Galatians | Week 6 | 6:1

Galatians | Week 6 | 6:1

In Galatians 6, Paul continues to flesh out what really counts. He has repeated his point of justification by faith, through grace, in Christ alone. There was a hinge point in the last verse of chapter 5 where we are told what really matters - faith working through love. It’d be a lot easier to simply trust my righteous deeds!

Love, as God defines, isn’t mere emotion. In 6:1, we get a glimpse of the tougher side of love. 

Galatians 6 [1] Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

As you see your brother walking into sin, go after him. The natural mind wants to gossip about him, or even worse drive him deeper into sin and hiding through our malicious speech. Our restoration should not be categorized by harshness. Rather, we must keep a spirit of gentleness. When dealt with harshly, sin has a habit of going into hiding. It gets driven underground, and away from the life giving light of the gospel, and the love and truth that flows from biblical community.

Here is the most difficult part - what if we actually do this? Instead of viewing our brother’s sin as an opportunity for comparison and self-righteousness, what if we sit down for that tough conversation? Instead of gossip and slander, what if we reserve our words for a direct and gentle restoration? 

The Lord also points us to our own transgressions. We’re instructed to watch ourselves also. The Spirit knows our hearts, and the challenges that come from lovingly pointing out the sin of others. We make ourselves vulnerable to others as we have tough conversations. Let’s watch ourselves, and the sin which so easily entangles (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Galatians | Week 5 | 5:7-12

Galatians | Week 5 | 5:7-12

In verse 6, Paul points us to what really matters - faith working through love. Paul points us repeatedly to faith and Christ's work as the sole basis for our salvation. This is absolutely true. However, this emphasis on faith is not meant to point us away from the effort that results from that faith. A faith that is real will actually do something. Paul says that our faith works through love.

One key phrase that I want us to remember is "grace-driven effort." Grace-driven effort is our response to God's love toward us. God has shown us His grace, and we respond with our will and effort BECAUSE of what He has done for us. We do not obey the commands of God IN ORDER TO GET His love. We obey because we already have God's love. I understand that this can be a difficult distinction to discern. However, honesty before the Spirit and others with our motives will show us what is true in our hearts.

Verse 12 is a humorous/figurative approach to understanding the works and faith tension. Paul says that if really believe that are outward actions are the basis for our justification, why in the world would be stop at mere circumcision? Paul says that those leading the Galatian church astray should go all the way and "emasculate themselves." Frankly, Paul says that they should cut it all off. (Don't get mad at me, it's in the Bible!)

Again, I ask you to consider what you are pointing to as your defense before God. It is absolutely anything other than Jesus? Are you pressing into Christ, and Christ alone as the basis for your hope? When things go wrong in your life, to whom or to what do you run? Jesus, and Jesus alone can provide hope, satisfaction, peace, comfort, and ultimately, salvation.  

Galatians | Week 5 | 5:5-6

Galatians | Week 5 | 5:5-6

Let's jump right in at verse 5.

For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness -(Galatians 5:5 ESV)

I want us to see all three persons of the Trinity at work in our salvation. God the father sends the Son, the Son lives a righteous life and paid the penalty for our sins in His death, burial, and resurrection, and the Spirit convicts of sin and brings us to faith and repentance. We must remember that apart from the Spirit there is no salvation. I love the Lyrics of "Praise the Father, Praise the Son:"

Praise the Father, praise the Son
Praise the Spirit, Three in One
Clothed in power and in grace
The name above all other names

This verse continues to echo the theme of the book, pointing us to justification by faith, through grace, in Christ. Our good works, church attendance, or well-intentioned decisions do not save us. Rather, it is only through faith that we are saved.

Here is a challenging question - what are we doing to intentionally strengthen our faith? Faith is like a muscle. Through periods of challenge and recovery, we can work to increase our dependence on the Lord. We can put ourselves in circumstances and situations that are prime for faith strengthening. Building relationships with our neighbors and coworkers (for the sake of the gospel) can strengthen our faith and dependence on Christ. I believe this is one of the reasons that He told us to make disciples in His great commission. It's no surprise that few Christians ever take the time to build relationships and share the gospel. It's tough, awkward, and costs us something.

Galatians | Week 5 | 5:1-4

Galatians | Week 5 | 5:1-4

Christ Has Set Us Free

As we studied this past Sunday, apart from Christ we are slaves to sin, legalism, and the evil forces of the world. I want us to genuinely consider the areas where we are seeking salvation apart from Christ. I can’t help but think that the repetition in this book would point us to the importance of searching our hearts for legalism. Opening our lives to the conviction of the Spirit will ultimately stir our affections toward Christ as we root out anything that would compete for our allegiance to Him.

In verse 2, Paul says that if we accept circumcision, then Christ is no good to us. In other words, Jesus + something = nothing. We must know that Jesus + nothing = everything.

Verse 4 points us to another important truth. Paul speaks of those who have “fallen away from grace.” We’ve learned that the three most important points in interpreting Scripture are context, context, and context. We know from several passages of Scripture (1 John 5:13; John 5:24) that those who have genuinely trusted in Christ are saved forever. The ones of whom Paul says have “fallen away” must have never had real salvation to begin with.

---

Scripture Memory

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

(Galatians 5:1 ESV)

Galatians | Week 4 | Summary

Galatians | Week 4 | Summary

We have two more chapters to go in the book of Galatians. We'll encounter profoundly challenging verses as we dive into the Scriptures together. Look at the very first verse of chapter 5:

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

(Galatians 5:1 ESV)

Wow! Don't be burdened by legalism or sin. You're free in Christ! I look forward to diving into Chapter 4 with you on Sunday, and we'll all pick up together in chapter 5 next week. 


Haven't you enjoyed this week's posts? They were all written by our very own Michael Davis. Michael works in the digital marketing field, and it's been a tremendous blessing to me a pastor to watch the Lord at work in his life.  -Dustin

Galatians | Week 4 | 4:21-31

Galatians | Week 4 | 4:21-31

Galatians 4:21-31

It is very easy to believe that somehow our works can make us more loved by God when we do good or more loathed by God when we fail him by our sins. The truth is that this understanding of God cheapens the gift of grace through the sacrifice of Christ. If works where a requirement of salvation it wouldn't be considered grace. There is nothing in us nor was there anything in us prior to our salvation that made us any more worthy of the gift that the Lord has given us. What Paul is attempting to do in these verses and throughout the letter to the Galatians is to show that works is not essential for salvation, only faith.

Paul desires to drive home the fact that salvation is apart from works and says it over and over again in this letter, but decides to put the proverbial bow on it with the allegory of Sarah and Hagar. This story, which at face value might be confusing, is representative of legalism versus faith. When God promised Abraham that his people would be as numerous as the stars, Abraham’s lack of faith made him go to Hagar as a physical method to reproduce and out of that physical union came Esau. On the other hand when Abraham and Sarah finally had faith to trust God's word, they bore Isaac. The son that was born from a rejection of God's word would be a child of wrath and of violence while the child of faith would become a blessing to all nations. 

Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, points out that the son which was born out of a belief that we know better than what God does was a child of slavery. Counter to that, the child that was born out of faith was a child of freedom. One was from a mother which was a bond servant and the other was from a mother which was a free woman. What Paul was doing here was an attack on the Judaizers who believed that being sons of Abraham meant that they were secured and saved. They believe this to such an extent that they told others in the Galatian church that they needed to be circumcised and to follow the law like the Jews as a requirement for salvation. When Paul uses this story as allegory he says that being sons of Abraham isn't as important as being sons of faith and freedom.

Paul is not saying that the law is not important, but that being Jewish does not mean righteous. This is a lesson for all of us. Only when we understand that nothing within us made us worthy of salvation or election as children of God can we truly understand what grace means. That which is not freely given and necessitates anything that we have done or will do is not freely given. To believe otherwise cheapens the cross and the sacrifice that Christ willingly did for us. This fact is the reason why we cannot boast in anything and that it is all the glory and wonderful grace of God.


This week's posts were written by Michael Davis

Galatians | Week 4 | 4:8-20

Galatians | Week 4 | 4:8-20

Why do so many Christians, having known the truth about what it means to be children of God, focus so much on their own abilities or failings?  It seems that no matter what we do as Christians, the world keeps pulling us to those things that pull us away from Jesus Christ.  When we should be preaching the Kingdom of God, we are preaching the value of the American dream.  When we should be serving our neighbors with our time and money, we hoard for ourselves treasures on earth.  When we should be focusing on the eternal truths and glory of the Gospel of grace, we believe that through our own abilities, we can earn God’s favor or when we fail that we have somehow disappointed God.  Why is this?  

The good news is that this is not unique to me or to you (I would venture to say).  Paul, in his letter to the Galatians is entreating them to flee from a belief that they can earn God’s favor through the law and to focus on the truths that they have been taught by Paul where Christ’s sacrifice is all that matters.  Through the inspired Word of God, Paul is pleading to you and to me to not be enslaved to anything that isn’t God (everything else).  Even though Paul was talking to the church in Galatia, He is also speaking to us with a true and genuine desire to see all of us freed from the worship of our own self righteousness.  Paul even goes so far as to say that he is in anguish at the way that the Galatians (and us as well) have turned back to this slavery even after seeing the freedom of Christ.

What we must all come to understand is that whether it is being enslaved to the law (as with the church in Galatia) or being enslaved to sin (as with the modern world), if we put our focus in anything other than in Christ and the Gospel, we are settling for something less.  Even those of us who have been chosen by God and who are known by God (Galatians 4:9) oftentimes have a tendency to live our lives like the truth that has been revealed to us isn’t entirely true.  What we need to rely on is the fact that though we rebel, like Paul’s concern for the church in Galatia, God is concerned that we rely on Him and not on anything less than Him (and that includes ourselves).   Is the Gospel the primary focus of your life?  Would Paul be perplexed at what you are holding dear and are you living like Christ has truly been formed in you?


SCRIPTURE MEMORY

4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

(Galatians 4:4-5 ESV)


This week's posts were written by Michael Davis

Galatians | Week 4 | 4:1-7

Galatians | Week 4 | 4:1-7

Inclusion as the Children of God is Redefined

Considering Paul’s insistence over the last couple chapters to separate Judaism from salvation, I think it would be helpful to point out the reason why this was so revolutionary.  When considering what election into the Kingdom of God, modern Christians must understand that the notions of “faith alone, through Christ alone” was not just an issue that was discussed during the Reformation.  Since the time of Abraham, the Jews knew that God had singled them out as His chosen people and that the covenants (both the Abrahamic and Mosaic) were agreed to by both the freed people of Israel and by God.  The Jews would even go so far as to circumcise their boys in order to have an outward reflection of that covenant.  The coming of Jesus would change all of that.

No longer were the children of God defined by race, ethnicity, or by adherence to tradition.  Election into the Kingdom was by one thing and one thing only, a faith response to who Jesus is and what He has done.  I would like for you to consider how this would affect the early church which was comprised by both Jews and gentiles.  Jews had always placed themselves above their gentile neighbors because they had not only been chosen by God to receive His law, but now they had also been chosen by God to birth the Messiah.  It would actually make sense if you take human nature into it.  The Jews must have seen gentile inclusion as completely foreign to them and that assimilation would be required in what many of them would see as a Jewish sect rather than a whole new religion.  What they failed to see is that through them and the line of Abraham, Jesus would save the whole world rather than just the Jews.  The children of God would reflect the magnificence of the human race.  No longer would the Kingdom be a single hue of skin color, but all peoples.  No longer would the kingdom speak a single language but all languages.  No longer would God reside in the Temple in Jerusalem, but now He would reside in the bodies of believers throughout the world.  

The question that arises is do we seek to make our church reflect the magnificent diversity of God?  Do we reach out to people who look different than us or speak a different language? One thing that I can guarantee all of you who read this post is that Heaven is going to be rich and diverse because God made us that way.  God could have made us all look the same, but chose to make humanity complexly different.  Shouldn’t one of our aims as a church family be to do the same?

SCRIPTURE MEMORY

for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.

(Galatians 3:26 ESV)


This week's posts were written by Michael Davis

Galatians | Week 3 | Summary

Galatians | Week 3 | Summary

As believers in the resurrected son of God who have received salvation by grace through faith, we are no longer servants, but now ‘sons of God’. Christ’s inheritance belongs to “all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32). As co-heirs with Christ we receive the full inheritance from the Father and heaven as our reward!

Throughout Galatians 3, Paul reminds us that the Spirit is received by faith and man is no longer slave to the law. He emphasizes that the true purpose of the law was to lead us to Christ, a once and for all sacrifice, that we might be justified through faith in Christ. Jesus humbled himself and became the curse so that we might be heirs according to the promise given to Abraham.

As we reflect on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ this Good Friday, I am reminded of the hymn writer who penned these words; “my sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought, my sin not in part, but the whole was nailed to the cross and I bear it no more. Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, oh my soul!”.  Glory be to the God of all grace who has poured out His love toward us through the sacrifice of His son that we may be ‘sons of God’.


This week's posts were written by Myles and Gabe Chatham

Galatians | Week 3 | 3:10-29

Galatians | Week 3 | 3:10-29

 Galatians 3:23-29

The Law as our Tutor
As he continues his commentary of works of the law as opposed to faith in the promise, Paul now contrasts the personal applications effects those two approaches have on people. Paul uses the imagery of prison and custody to describe the plight of those under the law. The Law "has become our tutor" and pointed us to Christ so that we can be justified by faith and be released from the bondage of the law. When Paul says that "before faith came," he does not mean that there was a time before salvation by faith but instead to communicate the period in redemptive history when great numbers of people, especially Gentiles, came to faith through the preaching of God's Word.

Paul paints the beautiful picture of being baptized into Christ and being clothed with Christ instead of being clothed by our own merits. In Christ, there is equal footing so that gender, free or slave, or Jew or Gentile has no bearing on access to the gospel. All believers are all one in Christ Jesus and all spiritual blessings, resources, and promises are freely given to all who believe unto salvation. The Law exposes our depravity before God but it also points us to the Savior. The blessing and spiritual promise of eternal salvation that was given to Abraham are also given to those who belong to Christ.


This week's posts were written by Myles & Gabe Chatham

Galatians | Week 3 | 3:6-9

Galatians | Week 3 | 3:6-9

Galatians 3:6-12

Faith of Abraham

From the beginning, faith has been the God required response that delivers salvation as we see in Ephesians 2:8-9.  The Abrahamic covenant in Genesis 12: 1-3 communicates that all the nations, both Jew and Gentile, are justified for the same reason that Abraham was justified and blessed: their faith.  In the Old Testament, Abel, Noah, and Moses were justified by faith even though he didn't enjoy the same amount of revelation that we have today.  They, like Abraham, believed God and it was counted toward them as righteousness just as the others in Hebrews 11.

In verses 10-12, Paul points out that salvation by works and salvation by faith are mutually exclusive propositions.  The one who tries to live by the law in order find salvation will have to live by it perfectly and one can achieve that standard.  But the law is not without purpose.  The law of the Old Testamant shows us the healthy boundaries that God has for his people and reveals His character but no one is capable of perfection in keeping the law.  Without the faith like that of Abraham, salvation is impossible.


This week's posts were written by Myles and Gabe Chatham

Galatians | Week 3 | 3:1-5

Galatians | Week 3 | 3:1-5

Galatians 3:1-5

Clarity: The presence of the Spirit

Chapter 3 begins with Paul asking a series of rhetorical questions to point the Galatian believer to the ‘foolishness’ of their betrayal of the gospel. Paul, a dynamic communicator, had proclaimed that justification is only by faith in Jesus Christ from the first time he set foot in Galatia. This is why Paul refers to their spiritual carelessness as ‘foolish’ two separate times in the first 3 verses. He is hardly able to believe that those who had sat under his teaching could give way to a false doctrine. 

Paul’s preaching of Jesus Christ and the Galatians acceptance of Him by faith was all done publicly. The believers there were witnesses to each others salvation by faith in Him alone. Paul’s message of the gospel demonstrates 2 things; how hopelessly lost we are, and how sufficient the atonement of His sacrifice for our sin is.

In verses 2-4, Paul makes an appeal to the Galatian believers experience with the Holy Spirit. He asks, ‘did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith’? Paul taught that the gift of the Holy Spirit is the believer’s most unmistakeable evidence of salvation as evidenced in Romans 8. A higher level of living does not bring the Holy Spirit; rather submission to the Holy Spirit, who already indwells the believer, includes a higher level of living.

In verse 5, Paul reminds the Galatian believers of God's miraculous work in their lives so that their faith will be renewed. His questions, although rhetorical in nature, call for a reaffirmation of faith. Paul’s questioning leads all believers to ask: Am I striving for sanctification by faith or by works? Only through the Spirit (not the flesh), by faith (not works), we wait for the hope of righteousness. 


This week's posts were written by Myles and Gabe Chatham

Galatians | Week 2 | Summary

Galatians | Week 2 | Summary

I hope that this week has been enriching as we've studied through Galatians 2. As we've said before, Northside is a church and not the Church. It is vital to our health as a church family that we know the gospel and don't let it get muddied up. Luther put it this way "The person who can rightly divide Law and Gospel has reason to thank God. He is a true theologian." That might sound funny at first since as Christians we hear the words "Law" and "Gospel" tossed around so much that we might think that they are opposites, or at least only the Gospel is important anymore. But if we're honest it's so easy for us to try and add something to God's grace that he's already freely given to us and to think we're in the right. Grace is foreign to us. It is against our natural inclinations. It's kind of like somebody buying you lunch and you offer to get the tip. If you're trying to pay them back for the lunch, then it wasn't really a free lunch, was it?

As we look back on chapter 2 and Paul's defense of the gospel, let's stop to consider two ways that we can distort the gospel and how to fight the lies.

1.  Adding our own requirements to earn or maintain our righteousness. This is so easy to slip into because this is where we want to add all the good things: Bible studies, longer quiet times, more prayer, more evangelism, more serving, more generously, etc... Who doesn't like good things? However, the motive is often making "me" look better and we heap up a burden that would be unsustainable if we looked at where all of that would take us. You do still need to sleep, right? When this temptation comes up, we can look back at verse 16:

"yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified."

2. Using the gospel as an excuse for sinfulness. We're unconditionally forgiven and accepted, right? God's not holding it against us, so what's the big deal? When we start to veer off into this territory we can recall verse 20:

"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

The next few weeks are going to be really exciting as we watch Paul's argument unfold. So far he's made a bold sketch and outlined the contours of the gospel. Soon we'll see him filling in the details. If you've enjoyed these posts, then pass them along to your friends at Northside and elsewhere. Studying the Word together with others can be deeply enriching and will help us to grow as a community.


This week's posts were written by Chris Adams

Galatians | Week 2 | 2:15-21

Galatians | Week 2 | 2:15-21

We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. -(Galatians 2:15-21 ESV)

Baseball season is here. What we've covered in chapter two of Galatians so far has been a lot like a pitcher's windup. Although Paul has made some strong points, he's about to transition to a more direct appeal and elaborate on several of the redemptive threads he's been laying down in order to weave a powerful message of justification by faith alone in Christ alone.

In verses 15 and 16, he's continuing to denounce Peter's actions of retreating from the Gentiles in order to remain with the Jews. This is one long sentence, so let's unpack it a bit by looking at the "yet" and the "so". Even though both Paul and Peter are both Jews, Paul asserts that they both know that justification is not through works but through faith. Paul wasn't denying Judaism, rather that adherence to the totality of the Jewish law (moral, ceremonial, and judicial) was inadequate for justification. That makes "so" the hinge. So they believed in order to be justified by faith and not by lawful obedience. This was such a big deal that it was one of the rally cries of the Reformation.

Verses 18-21 bring it down to the personal level. Look at how Paul has been saying "we" up to now. By shifting to the first person, Paul can contrast his actions to Peter's. Let's jump back to verse 7 for a moment.

"On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised"

Let's stop and consider how Jewish Paul remained. We know that it was his custom to first go to the synagogue (Acts 17:2) in a town (meaning there were at least 10 Jewish men there). We know that he upheld Jewish customs when he was around Jews (1 Corinthians 9:20). So how does this match up with his statements about not being under the law, and how does it contrast with Peter's actions? Is this just some irrelevant curveball?

We know from Romans 9-11 that Paul makes an impassioned plea for the salvation of the Jews.

"Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved." (Romans 10:1)

Again, Paul is not denying his Jewish background. Elsewhere he reminds us that he is a an elite Jew (Philippians 3:4-6, Acts 22-23). However, the key difference between him and Peter here is that all of Paul's Jewish practice was for the sake of the unbelievers' consciences (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). With them, he upholds the law in order to make the gospel shine. This is what he means by dying to the law through the law in order to live to God. He knows that lawful obedience isn't going to do one bit of good toward his standing with God. Jesus took care of that. Peter, on the other hand, was acting out of a weak conscience and attemping to please men rather than God. Peter had already been direct revelation from God that he should not refuse to associate with Gentiles:

"And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean." -(Acts 10:28)

So here's Peter, having seen a magnificent vision from heaven and who was present not only when the Holy Spirit fell on the Jews but also came to the Gentiles, and he's having an unsteady conscience. That's massively important to our understanding of the contrast between the actions of Paul and Peter.

Let's not get too hard on Peter though. There are plenty of examples of his failures and generally being slow on the uptake. Let's thank God that the same patient and enduring love he had for Peter he also has for us. We know that Peter received the rebuke and repented.

"And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters."

2 Peter 3:15-16

So there's the windup. Paul is now going to give us the pitch as he brings in Old Testament covenant, Law, an adoption metaphor to show us that righteousness has ALWAYS been through faith. Don't worry if you're not familiar with some of these. We'll explain as we go so that together as a church we can walk through the Word and walk in the Spirit.


This week's posts were written by Chris Adams

Galatians | Week 2 | 2:11-14

Galatians | Week 2 | 2:11-14

But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” Galatians 2:11-14

How do you feel about public correction? I certainly don't enjoy it. Why did Paul do it? Couldn't he have pulled Peter (Cephas) aside and said "Hey look, you need to cut this out"? There are two issues at work here that we need to tease out.

As we discussed yesterday, Paul had critics who were undermining his ministry. Part of this included speaking behind his back. It may be difficult to see in our modern context, but this public rebuke of Peter shows us that Paul was continuing to refute the Judaizers. Second, and more importantly, the problem had become very widespread which even led to Barnabas, Paul's ministry partner, being led astray.

To put it in perspective, let's imagine if Paul had not stood up for the gospel in this moment. Had this erroneous understanding of the gospel been passed on since then, you and I could genuinely believe that we need to adhere to the entire Law for our righteousness. Paul will later say that if we did this, then Christ would be of "no value" or "no advantage" depending on your translation. So we can see that this was a pivotal moment in the early church.

Have you held on to something other than Jesus for your salvation? Functional saviors exist in many forms. A functional savior exists when we make a good thing a god thing. We chase after what is pleasurable, affirmed by others, or lucrative. Paul reminds us again and again in Galatians to seek salvation in Christ alone. Money, friends, a spouse, kids, or status may provide a temporary rush of contentment, but nothing can satisfy us like the Father's love. He has affirmed us in Christ and that should be the only affirmation that we need. Our value comes not from what is created, but the creator Himself.

SCRIPTURE MEMORY

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

(Galatians 2:20 ESV)


This week's posts were written by Chris Adams

Galatians | Week 2 | 2:6-10

Galatians | Week 2 | 2:6-10

6 And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. 7 On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised 8 (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), 9 and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10 Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do. -(Galatians 2:6-10 ESV)

Can you imagine having to go into such a detailed explanation every time somebody asks you about Jesus? Paul defends his position of leadership in several places, but most notably in Galatians 1-2 and 2 Corinthians 10-13. There's a lot more going on here than just this, but Paul is continuing to refute the Judaizers who were trying to enforce circumcision and obedience to the whole law. If Christianity is the house, the Judaizers wanted Judaism to be the door into house.

Paul had people undermining his ministry: going back to ch. 1 we see him defending his position of leadership as an apostle as neither from man nor by man.

From Martin Luther's commentary:
"These Jewish-Christian fanatics who pushed themselves into the Galatian churches after Paul’s departure, boasted that they were the descendants of Abraham, true ministers of Christ, having been trained by the apostles themselves, that they were able to perform miracles.
In every way they sought to undermine the authority of St. Paul. They said to the Galatians: “You have no right to think highly of Paul. He was the last to turn to Christ. But we have seen Christ. We heard Him preach. Paul came later and is beneath us. Is it possible for us to be in error—we who have received the Holy Ghost? Paul stands alone. He has not seen Christ, nor has he had much contact with the other apostles. Indeed, he persecuted the Church of Christ for a long time."

Two things we can learn here:
1. Paul's defense of his ministry is always for the sake of the gospel, not for building himself up.
2. We're also entrusted with preaching the gospel, and our authority also comes from Christ.

So when fears and doubts arise about our ability to share the gospel, we too can say that God has entrusted us with a ministry and as verse 9 mentions "the grace that was given to me", He has graced us with his unshakeable love and mind blowing good news of the gospel: "You mean I can be saved and that God would really want to know me? And he's promised to make all things new?" The gospel really is that good!

That brings us to another question we might have from this passage: "Why is this Jew/Gentile distinction so important?" If we go back to Abraham:

"and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice." -(Genesis 22:18)

Paul's ministry to the Gentiles was a really big deal because it meant that God was fulfilling an ancient promise to bless the whole world. We'll see the implications of this unfold in later chapters, but for now we see that God is drawing people from all over the world to Himself and to this day that means including us in His blessings!

Resource:
Martin Luther's commentary on Galatians. This was written eighteen years into the reformation and is a firecracker document against salvation by works.

SCRIPTURE MEMORY

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

(Galatians 2:20 ESV)


This week's posts were written by Chris Adams

Galatians | Week 2 | 2:1-5

Galatians | Week 2 | 2:1-5

Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery—to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. -(Galatians 2:1-5 ESV)

As we saw last week, Paul has issued a sharp rebuke to the Galatian churches. Now that he's completed his introduction, he will begin unpacking things. Evidence suggests that the fourteen years mentioned in verse 1 would coincide with Paul's second trip with Barnabas to Jerusalem which is referenced in Acts 11. Why does this matter? As we also saw last week, the Galatian churches were comprised of Jewish and Gentile believers. It wasn't until Acts 10:34-48 that the Gentiles heard the gospel and received the Holy Spirit. All of that amazing earlier stuff in Acts? It was to the Jews only. Such a mixed company of believers was a very new occurrence. It's important to keep this context in mind as we consider Paul's emphatic defense of the gospel in Galatians.

In verses 2-3 Paul asserts that the gospel he preached was authenticated by the other apostles and that not even Titus felt the need to be circumcised. Now we're starting to get to the heart of the matter. It's important to remember that the Church has faced false gospels since the beginning. Most of the time, these are not new gospels but rather old heresies that the church has dealt with at one time or another. Thankfully, we have Paul's defense of the pure gospel here to apply to these lies when they sneak in. Remember the illustration about real v. counterfeit money? Also, what's the big deal with circumcision here? Wasn't circumcision was the sign of the old covenant that God made with His people?

"You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you." -(Genesis 17:11)

Wow. Isn't God the same yesterday, today, and forever? How can we inherit God's covenant without the sign? Do you see how these arguments can sneak in and seem plausible at first? If at first you don't understand the covenant/circumcision thing, don't worry. You'll get it over time.

Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out sour freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery—to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. -(Galatians 2:4-5)

Yikes! Not only were these Judaizers trying to compel the people to be circumcised, but they were also advocating for believers to follow the whole law. Paul will deal with the law more in the coming chapters, but the bedrock argument he makes is that the law cannot save! In fact, if they follow the law, Paul says that the Galatians would be brought into slavery. He will develop this argument by referring back to Abraham, to whom God gave the covenant sign of circumcision and show that neither circumcision nor the law are effective for salvation.

Below is a sample prayer that you might pray to reflect on this passage.

Lord, please impress upon our hearts the necessity of preserving the gospel for all believers across all time. Please root out any false gospels that we cling to and lead us in your grace back to a humility that reminds us that our standing before you is all about what you have done and nothing about what we have done. Help us to enjoy the freedom we have been given in Jesus and to never take it for granted, but rather to lovingly share your good news of grace with the world around us.

SCRIPTURE MEMORY

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

(Galatians 2:20 ESV)


This week's posts were written by Chris Adams

Galatians | Week 1 | Review

Galatians | Week 1 | Review

I hope this week has been helpful in demonstrating how to read, understand, and apply the Bible to your life. What would it look like if every Northsider read the Scriptures and acted in obedience to what we learn? Wow! We can do this!

We'll pick up on Monday in Galatians 2. Going forward, here are five helpful tips in reading the Scriptures:

Pray

Take time before and after you read to humble yourself before the Lord in prayer. Prayer is less about trying to manipulate the hand of God and more about exercising dependence on Him. As we bow low in our hearts before the Lord, and demonstrate that we need the Lord and His words, He will speak to our hearts. A pre-reading prayer could be as simple as, "Lord, you alone are truly holy, true, and good. You are powerful, and I'm grateful for your Scriptures. Help me to see you as you truly are, and see myself as I truly am."

Plan

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. This cliché statement is often true. Playing Bible roulette and randomly flipping to Bible verses isn't a recipe for consistency. These three plans may work well for you:

Place

Choosing the best time and place will help you remain consistent in reading. My personal time is first thing at work each morning. I choose not to work on my job responsibilities until I've finished my daily set aside time with the Lord. Maybe your time is at home right after you get ready in the morning. You may be a night person, and can concentrate best before heading to bed.

People

Much of the Scriptures are written to groups of people. Therefore, it would make sense that we would read the Bible alongside others. Reading with others provides accountability and insight. Have you asked another person to read along with what you're reading? If a friend already has a plan, read along with them.

Galatians | Week 1 | 1:13-24

Galatians | Week 1 | 1:13-24

[13] For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. [14] And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. [15] But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, [16] was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; [17] nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. [18] Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. [19] But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord's brother. [20] (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) [21] Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. [22] And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. [23] They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” [24] And they glorified God because of me. -- (Galatians 1:11-24 ESV)

Paul brought forth an all out attack on the church, and raged at the thought of people having a faith in God apart from Judaism (his own background). He was advanced among his peers in zeal for the destruction of believers - both collectively and individually. House-to-house he would go in search of his next victims.  He was nothing short of a terrorist.

But God had a different plan for Paul's life. Even before his birth, the Lord sought to show grace. Paul didn't ask for Jesus to appear to him on a familiar road. Rather, the Lord Jesus struck and humbled him. Paul laid aside his stones of condemnation and took up the cross of Christ. Paul was radically transformed; even going to ends of the earth to share the good news. He sent others out to preach as well.

Paul went to the gentiles, or those who were outside Judaism. Verse 23 reveals more of the heart of our God. Our Lord doesn't simply draw near to the likely candidates. Rather, they said of Paul “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” What a mighty, holy, kind, gracious, and good God we serve!

Do you ever think about what you don't know? That's not a typo. Do you ever think about what you don't know? We don't know what we don't know. One thing I know that we don't know is all that God may do through us if we fully submit to Him. If you're a Christ-follower, you have everything you need to do all that God has called you to do. Just like Paul, He has shown Himself to you, and drawn you into His glorious gospel. You are His son or daughter, and He is well pleased with you because of what Jesus has accomplished for you.

No one is outside the reach of God. There is no one whose past leaves them unlovable by their heavenly father. Have you given up on someone far from God? If God can save Paul - or if God can save you and I, God can save anyone and everyone who calls on His name.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. - (Ephesians 2:10 ESV)

SCRIPTURE MEMORY

[10] For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

(Galatians 1:10 ESV)

Galatians | Week 1 | 1:10

Galatians | Week 1 | 1:10

[10] For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. [11] For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel. [12] For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.  -- (Galatians 1:10-12 ESV)

In November of 2015, the sermon series "JoyKill" walked us through four root idols that rob us of the great joy and satisfaction that the Lord has for us. Many of us struggle with the idol of approval. These are three characteristics typical of those who struggle with the approval idol:

  • Your greatest nightmare: Rejection
  • People around you often feel: Smothered
  • Your problem emotion: Cowardice

The apostle Paul says, "If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ." Though a tough truth, we cannot choose to please man and Christ. We must choose. Awkward conversations, confrontation, and conflict are often necessary elements not only in our growth, but in the growth of others around us.

Do you have areas of your life where you are simply trying to please man? Do you greatly fear the negative opinion of those around you? We don't want to be cantankerous or insensitive, but we all have tough necessary conversations that will move ourselves and others toward Jesus.

I'm thankful that Paul wasn't motivated by the approval of the Galatian church. His gospel was not of man, but from a revelation of Jesus. We have been given much in Christ. Our identity is not rooted in the approval of others, but in our adoption into God's family. We are His children, loved and affirmed by Him, and bought with the blood of Christ. Serve Jesus today, and not your fears.

Scripture Memory

[10] For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

(Galatians 1:10 ESV)