Justification by Faith

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Narrative Lectionary Year 3 (2020-2021)  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  40:03
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In the first of three sermons on Paul’s letter to the Galatians and what Paul says about the gospel, his own authority to preach the gospel, and what the gospel says about justification by faith and God’s grace.

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Eternal God. In the reading of the scripture, may your word be heard. In the meditations of our hearts. May your word be known. And then the faithfulness of Our Lives. May your words be shown. I'm in.

are reading this week is from Galatians from chapter 1, verses 13 through 17 and chapter 2, verses 11 through 21

You heard about my previous life in Judaism? How severely I harassed God's church and tried to destroy it. Advanced in Judaism Beyond many of my peers because I was much more militant about the traditions of my ancestors. But God has set me apart from birth and called me through his grace. He was pleased to reveal his son to me so that I might preach about him to the Gentiles. I didn't immediately consult, with any human being. I didn't go up to Jerusalem to see the men who are Apostles before me either, but I went away to Arabia and returned again to Damascus.

Phone cases came to Antioch. I opposed him to his face because he was wrong. He's been eating with the Gentiles before certain people came from James, but when they came, he began to back out and separate himself because he was afraid of the people who promoted circumcision. And the rest of the Jews who joined also joined him in this apocracy so that even Barn app that Barnabas got carried away with them in their hypocrisy. But when I saw that, they weren't acting consistently with the truth of the Gospel. I said to take a fuss in front of everyone. If you do you're a Jew live. Like a gentile and not like a Jew. How can you require the Gentiles to live like Jews? We are born Jews. We are not Gentile, Sinners. However, we know that a person isn't made righteous by The Works of the law, but rather to the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. We ourselves believed in Christ Jesus, so that we could be made righteous by the faithfulness of Christ and not by The Works of the law, because no one will be made righteous by The Works of the law. But if the disc, if it is discovered that we ourselves are sinners. While we are trying to be made righteous and Christ it is Christ, the servant of sin, absolutely not If I rebuild the very thing that I want to tour down, I show that I myself and bring in Breaking the Law. I died to the law through the law so that I could live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me and the life that I now live in my body, I live by faith and deed by the faithfulness of God son who loved me and gave himself for me. I don't ignore the grace of God because if we become righteous through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. Hearings the reading.

You're in Japan when I talk to people. About Maya my role as a, the Christian minister. That the Japanese term I often use is book. She which means priest a Christian. A Christian priest. And I told him that, that's what I do are or when I even just my talk to people about being a Christian.

often the first, the first thing people think of is the Catholic Church, the Roman Catholic Church, which has a relatively large presence in Japan, and I have been here for a long time since Saint Xavier, brought Roman Catholicism to Japan in I believe the 15th century. Alright, I don't quite remember.


I have to explain that you do know. I'm I'm not I'm not Catholic Roman Catholic, Protestant. I have to kind of explain that in the for the folks who know the difference because some some Japanese folks like me to know about Roman Catholics and Protestants. They kind of assumed that that Protestants are

Are all the single group that other. There are two groups of Christians Roman Catholics and Protestants. And they don't call us Protestants. They just call us Christians, Catholics and Christians. And part of this reason comes from the fact that for World War II, the Japanese government forced all of the Protestant denominations that were operating in Japan at the time through the through various Mission groups or whatever into a single denomination, the single Protestant denomination in Japan, so they could have Better control of them better better and they're able to keep tabs on them. Easier, that kind of thing. Now, since the end of the war at yet, at when the war ended, the one of the things that was put into the, the Constitution that was drafted by by largely by the American occupation, I was religious freedom of religious freedom, just like Americans have another meal or other folks around the world have in various countries and so since then, there has been no more Christian groups have come to Japan if setup Various organizations. And so it's no longer the case that there's only the two, but still that, the two are the biggest. So the majority of Japanese churches, fall into one of you to group through their Roman. Catholic other part of this would call the United Church of Christ, but that's not the same as the United for Christ in the US. So this, this Japanese engines Christ has the mini, many churches that are part of it and then the Roman Catholic Sunday in there, all these little ones separately. Do I describe this to folks that they are hard to understanding? Why the split occurred and why they're being multiple groups? Just as I'm sure most people. Down the street that I had that I interact with probably wouldn't understand. Why there so many different? That sect of Buddhists groups in the Buddhist groups in Japan for there are, there are there. Many different kinds me, kind of like the Christian Griffin. The two large categories in early subcategories.

But a large part of, of this. Split of course, in our history, I usually described it to them. I talk about, you know, that the Roman Catholic to run to the the pope and young single single hierarchy and the reformers broke off and that the Protestant churches are all independent or dependent.

And a lot of that. Have to do with the topic of a reading today. Have to do with the authority of. Administers and the authority of the Gospel. This service is the first of three, we're following the The Narrative Lectionary in our readings us this year we're we're just about at the end of the years lectionary readings including this week's are three left and the other three are all based around Galatians that the letter Paul's letter to the Galatians. And this is the first of those three.

And that the two kind of get a starting here, I would have to go back and we haven't met a reading. What you reading from Galatians. Are there part of The Narrative Lectionary readings for this week? But I want to give a little bit more context because I feel like these readings leave out to important parts of the of the story. And if you just jumped in to what we read today, you would be missing some interesting components to make sure thing. Background or history. The what is going on? What's what is this? All about this letter written by Paul the Apostle. Paul. And it's written to the churches in galatia. And there's some debate over exactly win. The letter was written, but that's not really important to our to our

The cash today just know that it was written sometime. Probably sometime between 45 and 60 AD. I'm just before the the the The Jewish Revolt that led to the destruction of the temple by the Roman army. So the infant point, the the temple was still in operation in in Jerusalem. Fairly early in the, in the life of the church. And what has happened? is that a group of of Apostles or disciples have come to have come to the churches of galatia bringing

With them, the news that that the the the Gentile Christians in the Jindal, Asia the the Christians who were not members of the Jewish faith before becoming Christians that they need to be circumcised and become Jews. Join the Jewish, Jewish faith to be Christians. That's, that's the proposition that is being asked of them. And Paul, of course, denies this via million. So he's, he's writing to the churches in galatia to tell them why they don't need to be circumcised him and become become Jewish to be Christians. And we only have one half of the story. We don't we don't actually know what the Galatians were writing to Paul. We only know what, Paul wrote back to the to the Galatians. And this seems to be a response. So I'm going to, I'm going to pack up, and read a couple of paragraphs before or our readings are today. The the letter starts out with the standard deduction, was Paul talking about about who he is, but he starts anything from Paul an apostle who has not sent from human authority were commissioned through human agency, but sent through Jesus Christ. And God the Father who raised him from the dead and from all the brothers and sisters with me to the churches in galatia. Grace and peace to you from God. The father in the Lord, Jesus Christ give himself. Before I send that he could Deliver Us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father to God, be the glory forever and always I'm in And then he says, I'm amazed that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ to follow another gospel. It's not really another gospel but certain people are confusing you and they want to change the gospel of Christ. However, even we ourselves are or a Heavenly Angel, should ever preach or even if we ourselves are heavily able to ever preached anything different, what we preach to you, they should be under a curse on repeating what we've said before, if anyone preaches, something different than what you received, they should be under a curse.

Then later, he says, brothers and sisters. I want you to know that the gospel preached isn't human in origin. I didn't receive it or learn it from a human. It came through a r, l, a revelation from Jesus Christ, and then you go and talk about. You heard my previous life in Judaism. So on so on, then he said that I didn't, he has, he has, he had his Revelations for God, revealed to him and then cuz I didn't immediately consult with any human being, but I didn't go up to Jerusalem to see that the current Apostles. Instead, I went out and begin. Begin preaching the gospel. Then after that, I prefer the first private reading. He says, then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit case us this name. By the way, this is important sits in the, in the version that says, it's rendered cephas. It's the Greek transliteration. The Greek spelling of the Aramaic word keep us, which is Stone, which is the nickname given to Peter by Jesus. and so,

Keep it keep us in here, is Peter Paul it or refer to Peter using this? This this nickname of rock or stone?

I think he went to visit Peter and stay with him for 15 days, but I didn't see any other of the I didn't see any other of the Apostles except James, the brother of the Lord. Thanks for the 4. I'm not lying about the things I've written to you, and then I went to the reason the Syrian it's Aaliyah, but I wasn't known personally by the Christian churches in Judea. They only heard a report on me.

3/4 after 14 years, I went to Drew from again with Barnabas and I took Titus a long. I went up there because of a revelation and I laid out the gospel that I preach to the Gentiles for them. But I didn't private with the influential leaders to make sure that I wouldn't be working or that I hadn't worked for nothing.

However, not even Titus, he was with me and who were the Greek was required to be circumcised. But both brothers and sisters who were brought in secretly slipped into to spy on our freedom, which we have in Christ Jesus. And to make a slave, we didn't give in and submit to them for a single moment, for the truth of the Gospel, we continue to be with you. And then he said the influential leaders didn't add anything to what I was preaching and whatever they whatever. They they were makes no difference to me because God doesn't show favor to them. But on the contrary they saw that. I had been given the responsibility to preach the gospel, to the people who aren't circumsized just as Peter. Have been to the circumcised. The one who empowered Peter to become an apostle to circumcise. Awesome. Hard me to become one to the Gentile James cases and John who are considered to be the key leaders shook hands with me. And Barnabas as equals when they recognize the grace that was given to me. So it was agreed that we would go to the Gentiles while they continue to the people who are circumcised. and then we have the reading about antioxidant between Cape. It came to Antioch. Apparently, this is where Paul Paul was there. I opposed him to his face because he was wrong. He had been eating with the Gentiles before certain people came from James. The, when they came to begin, to back out in separate himself, because he was afraid of the people who promoted circumcision and the rest of the Jews. Also, joined him in the topography so that even Barnabas got carried away with them in their apocracy. When I saw that, they weren't acting consistently with the truth of the Gospel. I said to keep this in front of everyone. If you do it though, you're a Jew, like live like a gentile and not a Jew, how can you reply the Gentiles to live like shoes? And then he goes in the discussion that we read earlier ending with. I don't know where the grace of God, because if we become righteous through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. That I just read you the entire first first, two chapters of Galatians, which is not a very long book. But this is what's important here it is we want to talk about why Paul wrote this letter and and what this thing was it happened to Antioch. So we can read writing a letter to the galatian. We talkin about a previous thing that happened to him in Antioch, that happened between him and Peter.

So what was this? So, One of the, the core practices, one of the core rituals of the early church was table.

Table Fellowship, I guess you would say, they would come together and sit around the table eating meal together and it would be all kinds of people would be a slave and free Greek and Jew male and female rich and poor well-known. And, and, and not well known at you, everyone came together and sat at equals at the table, People who are considered who were considered, which will it ritually unclean with those, you know, who were who are work through which we playing both. People who were considered to be kind of outcasts with people who were considered to be well-known and well-respected by Authority all came together to eat together at one group. And this was what's going on since this is what Peter has been doing all that, all this happened to me during this was the thing that the Jesus told him to do that, Jesus showed through his actions that sitting with with everybody. Eating with everybody but then something happened, a group came, a certain people came from James that he says, And they were women who came Peter began to not eat with the non circumcised members of the congregation would only eat with the members of the congregation who are circumcised choose. Now, the question is, why why did Peter do the name Peter? Obviously believed in the message that in the teachings of Jesus, where Jesus said that that everyone should eat together. I want him to be together the they're all you do it's not a it's not like Peter suddenly changed his mind and thought no we know the the Gentiles are below us.

If I Peter had and preach the gospel to the Gentiles in in Jerusalem so you know. Then against the Gentiles. What happened here? This is one of those kids. We're missing the other part of the story we're missing. What was sent to Paul Wright? What appears that happened here is that this was right before the rest of the written somewhere, between 45 and + 68, right before the Jewish Revolt in Jerusalem, which led to the Roman army coming in and crushing crushing the revolt and throwing the temple. So, they're there was a rise in Jewish nationalism, in in this time and I will, there's a great, a Great British comedy movie by the Monty Python books called The Life of Brian. Which if you've never seen it is is really hilarious. Although

Monty Python with my grandmother's favorite movie of all, but

They show in the movie that they're all of these, like, revolutionary groups in, in Jerusalem that are that are trying to you too.

Fervent Revolution. And then I think what, what happened that you went and I'm not the only one there, other film with a bunch more, have your food in little research and then into the me, what are things that we think happened is that the, the, the Christians in Jerusalem were

Running afoul of the, these kind of Jewish nationalists. 4. Not sticking to the Jewish dietary laws and other restrictions. Until you're there, they were, they were concerned that it would look bad on all of the Jews in Jerusalem, that would cause problems with the Roman government. And so, I, I think that

Peter's reasoning here with with probably to kind of help maintain the unity of the church by by laying low by not by not you know, rocking the boat. I'm too much.

The Paul vehement, Lee disagrees with his choice because the Paul it's a it's a very core. Maybe vcore theological question. The core Center of Christianity is this coming together of of disparate groups to to to be together in a single community. And so what

Paul, Steve computers reluctance to sit at table with the non circumcised Christians. Is. A false.

Barrier requirement that Peter had placed on those Christians. So another words he sees it as Peter and having creating two classes of of members within the community. The lower classes members being the non circumcised Gentiles and the upper-class remembers being circumcised Jewish, Christians who, you know, in the end there being a division for the. So by Peter saying, if you want to sit with the leaders of this congregation, if you want to be with the leaders of the car, gation than you need to be circumcised, and then become a Jew as well and follow the law, all the, all the, all the rules of a lock. nopales is saying is that this is Completely against. What God has done through through Jesus Christ for us that the God God has removed. All of these barriers that the God has ever moved the law as being Something that we must follow in order to be faith that you, that we are saved purely through the grace of God and and through the, the saving Act of Jesus's faithfulness and not. This is not faith in Jesus. This is the fate of Jesus, because Jesus was faithful, because Jesus, with faithful unto death, death on the cross that because of this, This act has has brought together, God and end Humanity.

And reconciled you made it to God. And through God's grace, we are saved. And then nothing we can do. No either, there's no action. We can take that would either help or hinder our Salvation because because we have no control over it, the only the only thing that controls our Salvation is God.

And so by by requiring that folks be circumcised and follow the law. Your? Making it seem like following the law is necessary, to be saved, to be, to be able to be justified, and Paul talks about justification. And how we are all just justified by Jesus's face and by God's grace. And this would be a significant talking point of the reformers in the v in the 16th century during the Reformation when they would when they would talk about. How people are saved? They would, they would talk a lot about them, especially Luther about justification by faith alone and not by works. And of course they were looking at it through their own, when's the length of the of the Theology of the time. And so they thought about justification in a very personal way I thought about it, you lose through it with very marked with their what was very concerned about how do I Centre, how am I Centre saved? Despite the fact that I can do nothing but stand, that was Luther, Kind of take on things Luther, Luther was with, very concerned with his own inability, to live up to what he saw as the, the legal requirement of the faith.

and it was his realization that it doesn't matter what he does that it's up to God and in God's grace to save him that freed him and made him feel the relief of not having to worry about that anymore in Denbigh and be freed from a concerned so that he could then do God's work in the world without the fear of Nose, losing it salvation. But I don't think Paul is talking about individual justification in this text. I think Paul is talking about corporate justification. Paul is not saying that individual people are justified by Jesus is faithful actions and by God's grace but that all of humanity is Justified that because of Jesus's face All of humanity is brought into the covenants with God and actually I think Paul might even argue that all of that is already in the Covenant with God. The coven with Abraham for example got to let you know through Abraham, all of humanity would be would be blessed. So I think Paul here talkin about corporate justification so he's saying that you do not need to follow the law to be justified to be seen as as righteous to be seen, as a willing at, as a willing to be seen as I'm

able to be saved, Mia, weather, and being Worth Saving, right? That that that everybody is is justified through the faith of Jesus Christ through the grace of God.

Info. His point is that when you when you begin to think that something has to be done, there's something you must do in order to be justified in order to be saved and you were creating artificial barriers between yourself and God. Do Paul thing, you know all of the Gentiles are Justified, they don't have to be circumcised. They don't have to follow the law. In fact, he said the law is an art is a barrier. The artificial barrier that have been put in place to to show us how we are unable to follow it but it's there just to show us that we can't follow it. Even when we try we can't do it. I'm in. So he used chastising Peter 4. kind of, Giving in to the demands of other group. And in telling the story he is the same time.

informing the car you shouldn't at Glacier about what he what do you think about the folks who come who are telling them that they need to be circumcised to be part of the of the community? He's saying, no, you don't need that. You're all Justified already.

A lot of talk since the Reformation has to have been a lot of Thurmond, a lot of books, you know, things have been written about. What would it mean? Just keishin by faith. What does it mean? Your versus Just Fishin by work. We're just by faith. Do we not have to do anything? Do we not need to do good in the world? Can we can we be completely evil and, and all will be well. will know in the end of the point would be that

when you are Justified when your face.

You can't help but do good in the world and it there's nothing you can do. So, it's another thing people can't get this wrapped around their just confusing their head. They think, well, I'm saved because I believe, and that's not true because if you're saved because you believe because you profess a belief in Jesus Christ than that, is still a work that is still something that you have to do. You have to profess it? Info Paul, I believe would say in this case, that that is, that is false that in the false teaching because that it puts puts it on you and you have no control, you have no ability to save yourself. Only God's grace can save you. And in fact that Universalist, we believe that God's grace takes everybody, Right.

God's grace, Steve everybody because God is all loving and wants everyone to be saved.

Instead your belief, your face, when your faith is much deeper than just believe faith is about. It's about loyalty. And, and Trust more than just, like, intellectual believe your faith. Like I like, Jesus has faith. He is a byproduct of God's grace. So it's what Paul was talking about when it was, he has a full discussion about this didn't come to me by the people, is that this Revelation, this gospel didn't come to my other people. If it came to me that the director of elation by Jesus Christ. Well, he's not saying that that Jesus told him the gospel text that the text of the Gospel to get, don't forget the, the, the text of the gospels, were written down, until after this before. But we have written were all written. After this before with written, Paul, not talking about the the, the text about the literal stories, Paul had probably already heard those. He probably he was, he was going around persecuting the Christians because of their belief, he probably already heard all of these things about it. His point was that he had this experience kind of mystical experience of revelation of direct revelation, About the truth of the Gospel. Not not the story of the Gospel, but the fact that it was true, he had the sudden revelation of the truth of it and that was when the veil is lifted and he saw that, he said, he thought Jesus, he's all gods. God Son, write the god, lifted the veil and allowed him to see it, and then that will the weather causing and then he was called to go and preach the gospel and he wouldn't priest it in any preach it as he understood it. When we get here, we saw the gospel. We don't mean, the story is necessarily the actual, like, narrative, we mean what he saw, as the core of the Gospel, love one another You know, come together, all of these kind of cord messages. He talks about in all of his letters and re-enrollment and Corinthians and Galatians. All of his letter, he has his core idea. What it means to be a Christian, this is what he was going around preaching. Any, what are you saying? It is a 40 to preach that didn't come from the church. It didn't come from Peter. It didn't come from the, the, the apostles in Jerusalem, he never tried to join the 12. You never tried to become a part of the of the leadership. That Authority for him to preach. The gospel came directly from God. Had a calling from God. And then he went in and checked, he went, he went later it to the end, and told them what he's been preaching, because he wanted to make sure that you have the D. I think a that he hadn't missed something. It's the one thing she was missing that his understanding of the teaching was correct, because after all, he wasn't, he wasn't there directly, you didn't know Jesus directly and indirectly to make sure that that these Christian in Jerusalem weren't teaching. Something other than what he understood to be the gospel because in that case, that would also have been bad because he was very, very compelled about what, what? He understood the gospel message. And if the folks and recent were teaching something different and maybe they were wrong and that we need correcting. That's why he went and private to the leadership disgusted with them to see to see what they were, what they were thinking. And what he found is that in fact he was preaching, the gospel just as they were that that they didn't add anything to what he was preaching, and they didn't require that Titus kitchen tile, who was there with him, they didn't require tied up to be circumcised. So obviously, they didn't think the circumcision was necessary, was a necessary part of salvation of being a Christian. This is all backing up, backing up what he is hearing from the galatian. So, He told the graysons. Look, I'm new. I came to you. I talk to you about about the gospel. Why are you suddenly believe in his other? People have come in. Why, why are you throwing me a aside for the other people who are trying to tell you something different trying to tell you that, there's it's artificial work that you must do if you want to be a Christian. If you want to be saved, don't believe them. You know, if you don't, if you can't eat any says, know. If you can't believe me directly to my director of Revelation from God, I also went and talked to Peter, I also went and talked to James and they were like, yeah. That's, that's right. You're doing it right. You know, if you can, please put the authority and himself, but he also has accountability. That's why I talked about last week that the accountability is important. We haven't felt like a story of the call from God, but it all got accountability, y'all have to go through the rest of the of the community. And if in Covenant with them, then communication with them, have accountability from them that that he is indeed teaching the the correct message. But instead, with all really important, I think the way it's important, we understand that just in case in by faith is not about us believing intellectually in something and it's not about us even trusting, it's about trusting God. It's about this kind of sudden revelation of the truth of the message that that God places in to us, that we have no control over the we just think. Oh my God. That's right. I understand now, I see if he now And if we don't have that, that's also okay I don't want to make sure I make sure do, you know not everyone has had an experience of that, okay? The point is that there's nothing you can do, there's no, no, intellectual believe you can hold or not hold there's no, there's no physical thing in the world that you can do or not do that, will positively, or negatively affect your justification. Your salvation that is all in the hand of God. That's all based on God's grace. And if Universalist, we believe is that, God will judge of 250 people. God will save all people and indeed, I think that the text from Paul, really back this up, you know, it's not like Universal Zen comes out of nowhere at this. Is this is the text. These are the kinds of texts and find talk about this, where Paul talks about the, you know what, the corporate location of all the above all people, not just of particular groups.


Paul was right to the galatian because folks are coming and staying at the Galatians need to be circumcised to become Jews. And Paul was saying, that's not true. Paula saying there's nothing you need to do. God's got it, handled. God has had already saved. You guys are Justified. You, you don't need to worry about that. That's not what you were about. What you'd worry about is being a good community meeting Community. With one another bring in the outsider Jews and and Gentiles slave and free male and female rich and poor everyone coming together and being one can be together, that is the gospel and that the authority that Paul had to preach. The gospel came directly from, from God, and Jesus Christ. Also, he was in Covenant with, he was In discussions with your talk to Peter and James and the other Apostles and had accountability from them, that he was indeed, teaching the true gospel. New Mexico, who will continue with, where, where Paul goes at this next. And so I invite you to read through this, this the whole again, the whole letter is always the only a few pages. I knew you can we can read through it and in a few minutes, feel free read through it. Be no pick up that the Bible study, go to the Bible study group and discuss this in more detail. I think the pistol is really fat fitting. Nothing really important stuff for us to talk about. So I look forward to to the next to sermons on the finish up Galatians and finish up the Easter season.

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