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Good Fences Make No Neighbours: Understanding Law & Grace—Galatians 3:19-29. Peter Fitch, St. Croix Vineyard Sunday, January 20, 2013. Galatians Surprise. Series running up to Christmas Now completing first half of letter and starting into the second

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good fences make no neighbours understanding law grace galatians 3 19 29

Good Fences Make No Neighbours: Understanding Law & Grace—Galatians 3:19-29

Peter Fitch, St. Croix Vineyard

Sunday, January 20, 2013

galatians surprise
Galatians Surprise
  • Series running up to Christmas
  • Now completing first half of letter and starting into the second
  • Traditionally understood to be about the importance of faith over law
  • Over the last few months I realized it was actually about exclusion
  • But an essential question remains . . .
galatians 3 19 29
Galatians 3:19-29

19 What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was put into effect through angels by a mediator. 20 A mediator, however, does not represent just one party; but God is one.

galatians 3 19 291
Galatians 3:19-29

21 Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. 22 But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.

galatians 3 19 292
Galatians 3:19-29

23 Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. 24 So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.

galatians 3 19 293
Galatians 3:19-29

26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

galatians 3 19 294
Galatians 3:19-29

29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

pirke avot the law as fence
Pirke Avot: The Law as Fence

Moses received Torah from Sinai

and transmitted it to Joshua;

Joshua transmitted it to the elders;

the elders to the prophets;

and the prophets to the Sages of the Great Assembly

who taught three things:

pirke avot the law as fence1
Pirke Avot: The Law as Fence

Be careful in judgment;

raise up many disciples;

and surround Torah with a hedge.

Pirke Avot, collection of rabbinic teachings on how best to live an ethical life

(250 BCE—250 CE)

rabbi rami shapiro
Rabbi Rami Shapiro

“A hedge is a living shield protecting what it surrounds. Traditionally this hedge is rabbinic law. Over time the Law is confused with Torah, and an even thicker hedge of words is grown. But wisdom that comes from words alone is babble. Silence is the ultimate shield of Torah.

rabbi rami shapiro1
Rabbi Rami Shapiro

In silence we can hear the Still Small Voice of God (1 Kings 19:12) and distinguish tribal norms from timeless truth. Do not hesitate to challenge the first in pursuit of the second.”

fences
Fences

Protect by separating

so what is the purpose of the law
So what is the purpose of the Law?
  • It was added because of transgressions until the Seed would come (v. 19)
  • It shows us what sin is (v. 22)
  • It keeps us from falling too far (v. 23)
  • It leads us to the grace of Christ (v. 24)
grace does away with fences
Grace does away with fences
  • no longer neighbours . . . Family!
  • In Christ there is no ethnic, economic, nor gender distinction
  • We are all part of something new (and better)
  • The Good Fence is the Cross, upon which Jesus dies to break these human distinctions forever