Thursday, September 27, 2007

For Sunday September 30 - A Redemptive God

Because of God’s redemptive character, he is constantly striving to make right what has gone wrong. "Redemption" these days creates images of recycle bins, smelly plastic milk cartons and rancid bottles. God redeems hearts, lives. Like holiness and goodness, redemption oozes from who God is. How that redemption works out in people is part of what Galatians is all about. Early Christians quickly forgot the basis of their redeemed life. We do the same thing.

In Galatians 3 I don’t think Paul is saying that Christians should no longer follow any of the Law or commandments. He’s saying that doing it on our own is pointless; thinking that we are justified before God on the basis of our inept obedience to God is doomed to failure.
The way of redemption that Jesus’ death on the cross opens up for us is life in the Spirit. -- obedience to God’s ways through life in the Spirit. Jesus’ death makes right what went wrong – our ability to live in accordance with God’s ways. The Galatians thought that they could earn their way into God’s kindness by their own efforts. Paul says, “Aint gonna work” (vs 2-3). He then stresses faith in Jesus’ life and death on the cross as the ticket to forgiveness, to being “justified” (vs 8, 11). But once “justified and redeemed” we are not excused from living as God intends. Rather, we are given the ability to do so – “so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.” And what is the promise of the Spirit? It is given in places like Jeremiah 31 where God says,
33 "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
34 No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the LORD. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."

Ezekiel 18:30-32
30 "Therefore, O house of Israel, I will judge you, each one according to his ways, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. 31 Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!

"Life in the Spirit" is living daily in tune with God's ways.
Though there is a constant current of evil around us, God is pulling his creation back in line.