Summary: This is an introductory sermon in a series on Galatians.
The Triumph of Grace
May 14, 2000
This Morning’s Text – Galatians 1:1-10
“Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead), and all the brethren who are with me, to the churches of Galatia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen.
“I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men?” If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:1-10
Someone has said that there are 3 kinds of issues in life: things to fuss about; things to fight about; and things to die for. The problem is that many people want to fight about things we ought to be fussing about, and to fuss about things we ought to die for! An important key to success in life—and in eternity--is in correctly determining which issues fall into which category, and then acting consistently with those findings!
What we are looking at today I have labeled “Fighting Words”, but in reality, we could go a step further using the above analogy: these are issues for which to die! Paul is dead serious in his writing to the churches of Galatia. The gospel has sprung up among the Gentiles there and taken root as a result of his impassioned preaching of Jesus Christ. But now a dangerous virus is finding its way into the young church (you can read about it in your notes); it is a virus that threatens the very life of the young church. Difficult times call for difficult measures; dangerous diseases call for strong treatments. It would, for instance, be generally unthinkable for a doctor to go around breaking the bones of patients—but if ribs are broken in the attempt to revive a heart attack patient, we think nothing of breaking the ribs! And this is what we find as Paul begins his letter to the Galatians: unlike his other letters, he has no words of commendation or praise for them, but rather gets right into the subject matter—this is no time to be delicate! Since his personal authority as an apostle is being attacked, he begins with an immediate defense of his apostleship—let’s read it together! (READ SCRIPTURE & PRAY, with quick note on “Grace and Peace”)
Author - Paul
Recipients – Churches of Galatia
“In the decade or so surrounding the year A.D. 50, the infant church was drifting by degrees and at times almost unnoticeably toward its first great doctrinal crisis. When the gospel was preached primarily to Jews by Jews, the development of the church progressed smoothly. But as the ambassadors of Christ pushed out into largely Gentile communities and the gospel began to take root there, questions arose regarding a Christian’s relationship to the law of Moses and to Judaism as a system. Was the church to open her doors wide to all comers, regardless of their relationship to the particularized traditions of Judaism? Were her boundaries to be as wide as the human race? Or was she to be only an n extension of Judaism to the Gentiles?
“In more particular terms, was it necessary for a Gentile believer to observe the law of Moses in order to become a Christian? Should a Gentile be circumcised? Questions like these must have been raised with increasing force throughout the Roman Empire, wherever the church of Jesus Christ camped on Gentile soil.
“Galatians is a record of the form this struggle took in one area of Asia Minor…As the apostle to the Gentiles, Paul had deliberately not brought up questions of conformity to Jewish law when presenting the gospel in non-Jewish communities. He had followed this practice in Galatia on each of two occasions when he had preached there. As Paul preached it, salvation is never to be achieved by any amount of conformity to rules and regulations, even God-given regulations…Paul had taught this gospel to the Galatians…and it had been well received. In accordance with his usual custom, Paul established churches in Galatia and then moved on.