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Astonishing

June 29, 2006

Today in my “morning watch” I came again to Galatians 1. There is something in verse 6 that Paul calls astonishing, he wonders, he marvels at it. He is amazed at how people who have so recently been called by the grace of Christ could so quickly be led into legalism.

I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ. (1:6)

But when God, who had set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, (1:15-16)

You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? (3:1-3)

Why would we think that we need to keep the law in order to be saved when our own conversion experience witnesses to the contrary? Anybody out there receive the Holy Spirit as a reward for years of diligent law keeping? There’s a good chance I was high on drugs when I received the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul was on his way to persecute Christians when he received the Holy Spirit. I think Paul’s point is that understanding effectual calling by his grace should be an antidote to being suckered by the legalists. Consider your calling. So let’s do this together. I ask you, did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law? Do you remember when you were effectually called? Tell us about it. Tell us how he called you by his grace.

P.S. need a definition of effectual calling? Here’s one:

Westminster Larger Catechism, Question 67

What is effectual calling? A. Effectual calling is the work of God’s almighty power and grace,(1) whereby (out of his free and special love to his elect, and from nothing in them moving him thereunto(2) ) he doth, in his accepted time, invite and draw them to Jesus Christ, by his word and Spirit;(3) savingly enlightening their minds,(4) renewing and powerfully determining their wills,(5) so as they (although in themselves dead in sin) are hereby made willing and able freely to answer his call, and to accept and embrace the grace offered and conveyed therein.(6)

(1)John 5:25; Eph. 1:18-20; 2 Tim. 1:8,9
(2)Tit. 3:4,5; Eph. 2:4,5,7,8,9; Rom. 9:11
(3)2 Cor. 5:20 compared with 2 Cor. 6:1,2; John 6:44; 2 Thess. 2:13,14
(4)Acts 26:18; 1 Cor. 2:10,12
(5)Ezek. 11:19; Ezek. 36:26,27; John 6:45
(6)Eph. 2:5; Phil. 2:13; Deut. 30:6

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 30, 2006 9:58 am

    I was set apart in my mother’s womb, and only a few years after I came out I heard with faith that Christ saved me, and I believed. But saved me from what? I didn’t understand that.

    So, I consulted with flesh and blood and tried to perfect myself through works of the Law. I became indoctrinated in the culture of Western Christianity. It took me 15 yrs to finally realize that I couldn’t measure up. Only then, when I realized that it wasn’t working, do I feel like I was effectually called. And then it happened pretty fast.

    It would’ve been nice to have not been “bewitched,” but because I was, I understand grace and my effectual calling. Could I have been spared all of that? I don’t know. I think the task of raising children to understand grace and not Law is more difficult than one would imagine.

    As a side note, it’s pretty cool that Paul, who persecuted Christians for the first years of his life, traces his calling back to his mother’s womb as opposed to that time he was walking down a dirt road.

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