Commentary

Delbert W. Baker

is vice-chancellor of the Adventist University of Africa near Nairobi, Kenya.

Transformation Tips – Protect Truth, Galatia Style

Paul begins his letter to the Galatians with a hard-hitting approach to people known for their aggressive nature and military prowess. Having visited the city on two missionary journeys (Acts 16:6; 18:23), Paul considered Galatia to be a major foothold for the advance of the gospel in Asia Minor.

Paul makes a passionate defense for the gospel and for the freedom found in Christ. In six chapters, he models how believers may protect truth. He reasons that truth worth living is truth worth defending; no cowardice allowed. Paul says, “Make your case and stand for what you believe.”

Either we bear each other’s burdens in love, or we squander our grace opportunities through indulging the works of the flesh.

Here are six models to protect the truth entrusted to us.

Galatians 1: Defend truth. The church was threatened with satanic dissemblers, errors, and disunity. Using himself as an example, Paul appealed to genuine believers to take a stand. The persecutor now protector asserts that all believers should defend the church and its mission. Understand truth and protect it.

Galatians 2: Declare truth. Like Martin Luther 500 years ago, Paul stood up to early church leaders. He enunciated his convictions in defending justification by faith and those who were marginalized. He detected inconsistency and took a stand. He opposed Peter and others who had distanced themselves from a truth that included Gentile believers. Own truth and verbalize it.

Galatians 3: Deduce truth. Paul outlined how the Holy Spirit is received by faith, not by law. Through deductive thinking he identified the law as the standard of truth and the means to Christ. He argued that by accepting Christ we avoid the pending curse, receive the Abrahamic blessing, and are assured of eternal life as part of the new covenant. Grasp truth and explain it.

Galatians 4: Desire truth.For Paul, Christ is the ultimate gift. Nothing is higher or better. “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’ So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir” (Gal. 4:4-7). Love truth and embrace it.

Galatians 5: Delineate truth. Paul masterfully makes the abstract personal: in liberty Christ has made us free(verse 1); our efforts to be justified by the law create barriers to the gift of grace and assurance in Christ. He admonished us to crucify our sinful natures and exercise faith in Christ’s merits. Personalize truth and apply it.

Galatians 6: Disperse truth. Going beyond theology to basics, Paul applies the Galatia truth to its inevitable outcome: we reap what we sow! Either we bear each other’s burdens in love (verses 2-4) that flows from the fruit of the Spirit (verses 22-25), or we will squander our grace opportunities through indulging the works of the flesh (verses 17-21). Internalize truth and learn from it.

Let’s protect the truth entrusted to us, and write our own letters.

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