Psalm 95:6&7: Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before our Maker; for he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.
Prayer: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, thank you for being the source of my strength each day when I am weak, tired, or overwhelmed. During trying or challenging seasons, thank you for uplifting my spirits, and reminding me that I can do all things through You. When I feel like giving up, thank you for encouraging me that I am never alone and to keep moving forward in faith. Your grace is sufficient in my weakness, and I thank you for never leaving or forsaking me. Thank you for your grace that covers, guides, and gives me the strength each new day. Whatever each new day or season brings, I can face it with confidence with you on my side. Thank you for your strength that sustains me.
In Jesus’s name Amen.
I would like us over the next few weeks to study Paul’s letter to the churches in Galatia. Paul was aware that the churches were being influenced by Jewish Christian fundamentalists who thought that the Gentile believers also needed to be circumcised, not eat meat, and keep the sabbath. Paul was angry with a group who had twisted and manipulated the gospel of freedom back into the old way of the Law. Paul’s response to this issue challenges the heart of the Jewish faith. He writes in Chapter 2:16 ‘we know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.’ In other words, to quote a famous film title, we are ‘Born Free’.
We shall be following an outline as follows:
Theme: Chapter 5: 1 ‘It is for freedom that Christ has set us free, stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened by a yoke of slavery’
Personal: Grace and the gospel – chapters 1&2
Doctrinal: Grace and the Law – chapters 3&4
Practical: Grace and the Christian life – chapters 5&6.
Galatians 1:1-10 1Paul, an apostle-sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead- 2and all the brothers and sisters with me, To the churches in Galatia: 3Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the LORD Jesus Christ, 4who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. 6I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel- 7which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse! 10Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
In chapters 1&2 we shall see: Grace declared in Paul’s message, demonstrated in his life, and defended in his ministry.
How does Paul approach the Galatian Christians in his attempt to teach them the truth about the gospel? In these opening verses, the apostle takes three definite steps as he prepares to fight this battle.
He explains his authority (1: 1-5)
Paul begins by asserting his three sources of authority, firstly in verses 1&2 he points out he was an apostle. To be an apostle one of the requirements needed was to have witnessed the resurrection. Because of his miraculous conversion and call to apostleship was different to the other apostles, Paul argues that he is just as much an apostle as the other 12, his was a similar divine appointment, therefore he had the authority to deal with the Galatian churches. Paul also argued that he had a second basis for authority in the fact that he founded the churches in Galatia and was in that sense their ‘spiritual father’.
Another source of his authority came in his message (3-4). From the very beginning Paul clearly states the message of the gospel, highlighting the Jewish Christians were attempting to change the original. The gospel centres on a person – Jesus Christ, the Son of God. This person paid the price that we might be set free from the bondage of sin. ‘Liberty in Christ’ is the dominant theme of Galatians. The Jewish Christians wanted to lead the Christians out of grace into the bondage of law. Paul knew that bondage was not part of the message of the gospel, because Christ had died to set men free.
Paul’s third source of authority came in his motive (5) ‘To whom be glory for ever and ever’ The false teachers were not ministering for the glory of Christ, but for their own glory. They were not busy winning lost people to Christ. But Paul’s motive was pure and godly, he just wanted to glorify Jesus Christ.
Paul began by explaining his authority. He is now ready for a second step as he begins this battle for the liberty of the Christian. We shall look next week how Paul expresses his Anxiety in verses 6&7 and goes on to expose his adversaries (8-10).