Summary: God saves us by his grace (undeserved favor) when we believe in Jesus. Our salvation is a gift from God, not a reward for the good things we have done.
GREAT GRACE AND FREEDOM #2: GOOD NEWS FOR LES MISERABLES
INTRO TO TOPIC: Over the next couple of weeks, we are going to be studying the topic of Great Grace and Freedom in the book of Galatians.
QUOTE: “Galatians is a dangerous book. It exposes the most popular substitute for spiritual living that we have in our churches today – legalism… Galatians was Martin Luther’s charter of liberty during the (Protestant) Reformation.” (Warren Wiersbe, Be Free).
THE BIG IDEA: God saves us by his grace (undeserved favor) when we believe in Jesus. Our salvation is a gift from God, not a reward for the good things we have done.
AN OUTLINE OF GALATIANS:
1. PERSONAL: GRACE AND THE GOSPEL - Chapters 1-2
• Here we learn about the personal life of the Apostle Paul
2. DOCTRINAL: GRACE AND THE LAW - Chapters 3-4
• Here we look at the differences between grace and law
3. PRACTICAL: GRACE AND THE CHRISTIAN LIFE - Chapters 5-6
• Here we look at how to apply grace to our Christian living
I. PAUL EXPLAINS HIS AUTHORITY: (Galatians 1:1-5).
“1 Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead), 2 and all the brethren who are with me, To the churches of Galatia: 3 Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
• Here Paul explains that he is an apostle – sent by God to proclaim His gospel
• The Gospel – good news = God’s grace (Jesus died for our sins to be forgiven).
• Grace is the one thing that sets Christianity apart from every other world religion.
• Other religions are man’s attempt to be right with God; Christianity tells how God sent Jesus to die on the Cross so we could have peace with Him.
AN ILLUSTRATION OF GRACE: JEAN VALJEAN FROM LES MISERABLES
The story of Jean Valjean in Les Misérables is a great example of grace.
• I read the book many years ago. Liza and I just saw the movie adaptation of the musical.
• “Les Misérables is a French historical novel by Victor Hugo, first published in 1862, that is considered one of the greatest novels of the nineteenth century. In the English-speaking world, the novel is usually referred to by its original French title, which can be translated from the French as The Miserables, The Wretched, The Miserable Ones, The Poor Ones, The Wretched Poor, or The Victims.” (Wikipedia.org).
• “Sentenced to a 19 year term of hard labor for the crime of stealing bread, Jean Valjean gradually hardened into a tough convict… At last Valjean earned his release. Convicts in those days had to carry identity cards, however, and no innkeeper would let a dangerous felon spend the night. For four days he wandered the village roads, seeking shelter against the weather, until finally a kindly bishop had mercy on him.” (Philip Yancey).
• I see in this story a powerful parallel with the teachings in Galatians, contrasting the law and grace. Jean Valjean is a guilty man, convicted of a crime. He experiences undeserved grace from a bishop, and the pursuit of the law from a policeman named Javert.
LES MISERABLES MUSICAL: Javert releases prisoner 24601 on parole (lyrics © 2013).
[Javert] Now bring me prisoner 24601, Your time is up
And your parole's begun, You know what that means
[Valjean] Yes, it means I'm free.
[Javert] No! Follow to the letter your itinerary, this badge of shame you’ll show
until you die, it warns you’re a dangerous man
[Valjean] I stole a loaf of bread.
My sister's child was close to death And we were starving.
[Javert] You will starve again Unless you learn the meaning of the law.
[Valjean] I know the meaning of those 19 years A slave of the law
• I love Victor Hugo’s description of the bishop’s gracious acceptance of Jean Valjean:
o The bishop, who was sitting near him, touched his hand gently and said, “You need not tell me who you are. This is not my house, it is the house of Christ. It does not ask any comer whether he has a name, but whether he has an affliction. You are suffering, you are hungry and thirsty; be welcome… What need have I to know your name? Besides, before you told me, I knew it… your name is brother.”
o That’s grace! To extend love, acceptance and forgiveness to a sinful person…
• “That night, Jean Valjean rose from bed, rummaged through the cupboard for the family silver, and crept off into the darkness. The next morning three policemen knocked on the bishop’s door with Valjean in tow. They had caught the convict in flight with the stolen silver and were ready to put the scoundrel in chains for life. The bishop responded in a way that no one, especially Jean Valjean, expected…