Summary: This sermon is the first in a series on the book of Galatians. This sermon covers the first 10 verses and acts as an introduction to the series.
A. Let me start this morning with some questions:
1. What is it that really gets you going? What is it that really makes you mad?
2. What gets your emotions stirred and launches you into a fight’em mode?
3. I came across this funny bumper sticker: “I'm just driving this way to get you mad!”
a. Sometimes you wonder if that’s what they are doing when driving behind some people.
b. Certainly, we can get pretty frustrated and infuriated while driving.
4. But there are much more important things that should cause us to get angry and cause us to want to rise up and fight.
5. When someone we love has been harmed or is in some kind of danger, then our rightful and righteous response should be to protect them and fight for them, right?
B. This is exactly what we see the apostle Paul doing in the letter to the Galatians.
1. Someone has likened the letter to the Galatians to a sword flashing in a great swordsman’s hand.
2. The enemy and destroyer of the church had come into the Galatian churches and had distorted the good news of Jesus.
3. Both Paul himself, and the gospel he preached, were under attack.
4. The stakes were very high - the salvation of the Christians in Galatia, and for that matter, the salvation of all Christians, present and future, was at stake.
5. Therefore, Paul wrote a letter to the Galatians to express his great concern for them and for the gospel.
6. And as we will see, Paul was fighting mad, and he held nothing back.
C. Today, we are beginning a new sermon series on the book of Galatians.
1. If you have been here at Wetzel Road a long time, then you know that I try to have a balance in my preaching.
2. You know that I enjoy doing topical series, like the last two series on being “Wholly Devoted” and “Got Questions?”
a. Topical series lend themselves to being very practical and they easily apply to the questions we have and the challenges we face.
3. But the kind of preaching that I love more than topical preaching, is expository preaching.
a. I love to take a book of the Bible and work our way through it.
b. I love to dig deeply into the meaning of the text and try to hear God’s word for us today from the ancient text.
4. Expository preaching has a number of advantages.
a. First of all, it helps us to get a better handle on the Word of God as a whole, rather than just on individual verses.
1. This forces us to handle the Bible as it is intended to be handled, being sure we understand the truths that come out of Scripture in the context they were given.
b. Second, it forces us to address some Scripture and some subjects that we might avoid for one reason or another.
5. Thankfully and joyfully, in my 26 years here at Wetzel Road, we have been blessed to work through the majority of the 27 books of the New Testament.
D. And so, today, in God’s timing, we find ourselves at the beginning of a study of Galatians.
1. Galatians is a relatively short book – only six brief chapters long.
a. You can easily read it in half and hour.
2. Nevertheless, we must not be deceived by its size – big and powerful things can come in small packages.
a. A tiny stick of dynamite can blow up a big building.
3. Galatians, indeed, is spiritual dynamite – read and study it at your own risk!
E. More than anything else, Galatians is a book about spiritual freedom.
1. That’s why I’m calling this series “Set Free!”
2. How can we be truly free?
a. How can we be free from guilt, free from fear, free from doubt, free from sin, free from always trying to win God’s favor?
3. When people look at the question of freedom, they often offer two contradictory answers.
4. Some people think that freedom comes from keeping the rules (legalism).
a. They say, “Do good, try harder, go to church, be baptized, give your money, follow the 10 Commandments, and obey the Golden Rule.”
b. Of course, the list is endless, and rule keeping always fails in the end.
c. If one prayer is good, wouldn’t two prayers be better?
d. With the rule keeping approach there’s always the sense that we could have done more or better, not to mention the question of whether we have done enough.
5. At the other extreme are those who say that freedom comes by throwing all the rules aside (hedonism).
a. They say, “Do what you want. Have a blast. You only go around once. There are no rules, other than: If it feels good, do it.”