Welcome to Week 13 of the Higher Hope Church 2018 New Testament Reading Plan! If you haven’t already, go pick up your 5x5x5 Reading Plan and join our private Facebook group for daily interaction and discussion. This week we finished Galatians and started James!
Paul reminds the Galatians that they are no longer slaves to the law but God’s children. And as God’s children, they are now His heirs. Instead of living by the Law, they should be living in the freedom that Christ brought to them. He illustrates his point by providing an allegory between Hagar and Sarah – God’s two covenants. Hagar represents the Law and Sarah represents the Promise. And the Scriptures say we are children of the free woman, not the slave woman.
Paul continues on with his message, preaching to the Galatians about circumcision. Some false teachers were proclaiming that people still had to follow the Law and be circumcised. Paul explains that they cannot both live by the Law and have freedom in Christ. They cannot make themselves right with God by obeying the Law. Paul calls out the false teachers who are spreading a false gospel and leading people away from Jesus. Paul implores the Galatians to follow the Holy Spirit and not their sinful nature and explains the fruit that would be produced in our lives depending on which one we follow.
Paul tells the Galatians they they should help other believers who have fallen into sin and share one another’s burdens, but to be careful to not fall into sin themselves. He tells them to do good to everyone, whenever they can. He ends the letter by telling them that he only boasts in the cross of Jesus Christ. They should not focus on the issue of circumcision, but on transforming themselves into a new creation.
James opens his letter be encouraging the reader to remain joyful in times of hardship because trials produce endurance and increase our faith. God grants us wisdom when we ask for it but we must be certain that our faith is in Him alone and in nothing of this world. James also encourages the reader to not only be hearers of the Word but doers.
James opens this chapter with a stark warning against favoritism. He says that when we favor some people over others, we are committing a sin. He also warns against having faith but not showing it in action. Just believing in God is not enough, for even the demons believed in God! Faith without good deeds is useless, according to James. He provides two examples from Scripture – Abraham and Rahab. Faith is demonstrated by action.
Have a great week!