Summary: First sermon in Galatians series entitled, "True Freedom"
“DON’T DISTORT THE GOSPEL”
CWBC – 7/7/19
INTRO – It takes amazing skill to be a military sniper. These are the soldiers who are able to take out enemy combatants w/ one shot from a high-powered rifle over incredibly long distances. The longest distance that a sniper has a confirmed kill on an enemy soldier is over 3800 yards. That’s a length of over 38 football fields. One sniper that I read about took out 2 enemy soldiers in the War in Afghanistan in 2009 w/ 2 consecutive shots, & it took nearly 5 seconds for the bullet to reach its target. Think about it: BANG! One one thousand, two one thousand…
To be a military sniper takes extensive, intensive training & practice. A sniper must have the ability to accurately estimate the various factors that influence the bullet’s trajectory & point of impact, such as the shooter's distance from the target, wind direction, wind speed, the density of the air, elevation factors, and even the making adjustments due to the rotation of the Earth. Mistakes in estimation compound over distance and can cause a shot to only injure, or to miss completely.
Why would I start a sermon by talking about snipers? B/c of the importance of aiming at a target. Snipers must be experts at aiming at their target.
We, as Christ-followers, must be experts at aiming at the target of the Gospel. And that’s what we will be considering today as we begin this new sermon series entitled, “True Freedom,” from the book of Galatians. Galatians 5:13 says, “You were called to freedom, brothers.” On this 1st Sun. after the 4th of July, It has been wonderful to celebrate our freedom in this great nation of ours. But, there is simply no freedom that compares to the freedom that comes from the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
So, let’s jump in!
EXPLANATION – Open your Bibles to Galatians 1:1-10 (p. 565 in pew Bibles).
Galatians most like 1st NT book written, & was written to a group of churches in the province of Galatia, not to just one congregation. And it’s a VERY important book!
- “Galatians is all about the Gospel. Written to professing Christians. In this letter, he is going to explain what the Gospel is & how it works.” (Keller)
- “Galatians is God’s strongest word against legalism.” (Wiersbe)
- “In one way or another, everything in the epistle is related to Paul’s defense of justification by faith alone.” (ESV Study Bible note, p. 2243)
- “Galatians has been called, ‘The Magna Charta of the Church.’ God has used its message to stir world revivals in former generations. The great spiritual awakening of Martin Luther & the Reformation was stirred as Luther studied its message. John Wesley received peace of heart – peace for which he had so long searched – when he heard a sermon preached from Galatians.” (The Preacher’s Outline & Sermon Bible, p. 2)
- “…read & appreciate this book that was the catalyst for the Reformation. Read on & develop a deep fondness for the courageous apostle Paul, our freedom-fighting hero. This defense of the Gospel preserved grace for the Galatians & for us.” (Max Anders, Holman NT Commentary, p. 5)
APPLICATION – So let’s do as Anders encouraged us to do & look at this great apostle named Paul as we begin our study of the “True Freedom” that we find in Galatians.
THE PREACHER OF THE GOSPEL – v. 1-2 – Quick snapshot of this life:
- Jew, born in Tarsus
- Roman citizen
- Very prominent, highly educated Jewish religious leader – a Pharisee
- A persecutor of the Church before he came to know Christ
- Dramatic conversion on the Damascus Road
- Took the Gospel primarily to the Gentiles
- Was a tireless missionary – went on 3, possibly 4, missionary journey, all of which were several years in length
- Imprisoned in Rome in AD 67 by Emperor Nero
- Died in AD 68, most likely beheaded by order of Nero
HIS CALLING – “Paul, an apostle…” – Paul was called to be an apostle. We say “the Apostle Paul” all the time. Do you know what we mean by “apostle”?
“apostle” – literally, “one who is sent on a mission; a messenger.” And Paul took this calling seriously! He knew what his mission was. He knew what his message was. He knew what his mandate was. And he lived it out consistently until the day he died.
The NT office of the apostle is not a role that is active in the Church today. Sometimes, you’ll hear a preacher refer to themselves as “Apostle ____.” That’s unbiblical & wrong. Someone claiming to occupy the office of an apostle in the sense of having the same authority as the original 12 Apostles is dangerous, unscriptural ground. While we are ALL called to be a messenger of the Gospel & are sent into our world w/ that message, there are specific characteristics of the NT apostles that cannot be duplicated today: