Summary: We can only be made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ.
The Declaration of Grace
Text: Gal. 2:15-21
1. Illustration: during one of D.L. Moody’s great campaigns, a man who had been to a number of the services and who, although convicted of his need for Christ, had kept on postponing a decision approached D L Moody. Now the last night had come. The appeal was over, the people were going home, the work crew was busy folding up the chairs and dismantling the platform, and Mr. Moody was preparing to leave. The man finally plucked up his courage. He came to the evangelist and blurted out, "Mr. Moody, what must I do to be saved?" Moody looked at him. "I’m sorry sir," he said, "but you’re too late." "Too late, Mr. Moody?" The man was desperate now. "Surely I’m not too late!" "Yes, sir," said Moody. "You’re too late. As a matter of fact, you’re two thousand years too late if you want to DO something to be saved. All the DOING has been DONE. But if you would like to accept Christ by faith as your personal Savior, you’re just in time. You can do that right here, right now."
2. As American's we are taught that we define our own destiny. We believe that if want something done right we have to do it ourselves.
3. However, when it comes to being made right with God we are...
a. Made Right By Faith
b. Never Right On Our Own
c. Made Right Through The Cross
4. Let's stand as we read Galatians 2:15-21
Proposition: We can only be made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ.
Transition: The first thing we must realize is we are...
I. Made Right By Faith (15-16).
A. By Faith In Jesus Christ
1. The main point of Paul's letter to the Galatians is that we are made right with God only by faith.
a. There is nothing we can do by ourselves to be right with God.
b. We can only accept it by faith.
2. After writing about his disagreement with Peter, Paul writes, “You and I are Jews by birth, not ‘sinners’ like the Gentiles."
a. "As Jews," he was indicating, "we of all people know what it is to live by the system of law.
b. We know the law as a way of life, what it is to function continually under the demands of religious rituals and regulations.
c. Yet even we were saved by believing in Christ Jesus, not by the law. And if we, as Jews, cannot be saved by the law how can we expect sinners from among the Gentiles to be?"
d. In referring to the Gentiles as sinners, Paul was not using the term in the behavioral sense of public immorality (as it is often used in the gospels), but in the legal sense in which it was frequently used by Jews.
e. In the minds of most Jews, Gentiles were sinners by nature because they had no law to guide them in right living and in pleasing God.
f. But with or without the law. Paul was saying, no person is saved who has not believed in Christ Jesus (John MacArthur, MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Galatians, WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 55).
3. Paul then continues his argument by saying, "Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.”
a. Paul is not saying that all Jews by nature know that justification is in Christ.
b. Indeed, what Paul is talking about here is a rare experience, one in common only between Jews who believe in Christ.
c. But this rare experience was shared by Paul and Peter.
d. We need to analyze three crucial terms for understanding this passage (and Galatians as a whole): justification, works, and faith.
e. Since the Reformation, no doctrine has had more importance in the church than justification by faith.
f. It was Martin Luther's perception that he could be accepted by God exclusively on the merit of Christ and that if he simply trusted God's promise in Christ he would find that acceptance.
g. Of course Luther did, and his discovery has changed the church. Justification by faith, consequently, has become a central doctrine in the church.
h. The basic term was originally used forensically of a judge's declaring an accused person not guilty and right before the law.
i. It was the opposite of being declared guilty and condemned.
j. Throughout Scripture justification refers to God's declaring a sinner to be guiltless on the basis of faith in Him.