Using harvest language, Paul is inspired to encourage our participation in the Lord’s kingdom work. In our “Me” oriented culture, bearing our own burdens seems tough enough. But the Lord calls on each of us to help bear each other’s burdens. What joy is ours to fulfill the love-law of Christ as we share the message not only of forgiveness in Christ Jesus but also of comfort for the weary. This doing “good to all” even carries over into our support of kingdom workers as we share all good things with spiritual instructors.
How can a Christian rejoice even in the suffering and persecution? When we know that these sufferings are for the sake of Christ who bought us and made us his heirs. We confess Christ even in the face of persecution because we belong to Christ and look forward to an inheritance that no suffering, no evil, no attack can take away from us. Paul contrasts the harsh imprisonment of the law with the gracious freedom of the gospel that comes through faith. In this contrast we see how the Lord can use the trials of life and temptations of the heart to build deeper appreciation for his gracious salvation in Jesus Christ. Through baptism, we have been made equal and unified heirs of the promise, boldly claiming our inheritance from the Father.
The Law is necessary to show us our sins, to curb our actions, and to guide our lives. The Law, however, cannot save us; only the Gospel can. The sinful flesh continually temps us to believe that God loves us because of who we are rather than in spite of who we are. Men came from Jerusalem and wanted the Galatians to believe that fulfilling the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament was a necessity for salvation. Paul shows us that not even Peter can change what God ordained: salvation is by grace.
As a testimony to the power of the Christ and the authority of his gospel, Paul cites the example of his own previous way of life. The power of the Christ raises the spiritually dead to spiritual life. Paul who once persecuted the church, was redeemed and raised from death to new life in Christ—a life of service to the saints in the Lord’s Kingdom work and life forever in heaven.
Paul pleads with the Galatians not to abandon the faith to which they have been called. Their faith is in the Lord who has rescued them from hell itself. How can they abandon the Gospel they have known? But in the midst of trial, know this: It is the Lord who brings salvation. We place the confidence of our hearts in him alone.
Luther's Small Catechism
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