Our SG, Redeemed, has been studying Galatians. Some thoughts:
The distinctive message is to steer the Galatian Christians from the error of Judaism back into the path of liberty and life in Christ is like. The emphasis is on Christ’s faithfulness to God and those who receive righteousness in obedience by faith. Paul further elaborates on what the Gospel is – a turning away from idolatry, right relationship with God (3:4), and that it is for both Gentiles and Jews. He also addresses the problem about the law, that it was never God’s plan to have righteousness from the law but in Christ: the law is now both annulled and fulfilled in Christ.
As the agitators or false teachers were preaching that the cross was insufficient for salvation and that it had to be supplemented by keeping the Mosaic Law. Paul had to deal with their tactics in casting doubt on his message by questioning his apostleship, to glorify various aspects of Judaism. In order to fend off the false teaching, Paul had to first vindicate his apostleship, his right to speak. He had to defend the doctrine of justification by faith alone, and finally that the life of Christian liberty does not mean a life of license but a life lived by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Be alert and prepared
In the light of the above, I believe the key message to the church is to be alert and prepared to guard against false teachers and teachings, to the extent of being able, like Paul to defend the truth. We are also reminded that though salvation is free, it is bought with a price – the sacrifice of our Lord on the cross. The message to the church would be to constantly be mindful not to add conditions (may be subtle and unconscious) to the message of salvation.
On further reflection, God is also saying to the church what the Gospel is and what a true follower of Christ is. The Gospel is Torah-observant free and is relational.
Relate in community
A Christian is one who has a right standing before God (positional) and relationship with God by faith (2:16), and one who walks in the Spirit (who is transformed by the Spirit continually), exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit (5:6) including love, joy, peace and self-control. This could be reflected on our self-control with regard to speech and actions, and how we relate one to another in community. Being saved would include faith in Christ and the Holy Spirit empowering us to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit.
The message God is saying to the church and to me as a Christian is also that we need to be in community. As our faith is communal and Christianity is also experiential, we could come together and talk about our Christian experience, and encourage one another to walk in the Spirit – loving, forgiving and being kind to one another and to the world. For, it is by our love that the world will know Jesus.
May this be true of us!
Deaconess Dr Vivien Ler