Friday, September 12, 2008

To the Cross! Galatians, Luther, Law and Grace.

Gathered the South West Team this week to study the Bible, pray, walk, eat, get to know each other etc...

Download MP3: Galatians 2v11-3v1. To the Cross

Kenny Robertson has written up the notes he took on this talk...

Peter steps out of the way of the gospel - fearing men not Christ, living in legalism, false teaching. Three-times self-condemned. Paul walks him back to the gospel. He need not fear sinning -  

Luther: A Christian is not somebody who has no sin, but somebody against whom God no longer chalks sin, because of his faith in Christ. Luther once more:Read the words “me” and “for me” with great emphasis. Print this “me” with capital letters in your heart, and do not ever doubt that you belong to the number of those who are meant by this “me.”

Christian life isn't doing, it's Union with Christ. Paul often talks about being ‘in Christ’ and what he means is that our very existence becomes utterly entwined with him.

Luther: Since Christ is now living in me, He abolishes the Law, condemns sin, and destroys death in me. These foes vanish in His presence. Christ abiding in me drives out every evil. This union with Christ delivers me from the demands of the Law, and separates me from my sinful self. As long as I abide in Christ, nothing can hurt me.

Yet, tragically - Peter is nullifying grace and denying the cross. First time I carefully studied Galatians five years ago I thought I was meant to go soul-searching for legalism. But, actually, I think it’s the opposite of what Paul does for Peter, for the Galatians… and for us. Peter's actions are tantamount to declaring the death of Jesus to be meaningless. And then Paul breaks off from the story.Why not tell us how Peter responded? Why finish on that kind of cliff-hanger?

Because (3v1) Paul speaks to the Galatians to say - remember the cross! They've followed Peter's error.Paul wants the Galatians repentance, as he sought Peter’s. We know Peter repented. First, he later wrote cross-exalting scripture. Second, the point is the Galatians repentance - the story doesn't work if Peter didn't. Paul preached the cross at Galatian. Remember, I placarded it before you in words. Paul held up the gospel for all to see as he preached. They saw the meaning of it. They saw the glory of the cross. That's preaching!

Luther: Did the Law ever love me? Did the Law ever sacrifice itself for me? Did the Law ever die for me? On the contrary, it accuses me, it frightens me, it drives me crazy. Somebody else saved me from the Law, from sin and death unto eternal life. That Somebody is the Son of God, to whom be praise and glory forever. 

 So, to the cross! Self-examination is helpful but for every look at my sin I take ten looks at the cross. To the cross! Finally, Andrew Bonar records words from Robert Murray McCheyne which are wise counsel:
“I feel, when I have sinned, an immediate reluctance to go to Christ. I am ashamed to go.I feel as if it would do no good to go, as if it were making Christ a minister of sin, to go straight from the swine-trough to the best robe, and a thousand other excuses; but I am persuaded they are all lies, direct from hell. John argues the opposite way: ‘If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father.’ I am sure there is neither peace nor safety from deeper sin, but in going directly to the Lord Jesus Christ. This is God’s way of peace and holiness. It is folly to the world and the beclouded heart, but [the cross] is the way.”

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