Reflections: Tuesday of the 13th Week after Trinity

Today’s Reading: Galatians 3:15-22

Daily Lectionary:2 Chronicles 32:1-22; Colossians 1:1-23 

This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void.
(Galatians 3:17) 

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. What came first: the Law or the Gospel? Does it matter? Paul seems to think so. Once a covenant is made, you cannot change it. Once a contract has been signed, you don’t add to it or subtract from it. If that’s true with the agreements we make with one another, then how much more so is this true for a covenant God makes with us?

But what is the covenant that God makes with us, and with Abraham? It is Law, or is it Gospel? Which comes first, or do they go together? Is it like a vending machine where I put my money, my work in and get the gifts out? Then the Law must come first. But if the Law comes second, 430 years afterward, then that changes things. If the promise of the Gospel is given to Abraham first, and the Law doesn’t come to Moses until 430 years later, then the Gospel, the covenantal Promise, is ratified, it’s made, it’s signed by the hand of God apart from works of the Law.

That is my kind of vending machine! No works, no money, without so much as a quarter, yet out come the gifts of God. God promises and fulfills His promise to Abraham by grace alone. God’s own Son, our Savior, comes not because of our own merit, but by grace and grace alone. Because of His merit, that of Jesus, and the free gift of faith given by the Holy Spirit, we have eternal life.

So what then of the Law that comes 430 years later? Those are the instructions that show us how to put this good Gift into use. They don’t change the Gift. The covenant, the Promise, the Gospel, is not annulled, canceled, added to, subtracted from, or changed because of them. The death and resurrection of Christ for the forgiveness of your sins is sure and certain. The instructions, too, are a gift that we might share the Gospel to others so they would have the Gift of life, also. They don’t take the Gift away, but aid us in presenting that Gift to others so that they might know God’s grace as we do. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. 

By grace God’s Son, our only Savior, Came down to earth to bear our sin. Was it because of your own merit That Jesus died your soul to win? No, it was grace and grace alone, That brought Him from His heav’nly throne. (“By Grace I’m Saved” LSB 566, st.3)

-Rev. Brett Simek is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Hilbert, WI. He also serves as catechesis coordinator for Higher Things.

Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch

Study Christ’s words on the cross to see how you can show more Christlike grace in your life. Perfect for group or individual study, each chapter has a Q&A at the end, and the back of the book includes a leader guide. Available now from Concordia Publishing House.