One of the most astounding things about the Christian life is salvation by grace through faith. Yet, this may very well be one of the most controversial things for those who are not in Christ. What is even more tragic, though, is to be deceived as a believer on how one is saved by God and receives the Spirit. This is what we have seen in Galatians. The believers in Galatia had been taught by teachers, the Judaizers, who were commanding them to obey customs and laws in order to be justified before God. They were preaching a salvation by works. In other words, they were preaching another gospel. Calling them out, Paul rebukes the Galatians for believing this false message and points them again to the truth of salvation by grace through faith. Helping them get back on track, he gives an example to show the exact relationship between the law and the promise. He starts with the covenant made with Abraham and displays how the God’s promise to him looks forward to Christ as He is the “offspring” (vv. 15-16). Furthermore, the covenant with Abraham, the promise, came before the law through Moses (vv. 17-18). The question, then, naturally arises: Why the law? While there are a few possibilities, a likely one in this context is the law reveals humanity’s sinfulness, thereby needing a perfect Savior for redemption and salvation. This ultimate revelation would come through God alone (v. 20). Jesus Christ came to fulfill the promises of God for salvation so that those who believe and place their faith in His Person and His work would be saved. To say it succinctly, the relationship between the law and the promise is the fact that this law is what points us to the promise. As we understand we cannot live up to the law and be justified before God by our works, we realize we need a Savior, someone who can live a perfect life. That is what Jesus did. If we trust in the God-man, Jesus Christ, in the gospel, we become the sons and daughters of God (v. 26). Not only can Jews place their faith in Christ and be saved but, praise God, all peoples can come to God for salvation by grace through faith!
- Have you tried to obtain God’s salvation by works and not by grace through faith? How does understanding the relationship between the law and promise help you in realizing your need for Jesus?