Paul's vision of the living Christ established his authority to proclaim the gospel of justifcation by faith in Christ, apart from human rituals or effort.
Scripture: Galatians 1:1-5; Acts 15:1-21
- Galatians stands alongside Romans as foundational to the evangelical Christian gospel faith.
- In Luther’s teaching that justification is by faith in Christ alone apart from reliance on human works the book of Galatians was central (cf. Galatians 3:11).
- The context of Galatians is the church facing its first major challenge as Jewish Christians debated what rituals Gentile believers must follow (cf. Acts 15).
- The early Jewish Christians assumed the continuity of the law unless there were specifically revealed changes, e.g., Peter’s vision in Acts 10.
- In the controversy about Gentile circumcision, Paul’s apostleship was challenged, his gospel message was charged as deficient, being devoid of ceremonies, and his message of salvation by faith was said to lead to loose living.
- In answer, Paul appeals to the other apostles who were teaching the same gospel of salvation by faith (Galatians 2:7-9).
- Paul shows that ceremonies cannot remove sin, and that salvation by faith leads to right living out of gratitude toward God.
- In Galatians 1:1-5 Paul covers his source of authority, the doctrines of grace, and the promise of deliverance from the power of sin.
- Paul’s qualification as an apostle is that on the Damascus road he had seen the Lord who called him to take the gospel of Christ to the Gentiles.
- Today we have unfounded claims of apostleship bringing new teachings into the church; God’s servants must speak according to the Spirit of truth and the word of Christ.
- If we attack God’s faithful servants we are attacking God.
- We come to God with empty hands; we contribute nothing to our salvation. The substitutionary death of Christ delivers us from our sins.
- The salvation of Christ by His resurrection life and the forgiveness of sins rescues us from the power of the present evil age.
- Paul is not preaching escape from the world, but deliverance from slavery to sin.
- The church has a great responsibility to proclaim the salvation of Christ by faith.
- The gospel is offensive to many because it throws man into complete dependency upon God and His grace.
- As the gospel breaks the power of sin and rebellion, it has not only personal but also social and cultural implications.
- Every other religion teaches salvation by works; biblical faith teaches that salvation is by faith in the gracious work of God.
- We are not delivered out of the body; we’re delivered out of the corruption of sin.
- In the power of Christ’s salvation work, there’s a progressive removal of the curse of sin.
- The world sees sin and guilt as an instrument of political power, manipulating guilt-ridden consciences.
- Delivered from the power of sin, Christ empowers His church to go into the world and confront sin and evil.
- Galatians is the Magna Carta of Christian liberty.
- What is the context and purpose of Galatians?
- How does Paul answer the charges directed at him by the circumcision party?
- What is the basis of the Christian’s salvation from the penalty for sin?
- What is the place of good works in the life of the believer?
- How is a guilt-filled society vulnerable to political tyranny?