspective on all that by embracing the Gospel of Grace – cultivating your relationship with God. People are looking for authentic relationships and faith. People are probably watching you. Do you think you were on the minds of the people referred to in Hebrews Chapter 11, Martin Luther, William Wilberforce, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and countless others when they followed God in faith. They impacted the world (from their perspective - their little world) and perhaps even your life. You can do the same and impact people you will only come to know when you get to heaven.
Cultivate your relationship with God and don’t simply follow rules; it will make all the difference.
The Gospel of Grace leads with relationship over rules.