Faith, Law and Promise

By Joe Boot/ October 4, 2015

Series  Galatians: Life, Law and Liberty

Context  Westminster Chapel Toronto

Topic  Salvation

Scripture  Galatians 3:1-18

The Galatians' transformation was the fruit of grace, not the root of it. Paul indicts them for reversing the order and asserting that obedience is the root of grace.

Scripture:  Galatians 3:1-18

Sermon Notes:

  1. Paul’s criticism is directed toward knowledgeable, conservative Christians who were adopting a Pharisaic gospel based on works of the law.
  2. Paul is upset that the Galatians are “bewitched” embracing a distorted gospel message.
  3. The transformation of the Galatians was the fruit of grace, not the root of it. Paul indicts them for reversing the order and asserting that obedience is the root of grace.
  4. Since we are sinners, we are hostile toward the doctrine that we cannot save ourselves by our own works.
  5. Under the guise of the gospel, the Galatians were seeking to save themselves and to be their own god – a repeat of the original temptation “to be as God” (Gen. 3:5).
  6. The British monk, Pelagius, believed man was born without original sin and that man can attain a sinless life.
  7. Pelagianism survives today in all humanistic churches; God's grace and justice are denied while human institutions (church, state, university) become saviours.
  8. The state becomes man's mediator and saviour offering cradle to grave security and abolishing sickness, disease, poverty, hunger and, through nationalized science, even seeking to overcome death itself.
  9. The doctrine of salvation by God's grace alone has implications for the family, business, and the state.
  10. The doctrine of original sin is key to understanding the world. How can you live wisely with people if you do not believe they are sinners?
  11. Politics based on the belief that man is basically good is both patently false and it results in disastrous political policies.
  12. Pelagian churches weaken dependence on God, as man-made salvation is mediated through man’s institutions.
  13. Liberal Protestantism has a view of salvation that is compatible with that of the humanistic state.
  14. Modern education is applied Pelagianism, seeking to remove ignorance, to show people their full potential, and to enable god-like programs of salvation.
  15. Man’s way of salvation is based on works of the flesh.  God’s way of salvation is based on the work of the Spirit.
  16. Abraham himself was granted the promise of salvation by grace before he was circumcised.
  17. Our relationship with God is covenantal, not racial or national as the Jews believed.
  18. God’s covenant has always had all nations in view (Gen. 12:3); before Christ many non-Jews were brought into the covenant people.
  19. Salvation has always been by faith in the promises of God (cf. Hab. 2:4).
  20. To be saved by the law, one must obey it perfectly (Deut. 27:26) thus the law passes a death sentence upon us all.

Application Questions:

  1. Why is it a temptation for knowledgeable Christians to make human works a basis of salvation?
  2. Why is the fact we cannot influence our salvation by our works so offensive to natural man?
  3. Contrast man’s way of salvation with God’s.
  4. How can suicide be viewed by some unbelievers as an act of self-redemption?
  5. How does Paul refute those who base salvation on their nationality.
  6. What is the effect of Pelagianism upon today’s world?