I’m still laughing this morning at one of the weirdest moments in preaching that happened yesterday in my 29 years of preaching…I forgot what I was talking about in the middle of my sermon! Those of you who know me best, were giving me that “you’ve literally just lost your mind” look. It was so fun…and scary at the same time. Weird. I’m glad I got my mind back on track. I don’t know if it was the fear of getting the sickness my family has had over the past two weeks or my age showing but it was weird.
Going into this sermon, I knew it would be some tough sledding. For one, we’re attempting to do something very difficult this year: cover all of Paul’s prison epistles. And with that comes some really dense texts, like Sunday’s. It was really 2-3 sermons rolled into one. My staff would tell you how much I was laboring over this most of the week and it didn’t make it easier that I got backed up in my studies last week. The other issue was that with the text being so theologically dense, the sermon was going to be longer. I worked hard to be as concise as possible, but felt like I was just “running” through my last point. As I remind myself often, it is God’s word and He will work in us people through it.
From the cutting room floor – Things I had to leave out due to time or they just needed to be dropped:
- In this text, Paul details 2 main uses of the law: 1) to reveal sin to us and in us; 2) to point us to our need for Christ. Which in reality is 1 main use: to show us the holiness of God, our sin and our need for Jesus. But, as I briefly mentioned on Sunday, John Calvin detailed 3 uses of the law. Because of time, I just couldn’t get to it and it’s really important to understand because, as we’ve heard from Paul in Galatians, we don’t have to obey the Mosaic Law to be right with God, we simply need to believe God’s promise through Jesus. This is why Calvin detailed the 3 uses of the law as he saw them: 1) to reveal the righteousness God, our sin, and our need for Jesus; 2) to restrain evil in the “civil” sense. Meaning, the law helps societies run; 3) to help Christians know how to obey God. See, the law doesn’t save us, can’t empower to change, and doesn’t provide life to us. But, the law does show us, after we’ve trusted Christ, how to honor God with our lives. All 3 uses are important to us as Christians. Here is a link that will describe this to you in more detail: https://www.ligonier.org/blog/threefold-use-law/.
- There’s another interesting dilemma about the law in Galatians 3 and it’s Paul’s use the word, “until” each time he mentions the law (vs. 19, 23, 24). The indication seems to be that the law is “abolished” or “done away” with, once Jesus came and once faith entered. But from everything I could see, the law doesn’t “cease” to exist, but rather the law “ceases” to hold us in prison and keep us captive to its demands once faith in Christ has come to our hearts. Jesus obviously said in Matthew 5:16, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Because Jesus fulfilled the law on our behalf, when we put our faith in Him as our substitute, God no longer counts the law’s demands against us, thus setting us free. But, what about the ceremonial parts of the law with regards to sacrifices, feasts and ceremonies? Well, this is why the book of Hebrews is so helpful. Sometime read through that book, noticing how many times the writer mentions that the old things were “shadows” of what’s to come or see how often things like priests, sacrifices, and days point us to Jesus. Those things shadows, not the reality of what God intended and Jesus is the true sacrifice, true priest, true Sabbath and true King.
Quotes that I enjoyed but didn’t include:
- By resting his case on the ending of a noun, the apostle teaches something important about the authority of the Bible. How could he make such a precise point from the Hebrew text of the Old Testament unless he believed that the Bible is God’s Word written? Even though he did not use these precise words, Paul obviously believed that the Bible is infallible and inerrant from beginning to end.
- “there is only one party to the covenant: Jesus Christ. But this is exactly what the Galatians were in danger of forgetting. By trusting in the works of the law, they were dividing the church along racial lines: Jews on one side, Gentiles on the other.”
- “God deals with us according to his promise, and not according to our performance. We are justified by faith only and not by works: “If God’s covenant was established by faith and not by works of the law, then the covenantal relationship God has with the Galatians through Christ is also by faith and not by works of the law.”
- “Law and grace are not opponents; they are teammates working together for the salvation of God’s people. The law leads to grace, which is to be found only in Christ.”
- All by Philip Ryken
Just wanted to say thanks to you all for praying for our family during this time of sickness that’s hit our house. And thank you for especially remembering Jill, who is normally the one who’s home with sickies. From doing all the dirty work to making sure everyone feels comfy. When kiddies are sick, she’s the one who stays home and misses church, if necessary. Because I’m the pastor, I very rarely miss because of my Sunday responsibilities and yet, she has never complained even expressed frustration. These past 2 weeks, with all the sicknesses, she’s been up late at night, missed church, and yet hasn’t skipped a beat. She’s a great representation of what all of our moms are doing for us. So fellas, make sure you take time to thank God for your sweetie, but also tell her about the joy she brings you.
Finally, I can’t wait for this Saturday’s Marriage Banquet. I always look forward to celebrating this great gift called “marriage” that God has given us. In a culture that is pushing more of God’s institutions to the side, it’s our joy to keep these things in the center of our thinking. Hanging out with friends, who feel the same way, to hear from others about their joys of being married, is always a blast.
May the grace of God be a wonderful joy to you this week.
To watch or listen to the sermon described in this post, please click here.