Galatians Sermon Series # 3

by   |  03.04.19  |  Sermons

The Cruciformed Life

Galatians (2:15-21) 2:19-21

Year C, Proper 6

 Focus: God calls disciples to live cruciformed lives.

Function: To exhort the congregation to live cruciform lives.

Plotline: Hallmark texts exemplify the heart of the gospel. Being a hallmark text requires heavy unpacking. And once unpacked, such texts call us towards God’s eternal purposes.

  1. I do not know your favorite text in Galatians. Which text is placed on the refrigerator magnet? Some texts are heralded as a hallmark text; a text with the stamp of quality embossed on it. The text I was asked to memorize in college was Gal 2:19-20. Hallmark texts exemplify the heart of the gospel. And as we move towards this grand summary of Paul’s theology, let’s summarize a bit.
    1. The gospel is complete; there are no supplements.
    2. Who sets things right?
      1. God! If you fail to grasp that it is God who justifies, makes us righteous, and includes us into the people of God, then it is an easy step to start enforcing boundaries of who is in and who is out. We begin to monitor their passports at the gate. God’s seal of approval is no longer enough.
      2. The gospel is not an option or a lifestyle or a decision; it is the whole of life.

2:15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith of Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by the faithfulness of Christ, and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law. 17 But if, in our effort to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have been found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 But if I build up again the very things that I once tore down, then I demonstrate that I am a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; 20 and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.

  1. Being a hallmark text requires heavy unpacking. Some texts are so dense with the gospel of God that a casual reading does not cut it. Let’s pause here and do some deeper Bible study. I do not have some funny story or a heart-warming illustration. Let’s just talk about the text for a moment. Not every verse …
    1. 16 yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through the faith of Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by the faith of Christ. (Jesus’s faithful obedience; the faithfulness of Jesus). The KJV got this translation right. And that is the same point made in Hebrews 10:9, Jesus came to earth for the expressed purpose of doing the will of God.
    2. God accomplishes justification through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ (16a). We do put our faith, our trust in Jesus (16b), but Paul’s emphasis is that the story of Jesus Christ is about the one “who gave himself to deliver us from the present evil age” (1:4). This is the gospel. And you cannot qualify it or add to it.
    3. Is there one central and uniting theme throughout Paul’s writings? Yes, Cruciformity. Paul says, “I preach nothing but Christ and him ___________.” Yet nowhere does Paul re-tell the story. But the story is on every page. Student assignment I give in my Preaching Paul Students are to take their assigned portions of Paul and note every time Paul either alludes to or explicitly references the cross. The final count always impresses on them how much Paul relies on the narratival sub-structure of the cross.
    4. Cruciformity in Gal emphasizes that it is both a cross-shaped way of being in the world and a resurrection-shaped way of being in the world.
  2. And once unpacked, such texts call us towards God’s eternal purposes. Let’s grapple a bit with the implications of this text.
    1. ppt Slide from Desiring the Kingdom: Marketplace (malls/online shopping), Education, Sports, Wall Street, Entertainment, Nationalism, Politics … and social media, happiness, escapes of all sorts.
    2. I check a news page everyday on the web. I am amused at how much celebrity gossip is present. The question? Why am I checking the page everyday…national news, sports, stocks. I too have my desires.
    3. I am crucified to these idols, the life I live in this world I live by the faith of the one who gave himself for me. That life should not just be in my confession but also in my behaviors.
    4. What about here at church?
      1. Paul’s practice for conflict resolution … And if you listen closely, this hallmark text solves all your divisive problems. Not all your problems, for living a crucified life might just create some problems.
      2. Can I model losing? Even teaching a Bible class, do I have to have my way? Do I have to have the last word? Do you have to please me?
      3. Change Agents? Let’s change this church according to my vision of community. It’s Idolatry. Creating the church into my own image.
      4. Virtues and Doctrines—as a whole. What you believe and how you live are integrated. What you know transforms how you behave. The way you see God and the way you see yourself in the world are one and the same.
      5. Examples of doctrinal issues…I cannot even pick an example without it causing someone some heartburn. I can use someone else’s examples e.g., one cup congregations. But I cannot choose examples that are local. You want to hear a hard word from the pulpit, “Until you give up your examples, you have yet to understand the implications of the gospel.” And then the life we live (virtues & doctrine) “we live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
      6. I died to the law, Paul says. Similar to Rom 7:1ff – I died. The law did not die. No, Paul says in Rom 7 that the law is holy, righteous, good, and spiritual. The culprit in Rom 7 is not the law. The culprit is sin in me. The law did not die. Paul says, “I died to the law.” I died and that marriage relationship is now over. And as a dead person, I am now free from that covenant. I can now marry again. I am now free. So Paul says, 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; 20 and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

And that’s the call of the gospel church.