Sermon – January 7, 2018
Galatians 3:1-9 – The Proof of Experience (mp3)
As Paul leaves his defense of the origins and authority of his gospel, he turns now to argue against the Agitators’ position; specifically, that circumcision is needed to be truly considered part of the people of God. While Paul will argue against such a position in a number of ways, the first argument is from experience. While we have looked at a portion of this argument last week, this week we will look at the larger argument from 3:1-9.
1. Experiencing demons
Paul begins by wondering what has happened to the Galatians. While he left them in possession of everything that they would need, they have changed course and are considering leaving the faith. Paul openly wonders, perhaps tongue in cheek, if they have had a spell cast on them. While salvation comes from above, we must not be unaware of the enslavement that opposes it. They are blinded by some power to the purpose of the cross, it has made them illogical and unreasonable. We must always remember that the power of God is needed not just to overcome the power of our sin, but the power of our accuser, the Devil.
2. Experiencing the Spirit
Paul’s argument for the Galatians’ experience of the Spirit was covered last week. Even so, it would be helpful to summarize briefly. First, the OT seems to strongly imply that the provision of the Spirit would supplant circumcision as the identity marker for the people of God, something that is affirmed in the practice of the NT. Secondly, the experience of the Spirit, while possibly miraculous, is best understood as a renewed love of God manifested in faith, obedience, and even song.
3. Experiencing Abraham’s faith
While circumcision has been supplanted, it doesn’t mean that the OT has lost its importance for NT believers. We do not live in a new age that has separated from the old in totality, even while there are significant freedoms experienced because of the gift of Christ. We still must be tied to Abraham to receive the gift of the promise and blessing, even if that connection isn’t through circumcision. That connection comes from faith; it is acting like Abraham that makes one a son of Abraham.
We are indeed sons and daughters of Abraham, and inheritors of the promise given to him, because we act like Abraham. Those who hear the message of the gospel and believe hear what Abraham heard: God will bless the nations, and has done so through Jesus Christ our Lord. If we then believe, like Abraham, we become those who experience the blessing given to Abraham.