We’ve listened to Paul state his claim to authority. We’ve heard him cement what the gospel is. We’ve received his pastoral care and exhortation to see the gospel dig deep and bear fruit in our lives. And now we’ve come to his concluding warning and benediction in Galatians.
The book of Galatians has been about one gospel. Paul has been trying to demonstrate how the gospel is a gospel of grace, and is so significant that it shapes and affects every area of life. This study continues to trace the effects of the gospel, this time in terms of the relationships of the Galatians.
Paul starts off this passage with a contrast using a “but”. In the immediate context, Paul was speaking about how the freedom of the gospel should not be used as an opportunity for the flesh but to serve one another. He cites Leviticus 19:18 and encourages one to love his neighbour as himself. So all of this talk in Galatians of law v.s. grace, works v.s. faith has brought us here. We are to love our neighbours as ourselves. We are to be as concerned about another's well-being as about our own. How is that possible? It seems like the very thing that I don’t want to do. How can we wake up each day thinking about someone else other than us? In fact, we are more than ready to bite and devour one another as Paul says in Gal 5:15.
So how then? Today's passage will hopefully provide some encouragement and practical insight into how this can be possible!
It is befitting that our 9th study on Galatians fell on the 9th of August - Singapore’s National Day. There are parallels to be drawn from how our nation was built post-independence to how our lives are built post-Cross.
Have you ever wondered how a pastor might think? How do they react when facing with the uphill task of encouraging the faith of a joyless Christian? What would you say to a joyless Christian?
The song lyrics “I am yours and you are mine” carry with it a profound sense of together-ness. To proclaim that we are God’s, and we can call God ours speaks to a special kind of unity, found only in being one with Christ. But what does it mean we say that we are “in Christ”? What difference does it make, and why does it matter? Read on to find out more!
We come to the part of Galatians that seems quite meaty but is also highly technical. In today's study, we seek to answer questions about the law, it's purpose and what it shows us about God.
“My hope is built on nothing less / than Jesus’ blood and righteousness"
This is Paul’s message to the church in Galatia, and one that might be familiar to us from songs like the one above, and verses like Ephesians 2:8 where we proclaim that our salvation is ‘not of ourselves; it is the gift of God’. Yet while many of us might agree that we are saved by grace alone, functionally, we live by a law-based approach to life. Our sense of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ tells us that if we are to be saved, our good works must outnumber our bad works. After all, isn’t it only ‘good’ people that deserve to be saved? This is what Paul had to say in the middlish bit of his letter to the church:
We're going to look at what the gospel claims and says about God but this is not just an abstract study of God. It actually has an impact on our identity -- who we were, are now and going to be -- and ultimately drives and influences what you are going to do.
To be in gospel step is to be coherent and consistent. It also means first that you belong to Jesus. If you truly believe that you are not your own, but bought with a price, then it would do you good to consider how the Bible calls us to be in gospel step.
This might sound uncool and totalitarian to our modern, "enlightened" minds that tell us that we are self-appointed sovereigns of our souls. We instinctively feel uncomfortable and might be tempted to brush it off. But the main point tonight is that being in gospel step is belonging to Jesus. We are not our own but we belong to the One person that it is probably safe to belong to.
In this study, we're going to introduce this idea of the formal and material principle. The formal principle deals with who has the right to speak the truth, while the material principle deals with the content of the issue. There was a debate in the church 500 years ago, that spoke about how a man is saved. This is the material principle, but the formal principle – who has the right to say – was also important.
Christians believe in the gospel. We believe that we are sinners saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. And we believe that the gospel is foundational to the faith. If you lose sight of it, you lose sight of everything else.
By teaching us important things about gospel authenticity and gospel authority, the book of Galatians also asks us the question, “have the truths of the gospel dug down deep into our hearts?” Have we, like the Galatians church of old, lost sight of the one true gospel?