e come this morning to the final three verses of
Galatians. We could have finished these last week except for the
fact that I want us to focus on the phrase "the Israel of God" so we
will be clear on what it means. So this morning we are going to
quickly look at these last verses and then spend the rest of our
time looking at who is "the Israel of God."
(NASB) And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon
them, and upon the
Israel of God. 17 From now on let no one cause
trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus. 18
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren.
Let's break these verses down so we can
understand what Paul is saying:
Galatians 6:16 (NASB) And those who will walk
by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the
Israel of God.
What is the "rule" that we are to walk by?
The "rule" ties directly to the previous verses. Paul has no boast
except in the cross. That is the "rule" of his life. There is only
one walk that we are to walk, and that is the way of the cross -
which, as we said last week, is metonymy for justification by faith
alone. We are to walk by that rule. It is a very
narrow path and very few find it. Those who find it are the remnant
chosen by grace whom God has drawn.
Salvation does not come in all colors and
descriptions and paths and highways. It only comes through faith in
John 14:6 (NASB) Jesus said to him, "I am the
way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but
Those who walk by this rule, the rule of
salvation by grace alone, have obtained mercy. They are
"the Israel of God."
Mercy - This is the first
time the word "mercy" appears in the Book of Galatians. What does
that word mean? In the Bible it is used to describe the forgiveness
of God to those who are in a pitiable, helpless condition.
There is no peace in trying to earn your
way to heaven, which is what adding the law to Christ's work does.
Working your way to heaven could never bring peace. It only brings
doubt and confusion, because it always raises the question: How many
good works are enough to get me into heaven, and have I done enough?
When God's standard is perfection, the
answer is always: I could never do enough. And that's the point of
God's mercy. He knows we can't do enough, which is why He sent His
Son into the world to do what we couldn't; keep the law perfectly
and then die for the penalty of sin we deserved as He then overcame
the grave by rising bodily three days later.
Peace and mercy be
upon them - Just as Paul
was willing to pronounce a curse on those who taught false doctrines
(Galatians 1:8-9), he is also willing to give a blessing to those
who walk according to this rule.
Galatians 6:17 (NASB) From now on let no one
cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of
Some think "let no one cause
trouble for me" is Paul's way to say to the Christians
of Galatia: Don't be a trouble to me by continuing to play around
with these false doctrines - I've suffered enough already.
Circumcision was a ritual
scarring of the body. It had become a badge of self-importance, a
religious way of promoting pride. But Paul shares that he underwent
a different kind of scarring in the service of Christ: scars from
the stones that had been thrown at him; scars from the manacles that
had been placed on his hands; scars from the whippings and beatings
he had received; calluses on his feet from the miles he had walked
to preach Christ.
Brand-marks is from the Greek word
"stigma". This is a word that was used of the marking of slaves'
bodies in the first century. In the ancient world, slaves were
branded with the name of their master. Most likely what Paul means
is that the scars of the things he had suffered for Christ are the
brands which show him to be Christ's slave.
Paul uses this term to make the statement:
I belong to Jesus. I got my scars legitimately, not because I wanted
to impress anybody, not to promote my own religious beauty, but
because my commitment to the Lord I love cost me something. My scars
are the evidence of my service in his cause.
This verse challenges me to ask myself
about the evidence of my Christianity. I have never suffered a
beating for the cause of Christ; I don't have a physical mark on my
body as a result of my commitment to him. What other kinds of
physical evidence should I look for to indicate the strength of my
faith? Some Christians I know have calluses on their hands, because
they have helped the needy. Some can point to the ashes of
paraphernalia they have deliberately abandoned - pornography, drugs,
alcohol, etc. - to follow Christ. Some have homes, cars and other
things that have been damaged, because they have been hospitable to
strangers. Our bank accounts might show evidence of depletion for
the sake of the gospel. James, the Lord's brother, was nicknamed
"Camel-knees," because his knees were disfigured from the hours he
had spent in prayer.
When others look at you, do they see marks
that tell them you belong to the Lord Jesus Christ?
Galatians 6:18 (NASB) The grace of our Lord
Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren.
This is how Paul started this letter to
the Galatians as he said in:
Galatians 1:3 (NASB) Grace to you and peace
from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ,
Paul wants to end on a positive note and
grace is as positive as it gets, because grace from God is
undeserved, but is given none the less, because He loves us. It is
grace from God from beginning to end. And it is by His grace, not by
works, that we are saved; be it circumcision, water baptism, or good
deeds in and of themselves, which tries to place us as a friend of
God and a child of God.
The closing word "Amen" means: "truly" or
"So let it be." Everything that Paul has written in this letter, as
well as his loving concern for the Galatians, is absolutely true and
Now for the rest of our time this morning, I
want to focus on the phrase at the end of verse 16: "the
Israel of God."
There is a great disagreement within
Christiandom as to who the "Israel of God" is. Does this refer to
the nation Israel or to the Church of Jesus Christ? How you
answer this question is very important. If you are
going to understand the Bible and its promises, you must understand
who "Israel" is. What we believe influences how we behave.
What Christian leaders teach about the Jews and Arabs influences how
Christians view the events unfolding in the Middle East. I also believe that there is a direct
connection between the church's view of
Israel and terrorism. I say this because I believe
that our view of Israel has affected our foreign policy. This morning
I'd like to attempt to prove that statement.
It is my belief that a wrong view of who
Israel is affected all Americans on September
11, 2001. I believe
that the attack on the twin towers in
all the lives that were lost that day were a result of a faulty view
It seems that Osama Bin Laden agrees with me
that our view of Israel is connected to terrorism. Listen to what he
said: "Our terrorism is a good accepted terrorism, because it's
against America, it's for the purpose of defeating oppression so
America would stop supporting Israel, who is killing our children."
So Bin Laden says that terrorism is connected
to America's support of
Israel. And I say that
America's support of
Israel is tied to a faulty theology. Because of
Dispensationalism and Christian Zionism, most American Christians
believe that we have a biblical mandate to stand with and
The Dispensationalist, as well as the Zionist,
believes that the nation of
Israel is God's chosen people, the sole
inheritors of God's promises, and that to be a part of
Israel, one must be of the proper lineage and
is a political movement
built on the belief that the Jewish people deserve by right to
possess the land of Palestine as their own. Christian Zionism
is essentially a Christian prophetic support for Zionism;
seeing the modern state of
Israel, and the equivalent of the biblical
Christian Identity teaches a similar idea that
Israel is actually composed of the descendants of the
ten "lost tribes" that became the Anglo-Saxon and Germanic peoples.
According to this view, to be a part of
"Israel," one must be of this fleshly lineage. This is
unbiblical as well, for, just as with Dispensationalism, the
emphasis is placed upon the flesh and temporal,
instead of upon the Spirit and the eternal. Put
another way, according to these systems of doctrine, the focus is
taken from the cross of Jesus Christ, and is instead placed upon the
merits of man.
Let me give you a couple illustrations of the
Zionist mindset. An advertisement appeared in the New York Times
entitled "Open Letter to Evangelical Christians from Jews for
Jesus." In it they called upon evangelicals to show solidarity
with the State of Israel: Now is the time to stand with
Israel. Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, our
hearts are heavy as we watch the images of violence and bloodshed in
friends, "The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable" (Romans
). So must our support for the survival of
Israel in this dark hour be irrevocable. Now is the
time for Christians to stand by
At the Third International Christian Zionist
Congress held in Jerusalem in February, 1996 under the auspices of
International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, some 1,500 delegates from
over 40 countries unanimously affirmed a proclamation and
affirmation of Christian Zionism including the following beliefs:
The Lord in His zealous love for
Israel and the Jewish People blesses and curses
peoples and judges nations based upon their treatment of the Chosen
People of Israel.... According to God's distribution of
nations, the Land of Israel has been given to the Jewish People by God as
an everlasting possession by an eternal covenant. The Jewish People
have the absolute right to possess and dwell in the Land, including
Judea, Samaria, Gaza and the Golan.
In 1997 the ICEJ gave support to a full
page advert placed in the New York Times entitled "Christians
Call for a United Jerusalem" signed by 10 evangelical leaders
including Pat Robertson, chairman of Christian Broadcasting Network
and president of the Christian Coalition; Oral Roberts, founder and
chancellor of Oral Roberts University; Jerry Falwell, founder of
Moral Majority; Ed McAteer, President of the Religious Roundtable;
and David Allen Lewis, President of Christians United for Israel:
We, the undersigned Christian spiritual
leaders, communicating weekly to more than 100 million Christian
Americans, are proud to join together in supporting the continued
sovereignty of the State of Israel over the holy city of
Jerusalem. We support
Israel's efforts to reach reconciliation with its
Arab neighbors, but we believe that
Jerusalem or any portion of it shall not be negotiable
in the peace process. Jerusalem must remain undivided as the eternal capital
of the Jewish people.
Readers were invited to:
Join us in our holy mission to ensure that
Jerusalem will remain the undivided, eternal capital of
Israel. The battle for
Jerusalem has begun, and it is time for believers in
Christ to support our Jewish brethren and the State of Israel. The
time for unity with the Jewish people is now.
Given so much teaching like this, you can
understand why so many Christians believe that we are to be
supportive of Israel. Where do these Christian leaders get the idea
that Christians are to stand with and protect
Israel? Well, the whole Old Testament is filled with
promises that God made to
Israel. The nation was uniquely chosen by God to be
blessed and to be a source of blessing to the whole world:
Deuteronomy 7:6-8 (NASB) "For you are a holy
people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be
a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on
the face of the earth. 7 "The LORD did not set His love on you nor
choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples,
for you were the fewest of all peoples, 8 but because the LORD loved
you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the LORD
brought you out by a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of
slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of
It was to
Israel that God revealed himself, it was
Israel that received the Messianic promises. To mess
with Israel is to mess with God himself according to:
Zechariah 2:8 (NASB) For thus says the LORD of
hosts, "After glory He has sent me against the nations which plunder
you, for he who touches you, touches the apple of His
They were God's chosen people:
Amos 3:1-2 (NASB) Hear this word which the
LORD has spoken against you, sons of Israel, against the entire
family which He brought up from the land of Egypt, 2 "You only
have I chosen among all the families of the earth; Therefore,
I will punish you for all your iniquities."
The word "chosen" indicates an intimate
relationship. Out of all the families of the earth, God chose
Israel. They had a very privileged position.
On August 5,
2005 "CWNews" ran this
Q&A between Middle East Correspondent Chris Mitchell (who lives
in Israel) and Wendy Griffith about the settler's
reaction to the pullout of the Gaza Strip:
WENDY GRIFFITH: Why do they feel so strongly about
CHRIS MITCHELL: A lot of it is both spiritual
and political. Politically, when
Israel took over the Gaza Strip after the 1967 war,
the Israel government settled many of these people there
to settle the land. So it's a political decision that they would
inhabit that part of Israel. The spiritual part is backed by the
Scriptures, for example in Amos, where it talks about Jews will
resettle the land and never be uprooted.
Mitchell says that Amos promises the Jews will
never be uprooted from the land. Now, with privilege comes
responsibility. Look at the last part of the verse in Amos 3:2. This
seems to be something many Christians miss: "Therefore I
will punish you for all your iniquities." With great
privilege comes great responsibility.
Israel became proud and missed the true end of all
they had; the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to atone for their
After ministering among the Judahites for
over three years, Christ declared to the nation:
Matthew 21:43 (NASB) "Therefore I say to you,
the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and be given to a
nation producing the fruit of it.
What did He mean? Did Christ really take away
from the "Jews" the national blessings of a Messianic kingdom? And
to whom was the kingdom of God given? First of all, we can confirm that the
inheritance was taken away from the nation of
Israel after the flesh:
Romans 9:6-8 (NASB) But it is not as though
the word of God has failed. For they are not all
Israel who are descended from
Israel; 7 neither are they all children because they
are Abraham's descendants, but: "THROUGH ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS WILL
BE NAMED." 8 That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are
children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded
These verses confirm that something has been
taken away... and that not everyone that is a racial part of
national Israel are the true eternal
Israel, nor are they the children of God. What we are
discovering when we try to relate the Old Testament nation of Israel
to the New Covenant is that the fleshly nation was but a
shadow of the heavenly nation of the spiritual
Israel, which can only be entered into by Spirit, not by the flesh.
Therefore, physical Israelites, could, from then on, have no place
in the nation of Israel (which is after the Spirit) except on the
basis of personal salvation, through their faith in Christ Jesus.
Most Christians don't seem to realize that
because of Israel's disobedience, God is finished with national
Israel. Let's look at what Jesus had to say to the
nation of Israel:
Matthew 21:18-19 (NASB) Now in the morning,
when He returned to the city, He became hungry. 19 And seeing a lone
fig tree by the road, He came to it, and found nothing on it except
leaves only; and He said^ to it, "No longer shall there ever be any
fruit from you." And at once the fig tree
I believe that the fig tree is used here as a
figure for the nation Israel. Throughout
Israel's history, God constantly hungered for His
people to bring forth fruit. The gospel writers spoke of the
physical hunger of Jesus Christ as symbolic of God's hunger for
fruit from His people. Jesus pronounces a curse on
Israel because of their failure to bear fruit and
their ultimate rejection of Him. Many of Jesus' parables referred to
Israel's rejection and thus their destruction:
Matthew (NASB) "Listen to another parable. There was
a landowner who PLANTED A VINEYARD AND PUT A WALL AROUND IT AND DUG
A WINE PRESS IN IT, AND BUILT A TOWER, and rented it out to
vine-growers, and went on a journey.
Who is the vineyard? According to Isaiah 5, it
is Israel. Now keep this in mind as we continue in
Matthew 21:34-39 (NASB) "And when the harvest
time approached, he sent his slaves to the vine-growers to receive
his produce. 35 "And the vine-growers took his slaves and beat one,
and killed another, and stoned a third. 36 "Again he sent another
group of slaves larger than the first; and they did the same thing
to them. 37 "But afterward he sent his son to them, saying, 'They
will respect my son.' 38 "But when the vine-growers saw the son,
they said among themselves, 'This is the heir; come, let us kill
him, and seize his inheritance.' 39 "And they took him, and threw
him out of the vineyard, and killed him.
Jesus is prophesying what the Jews will do
Matthew 21:40-43 (NASB) "Therefore when the
owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vine-growers?"
41 They said to Him, "He will bring those wretches to a wretched
end, and will rent out the vineyard to other vine-growers, who will
pay him the proceeds at the proper seasons." 42 Jesus said to them,
"Did you never read in the Scriptures, 'THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS
REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone; THIS CAME ABOUT FROM
THE LORD, AND IT IS MARVELOUS IN OUR EYES'? 43 "Therefore I say
to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and be given
to a nation producing the fruit of it.
Jesus tells them very clearly that because of
their rejection of Him, the kingdom of God will be taken from them. Let's look at another
Matthew 22:1-3 (NASB) And Jesus answered and
spoke to them again in parables, saying, 2 "The kingdom of heaven
may be compared to a king, who gave a wedding feast for his son. 3
"And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to
the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to
The King is God, the son is Christ, and those
invited are the nation Israel:
Matthew 22:4-7 (NASB) "Again he sent out other
slaves saying, 'Tell those who have been invited, "Behold, I have
prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all
butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast."' 5
"But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm,
another to his business, 6 and the rest seized his slaves and
mistreated them and killed them. 7 "But the king was enraged and
sent his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and set their city
Verse 7 is a very clear prediction of the A.D.
70 judgment of Jerusalem. National
Israel lost its privilege.
The Bible clearly speaks of
Israel's total destruction as a judgment of God. Yet
most Christians still believe they are God's chosen people. Listen
to what God says to Israel:
Deuteronomy 28:20-21 (NASB) "The LORD will
send upon you curses, confusion, and rebuke, in all you undertake to
do, until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly, on account
of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken Me. 21 "The
LORD will make the pestilence cling to you until He has consumed you
from the land, where you are entering to possess
The assertion, therefore, that the modern
State of Israel has God's blessing is totally without foundation in
Jesus predicted that the
Temple would be destroyed and the Jews exiled from
the land as God's judgment for their failure to recognize Him as the
Luke 19:41-44 (NASB) And when He approached,
He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, "If you had known in
this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they
have been hidden from your eyes. 43 "For the days shall come upon
you when your enemies will throw up a bank before you, and surround
you, and hem you in on every side, 44 and will level you to the
ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you
one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of
In A.D. 70 the lights went out in
Israel for good. When the tribulation was over,
physical Israel ceased to exist. The Old Covenant was over and
the New fully instituted.
What about all the promises that God made to
Israel? The whole Old Testament was simply packed
with promises that God made to
Israel. Promises of a land, and a temple, and peace
and victory. Now, if the nation
Israel was to be destroyed then what happens to all
the promises God made to Israel? Has God's word failed? No! We know that God
is faithful, and that He always keeps His word.
In Romans 9 Paul shows his readers, first
century Romans, and us today, that
Israel's rejection is not inconsistent with the
promises of God. To say that the nation is accursed is not to say
that God's promises have failed:
Romans 9:6 (NASB) But it is not as though the
word of God has failed. For they are not all
Israel who are descended from
"For they are not
all Israel who are of
What does that mean? God never promised unconditionally covenantal
blessings to each offspring of Abraham. God never intended that all
of the nation Israel would be redeemed. Within national
Israel is "true
Israel," or "spiritual
Israel." He is telling them not to count on their
physical descent. The true
Israel is the
Israel of faith, not birth. The promises God made to
Old Testament Israel are fulfilled in the
church of Jesus
Galatians (NASB) Now the promises were spoken to
Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, "And to seeds," as
referring to many, but rather to one, "And to your seed," that is,
Paul is saying that the primary recipients
of the Abrahamic covenant were Abraham and Christ. This, of course,
would include all who are in Christ - believers. So ALL BELIEVERS
are recipients of the Abrahamic covenant!
This promise is not realized in the Jews,
but Christians. Apart from Paul's divinely inspired commentary, how
many of us would have understood that Abraham's seed was Christ?
Please listen: When the New Testament authors comment on an Old
Testament passage, they do not give an interpretation, but THE
interpretation. The New Testament interprets the Old. The Old
Covenant was a veiled representation of the New Covenant.
It is in the New Testament that we learn
that the material things of the Old Covenant were types and shadows
of spiritual counterparts found in the New Covenant. We are to
interpret the Old Testament through the lens of the New Testament.
We must understand that the last 27 books are a divinely inspired
commentary on the first 39 books.
When Paul says in Galatians 3:16: "The
promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed, that is, Christ,"
he is giving us the divinely inspired commentary of the Abrahamic
covenant. The importance of this verse cannot be over stressed.
We read some of these promises in Genesis
12:3. The promises were made to Abraham and Christ, and the only way
any others can become a part of this covenant is through Jesus
Christ. This is because Christ is the fulfillment of the Old
Covenant by the shedding of His blood, which is the giving of the
New Covenant. No one was ever saved by the law, and no one ever
inherited the eternal promises of inheritance by the flesh.
Galatians 3:7 (NASB) Therefore, be sure that
it is those who are of faith who are sons of
Abraham's sons are not his physical
biological descendants; his sons are those who have faith in the
Lord Jesus Christ:
Galatians 3:26-29 (NASB) For you are all sons
of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were
baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There
is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there
is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29
And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs
according to promise.
When Galatians 3:29 teaches, "And if ye be
Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the
promise," it is referring not only to who "God's Chosen People" are,
but also to whom the inheritance belongs.
Galatians 4:21-26 (NASB) Tell me, you who want
to be under law, do you not listen to the law? 22 For it is written
that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free
woman. 23 But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the
flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise. 24 This is
allegorically speaking: for these women are two covenants, one
proceeding from Mount
Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is
Hagar. 25 Now this Hagar is Mount
Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to the present
Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26
But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother.
The allegory thus declares that earthly
Israel(the twelve tribes) is to be regarded as
Ishmael, because they are in bondage to the law and not free. The
true Church of Gentile and Jew (in which all distinctions of race,
degree, and privilege are abolished) is the true
whom the promises made to Abraham apply.
Any Jew would have been offended by the
suggestion that he was a son of Hagar. Yet, that is exactly what
Paul stated. Yes, physically they descended from Sarah, but
spiritually, apart from faith in Christ, they
descended from Hagar. The true sons of Sarah, "like Isaac, are
children of promise."
If you by faith belong to Christ, you are
Abraham's seed and an heir according to the promise. It doesn't
matter whose blood you have in your veins, but whose faith you have
in your heart. It is covenant, not race, that makes one a child of
We inherit all the promises made to
Abraham through Christ. Everything we are and have is by virtue of
our union with Christ, which only comes by faith. Listen carefully:
the Abrahamic Covenant was a promise made to Abraham and to Jesus
Christ, the seed of Abraham, that he would be made great, the father
of many nations, and that in him would all the nations of the earth
be blessed. This promise was fulfilled physically in Abraham, and
spiritually and ultimately in Christ.
The promise was always to the spiritual
descendants of Abraham, the Church. The Church is not a temporary
interruption in God's prophetic program for
Israel as the dispensationalists teach. The Church is
the prophetic fulfillment of that program, because the Church is
true Israel. Covenant, not race, has always been the
defining mark of the true Israel of God.
The inheritance clearly does not apply to the
nation of Israel, as pertaining to the flesh. Galatians 4:21-31
ends all discussion as to this question, as it teaches that
inheritance is according to promise, which is in Jesus Christ.
The kingdom of God was taken from them by Christ, and given to
those in Christ, of Old Testament times and New. Knowing that the
seed of Abraham is Christ, He has the authority to do so. Any claims
of national blessings outside of Jesus Christ are unbiblical.
Millions of 21st century
Christians have allowed themselves to be robbed of one of the most
precious and vital beliefs of historical Christian teaching, namely,
that the church is "the true Israel of God" and the ONLY Israel
through which God's eternal purpose is be consummated.
"Israel of God" is a title for the Galatian
believers. By giving this title to the Galatian Christians, he is
able to summarize his major arguments that they are indeed the true
children of Abraham (3:6-29), the children of the free woman, just
as Isaac was (-31). The false teachers were claiming that
only those who followed the law belonged to
Israel. Now Paul proclaims that all those who follow
the gospel are "the true
Israel of God".
If we are to ever have peace in the
middle-east, if we are ever to see an end of terrorism, we must have
an impact on American foreign policy. If we are to have an impact on
American foreign policy, we must have an impact on American
politicians. If we are to have an impact on American politicians, we
must have an impact on Christians. We must proclaim the truth that
the Church is "the Israel of God".
And so we come to the end of Galatians. Paul
has said all he can say. What will they do? As he writes his final
words, not even Paul knows the answer. Having made his argument, the
issue now rests with his readers. Will they choose slavery or
freedom? It is fitting that the book ends this way, with an
unanswered question, because in every generation the
church of Jesus
faces the same issues in one form or another. Will we choose liberty
in Christ or will we succumb to the temptation to return to the
slavery of self-effort and law-keeping as a means of pleasing God?
Will we decide that God's grace is not enough, and that we need to
add something else to what God has already done for us?
Today our argument isn't about circumcision,
but we quickly substitute other equally good things in place of the
simple gospel--church membership, baptism, good works, charitable
giving, strict accountability to the rules of the church, and
anything else that exalts the flesh and gives us a sense that we
have contributed to our own salvation. Because the Galatian heresy
is with us today--and because the Galatian heretics are alive and
well--we need this passionate little book. No wonder Luther loved
it. No wonder legalists have always hated it. Thank God, Paul had
the courage to write it. May we never forget things we have learned.