The TMP Podcast

Belonging By Faith Alone | Paul Walker | Galatians

February 05, 2024 The Meeting Place Church
The TMP Podcast
Belonging By Faith Alone | Paul Walker | Galatians
Show Notes

The Apostle Paul tells a story of confronting Peter (Cephas) in Antioch about his hypocrisy. Some Jewish Christians have arrived from Jerusalem, the mother church. Unable to overcome years of drawing lines of separation through their actions, they cannot eat with Gentiles. Instead, they sit at a separate table. This is a bigger issue than seating arrangements. Whether through explicit statements or the nonverbal implication of dining at a separate table, these emissaries from the Jerusalem church draw a line that communicates to the Gentile Christians that they are inferior. They not only stopped eating with the Gentile Christians, they also ceased celebrating the Lord’s Supper together. In an honour-shame culture, the Gentiles and anyone who joined them were shamed and excluded from the life of the church. This is why the Apostle Paul describes the situation as “not acting in line with the truth of the gospel.” This asks the bigger question of how the Gospel bring us together when we are not the same. The Apostle Paul answers this by discussing how we are justified. This word “justification" is bigger than settling a legal case, but speaks to how we belong to the family of God. As N.T. Wright puts it, “Justification is all about being declared to be a member of God’s people; and this people is defined in relation to the Messiah himself. When we are justified we are “declared to be in the right” and thus members of God’s covenant community.” When Peter and the men from James broke table fellowship they were saying justification is through the works of the law —which referred to observing circumcision, food laws and Sabbath. The Apostle Paul reminds us that our justification is not something we earn. We receive it by faith alone, in Christ alone. We belong by faith alone so that we "live within the faithfulness of the son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” In our modern day of perplexing polarization, we too need to re-learn that our shared centred is Christ alone.