6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: In this section of Galatians, Paul continues to explain why we are saved by grace through faith and not by works.


A. The story is told of a Sunday School teacher who was trying to help her kindergarten students learn about what saves us.

1. She asked the class, “If I sold my house and my car, had a big garage sale, and gave all my money to the church, would that get me into heaven?” The kindergarten class answered, “NO!”

2. The teacher then asked, “If I cleaned the church every day, mowed the yard, and kept everything neat and tidy, would that get me into heaven?” Once more they answered, “NO!”

3. She asked them again, “Well, then, if I was kind to animals and gave candy to all the children and loved my husband, would that get me into heaven?” Again they all answered, “NO!”

4. “Well,” the teacher asked, “Then how can I get into heaven?”

5. A five-year-old boy answered, “Before you get into heaven, first, you gotta be dead.”

B. That’s true in more than one way – Before you can get into heaven, you gotta be dead (in body and to self).

1. But let’s think about this question: How good do you have to be to go to heaven?

a. Pretty good

b. Really Good

c. Better than Uncle Joe

d. Perfect

2. The correct answer is D.

a. If you want to go to heaven, you have to be perfect.

b. And I don’t mean “sort of” perfect, “mostly” perfect, or 80% perfect.

c. Being 80% perfect is like being 80% pregnant - either you’re pregnant or you’re not.

d. Either you’re perfect or you’re not.

3. The kicker in all this is that 99.9% of the world believes the right answer is either A or B or C.

a. Most people would say it’s A. If I’m pretty good on the relative scale of goodness, surely I’ll go to heaven.

b. And most people are quick to compare themselves to Uncle Joe or Aunt Jane or those bad people down the street.

c. That’s always an easy comparison because we usually only compare ourselves to someone who isn’t as good as we are.

4. But that’s not what God does.

a. When God makes a comparison, he compares us to his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

b. We all fall short of his divine glory (Romans 3:23).

c. If none of us are perfect, then how can we be saved?

d. We will answer that question as we move through this sermon.

C. Today we are continuing our sermon series – Set Free – A Study of the Book of Galatians.

1. As we arrive at today’s sermon, we turn a corner in our journey through Galatians.

2. The letter to the Galatians divides nicely into three parts:

a. The Personal Section: Chapters 1-2

b. The Doctrinal Section: Chapters 3-4

c. The Practical Section: Chapters 5-6

D. Today, as we begin the doctrinal section of the book, I need to tell you that there are some verses that are fairly intricate and some arguments that are hard for us to understand.

1. We will be doing some deep plowing in this section, but that is good for us.

2. But the main point of the entire letter is very clear.

a. Paul returns, again and again, to one central question: Are we saved by what we do or by what Christ has done for us?

b. Just keep that in mind as we work through this middle section of the book.

3. Every verse and every argument ultimately makes its way back to that core question.

a. It’s faith versus works. And Grace versus the Law of Moses.

4. The very heart of the gospel is at stake, as we have discussed in previous sermons.

E. In the first 14 verses of Galatians 3, Paul puts forward three arguments that lead us back to the key question: How are we saved—by grace through faith or by works?

1. Paul’s answer is that human experience, the example of Abraham, and the curse of the law all lead us to the same conclusion that we are saved only by grace that comes to us through faith in Jesus.

2. Let’s see how Paul develops these thoughts.

I. The Argument From Experience (3:1-5)

A. The Bible says: O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith -

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