Summary: Message 11 in our Galatians series on Paul's warning not to bite and devour one another.
Chico Alliance Church
December 6 , 1998
I. Paul Possessed the Correct credentials 1-2
II. Paul Proclaimed the Correct Concept of Grace 2:15-4:31
A. The Gospel of Grace Introduced 2:15-21
B. The Gospel of Grace Argued and Illustrated 3:1-4:31
1. Faith Argued by clarifying interrogation 3:1-6
2. Genuine faith illustrated by Abraham 3:7-29
3. New life illustrated by sonship 4:1-31
a. Slavery verses sonship 4:1-11
b. Passionate Personal Appeal 4:12-20
c. Children of the flesh verses Children of the promise 4:21-31
C. The gospel of grace applied 5:1-12
1. Christ freed us to live in freedom 5:1
1—Keep on standing firm
2—Stop being held fast in a yoke of slavery
2. Trusting law keeping, keeps you from experiencing Christ 5:2-4
• Christ will be of no benefit or value to you.
• You have been severed from Christ.
• You have fallen from grace.
To approach God or try to gain acceptance on the basis of our performance rather than his promise is to walk outside of the God-ordained states of blessing. When God declares the source of blessing to be in Christ and we seek fulfillment or acceptance from trying to keep rules and practice ritual, at that point Christ is of no benefit, we operate from a different set of principles other than Christ and we loose our grip on grace. Amazing grace how sweet the sound that not only saved a wretch like me but keeps a saint like me a saint.
I am afraid that we too often loose our grip on grace. Grace focuses on God’s promise. It is totally God-centered. Works focuses on man’s performance. It is totally man-centered. Any time we put man’s puny performance against God’s eternal promise we come up woefully short of the glory of God. It is Christ IN us the ONLY hope of glory. You cannot cling to law and grace at the same time. You must cling to one and release your grip on the other. It is impossible to receive Christ, thereby acknowledging that you cannot save yourself, and then receive circumcision or any other ceremonial rite, thereby claiming that you can.
3. The true Christian lives by faith 5:5-6
For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.
Here, Paul moves from the negative to the positive. As opposed to through the flesh by works working for righteousness, the true Christian through the Spirit by faith waits for righteousness as promised by God. Christ is all we need. Faith in Christ is the central issue. It is not ceremony or ritual or religion.
To add anything to the work that Christ did on the cross implies that Christ’s work was not enough; something must be added. We again lapse into a man centered teaching rather than a God centered teaching. Christ supplemented is Christ supplanted. Christ alone is sufficient to win and keep those he calls and present them blameless before the Father. The Christian life is not working for righteousness but waiting for righteousness . Romans indicates a passionate groaning in regard to our redemption. Both the saints and creation itself groan in hopeful anticipation of the revealing of the sons of glory. The Christian life revolves around belief in the promise of God. It is trusting God’s promise not our performance. So often we, like Abraham, try to bring about God’s eternal promise by our external performance. We feel like God needs our help. We attempt to bring about eternal purposes by mortal process. God urges us through Paul to spread the wings of faith which enable us to rise above the circumstances and temptations of life, while continually looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.
Remember the wing illustration? We are given functional wings upon salvation sufficient to overcome the law of gravity or sin and death by the law of faith or life in Christ. God intends us to fly above the flesh by engaging the wings supplied at salvation. Paul resolutely resists the teaching that if we do enough bird things we will become birds.
If we concentrate on doing the law we will become righteousness. What we need is complete transformation not superficial conformity. To try to keep the divine law without the divine nature is like trying to fly by flapping your arms. No matter how hard you try, you are not going to fly! When God through his promise grants us to be partakers of the divine nature, we will by nature keep the divine law.
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 2 Peter 1:2-4