Summary: A survey of the big message of the book of Galatians

Islington Baptist Church October 9, 2005

Galatians Scripture reading: Acts 15

The way of salvation: Jesus, not Jesus plus

A. The book of Galatians: Cornerstone of the Protestant Reformation

I hope you read the book of Galatians this past week. It is a very special book for the church. For example the book of Galatians served as the cornerstone of what is called the Protestant Reformation.

In case you are wondering, our church, Baptist churches of all sorts, Pentecostal churches, Presbyterian churches, Lutheran churches, United churches, Brethren churches, Alliance churches, Methodist churches, Associated Gospel churches, Salvation army churches, and all other Bible churches that are not Roman Catholic are essentially the product of the Protestant Reformation.

While a number of people in various places in Europe contributed to the birth of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther is the Reformation’s most recognizable figure.

Martin Luther was a Roman Catholic priest who was disgusted with the abuses and corruption of the Roman Catholic church. In his day, the Popes, who ruled the church with an iron fist, were, as they say “bad to the bone”, investing themselves with vigor in every evil vice imaginable. i.e using church money for their own personal use, pedophilia, torture, harems, the buying and selling of political influence. In addition to this, Luther and a few others were very disturbed by the fact that much of what the Papacy taught as being from God, did not actually come from the Bible.

Hence, on October 31, 1517, the 31-year-old Martin Luther posted his 95 theses at Wittenberg Cathedral. In this document Luther attacked the Papal abuses, the sale of indulgences (which in essence concerned the buying of ones forgiveness and salvation), and declared, contrary to the churches teaching, what the Bible says, that one is justified by faith in Jesus alone/ one is saved by faith in Jesus alone and not by a Papal blessing, or the purchase of a piece of paper, or the prayers of your relatives after you are dead, or the ingestion of the communion bread and wine.

In case you are wondering, the Bible book that spurred Martin Luther on, was the book of Galatians- This was his favorite Bible book.

Today, I want to briefly survey the book of Galatians, drawing out for you one its main messages. The way of salvation is by faith in Jesus alone.

B. How the church at Galatia came to be 4:13-14- read

During the course of one of Paul’s 3 missionary journey’s he became sick and was forced to stop in the province of Galatia. While there he preached Jesus and the cross and His resurrection from the dead, for the forgiveness of sins, with the result that a brand new church was started.

C. The occasion for the book of Galatians 1:6-10-- read

Legalism, The desertion of Jesus! The proclaimed way of salvation going from Jesus, to Jesus plus.

For a while this church flourished and grew and served as a model church. However, just as Jesus warned when he was on earth, false teachers, wolves in sheep’s clothing, arrived on the scene (Matthew 7:15). As a result of their efforts, many of the Galatian believers turned away from the message of Jesus that Paul had brought them, substituting salvation and peace with God by faith and grace alone, for a variant doctrine: salvation by faith in Jesus plus strict adherence to the Mosaic code/the law and the various Jewish customs and practices

This, of course, bothered Paul greatly.

D. The core message of the book of Galatians: Salvation/peace with God/ right standing before Him is by faith in Jesus alone.

This message comes directly from Jesus.

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

Paul notes this in Galatians 1:11-12 “I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.”

This message of exclusivity is repeated throughout the New Testament

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12

"We who are Jews by birth and not ’Gentile sinners’ 16know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified. Galatians 2:15-16

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

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