Law and Gospel (Galatians 3:6-14)

Nativity by He Qi

The Scriptures say that God accepted Abraham because Abraham had faith. And so, you should understand that everyone who has faith is a child of Abraham. Long ago the Scriptures said God would accept the Gentiles because of their faith. This is why God told Abraham the good news that all nations would be blessed because of him. This means everyone who has faith will share in the blessings given to Abraham because of his faith.

Anyone who tries to please God by obeying the Law is under a curse. The Scriptures say, “Everyone who doesn’t obey everything in the Law is under a curse.” No one can please God by obeying the Law. The Scriptures also say, “The people God accepts because of their faith will live.”

The Law isn’t based on faith. It promises life only to people who obey its commands. But Christ rescued us from the Law’s curse, when he became a curse in our place. This is because the Scriptures say that anyone who is nailed to a tree is under a curse. And because of what Jesus Christ has done, the blessing promised to Abraham was taken to the Gentiles. This happened so that by faith we would be given the promised Holy Spirit. (Contemporary English Version)

We are just a day away from the Nativity of the Lord, Christmas Eve, the night Christians everywhere observe the birth of Christ.

And just two days from now Christians throughout the world will have a grand celebration of Christ’s incarnation – God breaking into this old fallen world to be with us and redeem us.

Many will be show up at a church worship service on that day, perhaps especially because Christmas Day falls on a Sunday, in the year of 2022. All might be in the same place; yet they’re there for different reasons.

Some come to the worship service because that’s what they have done every Sunday throughout the year – and they wouldn’t think of being anywhere else.

Others choose to be a part of the gathering because they enjoy the specialness of the day, the beauty of the celebration, and the traditions which surround it all.

There are also those who show up because the season has been hard; while others may bask in the joy of Christmas, they’re just looking for something positive to get them through for a while.

Ethiopian Orthodox icon of the Nativity of the Lord

And then there are those who enter the day for none of the previous mentioned reasons. No, they simply show up because they feel it is their duty to do so, or at the least, because they might receive some special spiritual Brownie points from God. In other words, they gather with the rest with the sheer motivation of Law.

Such an approach illustrates the “curse” of the Law. The Law itself is not bad. But if the rest of the equation isn’t factored into life, Law becomes a hard taskmaster and keeps the law-keeper in a terrible bondage without any delight to go with the duty.

People also need Gospel, the good news which fulfills all the requirements and demands of Law. Law is good, but by itself, apart from Gospel, it becomes an insidious tool of evil.

Whereas Law focuses solely on what we do, Gospel homes in on why we do it.

Law bosses us around and tells us what to do. Gospel frees us to embrace the spirit of Law to love God and neighbor.

It doesn’t take faith to obey the rules and regulations of Law. Gospel, however, can only be realized, internalized, and lived by faith.

It takes faith to receive grace and forgiveness – and to give it. Faith requires an acceptance of spiritual realities. It is the key to tapping into the power of love in the universe.

By faith, people throughout history, like Abraham, have listened with spiritual ears to the God of all. They step out, not merely because of Law, but because they rely on divine promises. Such faith enables them to wait patiently for the coming of eternal forces to take permanent residence on earth. Law can’t do that; only Gospel can.

Faith in the Bible is a complete trust in God, in who God is and what God has done. Because God has demonstrated faithfulness through steadfast love, people are gifted with faith to know the Lord and exhibit love through good works. 

God Is with Us by Hanna Varghese

In Christianity, the height of faith is to place one’s life completely in God’s hands, believing in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Jesus said, “I assure you that if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Go from here to there,’ and it will go. There will be nothing that you can’t do.” (Matthew 17:20, CEV)

The size of faith isn’t the issue – it’s in whom that faith is placed. The littlest of faith in Jesus can have massive results, whereas the biggest of faith in someone who cannot get you to where you need to go, is useless.

Outward rituals and observance of Law have their place; but they don’t deliver anyone from sin, death, or hell. Only faith can do that.

If you are a follower of Christ Jesus, it makes no difference whether you are circumcised or not. All that matters is your faith that makes you love others. (Galatians 5:6, CEV)

It’s one thing to be kind and love others during a holiday season; it’s quite another thing to have that be your default character throughout the entire year. Love for a season comes merely from Law. But Love for a lifetime grows from the rich soil of the Gospel.

And it’s the Gospel of Jesus Christ which we celebrate and give thanks.

Gracious God, we thank you for sending your Son. Even before we loved you, you loved us and gave us the gift of faith. Help us to love one another and to see all people in the same way you do – to love them even when they don’t love us back. Enable us by your Spirit to show continual love throughout the entire year, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

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