So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? Galatians 3:5 (NIV).
Paul asks this same question for a third time, only, this time, he asks it plainly. I admire this about Paul: he worked to communicate to as many people as possible in as many ways as possible. Who else does this?
Not long ago, my church (watersedgefrisco.com) did a sermon series on the parables of Jesus. I had always thought the parables were just profound stories that Jesus shared to obliquely make some valid points. This is true, but if you read them closely you’ll see they’re also some pretty harsh truths. Not only, but they really aren’t very oblique. https://www.kevinhalloran.net/a-complete-list-of-jesus-parables-in-the-new-testament/ says that “At its simplest the parable is a metaphor or simile drawn from nature or common life, arresting the hearer by its vividness or strangeness, and leaving the mind in sufficient doubt about its precise application to tease it into active thought.”
Those profound metaphors were actually confrontational, prodding the hearer to actually become an active listener, to think about what was said and what it actually means. From that same website there is a good comment by R.C. Sproul: “Jesus explained that for those who have ears to hear, the parable provides a deeper understanding of Jesus’ teaching. But for those who don’t have ears to hear, the parable is actually an instrument of concealment. The parable was not given simply to make everything clear to people; it was also given to obscure meaning to those who are outside, who are not given understanding. That sounds somewhat harsh. Jesus came not only to instruct and to help people understand the kingdom of God, He came also as a judgment on those who don’t want to hear the truth.”
Let’s say it again: Jesus came to save the lost, which includes all mankind, men and women of all races and nationalities. He did everything necessary for salvation. There is nothing we can do or need to do to add to it or take away from it. In revealing His teachings, Jesus sometimes spoke in parables, veiling His message so that those far from Him would think, would want to know more. To others, Jesus revealed His messages plainly. Years later, in authoring his epistle messages, Paul used this same technique. Sometimes he spoke plainly; sometimes he obscured his message so that the reader/listener would have to contemplate the matter.
Paul used these techniques in addressing his Galatian friends on a tender matter that had grave implications. His goal was their salvation, not wordsmithing.
For further reading: 1 Corinthians 12:10, Galatians 3:6
My good Lord, thank You for all the ways You and Your disciples made Your message known. Thank You for sharing, for making us think, for loving us so deeply.
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