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Finish the Job

August 31, 2007

How many of you have helped a young child get a project started only to find them later struggling, discouraged, and lost because they began to do the job the way they thought it should be done rather than the way you started them?

Paul experienced the same thing with the Galatian Christians and confronted them about this with these words:

O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Galatians 3:1-3

To Paul, the Christian life boils down to finishing the way we started. In the midst of many possible arguments, he says that the only thing he needs to know is if they received the Spirit by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith. Answering that one question should be enough to set us straight.

Of course, this is a rhetorical question. When both parties know the answer to a rhetorical question, the device is effective. The answer is obvious, and it’s seen in the next verse: “having begun in the Spirit.”

It is foolish to think that you can start one way and finish in another way. If law-keeping was ineffective to start, it surely it is ineffective to finish. And the truth is that if Christ has done a work in our lives, that work should make us wiser than to think we can be made mature by trusting in ourselves.

Let me ask you, How did you begin? How were you saved? Did you finally come to the end of yourself and completely put your faith in Christ? Were you saved by the Spirit? I hope so.

Sanctification works the same way. I didn’t say looks the same way. It works the same way. We are made complete in Christ by coming to the end of ourselves and putting our trust in Christ. If you work to look sanctified, you’re a foolish man-pleaser. Whatever that looks like to you. Whether it is always wearing a shirt and tie; or always wearing a dress; never drinking; drinking to the glory of God; looking like you are enjoying and fully participating in worship; or singing only Psalms. If you’re working to look sanctified, you’re a foolish man-pleaser. Without faith it is impossible to please God.

As an aside, let me point out, it’s not the law that kills. It is the works of the law; the letter of the law. Grace gives us strength to fulfill the law. As a matter of argument, let’s just forget the law and be like Jesus. WWJD? Well, He fully kept the law. He fulfilled it. He is the law Incarnate.

So, finish the job. Do that in the same manner as the start. Work out your salvation. You were saved in a wonderful way. Keep on in the same wonderful way. While doing this, don’t presume upon the mercy of God.

The way to growth is through the Spirit. Recognize your lack. If we lack wisdom we are to ask of God. Do this repeatedly throughout each day. In this way, we grow in grace. Realize that the way to failure and death is by the works of the law, the flesh, the letter. On the outside, many look like separated Christians, but inwardly, they are not. Do not trust in fleshly looks. Do not rely on rules.

Oh, and by the way, do not reject rules if you do not have wisdom yourself. If you don?t understand, but in other areas you recognize the wisdom involved, follow in these “unknown” areas until you see their truth or falsehood.

Live today as you were born (again) yesterday. Finish the job.

Categories: Law & Grace, Voegtlin
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