Exploring the Book of Galatians – Chapter 1

 

Welcome to the new series on my blog! Currently, the ladies Bible study at my local church is Exploring the Book of Galatians and I will be posting my weekly message here for anyone who is unable to attend the study that week. But this is really open to anyone who wants to take a closer look at the book of Galatians.

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!” – Galatians 1:6-10

 

 

How do you know if someone knows you? I mean really knows you? They usually remember what kind of cake you like or what you take in your coffee. They remember your family members names or how long you’ve lived in your house. And sometimes they know what you’re going to say even before you say it.

So how does someone get to know you like that? They spend time with you, listening to you and truly taking to heart what you say, what you do and how you live.

As we learned in Galatians chapter 1 this week, Paul was dealing with a group of people who he thought knew Christ and knew the Gospel. He was a bit upset, to put it nicely because when he introduced them to the Gospel, he thought they took it to heart, he thought they remembered it, studied it and changed their lives because of it. All those things that indicate a person knows someone or something.

But what Paul discovered was the true Gospel hadn’t stuck with them enough to dispute any false Gospel. They didn’t know Christ enough to know the truth He taught versus the false teachings that were knocking at their door.

So let’s learn from the example of the Galatians and look at today major points: 1) what is the Gospel and 2) why does it matter.

What Is The Gospel

You may be saying “I already know this”. Great! But can you explain it? Can you hold it up against any false teaching that comes your way? Keep those questions in mind as we go over what the Gospel is.

Who we are: Helpless and lost. Most founders of other religions came to teach, but our Great God sent His Son to rescue us from the penalty of sin.

Most people would describe a Christian as someone who follows Christ’s teaching and example. But Paul indicated that can’t be true. Why?

If you saw someone drowning, would you throw them a manual on how to swim? Or if you saw someone starving, would you throw them a grocery store flyer? No! You would throw them a rope or give them food.

Jesus saw our helplessness, and He came to be our rescuer (verse 4). He came to meet our biggest need.

There is nothing we have and nothing we can do to save ourselves.

What Jesus did: Verse 4 indicates that he “gave himself for our sins. His sacrifice was called substitutionary, where the word “for” means “on behalf of” or “in place of”. Substitution is why the Gospel is so revolutionary. He did not just buy us another chance to get this life right and stay on God’s good side. No! He did all we needed, but couldn’t do ourselves. If He really paid the penalty for our sin, we can never fall back into condemnation. Why? Because then God would be getting two payments for the same sin, which is unjust!

What the Father did: God accepted Christ’s work on the cross on our behalf when He raised Christ from the dead.

Why God did it: Grace—not because of anything your or I have done, but as verse 4 says “according to the will of our God and Father”. Let that sink in for a moment. God sent a Rescuer that we didn’t ask for and didn’t realize we needed and Christ by His grace came to complete the rescue because it was His Father’s will.

Nothing we asked for, deserved, accomplished pointed to salvation. Grace is the only explanation for God’s plan of salvation.

So what’s the major point of salvation?

God did it. It’s only His doing; His plan; His power; His will. This fact sets its apart from all the false teachings about the Gospel.

There are many examples in the church of how the Gospel has been lost. I won’t go into them, but the big idea here is:

If you add anything to Christ as a requirement for acceptance with God, that is not the Gospel.

Why Does It Matter?

Now you may be wondering why I spent all that time explaining what the Gospel. Because it matters, my friends! It matters so very much. Each and every day we are faced with different teachings, doctrines and ideologies that can twist just a tiny bit of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and cause us to get off course.

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1) A different gospel means you are deserting the one who called you (verse 6).

Timothy Keller puts it this way in his book Galatians For You (God’s Word For You): “A difference in your understanding of doctrine leads to a difference in your understanding of who Jesus is—and means it’s questionable whether you really know Him at all.”*

2) A different gospel is no gospel at all. The Gospel message cannot be changed even a tiny bit or it is lost.

3) A different Gospel brings condemnation. To alter the Gospel is to play with eternal life and death. And I don’t know about you, but that’s not something I want to play with.

I want to be sure of what I know. I want to tell others what I know. And I don’t want it to ever be questioned that I don’t know Christ, my Rescuer, my friend.

If I can leave you with one final thought for today, it’s this. Know what you believe. Know it in a way that even when other Christians challenge you or question you, you are steadfast. Don’t be like the Galatians who were pulled in a direction different than what they knew to be the true Gospel and away from their Rescuer, Jesus Christ.

Reflection Questions:

  • How important is the gospel truth to you?
  • How is this shown in your life?

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