(An Excerpt from the Author's 'THE MAGNA CHARTA OF CHRISTIAN LIBERTY....)
KEY TEXT: GALATIANS 2:11-21; 3:1-29
Paul has made it clear that
i) A believer is justified by faith alone. 3:11
ii) A believer receives the Spirit by faith alone. 3:2
iii) A believer is sanctified, by faith alone, 3:3
iv) A believer grows by faith alone . 3:3
v) A believer suffers by faith alone. 3:4
vi) A believer experiences God’s miraculous working
by faith alone. 3:5
vii) A believer becomes the child of God by faith alone. 3:26
This is the method of God’s justification for His children.
WHAT IS JUSTIFICATION ?
The word for “Justification” is “dikaiosis” which refers to a judicial judgment. The verb is “dikaioo” which does not mean to make upright or holy but to announce or declare to be righteous or innocence. It also means to count, to reckon, to credit or to take into account (Gal 2:15,16,17; 3:6,8,24) as righteous or right with God. So, what Paul does mean by using the word “righteousness” is that it is an unmerited favor of God which we do not actually deserve. It is God Himself who calls us or declares us righteous despite our unrighteousness on the basis of what Christ has done on the cross. God’s method of justification is therefore totally different from man’s point of view. God’s ways are different but His ways are perfect and holy without any defect. God’s method of justification is also perfect because He is a perfect judge.
Paul develops the concept of righteousness by putting forward his arguments like an intelligent lawyer before a judge. He puts some strong negative points stating why a men cannot be right with God by the works of the law.
1. Man is not justified by the works of the law………………….Gal 2:16; 3:11 cf Rom 3:20
2. Man cannot receive the Holy Spirit by the works of the law. Gal 3:2
3. Man is not sanctified by the works of the law.
4. As many as are of the works of he law are under curse Gal 3:10
5. The law is not of faith Gal 3:12
5. The law cannot give life 3:21
Inheritance is not of the law 3:18 cf Rom 4:14
6. If righteousness came by the law,
Then Christ is dead in vain 2:21
7. If justified by law …………….
We are fallen from grace 5:4
The way man tries to make himself right with God or approach God from his own is called self-righteousness. A man may try the following …..
1) He may try his best to secure righteousness.
2) He can do all what he can to keep all the law to please God.
But can he do this all ?
He can achieve righteousness only if he can do the following …..
1) Keep all the law perfectly without breaking it once. Gal 3:12
2) Make sure that every single thing he does is perfectly good and right with God.
3) Please God in all things never displeasing.
WHY JUSTIFICATION IS NECESSARY ?
1) Justificationis necessary because of sin. It is because of sin that man is alienated from God and man has become unrighteous. “There is none righteous, no, not one “Rom 3:10
2) No man is able to achieve righteousness from his own by the works
Of the law. Gal 2:16 ; 3:11
3) Law cannot give us life 3:21
4) Law cannot make us perfect. 3:3
How IS A MAN JUSTIFIED ?
God’s method of justification is based on three things.
1) God’s love for man, that is, Christ’s death on the cross.
2) God’s grace for man and
3) Man’s faith in God.
1) God’s love for man, that is, Christ’s dead on the cross.
God showed His historic love towards man when Christ died on the cross on behalf of the sinful man. And this is the basis of God’s method of justification. It means that God has set Christ forth for the propitiation of our sins. The word here is “Hilasterion” which also means the “mercy seat”. Now the cross itself has become the “mercy seat”. It means that the cross where Christ sanctified Himself is the place of our propitiation and we are sancified by His blood to be right with God. Paul says in Gal 2:20” I am crucified with Christ: Nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
2. God’s grace for man Gal 2:21 ; 5:4
Grace is the unmerited favor of God to the sinful man. Grace took its fullest meaning only when Christ came and sacrificed Himself for the sins of the world. The death of Christ Himself is a grace because He died on our behalf. And only because of Christ’s death God has counted us righteous. Paul has conveyed the fullest meaning of Grace in Christ in the book of Galatian and also in Romans.
“ Grace in its fullest definition is God’s unmerited favor in the gift of His son, who offers salvation to all and who gives to those who receive him as their personal Saviour added grace for this life and hope for he future, “ #5 Says Ryrie
Paul has used the word “ Hupereperisseusen” in Rom 5:21 to speak abut the bounty of grace which is a superlative superlative degree --- abounded over and above.
3. Man’s faith in God .
This is the most vital part on man’s part without which justification is impossible. Without faith justification has no meaning at all. A man has to believe that
i) God loves him.
ii) Christ died on the cross on his behalf and rose again from the death.
iii) Salvation is in Christ Jesus only.
iv) Salvation is the free gift of God.
Let us observe how Paul has put forwarded his arguments on faith.
1. A man is justified by ----- the faith of Jesus Christ.
Gal 2:16;3:24:24 cf Rom 3:28
2. God would justify the heathen through faith. Gal 3:8 cf Rom 9:9
#5 Charles C. Ryrie
Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia (P 726)
3. The just shall live by faith. Gal 3:11 cf Rom 3:28
4. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law because of faith. Gal 3:13
5. We receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Gal 3:14
6. We are sanctified in Christ Jesus by faith. Gal 3:2 cf I Cor 1:2; Rom 15:16
7. Inheritance is by promise . Gal 3:18
8. The promise by faith of Jesus Christ ----- be given to them that believe. Gal 3:22
9. The blessing of Abraham through Christ ---- the promise ----- through faith. Gal 3:14
10. We are the children of God by faith in Christ. Gal
11. We through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. Gal 5:4
The Prove that a Man is Justified by Faith.
The Case of Abraham:
Paul has set the example of Abraham as a proof of God’s justification by faith. God made a covenant with Abraham and his seed (Gal 3:16) which was more than just a legal documented will. It was God’s promise to Abraham, a guarantee of justification.
“Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted
To him for righteousness.” 3:6
“For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise : but God gave it to Abraham by promise.
The ‘seed’ promised to Abraham in 3:16 points to one single person, that is, Jesus Christ. It means that the promise made to Abraham was also promised to Jesus Christ. The promised land, the land of Canaan, a geographical land was a type of an ever lasting possession, the heaven. The promise made to Jesus Christ was also a promise to all the believers in Christ. It means that the believers in Christ will also inherit the heaven and reign with Christ for eternity. The following points make it clear.
i) We become children of Abraham by faith. 3:7
ii) We receive the blessing of Abraham through
Jesus Christ. 3:14
Iii) We receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
1v) We become the seed of Abraham and heirs
according to the promise by being in Christ. 3:29
So the point is clear now, no man is justified by the law but by the grace of God through His promise to Abraham and His seed and to all that believe in Jesus Christ. William Barclay sums up the whole passage in a very comprehensive way in the following lines.
“at God’s covenant with Abraham was made. And nothing that came in later can change that covenant any more than anything can alter a will that has already been ratified and Again and again Paul comes back to the same point. The whole problem of human life is to get into a right relationship with God. So long as we are afraid of God, so long as God is a grim stranger, there can be no peace in life. How can we achieve this right relationship ? Shall we try to achieve it by a meticulous and the law, by performing endless deeds, by observing every smallest regulation the law lays down ? If we take that way we are forever in default, for man’s imperfection can never fully satisfy the perfecting of God; we are forever frustrated, forever climbing up a hill in which the peak never comes in sight, forever under condemnation ; but if we simply abandon this hopeless struggle and bring ourselves and our sin to God, then the grace of God opens its to us and we are at peace with a God who is no longer judge but father. Paul’s whole argument is that is what happened to Abraham ; it was that basis that God’s covenant with Abraham was made. And nothing that came in later can change that covenant any more than anything can alter a will that has already been ratified and signed.” #6
#6 William Barclay,
The letters to the Galatians and Ephesians
“The Daily Study Bible” (P 30)
Philadelphia, P.A. : West minister Press, 1954.