Why is Galatians Important Today?
Why is Galatians important? Because it deals with issues that have been relevant to the Christian faith throughout the entire Christian era and through to our day.
One of the issues that Galatians deals with is “Authority.” Believers in every age must decide on the foundation of theological decision making, whose authority that they will submit to. Who decides who or what should be believed? It is the “church,” tradition, Scripture, or some other form of authority?
Galatians’ forceful answer is that every teaching must be tested by the teaching of Christ and his apostles, along with the Old Testament Prophets. This is the only type of authority that we can accept. Never ever should we submit to an authority that is based upon tradition rather than sound Scriptural Doctrine.
The teaches of the New Testament are reinforced by the teachings of the Old Testament forming two witnesses as to the character and love of our Heavenly Father, The Son of Man and the Holy Spirit. This authority alone should regulate the teachings, beliefs and practices of the church in all generations, including ours and all generations to come.
A second theme of continuing relevance is the plan of salvation,, the greatest need of every person in each generation. Galatians, along with Romans is Paul’s most intensive treatment of the topic. Paul forcefully states that justification is by grace alone through faith (Galatians 2:16; Romans 1:16). But also in both he points out that obedience to God’s great law of love is the Natural response to the gift of salvation (Galatians 5:1-6, 10; Romans 1:6; Romans 6:1-14; Romans 13;8-10; Romans 16:26). Thus Paul maintains a consistent balance between saving grace and our response to it.
Repeatedly, throughout Christendom, it is the lack of such balance that has lead the church to the point of crisis and sometimes past that point. Why? Because there are those that neglect the obedience part because they are focused on the justifying Grace of Christ. This is a wonderful thing to focus on, but we must be balanced, because there are others that are all caught up in the keeping of the law. But the Bible teaches and Galatians along with Romans that tells us that both aspects work together. It is grace through Christ by faith that produced within us our works which includes keeping of God’s law. Our natural response to establishing and maintaining by the grace of God a relationship with God that enables us to keep God’s law and do His work here on earth. Not because we feel obligated, but because it is a way of returning our thanks for the wonderful gift of salvation through Christ’s sacrifice on the law.
Is this an easy thing to do? Certainly not! Why? Because humans have a tendency to focus on one thing and one thing only and all too often we think we are focusing on Christ when in fact we are substituting something else. A doctrine, a tradition, another object, and even another person instead of focusing on Christ. When this happens, we cannot live balanced well rounded Christian lives. Our Salvation suffers because we focus entirely on grace without works or works forgetting about grace. And may I remind us all grace and works without love is nothing more than sounding brass or tinkling bells. It just draws attention to ourselves and not to the one that is really Important, and that is God the Father.
The third item Paul is concerned with should be of equal concern to us today, and that is UNITY within the body of believers. All through history and even into the future the church will face potential division over racial, gender, economic, and marginal theological and lifestyle issues.
Galatians was written in response to these very problems that faced the early Christian church and are still present today. These issues really should mean nothing to us if we are one in Christ through faith (Galatians 3:26-29). It has been said that if a church does not defend in practice the equality and unity of all in Christ, it implicitly communicates that justification is not by faith but instead by whatever means it feels it should hold up against another.
A fourth relevance is Gaitanis’s uplifting of the law of God as centered on Love! Galatians emphasizes the fact that “love which fulfills the law is the love active amidst dissension, pride, and envy (Galatians 5:14-15, 26). It is no accident that Paul lists Love as the first aspect of the fruit of the Spirit.
Lastly this love that Paul speaks about is the very thing the church and all society needs as it moves into new cultures and racial groupings. We are not to convert to our society, we are to baptism and make disciples in the image of God.
One of the greatest challenges facing the early church and the church of today is the importance of distinguishing between the core of the gospel and the cultural baggage of those who present it.
May God bless us and keep us and send His Holy Spirit to give us wisdom and understanding of His truth that are within Holy Scripture, Amen.