Galatians 3:1-4 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? 4 Have you suffered so much for nothing-- if it really was for nothing?In our culture today, many people believe they have to earn their way into heaven by being a good person. If you do so many acts of kindness and never bring harm to anyone, you will have earned your salvation. Some religions even teach the need to share their religious beliefs with so many people in order to earn your way to heaven. Our passage this week speaks to this misunderstanding.
The book of Galatians is actually a letter written by Paul to the churches in Galatia sometime around A.D. 48-53. This letter is considered one of the Pauline Epistles or letters written by Paul. In four short verses, Paul addresses the foolishness of the Galatians because they began to believe in the necessity of earning one’s salvation. Instead of doing acts of kindness, the Galatians believed they needed to revert back to following The Law of the Old Testament.
The ESV translates verse two a little different than the NIV and is a little truer to the original Greek, “Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?” Paul is attempting to remind the Galatians how they originally came to know Jesus as Lord, through “hearing with faith” and not “by works of the law.” The Greek word for hearing is avkoh, (akoe) and is often used in the context of “having an attentiveness to the word being spoken” or “receiving faithfully.” So this kind of hearing is not just a random hearing what someone has to say, but a true understanding and an acceptance of what one had heard. Paul is calling the Galatians back to a belief in what they had heard, accepting that believing is all that is required for salvation.
Many of us have listened to messages in the past that include an invitation to know Jesus as Lord. We have heard of Jesus and maybe even glanced at the Bible and read about who Jesus is; but have you truly heard and understood your need for Jesus and accepted Him as Lord of your life? Paul is not only calling the Galatians back to a correct understanding of salvation, a salvation of belief and not works, he is also calling us to recommit or possible make a first time commitment to believe what we have heard and accept Jesus as Lord.