Galatians Bible Study, Pt. 24: Gospel + Law = Law

Class #24:  In Galatians 3:15-18, St. Paul uses the example of the unchangeability of a probated last will and testament to teach about the divine covenant which God made with Abraham and Christ (Genesis 3;15, Galatians 22:18).  The introduction of the law 430 years later cannot annul the promises made to Abraham and received through faith in the promise.  Furthermore, because the law is not of faith (Gal 3:12), you cannot add law, as a kind of codicil to a promise.  When you add any law to an inheritance of promise, “it is no longer of promise” (Gal 3:18).  Therefore, St. Paul concludes that it is by faith in the promise alone, without works of the law, that a person is saved.
If the law was neither an addition, nor an annulment of the gospel promise, then what is the purpose of the law?  St. Paul will answer that question when we resume our Bible Study in two weeks.

Overhead: Galatians Class 24 Overhead
Handouts: Galatians Chapter Three 15 to 25 and seed offspring descendant NKJV

#18-The Pure Divine Word and Christian Truth Is Preached in Our Churches

“This is about the substance of the doctrine which is preached and taught in our churches, for the due instruction, Christian edification, peace of conscience, and improvement of believers. For, as we did not feel willing to place in the greatest and most imminent danger before God our own souls and consciences, by the abuse of the Divine Name and Word, or transmit to our children and descendants, and entail upon them, any other doctrine than that of the pure Divine Word and Christian truth ; and as these doctrines are clearly taught in the holy Scripture, and besides, are neither contrary nor in opposition to the universal Christian, or to the Roman church, so far as may be observed from the writings of the Fathers, we think that our adversaries cannot disagree with us in the foregoing Articles. Those therefore act altogether unkindly, hastily, and contrary to all Christian unity and love, who resolve in themselves, without any authority of divine command or of Scripture, to exclude, reject, and avoid us all as heretics. For the controversy and contention principally refer to traditions and abuses. If, then, there is no real error or deficiency in the principal articles, and if this our Confession is scriptural and Christian, even were there error among us on account of traditions, the bishops should demean themselves more gently; but we hope to assign indisputable grounds and reasons, why some traditions and abuses have been corrected among us” (Augsburg Confession, XXI, Henkel p. 119).

Galatians Bible Study, Pt. 23: In Christ, No Curse

Class #23:  When St. Paul teaches “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us” (Gal 3;13), he is uniting the fulfillment of the Law and the promise of the Gospel in one Person, Jesus.  Our Savior, who had led a perfect life of keeping the law, was made to be sin (2 Cor 5:21) and a curse, when the Lord “laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).  His purpose was that we might receive the blessing of Abraham and the promise of the Spirit by means of faith in the promised forgiveness.  “That is, the law condemns all men, but by undergoing the punishment of sin and becoming a sacrifice for us, the sinless Christ took away the right of the law to accuse and condemn those who believe in him, because he himself is their propitiation, for whose sake they are now accounted righteous” (Ap. IV 179).  Through faith in Christ, people are justified, as well as freed and liberated from the curse of the law.

Overhead: Galatians Class 23 Overhead
Handout: Lutheran Confessions Curse of the Law

#17- Called Heretics for Teaching Justification by Faith in the Word

Psalm 51:8. To my hearing Thou wilt give joy and gladness, and the humbled bones will rejoice.

“This is the doctrine for which we bear not only the name “heresy” but punishment, namely, that we attribute everything to hearing or to the Word or to faith in the Word—these are all the same—and not to our works. Yes, in the use of the Sacraments and in confession we teach men to look mainly at the Word, so that we call everything back from our works to the Word. The hearing of gladness is in Baptism, when it is said: ‘I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’ (Matt. 28:19); ‘He who believes and is baptized will be saved’ (Mark 16:16). The hearing of gladness is in the Lord’s Supper, when it is said, ‘This is My body, which is given for you’ (Luke 22:19). The hearing of gladness is in confession, or, to call it by its more proper name, in absolution and the use of the keys: ‘Have faith. Your sins are forgiven you through the death of Christ.’ Though we urge the people to the Sacraments and to absolution, still we do not teach anything about the worthiness of our work or that it avails by the mere performance of the work, as the papists usually teach about the Lord’s Supper, or rather about their sacrifice. We call men back to the Word so that the chief part of the whole action might be the voice of God itself and the hearing itself” (Luther’s Works, vol. 12, p.369-370).

Galatians Bible Study, Pt. 22: Clearly No One Is Justified By The Law

Class #22:  In Galatians 3:11-12, St. Paul cites two Scripture passages, one gospel and one law.  Surprisingly both law and gospel speak of the promise of giving life.  The gospel in Habakkuk 2:4 shows that God has always intended to declare a sinner righteous and give eternal life through faith.  The law in Leviticus 18:5 reveals that the person who has completed the works of the law perfectly will have life.  St. Paul draws the conclusion that no one is justified by the law, but he doesn’t attempt to prove it.  Though both the law and gospel offer life, the law is conditioned by man’s perfect obedience.  No need to prove the law, just send it out.  The law will do its work—it always accuses.  The law is not of faith.  Those who rely upon the law for justification are under the curse of the law.  Next week we hear that Christ has redeemed us from the curse.  We are justified through faith in Him.

Overhead: Galatians Class 22 Overhead
Handout: Page 2 of Galatians Bible Study Chapter 3 6-9

#16-The Solace Which Comes From Hearing the Medicine of the Word

Psalm 51:8. To my hearing Thou wilt give joy and gladness, and the humbled bones will rejoice.

“All this can be summarized as follows. When you become sad or feel divine wrath, do not look for any other medicine or accept any other solace than the Word, whether it is spoken by a brother who is present or comes from the spirit remembering a word you had heard earlier—like the passages: ‘I do not want the death of the sinner, but that he turn from his way and live’ (Ezek. 33:11); ‘Life is in His will’ (Ps. 30:5); ‘God is God of the living’ (Matt. 22:32); ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16). These and similar passages bring the hearing of gladness, whether they come from the mouth of another or from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This, too, is hidden truth and wisdom, which inexperienced men cannot grasp. Therefore the pope’s teachers bring vastly different ways by which they want to heal troubled minds.

In addition, this verse is an outstanding testimony to the adornment of the ministry of the Word or the spoken Word. Because he asks for the hearing of gladness, he clearly shows that the Word is necessary for consoling minds, whether it is brought by a brother or whether the Spirit suggests a word that once was heard. This verse battles, first, against those who hate or neglect the external Word and are captivated by their own vain and inane speculations. Secondly, it also battles against those who do not want to accept the Word in their anguish of mind, but either are unbelievers or flee from the Word to their works, as the others do to their speculations. Both are in error—the man of thought as well as the man of action. Only if you hear will you avoid error” (Luther’s Works, vol. 12, p.368-369).

Galatians Bible Study, Pt. 21: The Curse of the Law

Class #21:  Galatians 3:10 teaches that those who seek to be justified by the law are under the curse of the law.  St. Paul cites Deuteronomy 27:26, which leaves no loopholes from which we could escape from that curse.  The curse is the divine verdict/pronouncement of wrath, death and destruction by God against lawbreakers.  The curse which rests upon those who rely on works of the law is meant to contrast with the justified children of Abraham who rely on the promise of salvation in Jesus Christ through faith alone.

Overhead: Galatians Class 21 Overhead
Handouts: Page 2 of Galatians Bible Study Chapter 3 6-9

#15-Troubled Consciences Are Like Geese

Psalm 51:8. To my hearing Thou wilt give joy and gladness, and the humbled bones will rejoice.

“All this is to be understood significantly and emphatically, for it belongs to the refutation he began earlier. By antithesis he condemns all the diverse ways which men enter when their consciences are troubled, because despite their excellent appearance they do not bring the joy that hearing brings. Troubled consciences are like geese. When the hawks pursue them, they try to escape by flying, though they could do it better by running. On the other hand, when the wolves threaten them, they try to escape by running, though they could do it safely by flying. So when their consciences are oppressed, men run first here, then there; they try first this, then that work. In this way they only heap up dangers and useless works for themselves, though the one true and sure way of healing the conscience is what David here calls “sprinkling,” by which the Word is heard and received. As far as we are concerned, the whole procedure in justification is passive. But when we are most holy, we want to be justified actively, that is, by our works. Here we ought to do nothing and undertake nothing but this, that we open our ears, as Psalm 45:10 tells us, and believe what is told us. Only this hearing is a hearing of gladness, and this is the only thing we do, through the Holy Spirit, in the matter of justification. So it was a hearing of gladness for the paralytic when Christ said (Matt. 9:2): ‘Take heart, My son; your sins are forgiven.’ So David’s gladness was to hear from Nathan (2 Sam. 12:13): ‘You shall not die.’” (Luther’s Works, vol. 12, p.368).