This Sunday marks the second Sunday of Advent 2018. For those of you celebrating the season, I hope that you are sensing a renewed fellowship and closeness in your walk of faith. I have been spending quite a bit of time in my own devotions in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, reading it along with a very fine commentary in the Lectio Continua series written by J.V. Fesko. The church in Galatia had been established under the preaching ministry of Paul and Barnabas during their first missionary journey. However, in the short time since their departure, false teachers had infiltrated the church, teaching a false gospel of works-based salvation, which included circumcision for the males and adherence to the Mosaic Law for all. Paul, therefore, emphasizes the freedom that we have as followers of Christ as he writes to the struggling church in Galatia. I am finding myself challenged and encouraged as I study this incredibly important New Testament letter.
We have three more messages in the “Love Came Down” Advent Series. This week we will turn our attention to Galatians 3:23-4:7 with a message entitled “The Fullness of Time.” Here Paul reminds the believers in Galatia what their lives used to be like – working desperately to obey the law and hoping desperately to find peace with God. That process Paul metaphorically calls “held captive under the law, imprisoned until faith would be revealed.” But now, Paul reminds them, the “fullness of time” has arrived in the incarnation of Christ, and those who are in Christ are no longer slaves to the law, but “sons of God, through faith.” The Advent of Jesus Christ into our world that first Christmas brought freedom to those who are in Christ in incalculable ways! As sons of God, it only makes sense that we would want to know our Father, who has adopted us out of slavery and into his own family, giving us a name, a home, and an inheritance.
Knowing God requires discipline, focus, and expending some energy. Some cells in our world can grow and expand via a process known as “osmosis.” These cells snuggle up to fluids and simply absorb them. It is a passive transport, meaning it does not require energy to be applied. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could lay our Bibles under our pillows at night and wake up the next day with new scriptures memorized, a solid biblical worldview in place, and maybe even a few pithy quotations on board that would win unbelievers over to the faith in a jiffy! Unfortunately, that is not the way God’s world works for humans.
Developing a disciplined life where consistent time is spent in the Scriptures and in intentional practices to strengthen our faith is not easy in our culture. I am finding that many Christians who truly love the Lord actually know very little about the faith, and therefore, are unable to make wise decisions based on a solid biblical worldview. This really is becoming a major problem in 21st century Christianity. So many other things are vying for our time and attention, and with so many people running after those things, it is very difficult (particularly for young believers) to go against the grain. God has given us great freedom in Christ, but when we use that freedom to chase after the world and ignore, in large measure, our faith, we find ourselves making decisions that lead to painful circumstances that usually have long-term ramifications. Those decisions often become a blight on our lives and a poor witness to a watching world.
Advent is a wonderful time to refocus our lives and begin (or strengthen) the discipline of drawing closer to God. We need the help of the Holy Spirit in this endeavor. Thankfully, God is faithful to send us “the Spirit of Truth” when we seek him, and that Spirit will gird us up not only in the faith, but in our everyday lives as well. I know this to be true in my own life, even as I continue to work out my own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12).
May God’s grace go before you this week. I am looking forward to worshipping with you on Sunday.
Grace and peace,