Luther on the Epistle to the Galatians

In cleaning out my Bible study bag, I found a xerox (do people still use that term?) from this book that Pastor handed out during one of his Bible studies. I highlighted the following quotes because they really resonated with me.

Galatians 2:2 – “but privately to them which were of reputation

“Not that Paul doubted that he ran, or had run in vain, forasmuch as he had now preached the gospel eighteen years, but that many did think that he had preached in vain, because he had set the Gentiles at liberty from the observations of the law… Note here by the way, the virtue of man’s righteousness, or the righteousness of the law, to be such, that they who teach it, do run and live in vain.”

Galatians 2:3 – “But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.”

“Paul then did not reject circumcision… But he rejecteth it as a thing not necessary to righteousness,… So we at this day do not reject fasting, and other good exercises,… but we teach that by these exercises we do not obtain remission of sins.”

Further down, it reads (emphasis added):

“none should be constrained to be circumcised, or any constrained from circumcision.”

Galatians 2:4-5 – “And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty, which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage : to whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour : that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.”

“Now the truth of the gospel is, that our righteousness cometh by faith alone, without the works of the law. The corruption, or falsehood of the gospel is, that we are justified by faith, but not without the works of the law.”

Luther continues:

“The true gospel is, that the works of charity are not the ornament or perfection of faith : but that faith itself is God’s gift, and God’s work in our hearts, which therefore justifieth us, because it apprehendeth Christ our Redeemer… But faith being in her own proper office, hath no other object but Jesus Christ the Son of God, delivered to death for the sins of the whole world… but what hath Christ done? What hath He deserved? Here the truth of the gospel answereth thee : He hath redeemed thee from thy sin, from the devil, and from eternal death.”

The final passage I highlight is also from this section:

“For a true and steadfast faith must lay hold upon nothing, but Christ alone.”

My previous religious background placed good works above the saving work of Christ, and I’ve come to know that cannot be true. Our faith in Christ moves us towards good works, but those works do not earn us salvation. The Law (and thus attempting to live according to the Law) only serves to show me how deep my sin runs within me, and how desperately I need Jesus. I simply can’t live up to God’s holy standards without Jesus’ death on the cross redeeming me… and you too, my dear reader.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

John 3:16-17

Thank you, Jesus.
Amen.