What Else Must I Do to Be Saved?

 

“Is That all there is?”

Ever wondered that?

Is that all there is?

Is faith in Jesus all I need to get to heaven?

Was my baptism good enough to get me into heaven?

Is there something else I am missing?

 

A lot of times when we look around at other Christians, we may feel like we’re missing a lot!  They seem to be so busy with their faith, so spiritual, so expressive of what they believe.  They get guest speakers and inspirational seminars showing them how to live the Christian life.  These people are nationally known and best selling authors.

And we get…

 

Is the Gospel all we need to get to heaven?

What else must I do to be saved?

 

One of Paul’s first letters addressed just this issue.

What else must I do to be saved?

He almost lost some of the first churches the Holy Spirit founded through his efforts.  But he didn’t.

Through the words the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write, the Galatian churches responded, repented and were restored.

But whether it is third century charismatic movements, medieval work righteousness or 21st century law driven churches, the question still haunts some Christians.

“What else must I do to be saved?”

What Else Must I Do to Be Saved?

Nothing!—Listen to the Gospel Given by God (Galatians 1-2)

While Paul does not dignify the false teachers by name, scholars have called them Judaizers.  From Paul’s objections we can see why.  What were their main contentions?

Galatians 3.3 and 3.5 attain goal by human effort

Galatians 3.10 rely on observing the law

Galatians 4.10 observing days

Galatians 5.2 circumcision

Galatians 5.4 justified by law

Galatians 6.12 to avoid persecution

So, if people asked these Judaizers “What Else Must I Do to Be Saved?” they would have plenty to answer!

One of the first attacks false teachers will raise is an attack upon the man who brought the truth to people.

For those acquainted with propaganda methods, this is an ad hominem argument.  If you cannot defeat your opponent’s ideas, you attack his person.  A politician with second-rate ideas may try to woo voters by claiming his opponent is a confirmed heterosexual whose daughter went off to the big university and became a thespian!  We often see it when one or the other politician questions their opponent’s patriotism.

Again, Paul does not dignify the false teachers by quoting their slanderous attacks on him, but from his words we can see what they were saying about him.

Galatians 1.10 Paul trying to win approval of men

Galatians 1.11 Paul made up his gospel

Galatians 2.6 Paul’s gospel is man-made, given to him by the apostles in Jerusalem

Read Galatians 1.1-5: The Address

This section is called the address.  In our letters, we start the letter with who the letter is addressed to.  In the days of Paul, both the sender and the recipient of the letter were mentioned in the opening words of the letter.

So, who is the letter written to?

To the churches in Galatia

Who is the letter from?

The Apostle Paul and all the brothers with him

Can you see Paul’s first defense of the ad hominem attacks upon him?

Paul’s is not trying to win approval from men, because he was sent by God with his gospel.

Paul is not usually so combative right off the bat.  It shows the grave danger the Galatians are in.

What force does “all the brothers with me” give to Paul’s address?

He is not a lone kook in the wilderness with quirky teachings.

What event in Jesus’ life is Paul talking about with the phrase “who gave himself for our sins”?

Jesus suffering and death on the cross.

Why would that be a good thing to remember going into a battle with Judaizers?

Jesus’ death on the cross is so much more important and meritorious before God than removing a man’s foreskin in circumcision.

Read Galatians 1.6-10: No Other Gospel

How does Paul usually start his letters?

Romans 1.8 I thank my God for all of you

1 Corinthians 1.4 I always thank God for you

Philippians 1.3 I thank my God every time I remember you

Colossians 1.3 We always thank God

What is missing in his letter to the Galatians?

He doesn’t thank God for the Galatians.

What does this show about the grave danger the Galatians are in?

There is no time to waste on niceties and maybe there isn’t even anything left there to thank God for!

What is Paul accusing the Galatians of?

They are deserting Jesus Christ.

Isn’t this rather harsh?

No.  If we set up something we have to do to get into heaven, we are throwing away the whole work of Jesus Christ.  Jesus is either our complete Savior or he is not our Savior.

What does Paul mean by the “grace of Christ”?

The grace that Christ gave them through the Holy Spirit, the free forgiveness of sins and the gift of faith.

What is the Gospel?

1 Corinthians 15:1-8  Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.  By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.  After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.  Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

Paul’s words may sound preposterous.  Of course we would listen to an angel from heaven!  Or would we?  How do we know whether the message we are hearing is the truth or not?

We can compare it to the Bible and see how it lines up.

The Galatians did not have that luxury—the Bible was still being written!  They had to rely on the same rules God had given Moses.

Deuteronomy 13:1-3  If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, "Let us follow other gods" (gods you have not known) "and let us worship them," you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul.

What were the rules to determine whether someone was a prophet or not?

1.  He can perform miracles

2.  He can accurately foretell the future.

3.  His prophecy must line up with previous prophecy

Which one of the three rules is Paul urging the Galatians follow?

#3

Isn’t this kind of gutsy?  What is Paul claiming for himself by asking them to compare even angelic teaching with what he has previously preached to them?

He is claiming his teaching is apostolic—from God.

How has Paul more than adequately answered one of the slanderous charges against him in these verses?

The Gospel Paul preached is not something he made up.  He has received it from God, just like previous prophets, and his word should be accepted as the Word of God.

Instead of being a man-pleaser, who is Paul seeking to please?

God.

People new to the faith are in great danger!  They have come off an intensive, exciting time in their lives.  They have been in the pastor’s Adult Information Class every week for the past eight to twenty-four weeks!  They have started to come to church.  They are feeling great about their new faith.  They are like the Galatians!

Paul had visited the Galatian towns of Lystra, Iconium and Derbe in his first missionary journey (46-48 AD).  He is now writing them in 49 AD when he is back in Antioch.  Paul has every reason to be astonished that they are falling away so soon.  It has been barely three years and they are at risk of losing their faith!

What to do?  Look at the maps of Paul’s Second and Third Missionary Journeys.

 

How many more times does Paul visit the Galatians?  Why?

Two times—to strengthen them in their faith.

What are some dangers those new to the faith face from:

· Unconverted mom or dad back East in their charismatic church

Now that the children have joined our church, charismatic mom and dad back East are on them because they haven’t joined the “right” church (i.e. a charismatic one).  They had been silent all these years and now they are concerned about their child’s spiritual welfare!

· A boss who is sick and tired of having to schedule around their church services

The new Christian will have to work such schedules that it is literally impossible for them to come to church and feed their new faith.

· Their new church members who don’t want to attend Bible classes

The new members quickly get the idea that nobody does Bible class, so they won’t either, because they want to blend in with the crowd.

· A half-empty church and nobody talking to them in the coffee hour after church

New members can become dispirited and isolated.  If they do not give up on coming to church, they will be highly tempted to give up coming to that unfriendly church.

· Church activities that are always cancelled

It gives the impression the church is a failure and that nobody wants to participate

· The church president’s wife who has asked them four times in the last three months what their name is

People get the idea they are not important and it will be impossible to break into the clique the church has become.

What should our church do to make sure our new members don’t become our latest delinquent members?

Have sponsors

Invite them to activities and groups

Make a point to get to know them

Have a special welcome dinner or potluck

Read Galatians 1.11-24: Called by God

Paul now attacks the other ad hominem argument raised against him.  What is his defense?

Not something that man made up

What had the earthly prospects of Paul’s life in Judaism looked like?

Paul’s life in Judaism made him look like he was on the track to tremendous earthly success and prosperity.  If he played his cards right, he could be High Priest!

What earthly motive would he have had for throwing all that away to preach the Gospel?

He would have had absolutely no earthly motive to give up that cushy, religious life.

What job description is Paul claiming for himself?

He is claiming he is an Apostle.

Why?

His detractors were saying Paul wasn’t an apostle, one of the original Twelve.

Do you know the story of Paul’s conversion?  Let’s watch this clip from the video Acts (Acts 9.1-30).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmdHT7oHJyI&feature=related

(move the cursor to 3:19 to come in at Acts 9.1)--REMEMBER to return to this spot in the study, simply click the back arrow button on the upper left hand corner of your Internet Explorer!!

Why does Paul say “he did not go to Jerusalem” when that is exactly what he did!—Remember.  The charge is that Paul is a second-class apostle who derives his authority from the other apostles.

He didn’t go to Jerusalem to seek approval from the Apostles.  He went into the desert of Arabia and stayed there.  It was three years after the fact that he came to Jerusalem.

Paul does finally go to Jerusalem, but again, what is NOT the purpose of the visit?

After three years Paul goes to Jerusalem to get to know Peter.  This was hard, because all the Christians were running away from Paul for fear!  If not for Barnabas, Paul would have been ostracized by them all for fear.  He doesn’t see any of the other apostles, so it wasn’t a visit to be “accredited” by them.

If Paul was “going to school” with the apostles, he was a lousy student.  Why?

He didn’t meet any of them except Paul, and was only there 15 days.

Thinking back on Acts 9, why did Paul only stay in Jerusalem 15 days?

He had to leave town because of his debating with the Grecian Jews—they were trying to kill him.

How does he prove he was only in Jerusalem so short a time?

He was unknown personally to the Judean Christians.  They only heard reports of his work for Jesus.

What did Paul do in Syria and Cilicia?

We don’t know.  Barnabas finds him in Tarsus, his home town, and brings him to Antioch to help with preaching and teaching.

Although Paul has not gotten to the meat of his argument, we have a few passages from Galatians 1 that already answer the question “What Else Must I Do to Be Saved?”

What is the answer?

Believe the Gospel.

Can you point out some passages from Galatians 1?

v4 gave himself for our sins

v6 called you by the grace of Christ

v7 which is really no gospel at all

v9 a gospel other than what you accepted

v15 called me by his grace

There is a danger that our hold on the Gospel can be weakened by disrespect for the pastor.  How can disrespect for the pastor be created and nurtured by these ad hominem attacks?

· “What has your pastor written lately?” a friend of yours asks, as she shows you a copy of “How To Get More Out of Your More” which her mega-church pastor has written (a sequel to his first book, “Jesus Is More.”)

We judge our pastor not upon what he preaches (is it according to the Bible) and his faithfulness in teaching, visiting members and reaching out to the unchurched, but by his fame and popularity.  We may erroneously think, Since he is not famous or popular with the masses, his message must be inferior.

· You see Dr. in front of every minister listed in the bulletin of a church where you are in attendance because of a baptism and your church only has “Pastor.”

Pastor is the highest term to be used for a clergyman.  He is our spiritual shepherd, an under-shepherd of the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ.  Dr. is more of an academic title and denotes mastery of a field of knowledge.  The world salivates over those holding doctorates, but the people of God recognize authority and competency by a man’s teaching and preaching of the Bible and his love for souls.

· “He’s young.  He’ll be a better pastor in about ten years.”

He’s still our pastor who we should listen to right now and ten years from now.

· “I don’t know how he can be very good at marriage counseling when he isn’t even married.”

A pastor teaches and counsels according to the Bible, not according to his own experiences.  A pastor who is was orphaned early in life can still teach about the Father from what he knows and believes in the Bible.

Read Galatians 2.1-10: Paul and Peter

Paul continues his defense of the Gospel and himself in Galatians 2.

Remember, one of the big arguments Paul’s enemies, the Judaizers, made was that a Christian had to be circumcised to really be saved.  Prove that the leaders of the church in Jerusalem did not agree.

The Jerusalem leaders don’t even have Titus, a co-worker of Paul, circumcised.

What was the motivation of the Judaizers, according to Paul?

The Judaizers had infiltrated the ranks of Christians to take away the freedom the believers enjoyed in the Gospel—”to make us slaves.”

In what ways are we free in the Gospel?

We are free from earning our way to heaven through the work of Jesus Christ.  We are free from observance of ceremonial laws which were to keep the Jews intact as a people until Jesus came.  We are free from any compelled observance to the things of this world, not eating meat, leaving behind no carbon foot print, eating local.  We are free from the fear of death, for our Savior has conquered death.  We are free from guilt, for we are forgiven by Jesus.  We are free to serve our fellowman in love and thanks to God.

Paul words, “whatever they were makes no difference to me” seem to be saying we are even free from a church hierarchy!  In what way?

Our approach to God is not dependent upon man or institutions of man.  A bishop or a pope is no better in God’s sight than the humblest, believing child.

How is this different from other faiths like Judaism, Islam and Mormonism?

Hierarchy determines teaching.  Hierarchy determines acceptable codes for living.  The rabbi tells the faithful how far they can walk in a day.  The imam dictates politics for his mosque.  The Mormon president makes and unmakes doctrines and holds eternal life over the LDS.

Can you think of examples in the Christian Church where church hierarchies take away the freedom of a Christian to believe based on God’s Word alone?

In every human institution there will be that lust to exercise undue power and authority over others, to “push them around.”  The papacy currently takes away the freedom of Roman Catholics to feel outraged by child abuse perpetrated by priests and concealed by papal offices.  The Southern Baptist preacher temporarily closes the gate to heaven to infants by his refusal to baptize “all nations.”  The mega-church neo-evangelicals take away the freedom of a Christian to live his life by their “how to” approaches to Christian living just as much as the strict Methodist does by his insistence that you recall your conversion experience and abstain from drinking, dancing and card playing.  And we in the WELS undoubtedly by our uncharitable and harsh handling of men in the ministry have without warrant stripped ministers of their calls and driven them from their pulpits.

Remember, another way of putting the objection of the Judaizers was that Paul was preaching an incomplete Gospel to please men.  How do the leaders in Jerusalem respond to that?

The Jerusalem leaders add nothing to Paul’s teachings.

What human being at this time was recognized as the leader of the Church?

Peter.

When the church leaders recognize as Peter was sent to the Jews, Paul is sent by God to the Gentiles, what are they saying about Paul’s authority and its source?

Paul’s authority is as great as Peter’s authority, the authority of the Gospel and the source was the same—they were given their tasks by Jesus Christ himself.

Prove there were no divisions between the Peter and Paul factions in the church at this time.

Peter, James and John give Paul the right hand of fellowship, agreeing to the division of labor and Paul eagerly agreed to remember the poor as he had been doing.

Read Galatians 2.11-21: Paul vs. Peter

What had been the situation in Antioch before men from James came from Jerusalem?

Peter ate like the Gentiles with the Gentiles.

Why would people be called “the circumcision” group?

They were a group of Jerusalem Christians who still practiced circumcision as an exercise of their Christian liberty.

What happened after the circumcision group arrived?

Peter acted like he was an Old Testament Jew, eating kosher and avoiding eating with Gentile believers.

Why do the actions of Peter and Barnabas undermine the truth of the Gospel?

Peter and Barnabas were acting like living in the freedom of the Gospel was wrong.  They acted like they were guilty.  By their example they were giving the Gentiles the impression they had to live like Jews to really be Christians.

Was Paul wrong to call out Peter in front of them all?  What if he had done it in private?

Mark 8:31-33  He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.  He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.

But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. "Get behind me, Satan!" he said. "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."

 

1 Timothy 5:20  Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.

(the Greek actually says, “Those who sin publicly are to be rebuked publicly…)

No!  Paul should have called out Peter publicly because Peter had sinned publicly.  This way everyone could know that is not the way things were.

How did Peter’s actions teach we are justified by observing the law?

He stopped living like a Gentile and started living like you had to earn God’s forgiveness by how you lived, according to the Old Testament Jewish laws.

A Definition of Justify

Romans 4:4-6  Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation.  However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.  David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

Psalm 32:5  I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD"--and you forgave the guilt of my sin.

2 Corinthians 5:19, 21  God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them.  God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

To justify (dikaioo) means to declare someone not guilty of sin for the sake of Jesus Christ’s life, suffering and death for us.

How are we justified, by faith or by observing the law?

By faith

Both Peter and Paul had preached that we are justified by faith alone, not by works.  If they now live like we are justified by works, what are their actions saying about what they previously preached?

They were preaching false doctrine before, but now they are toeing the line.

Christ died for us.  My sins were punished on Christ’s cross.  We call this the Vicarious Atonement.  Jesus was our replacement.  What phrases of Paul do you see teaching this Vicarious Atonement?

· Crucified with Christ

· Christ lives in me

· Gave himself for me

If we could gain righteousness by works of the Law, what part of Christ’s life would we not need?

His suffering and death on the cross to bear the punishment of our sins.

What is any community of faith insinuating when they emphasize Christ as the example instead of Christ as our replacement?

We can earn God’s favor if we just follow the rules.

What if they don’t even mention Christ?

Then they are not Christian, no matter what they say.

Where does the power for Christian living come in Paul’s life?

The crucified Christ.

What Else Must I Do to Be Saved?

Nothing!—Listen to the Gospel Experienced (Galatians 3.1-25)

Paul now moves to the heart of the letter.  The Gospel works.  Observing the law does not.

Read Galatians 3.1-5: Don’t Change Horses in Mid-Stream

Paul asks the Galatians, “How did you receive the Spirit?  By observing the law or by believing the Gospel?”

How did we receive the Spirit?

By believing the Gospel.

We are Christians by faith.  In what ways are we foolish in trying to continue in the Christian life by observing the law?

You don’t change horses in mid-stream.  God started us with faith and will continue to work in us and through us by faith.

Paul mentions working miracles among them.  Let’s watch this clip from the video Acts (Acts 14.1-13).

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xqxm9oJpgBs&feature=related

(move the cursor to 8:40  to come in at Acts 14.1.  Unfortunately, you will have to click on the next link to finish the story!)

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7SQuFqifDY&feature=related

REMEMBER to return to this spot in the study, simply click the back arrow button on the upper left hand corner of your Internet Explorer!!

What did it take to have a miracle done for a person?

They had to have faith.  Paul saw the man had faith to be healed.

What if that person didn’t have faith?

Luke 16:27-31  "The rich man answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.'

"Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.'

"'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.'

"He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'"

They wouldn’t believe in miracles if they didn’t have faith.  They’d find some way to explain it all away.

So, if Paul and Barnabas worked miracles in Galatia, what had the Galatians started out with?

Faith, otherwise the miracles couldn’t have been performed for them.

Who had bewitched them?

The devil working through the Judaizers.

Read Galatians 3.6-9: Consider Abraham

Paul points to Abraham as an example of justification by faith.  Why would Abraham be a good one to pick in answering the Judaizers’ arguments?

He is the Father of the Jews, a man who received from the Lord the command to circumcise.  The Judaizers would claim to follow Abraham’s example.

Paul seems to drag in the idea of children out of nowhere...unless we know the story!

God had promised to bless all nations through the Savior who would come from Abraham.  That had happened at least twenty years earlier and Abraham wasn’t getting any younger!  In the meantime, Lot and he had split, with Lot going down to live in Sodom, which had been taken captive by the northern king, Kedorlaomer.  Abraham and his men had pursued the army, drunk with victory and staged a midnight attack, rescuing Lot and all the people of Sodom.  Abraham refused the reward the perverted king of Sodom offered him.  Yet it bugged Abraham, what a chump he had been turning down all that reward money.  Maybe he should start looking out for himself more.

Genesis 15:1-6  After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: "Do not be afraid, Abram.  I am your shield, your very great reward."

But Abram said, "O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?"  And Abram said, "You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir."

Then the word of the LORD came to him: "This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir."  He took him outside and said, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars--if indeed you can count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be."

Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

What was Abraham’s gripe?

He has no child.

How could you tell this bugged Abraham a lot?

It’s the first thing he mentions to the Lord, interrupting God.

How does the Lord emphasize the promise of a Savior to Abraham?

He takes him outside to look at the stars—that’s how many descendants Abraham is going to have because he will have a son from his own body.

What earthly reasons were there for Abraham not believing in the Lord?

He was very old.  Sarah was beyond the age to have children.

Why did Abraham believe?

The Lord said so.

What did those stars in the sky symbolize?

All the believers who would have the same faith as Abraham.

We’re missing one thing.  Our New International Version has translated Yahweh (jojY) as LORD.  What does that name signify?

Exodus 34:6-7  "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation."

The Savior God who always keeps his promise of forgiveness.

Look at the phrases Paul uses in his retelling of the story.

· those who believe are children of Abraham

· justify the Gentiles

· all nations will be blessed

· those who have faith are blessed along with

What aspect of this story does Paul focus on and why is that perfect for his argument against the Judaizers over the Galatians?

He is focusing on believers (not doers of the Law) being children of Abraham and justified.  Gentiles.  All nations, believe, faith.

If Abraham was justified by _faith_____ and we are children of _Abraham____, then we must be justified by _faith.

Read Galatians 3.10-14: Blessings and Curses

Paul has shown what relying of faith yields—blessings!

What does relying on observing the law yield?

Curses

Who says observing the law yields the exact opposite of blessings?

God in the Bible

How does Paul hammer this home?

Numerous quotations from the Bible.

In fact, what does the Bible have to say about the life of relying on faith alone to be justified?

Those who believe have a blessed life.  We will live.

Again, Paul brings up the Vicarious Atonement.  Why?

Only in Christ can our sins be taken away that we might have the life of blessing by faith in his Vicarious Atonement.

How does he tie this up with the story of Abraham and the stars?

Abraham received the blessing and the same blessing (righteousness credited by faith) comes to us through Jesus Christ.

And what is the reason that justification by faith works?

We are trusting in the works of Jesus alone to save us.

Not Enough.  That’s what the Judaizers were really saying.  Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross were not enough to get us into heaven.  Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross were not power enough to allow us to live a holy life here on earth.

A widely noted and respected religious leader has written, “Everyone’s life is driven by something.  Many people are driven by guilt.  Many people are driven by resentment and anger.  Many people are driven by fear.  Many people are driven by materialism.  Many people are driven by the need for approval.  There are other forces that can drive your life but all lead to the same dead end: unused potential, unnecessary stress, and an unfulfilled life.

This forty-day journey will show you how to live a purpose-driven life—a life guided, controlled, and directed by God’s purposes.  Nothing matters more than knowing God’s purposes for your life, and nothing can compensate for not knowing them.”  The Purpose Driven Life.  pp. 27-30

The writer seems to be saying, “Other things that _drive______ your life will not work, but if your life is driven by _God’s_____ purpose, that will work.”

Trouble is, I know what God’s guidance is.

· Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.  Psalm 119.

The Law, the Ten Commandments, serve as our guide as to how to live a God-pleasing life.

The Judaizers would agree with this and make sure the new Christians realized this “godly” drive in their life.

Some may say we are too harsh, but the author goes on to focus on worship, making God smile by our obedience to him, becoming friends with God in prayer and choosing to be friends with God.  Finally, on page 112, he writes, “Remember what God has already done for you.  If God never did anything else for you, he would still deserve your continual praise for the rest of your life because of what Jesus did for you on the cross.  God’s Son died for you!  This is the greatest reason for worship.”

And that’s it!  Off to more principles and purposes.

A prospect was in my office when she spied the book on my shelf.  “I hate that book.  It’s too hard!”

What is the force that drives your life and how is it different from Judaizers, ancient and modern?

Jesus Christ drives our life.  He is not a principle.  He is not an external rule.  He lives in me and gave himself up for me.  His holy life is credited to me as a holy life.  His love for me drives my life.  I want to show him my love and I want to love those around me.  Man-made rules won’t cut it.

 

Read Galatians 3.15-18: God’s Unchangeable Covenant

Let’s say you have a contract with someone.  It is duly executed and signed by both parties.  What do you expect will happen with that contract?

Both sides will keep that contract.

What if one side wants to make changes to the contract?

Both sides have to agree with that contract, otherwise changes can’t be made.

Which contract with the human race came first, God’s Gospel contract enacted through Abraham, or God’s Law contract enacted through Moses?

Abraham, by some 430 years.

So, which contract is in effect?

The Gospel contract with Abraham.

And here’s a subtle point, God enacted his Gospel promise with Abraham and someone else—who?

Jesus Christ, the seed of Abraham

So if the Judaizers, children of Abraham, are trying to get people to get to heaven by observing the Law, they are

breaking the covenant God made with __Abraham and Jesus_____ themselves!

Obviously, which is the way to heaven?

Through the Gospel, not through the Law.

I think John said the same thing.

John 1:17  For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

Read Galatians 3.19-25: The True Purpose of the Law

The Judaizers had expected that the Law was given to give life.  What is Paul’s startling statement as to the purpose of the Law?

It was given because of sin, to convict the whole world of sin.

And how long was that Law to be in effect?

Until the Seed, Jesus Christ, had come into the world.

Why would the Law no longer be needed after The Seed had come?

He would have brought forgiveness of sins to all the world.

Now (as the writer of Hebrews so often does) Paul compares and contrasts the Law and Gospel.

Who gave the Gospel?

The Lord

Who gave the Law?

Angels

Is this true?

Deuteronomy 33:2  "The LORD came from Sinai and dawned over them from Seir; he shone forth from Mount Paran.  He came with myriads of holy ones from the south, from his mountain slopes. 

Acts 7:38  He was in the assembly in the desert, with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers; and he received living words to pass on to us.

Acts 7:53  you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it."

Hebrews 2:1-3  For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?

We picture God giving Moses the original tablets of the Ten Commandments.  Looking at these passages, who evidently gave Moses the original tablets?

The angels

So, which is superior, the Law or the Gospel?

The Gospel, given by God himself.

The Law needed a mediator between the people and God.  Who was that mediator?

Exodus 32:30-32  The next day Moses said to the people, "You have committed a great sin. But now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin."

So Moses went back to the LORD and said, "Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold.  But now, please forgive their sin--but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written."

Moses

Why does the Gospel not need a mediator?

God is one, there is no need for a go-between when only one party is involved.

So, which is superior, Law or Gospel?

The Gospel—it doesn’t need a mediator.

Can sinners go to heaven?

NO!

What does the Law show people?

Their sin.

Is the Law the way to heaven?

No, it is the way to hell, because it shows we have sinned.

What is the way to heaven?

The Gospel.

Paul would later say it much more clearly.

Romans 3.20-22  Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.  But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.  This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.

So, what was the purpose of the Law?

The Law was to lock us up and keep us safe until Christ came.  It was to lead us to Christ!

But don’t tell that to the translators of the NIV!  The Greek of Galatians 3.24 literally says, “So the Law was our baby-sitter up to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”

Wealthy Greek families did not want to constantly tow their kids around town, especially to school in the morning.  So they had a special servant do the job, the paedagogos.  He wasn’t the teacher.  He wasn’t the parent.  He was just there to make sure the kid got to where he was supposed to go and got there safely.  In Pinocchio Jiminy Cricket is a lousy paedagogus!  So the Law simply keeps us safe until Christ came.

But before Christ came, the Gentiles didn’t have the Law!  It did not serve as a paedagogus to them at all!  But it did for the Jews, especially in regard to the ceremonial laws, like circumcision, Sabbath days and kosher foods.  It is a real drag trying to get together with people who always have different days off than you.  And there is no bigger obstacle for people worshipping together than insisting the men be circumcised before they can come into the house of worship!

What were the Judaizers insisting that the Galatians do to be really saved?

Be circumcised, follow all the Old Testament ceremonial laws.

In effect, they were making the paedagogus the Savior!  Nobody in their right mind would make that mistake.  In fact, once Jesus came and the message of justification by faith which he brought, what happened to that baby-sitting function of the law?

It no longer functions in that way.  We are no longer under the supervision of the Law.

And how did Paul show that in his words to Peter in Galatians 2?

We have put our faith in Christ that we might be justified by faith and not by observing the Law.

If righteousness could be gained by the Law Christ died for nothing.

So, what else must I do to be saved?

Nothing!

What Else Must I Do to Be Saved?

Nothing!—Listen to the Gospel Which Makes You Sons (Galatians 3.25-4.31)

Paul is on a roll now and he keeps pouring it on, keeping that imagery of children under a paedagogus becoming adults and not needing the baby-sitter any more because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Read Galatians 3.26-4.7

What proofs does Paul give that we are sons of God?

1. Through faith in Jesus Christ

2. Through baptism

3. God sent his Spirit

4. We cry “Abba,” Father, not a spirit of slavery

When Paul says we have faith in Jesus he points to baptism.  What, obviously, does he think baptism does for us?

It gives us faith.

Remember the Purpose Driven Life?  Here’s how the author explains baptism.

“Baptism doesn’t make you a member of God’s family; only faith in Christ does that.  Baptism shows you are a part of God’s family.”  p.120.

So, what has the Gospel in baptism become in the life of a Purpose Driven Christian?

A law, a way of you showing that you belong to God’s family.

The Judaizers would have been so proud!

Under the law it did matter if you were Jew or Greek, male or female.  Jews had to obey the ceremonial Old Testament laws.  Males had to be circumcised.  Why doesn’t it matter under the Gospel?

There is nothing we have to do.

As we get older, things start to bother us.  Stereotypes of grumpy old men (like the recent movie “Up”) simply prove the point.  One thing I’ve been noticing in the life of our church is that there are fewer and fewer children in the worship.  One could blame the parents.  But I am also hearing that some people don’t want to come to church when the children are singing.  And some even in leadership are thinking that it’s better not to have the children in the worship service because they or their siblings create such a distraction.

Do Paul’s words about Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female have any bearing on this?  If so, what?

Church, one of the ways we express our thanks to God for his gift of forgiveness, is open to all people.

Let’s get back to Paul’s discussion of sons.

Remember the paedagogus?  Paul does.  While a child is under that paedagogus, what, in effect is his standing in the world?

He’s a slave to a slave.

The Greeks didn’t have an automatic age of being an adult.  The father had to cede these legal rights over to his son.  In all honesty, we do the same thing in a less formal way, as any parent with an 18 year old son chafing in his last semester of high school can tell you!

Paul now is talking to both Jews and Gentiles.  When were they children?

Before the time had fully come, before Jesus came into the world.

How did that slavery to the elements of this world show in the life of the Jew?

They had to observe all sorts of behavior regarding foods, materials and days.

We don’t know all that much about the religious life of the pagan Greek, but just think about some of our childhood superstitions and you may not be far off the mark.

Again, Paul speaks of the vicarious (substitutionary) aspect of Christ’s work.  How does he put it here?

Born of a woman, born under law

Why did Jesus have to be man?

To live under the law for us.

What is redemption?

Revelation 5:9  You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.

Ephesians 1.7  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.

Redemption is the forgiveness of sins which Jesus purchased for us by shedding his blood as the payment to bring us back to God.

Why might the Galatians feel they were not full sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus?

They were Gentiles and the Judaizers were saying they weren’t.

If Paul says they are full sons, then what about earning our way before God by observing the law?

We don’t need to earn something we’ve already been given.

What is the proof we have the full rights of sons?

We have God’s Spirit which moves us to call God “Father.”

How does this go back to the argument Paul made in chapter 3?

Galatians 3.2  Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?

We received the Spirit by faith, not by doing the works of the Law.

When do we regularly say “Father”?

In the Lord’s Prayer!

How does that prove we are full sons of God and heirs of heaven?

We go before God boldly and confidently, trusting that he is our good and merciful Father in heaven.

Read Galatians 4.8-20

What had the Galatians been worshipping before they became Christians?

1 Corinthians 10:20  No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons.

Demons!

Part of the religion of demons demanded observances of luck and unlucky days, which linked up well with the Judaizers insisting on observing special days.

How in the world could this spell Paul wasting all his time among the Galatians?

If the Galatians insisted on observing Sabbaths and eating kosher, they were putting their faith in man’s actions to gain God’s favor instead of relying totally on Jesus as the one who earned God’s good favor for them.

Describe how Paul must have come into Galatia.

He was sick and weak.

How would that make the people feel?

People would think the messenger was not all that great, they would treat him with scorn and not want to be around a sickly, weak man of God.

When I was in the Seminary, they demanded that we wear shirts, ties and suit coats (and dress slacks) or suits.  Why do you think I wear jeans a lot?

I don’t work with a lot of people who wear suits and ties on the weekdays.  I became like the people of Southern Nevada—casual.

Should the pastor be your drinking buddy?  Why or why not?

No.  He should be someone who  knows and understands you, but he doesn’t have to show you all his scars or give someone the feeling they are closer to him than others.

Should the pastor be able to understand where you’re coming from?  What if the people are pretty sure he can’t?

Yes.  They won’t be able to confide in him and won’t have confidence in him that he will understand what they are going through.

What relationship did the Judaizers want to see between the Galatians and Paul?

They want to alienate the Galatians from Paul.

What relationship did the Judaizers want to see between the Galatians and themselves?

They want to replace Paul in the affection and honor of the Galatians.

What relationship of the Galatians did Paul think was the most important?

He was more concerned that they be zealous for God.

Read Galatians 4.21-31

Paul goes back to the Bible to talk about full sons and false sons.  Again, this would be a story the Judaizers would have an easy time remembering, but a hard time seeing how it was being applied.

Abraham wasn’t a saint.  Why did he sleep with his slave woman?

Genesis 16:1-2  Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar;  so she said to Abram, "The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her."

Abram agreed to what Sarai said.  He thought the Son of the Promise would come from something he would have to do—have a son the natural way, but Sarai was too old.  Her slave girl, Hagar, was young.

The story of Abraham’s two sons does not turn out well.

Genesis 21:8-12  The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast.  But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, and she said to Abraham, "Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac."

The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son.  But God said to him, "Do not be so distressed about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.

Paul says the story of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar is a parable.  What corresponds to what? (draw lines)

Gospel                                                                                                              Law

 

 Answers: Line to Gospel side for:  New Covenant, Jerusalem above, Isaac, Galatians, Sarah.  Line to Law side for the rest.

How did Ishmael’s treatment of Isaac mirror the Judaizers’ treatment of Paul?

The Judaizers are persecuting Paul as Ishamael persecuted Isaac.

What is the moral of the parable?

Get rid of the Judaizers and their teachings!

What Else Must I Do to Be Saved?

Nothing!—Listen to the Gospel Which Makes You Free (Galatians 5)

Paul reaches the climax of his argument.  What is at stake is freedom.

Read Galatians 5.1-6

List all the ways Christ has set us free.

Free from sin

Free from guilt

Free from shame

Free from hell

Free from the devil’s temptations

Free from trying to earn our way to heaven

What freedom does Paul seem to be thinking of primarily in this section?

Freedom from the ceremonial Old Testament laws.

Stories are told about great writers slaving away and dying little by little at clerical jobs until they found a patron or their masterpiece sold enough copies to allow them to devote all their time to writing.  Did God bring us into this world to keep track of what we eat, what day it is, whether we have touched something unclean?  Why did he bring us into this world?

God brought us into this world so we could express our faith in him by living a life of love.

Why did he demand all that from his Old Testament people, the Jews?

Jesus hadn’t come yet.  These laws were ways to show them their sin, show them what the Savior would be doing for them and kept them from mingling with other people.

Why isn’t he demanding that from us?

Jesus has come and God wants us to mingle with other people to get the Good News out.

Paul basically is saying, if you let yourself be circumcised, you might as well be a Buddhist!  Why?

Because you won’t be a Christian.  Christians rely on Jesus to get to heaven, not on something they do.  All the other religions of the world teach their people to do something to get to heaven.

What is grace and why does a righteousness from the law destroy it?

A free gift of God’s undeserved love.  Earning it makes it a wage which we deserve from a God who is only fair, but not so loving.  If he were loving, he wouldn’t make us work for it.

What does it say about a person’s faith if they never show it?

They don’t have faith.  Faith shows itself in loving attitudes and actions.

Read Galatians 5.7-12

Who cut the Galatians off in their race of a Christian life?

The Judaizers.

Why did they do it?

They are working against Jesus and his gracious call.

This summer the largest Lutheran church body in America, the ELCA, decided they couldn’t decide whether having open homosexuals in the public ministry was right or wrong.  Astute observers have said this is a result of their moving away from the (true) Lutheran view that the Bible is God’s Word back in the 1950s.  “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.”  Explain why these observers may be right.

If you don’t believe the Bible is the Word of God, you don’t know how to make moral judgments.  Are those words against homosexuality from God or from man?  Who can tell and who can judge?

What has the Roman Catholic Church’s insistence on celibate clergy resulted in?

An unholy and corrupt minority in the clergy that preys on  God’s children, scars them for life and sometimes scandalizes them so badly that they throw away their faith.

Can you guess what the Baptist’s millennial views about the Jews are resulting in?

They forget about the cross of Christ and the salvation that it alone brings while they insinuate the Jews are still God’s children and will be saved because they are Jews.

If such a little bit of false doctrine goes so far, what should we do about what we hear and learn in our church’s worship and classes?

First of all, we should attend so we know what our pastor is preaching and teaching!  Then we should check and see if what he is teaching is a correct explanation and application of God’s Word.  And if it isn’t, we should call him out on it, not simply stop coming to worship or Bible Class.  It’s our church and the church of our children—no man has a right to ruin it through false teaching and every Christian has the duty to defend it.

Paul becomes quite brutal here—what may be the ultimate penalty for false teachers?

That they end up in hell—on earth they should be emasculated.

Evidently some Judaizers were saying they were Paul’s back-up team.  He gave them Christianity 101 and they were Christianity 102.  How does Paul easily refute their claims?

If Paul is on their team, a colleague of theirs, preaching the need for circumcision along with faith, why are they persecuting him?

Sometimes people try the same thing with Christianity.  They say all religions are the same.  They all lead to God and we ought to be tolerant of other people’s religions.  So what will happen to me if I go into Saudi Arabia to start a Christian congregation?  So why do Hindus consistently burn down Christian churches in India?

I will be jailed and (at best) expelled from Saudi Arabia where it is illegal to display any Christian symbols and to convert anyone.  Hindus, whom we like to think of as peaceful, have a habit of every so often getting radicalized and attack Christians.  In both cases, these religions do not see Christianity as the same as their religions.  They only want tolerance from Christians.  They do not permit tolerance towards Christians.

Read Galatians 5.13-15

Freedom in Christ can be misused—how?

Our sinful human nature can pervert Christian freedom into freedom to sin and serve oneself.

What are we supposed to use our Christian freedom to do?

We are to use our Christian freedom to serve others out of love for them.

This is a tough one.  I am free to do anything, but I must use my freedom to serve others.

Apply this to a Christian’s use of

Alcohol

While it is permissible for me to drink, at times I will not drink so people don’t get the wrong impression—that Lutheran preachers are drunkards or that someone with a problem with alcohol should really be strong enough in their faith that they can handle a belt or two.

Gambling

While it is permissible for me to gamble, I will not use that right.  I do not want to give people permission to throw money away that they can’t afford or to embolden them to venture into situations where they can easily succumb to the sin of coveting.

Talking to friends after church

I like talking to you after church as much as the next guy—even more because I know you!  But if I see a new family sitting alone at the table, I’m going to talk to them, even if it means you aren’t as friendly to me as before because, “Pastor never talks to me after church.”

Forms of worship

We really can use any form of worship we want with any type of instrumentation we want.  But we are going to limit ourselves to worship forms that bring out the Gospel and give glory to God in a way that most of the people can appreciate and understand and the rest of the people can learn to appreciate and understand.

What should be my first concern instead of “I don’t like ______.”

Do others benefit from ____________?

Am I here for me or am I here for others?

I am here for others, because God is here for me.

Read Galatians 5.16-26

Paul now compares the life of the Spirit and the life of the sinful human nature.

Why don’t Christians carry out their good intentions?

The sinful human nature and the Spirit are in conflict with each other—when we don’t do what we want, the sinful human nature has come out on top.

Try this to show yourself it is true.  When someone asks you to do something, something little, something that takes practically no effort on your part, quickly agree to do it, but then put it off for a while.  The sinful human nature will kick in and it will be twice as hard to get that task done, if it gets done at all!

If I am not led by the Spirit, I am under the law—what is that law saying to me?

The law is saying to me I have to do these all things perfectly to earn heaven and since I am not perfect, I am going to hell.

What if these list of sins aren’t so obviously sinful?

Then we are well along the path to perdition and so are those around us.

What do you think of Tiger Woods?  Jonathan Edwards?  Charlie Sheen?

The world doesn’t think their sins are so bad—after all, Tiger sells a lot of merchandise, Edwards real sin was not carrying his own state when he ran for Vice-President! And Charlie Sheen—everybody knew he had baggage—he wasn’t hiding anything!  That’s the way to hell.  A Christian should look at these stories, be repelled by them and pray and strive that he or she never falls into temptations like that.

What does Paul mean when he talks of Christian virtues as “fruit of the Spirit?”

The Spirit brings them out in us.  We don’t produce them by ourselves.  They are the result of the Spirit’s work in us.

Describe each one of these virtues and how they crown our lives.  Answers will vary with individuals.

Love

Joy

Peace

Patience

Kindness

Goodness

Faithfulness

Gentleness

Self-control

 

Self-control might not make our top nine list of virtues, but it does for Paul.  Why is this fitting when this entire chapter of Galatians is talking about Christian freedom?

If you can’t control yourself, if the control for our actions is not within us, when the external pressures are off we will plunge into debauchery.  This is what many typically assume is the college experience—kids chafing under parental rules have four years to run wild.

A Christian who loves the Lord and shows that love with a self-controlled life will use his Christian freedom not for license, but for service to others.

Paul ended the first section of this chapter with a warning about biting and devouring each other.  He ends the second section with warnings about envy and conceit.  How does a law driven church open itself up to these terrible vices?

In a church where people are told they MUST do this or that, those who fool themselves into thinking they are doing what is “required” look down upon the “less spiritual” members of the church.  They become conceited and start talking about the “less spiritual” members.  On the other hand, when they see real piety in one who is not with the church’s “in group” they become jealous and envious of them, as Jerusalem’s religious rulers envied Jesus.

The “less spiritual” members see the hypocrisy of their leaders and either fall into cynicism or drop out.

How can an Evangelical Lutheran congregation fall into the same trap?

The sinful human nature always wants to be motivated by the Law so it can take pride in what it does and look down on others.  The sad fact is that an Evangelical Lutheran Church can have members who act and think the same way as people in a Latter Day Saints group if they let the sinful human nature dominate them.

If “a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough,” what seems to be the central teaching that can keep a church on track?

Justification.  God has saved us solely by his grace—there’s nothing else we have to do to be saved.  We are saved.  Our Christian life shows our loving response to that fact.

What Else Must I Do to Be Saved?

OK, There’s Nothing Else I Must Do to Be Saved!—What Am I Going To Do With My Time? (Galatians 6)

Paul closes with applications of salvation by grace alone in the Christian’s life.

Read Galatians 6.1-5

Look at how Paul has addressed the Galatians up to this point:

1.6 I am astonished

1.11 brothers

3.1 You foolish Galatians

3.15 brothers

4.11 I have wasted my efforts on you

4.13 brothers

4.20 I am perplexed about you

4.28 brothers

5.4 you have fallen from grace

5.13 brothers

 

6.1 brothers

What does it show that there is now no rebuke of the Galatians in chapter 6?

Paul is counting on the Law he has included in Galatians to have done its work—they know they have sinned big time.  And Paul is counting on the Gospel to have done its work—they know God has forgiven them and their relationship with God is restored.

What is the first sin that may come to mind for the Galatians reading Paul’s letter?

Caught in the sin of a false teaching—having to be circumcised before you can really be a Christian.

How is restoring someone who is caught in a sin like setting a broken leg?

It is going to take time.  There is a healing process involved.  The forgiveness comes immediately, but helping the person stay away from that sin and recover from its collateral damage will take time.

Our church is pretty good at forgiving people their sins, but pretty lousy at nurturing healing people.  Do you agree or disagree?

Agree.  We tell them they are forgiven all the time, but we don’t follow-through and see that they come to Bible Class to keep feeding their faith.  The attitude is often, “we’re here—they know it.  They’ll come if they want to.”

What is your reaction when you hear of someone quitting the church?

How in the world can that be?  It is more indignation that someone wouldn’t like our church than concern for what they are going to do about their soul now.

What burdens might people bring into the church that impact the other Christians—or shouldn’t they be impacted?

People might be really touchy about money because they came from a church that always was hammering people over the head for it.  They impact their new church by demanding a transparent system of accounting and Gospel motivated stewardship programs.

They may have had bad experiences from the Catholic church leadership.  They impact their new church by having every practice of the church moored in New Testament teachings and applications, as well as strict guidelines on moral behavior of the clergy.

They may have been so pounded on by the Law that they still revert to it.  The new congregation should be very concerned that the Gospel dominate in everything it does.

No matter what the baggage, the new congregation should recognize it and try to help them get rid of that baggage permanently.

Why is comparing yourself to others detrimental to the church?

It will either lead to despair, because I can’t be as good as that person, or presumption, because we are better than others.

What is the load each one is to carry for themselves?

God wants us to be the best we can be.  That’s more than enough work for us.

Read Galatians 6.6-10

Many churches do not have paid clergy.  In the troubled times we live in, I’ve heard a former Vice-President of our synod wonder aloud where in the Bible it says called ministers have to get paid for what they do.   What light do these passages shed on pastoral (and teacher) salaries?

Those who benefit from the work of preachers and teachers are to share “all good things” with them.  Thanks, obedience, prayers are certainly included in this.  A willingness to put into practice what we have learned from our preacher and teacher is wonderful pay.  But “all good things” also includes financial compensation.  One who does not see that has a hidden agenda they are pushing.  No one expects the preacher or teacher to live better than the people they serve, but to share what they have is put forth here as the norm, not the exception.

What’s the problem with sowing to please the sinful nature or sowing to please the Spirit?

Sowing to please the sinful human nature looks fun in the short term.  Only in the longer term will it look like a horrible idea.

Sowing to please the Spirit looks like suffering in the short term and in the longer term.  Only in the light of eternity in heaven will sowing to please the Spirit yield visible fruit.

How will a life of doing good to all people help me not give up as I sow a life to please the Spirit?

The ultimate goal of our faith, the “harvest,” is eternal life in heaven.  But that seems a long ways off sometimes.  As we do good to others in life we will experience “mini-harvests,” such as the blessings of friendships, family, Christian love and satisfaction.

Read Galatians 6.11-18

Some have surmised Paul had problems writing.  The letter would have, according to custom in the Roman Empire, been dictated to a scribe.  But here Paul takes the pen into his own hands.  Either he had a physical illness which prevented him from seeing things well or years as a tent-maker had ruined his writing.  At any rate, it would look like a Kindergartener had taken a magic marker to the manuscript at this point.

Why did Paul do it?

That he was truly concerned about them.  This letter was from him, not an imposter.  It shows the sincerity and depth of his love for them, that he doesn’t mind looking a little foolish.

What kind of false impressions might people want to make in the church?

They want to look like they are together, having everything under control, that they are perfect in every way and getting perfecter every day.

How does that detract from the cross of Christ?

We are in church because we are damnable sinners who need the cross of Christ.  That’s why we insist it be preached and taught.

Paul gives a surprising reason the Judaizers exist—what is it?

They are trying to avoid persecution!  If they can get Christian to believe they have to be circumcised, perhaps they feel the Romans will lump them under the Jews (a people not normally subject to persecution) and the Jews will not hound them.

What does Paul base his reputation upon?

That Jesus died on the cross for him.

If we follow his example, how will that free us to serve?

If people think we are nerds for how we live, it won’t make us ashamed.  The only opinion that counts is God’s and he has given that opinion—beloved, forgiven children of his!

Israel in the Old Testament was God’s people, circumcised on the eighth day.  What is Paul saying when he calls the Galatians (and us), “the Israel of God?”

We Christians are that “new creation” of God created in Christ Jesus by faith to serve him.  We are the people of God, not by adherence to the old code, but by God’s grace.

So, what are the two purposes Jesus has freed us from the law and has given us heaven by his grace alone?

That we might get to heaven—without God’s grace we could never get there, never be sure of our salvation if it were on the terms of the law.

That we might serve him here on earth—without God’s grace we never could serve him out of love, for we would always be serving him motivated by the law.