As we move into this next section of our Bible Challenge, let me explain my intentions. We are going to be moving pretty quickly through the New Testament, a fact I’m sure you have noticed already. This means reading entire New Testament books, especially the Epistles, in only one or two sittings. If you should be used to reading 3-4 chapters at a time by this time in our challenge, but it can seem a bit daunting to think: “I have to read through all of James today”, even though it is only four chapters.
It makes it more difficult for me in these blogs as well. All of the New Testament books contain many many things to talk about. For example, a famous pastor once spent 12 years leading his congregation through the book of Romans, a book we will read over 5 days. So in trying to figure out how to address this, I am going to be providing mostly overview material for these books, especially for the ones that we are reading whole-hog.
Today we are in Galatians. Warren Wiersbe calls Galatians a dangerous book because it exposes for us one of the greatest dangers to true spiritual life and vitality; the danger of legalism. Galatians is all about how dangerous it is to follow sets of rules instead of a living and personal relationship with God. Let’s be honest, the church has struggled with legalism right from the start. Part of the problem with the early church was that most converts, Jewish or otherwise, came from religious systems that demanded action to earn godly favour. The right sacrifices, the right rituals, following the right traditions, those were the ways that one found favour with the various gods of the time.
With all of these traditions it boiled down to a couple of key things:
1) keeping vengeful gods appeased
2) earning your way into the next life
Into that religious culture comes Christianity, a faith that says that God’s grace and favour cannot be earned, but is instead freely given to all who will believe in Jesus. While many people found new life in Jesus, they had some trouble letting go of their former ways. They kept wanting to pile rules onto the free grace of God.
In a way, we still struggle with this issue today. We are still concerned with religious rules. It is like we can’t really accept God’s grace at face value. We’re always looking for the next shoe to drop.
We need to heed Paul’s words from this book, especially from chapter 5 where Paul give us strong words about what it means to be free in Christ.
- What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
- What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
- Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
- How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
- What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?
Tomorrow’s Reading: Acts 17-18:18