Sermon: “The Primacy of Faith” (Galatians 3:1-14)
The Christian life is often very ordinary. God has established ordinary means of grace for our nourishment and growth, such as the Word of God, the sacraments, and prayer. God often calls us to serve in relatively ordinary ways in His church, through teaching our children, serving meals, or using our musical gifts in worship. Using these ordinary means of grace and serving in ordinary ways according to our spiritual gifts are the means God ordains for our growth in His church, and yet we could easily neglect these means because they don’t seem very extraordinary. In Galatians Paul confronts a similar problem of neglect, though one with even greater consequences. The church has apparently heeded the message of a group called the Judaizers who are claiming that right standing with God does not merely come through faith alone, it comes through faith + law observance, specifically circumcision.
The Judaizers have distorted the message of the gospel, and the church is in danger of neglecting the gospel in which they had been nourished from the beginning of their walk in Christ. This is why Paul delivers such a fierce opening jolt in the salvo of rhetorical questions in 3:1-5. The church may be in danger of bringing judgment upon themselves by turning to the law + Christ, rather than Christ alone, to maintain right standing before God. In order to turn the church back to the fundamental message of the gospel, Paul calls the church to examine their experience, search the scriptures, and consider the alternative or relaying on the law. Paul goes to great length to ensure they don’t miss or neglect the message of the gospel by embracing another gospel. Like the Galatian Christians, we too have been justified by faith in Christ alone. And like the Galatian Christians we can miss this fundamental gospel reality and the centrality of Christ, in a number of ways. Paul’s message to the churches in Galatia, then, is no less a message for us today too.