Who is on Team Jesus?

A Trinitarian Christ-centered paraphrase of Galatians 3

(3.1) I cannot BELIEVE the way you have so quickly forgotten all of this.  Please tell me some wizard has put a “dumb-ass” spell on you, because then all this would start to make a little sense!  Have you forgotten that you saw the crucified Jesus with your own eyes? (2) Answer me this:  How is it that the Holy Spirit’s peace and confidence started to fill your life?  Did it happen as a result of jumping through religious hoops, or as a result of believing the truth about Papa and about yourself? (3) Are you so deluded that you think your religious accomplishments can improve on what the Spirit has already done? (4) Have you forgotten all that we experienced together? (5) Does the strength of the risen Jesus flow through your body because you’ve earned it, or because you’ve opened your mind to Reality?

(6) You know the answer as well as I do:  “By trusting Papa, Abraham entered into what he had been given – a right relationship with Papa and the world.” (7) Abraham’s true descendants are those who take Papa at his word. (8) And his word says that by faith, ALL peoples will be put right with Papa and with the world. This word was spoken plainly to Abraham: “As you are blessed, all people will be blessed through you.” (9) All people who (like Abraham) open their minds to Papa will (like Abraham) be filled with what Papa has given.

(10) If you are hoping to get a good life by obeying the rules in Torah, then I have bad news for you, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not obey every single rule perfectly.”  (11) So imperfect rule-keeping (the only kind of rule-keeping you and I are capable of) isn’t going to do you any good.  “The good life results from faithfully knowing reality.” (12) If good life were to come from rule-keeping, then none of us would qualify for a good life anyway. (13) Because of our inability to do good, Torah has become just a curse to us.  But Master Jesus rescued us by taking that curse upon himself, “the curse of hanging on a cross.” (14) By enduring the curse, he destroyed it, so that ALL peoples could (through faith) receive the inheritance promised to Abraham – the honor of carrying the Spirit’s blessings into the world.

(15) Okay guys, here’s an example from everyday life:  Let’s say you get together with your lawyer so you can write a will.  Once you die, your descendants cannot re-write your will if they don’t like what it says.  Your will says what it says, and that’s that. (16) Well, Papa was sort of writing a will when he made the promise to Abraham and his heir (a.k.a., Jesus). (17) Now listen to this: The will that was written and signed that day never got changed or replaced!  The promise still stands today, regardless of what Torah said 430 years later.  Torah had its purpose, and it did its job perfectly.  But it had nothing to do with changing or nullifying the promise already made to Abraham. (18) Think about it!  If our inheritance is conditional on our rule-keeping, then it’s no longer a promise.  But as we all know, it IS a promise, promised to Abraham without condition.

(19) So if Torah doesn’t save us, then what was it good for?  Simple: Papa gave us the clear boundaries of Torah to restrain our behavior just enough to keep us from destroying ourselves before the Heir arrives.  With Torah (which came to us through Papa’s own messengers), Moses mediated the relationship between Papa and us. (20) As humanity’s ambassador to Papa, Moses did a pretty okay job.  He was, after all, human.  But because he was not also divine, Moses could not be a very effective ambassador from Papa to humanity.  After all, a real ambassador ought to be a citizen of the country he represents.  But as we all know, “God is one,” and that One’s name is definitely not “Moses.”

(21) Please understand, I’m not bashing Torah.  Torah is the servant of the promise, not its enemy.  If Papa had given us rules that could have healed the world, then the rules certainly would have accomplished exactly that.  (22) But that was never Papa’s intent for Torah.  He gave us Torah to break us of this idea that by our own efforts we can make a good life for ourselves.  Our utter failure to follow Torah has made it painfully obvious to us that we are STUCK, imprisoned by our inability to live a fully good life on our own.  When we come to this realization, when we acknowledge and accept our own powerlessness, we become able to receive the gift of Jesus’ life.  When Papa gave us his Son, he was fulfilling his promise to Abraham.  When the Son of Papa united himself with humanity, he united humanity forever with the Triune Life of blessing and being blessed!

(23) Torah’s rules protected us by restraining our most destructive behaviors. But Torah also gave us the bad news that Death is the result of violating those boundaries.  Torah protected us but also imprisoned us.  THAT WAS ITS JOB.  Torah did its job UNTIL the time came for us to take the next step – To experience the transformation that comes from the renewing of our minds through FAITH.

(24) Think of it this way:  We’re Papa’s kids.  When we were little, he gave us a nanny/tutor called Torah.  And we had this nanny/tutor until Master Jesus came to turn us into grown-ups whose lives are being put right by faith. (25)  But now that we are grown-ups who live by faith, we no longer need our nanny/tutor to run our lives. (26) For as we learn to believe and rely upon what Master Jesus has done to unite us with our Papa, we are beginning to experience abundant life for the first time as kids who know their Papa adores them.

(27) Think back to when you were baptized. On that day you experienced how completely immersed you are in Jesus’ relationship with Papa in the Spirit.  Your life is forever surrounded and supported by His glorious risen alive-ness.  His life fits you perfectly, like a tailor-made set of clothes.  Jesus himself is the uniform that signifies that we are on his team. (28) The old team rosters have zero significance for us now.  The game is not about the rivalry between the Jewish team and the Greek team.  Nor is it about Slave versus Free, or Boys versus Girls.  I don’t care what team you used to play for.  Because today, ALL of us are Team Jesus.  Period.  Deal with it.  Together we belong to Jesus, and together with him we are the heirs of the promise — the promise that we would be blessed to be a blessing.

~ John Stonecypher


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