If you read the Apostle Paul’s letters carefully you’ll notice something extremely important. He sets the foundational context for his letters at the very beginning. What is the foundational context? The Gospel of God’s grace.
This should be no surprise as we can read in Acts 20:24 Paul’s mission statement – “I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”
Galatians is one of Paul’s first letters, and I believe it sets the context for all of his writing. In fact, I believe it’s the context for the New Covenant and all of the Bible.
Here’s how this plays out in our every day lives as we read the Bible. We must read it through the lens of the Gospel. Meaning the Bible isn’t primarily about us. It’s about Jesus and His finished work. Therefore, when we read a Bible story we first look for Jesus.
Let’s use the Old Testament story of Joseph. The highlights:
– brothers get jealous and plan to kill him
– one brother saves him and Joseph gets sold to traders
– ends up on Egypt
– endures a roller coaster life – appears to be one step forward, two steps back
– interprets a dream and ends up saving the brothers (who betrayed him)…and an entire nation from death (by famine)
Our common approach to these stories is, “Be more like Joseph. Trust God and you’ll end up on top,” or something along these lines. The problem is we attempt to do this by our own human effort (which Paul clearly tells us in Galatians is foolishness). But why is this foolish?
Because it’s not the Gospel which means it’s not how God designed for us to live.
Then how are we to understand stories like Joseph (and all the rest)?
We must see them through the finished work of Jesus. You see, we’re not like Joseph. We’re much more like the older brothers. Joseph is a foreshadow of Jesus. The suffering Savior. The one who endures it all and brings eternal salvation to all who will simply believe.
Jesus makes this clear in John 6:28-29. The only work required of us is to believe. What are we believing? That when Jesus declared, “It is finished,” He meant it. Jesus didn’t say, “I’ve done my part now you do the rest.” Nor did He say, “You do all you can and I will fill in the gaps.” No, He said, “It is finished.”
I still have the Footprints poem on a poster. As sweet as that poster seems, it’s not good theology. Jesus does not just carry us sometimes, He carries us all the time.
As you read the Bible, look to see how it’s revealing what Jesus has done for you. Then you can allow Him to live out His life through you. That’s the Gospel.
Let’s talk about it –
Do you see the Bible as a lot of rules to follow or as a revelation of all that Jesus has accomplished on our behalf? Why does it matter?