Guarding and proclaiming the unchanging truth in a changing world

In thanksgiving… for I am Crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:15-21)

13th November 2020
Audio: 

In thanksgiving… for I am Crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:15-21)

The Rev. Ife Ojetayo

Do you ponder the manner of your salvation, the means by which God in his mercy called you from death into life abundant? If/when you do so, do you consider your worth in deserving so great a salvation? In your estimation do you account merit to yourself for your status in Christ or do you account it to another?

Galatians 2:15-21, is Paul’s setting out his argument for confronting Peter, his fellow apostle, and combating the imposition of extra requirements for salvation. If any Jew can be justified by works of the law it might have been Saul of Tarsus, a Pharisee of Pharisees (Phil. 3:3-6) who was devoted to keeping the Mosaic law. Paul nevertheless acknowledged that his law-keeping was insufficient for him to be counted righteous before God. What justifies a man before God is faith in Christ Jesus alone (v. 16). There is no other avenue by which anyone can stand blameless before God, this is one of the pillars on which our Protestant faith rests.

Here is a man whom by human standards of justification will be considered “righteous”, yet he knows that his “righteousness” is like filthy rags before God’s perfect holiness since by works of the law no flesh will be justified.  But herein lies the beauty of the gospel, that it is by faith in Jesus we are counted righteous (justified) before God; it is this truth that Paul is committed to defend. Why will you turn to a standard which only leads to your condemnation when you can turn to the One who stands condemned for you, and in exchange gave you his righteousness. The law condemns and finds you guilty, resulting in death. The gospel proclaims the death of a substitute on your behalf, and offers you life. So Paul, the former Pharisee can say he has died to the law, he no longer considers obedience to the law as the means by which he will be justified. The work of justification has been done by Christ’s obedience and atonement on the cross for you. It is an objective reality! That is why Paul can say he has been crucified with Christ even though he is alive. All those who have faith in Jesus are united with him in his crucifixion, death, and resurrection. They have been reconciled with God through Christ’s atoning sacrifice with all the benefits that flows from it: forgiveness of sins, adoption as sons and daughters, inheritance in heaven, the presence of the Holy Spirit, freedom from the condemnation of the law. All these and more is theirs in Jesus Christ.

Just as the law’s demand is total and must be kept in its totality (making it an impossibility for mankind) so is the justification which Christ gives to those who are in union with him, nothing is needed from you to make it efficacious. May it never be that we will cheapen so great a salvation by thinking we can contribute to Christ’s finished work.

When you consider how incalculable this gift of grace is, how all-encompassing your security in Christ is, what else can you do but to bless the Lord from whom all blessings flow.

Rev. Ife Ojetayo
Deacon in the Anglican Diocese of the Living Word, a diocese in the Anglican Church in North America.

Prayer: 

A collect for endurance:

Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the Cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen.

BCP 2019, p. 23

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