Living by faith rather than by works of law did not only change the people of Galatia. It also changed the Church 1500 years later through the person of Martin Luther. (If you don't know the person of Martin Luther, and you enjoy following my preaching, consider taking a moment or two and look him up. Just google his name and you'll find a wealth of information.) He is a very controversial figure (for a number of reasons), yet we know that God used Luther to institute the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century, and it is from that little book known as Galatians that Luther had his awakening regarding justification by faith.
John Wesley, who was the father of Methodism (the group from which the Nazarenes come), would later have his own awakening - his "heart warming" experience - from a reading of Luther's preface to the epistle to another book: the epistle to the Romans. Galatians and Romans are very interconnected because of Paul's discussion about faith and works in both books.
The point I am making is straightforward: the book of Galatians is foundational for all Christian preaching and teaching, and my only regret is that I cannot cover it on a more verse by verse basis. So here's the challenge to all who have enjoyed my preaching: go back to Galatians. Make it your own. There is a wealth of treasures in that little book. Look up a word. See how many times that word is used in the epistle. Ask yourself about the date and setting of the book. Was the epistle written before or after the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15? What does it matter? And how about that "present evil age" Paul refers to in Galatians 1:4? What could that be? How does it relate to our lives today? The questions are endless when you start digging. Questions breed more questions, and that's the way it should be.
Now I am aware that this blog post may be a bit "boring" or "dull" to some of you. It does not have any humor in it, and it may not seem "relevant" to your day today. However, I believe that sometimes a preacher's blog should be about our foundation: the Word of God.
So one more thing for people who want to dig: Below I list six places where Paul refers to the cross. What is going on with each? How does Paul make the cross his own and what significance did it have for his life? What significance does it have for your life? Is it "relevant?" I think we know the answer, but how?
Cross verses in Galatians:
2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.
3:1 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly exhibited as crucified.
5:11 But my friends, why am I still being persecuted if I am still preaching circumcision? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed.
5:24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
6:12 It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that try to compel you to be circumcised--only that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ
6:14 May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.