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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

It's Not about a Degree -- Galatians 1

Setting Our Lives in Order

-I-
The Galatian Experience



This letter of Paul’s to the Galatians will come to us in three segments. Chapters 1 and 2 will speak to our personal growth in Christ. Chapters 3 and 4 will speak about our doctrinal standings. Chapters 5 and 6 will take us on a practical walk together and at the same time, the entire letter will touch on all three premises throughout: Personal, Doctrinal, and Practice.

Understanding God and His grace is so important. But the enemy will try his hardest to destroy our faith by making us focus sometimes on the wrong issues or the wrong concepts when we are going through various trials or when we get bogged down with that thing we call self-indulgence. Paul's Letter to the Galatian Christians speak to this.

Paul’s main theme here  will show us more clearly how we cannot save ourselves as many of the early Christians began to believe, and because of this  were falling away from that acceptable gift of Grace God had for them. 

Those that were of Jewish tradition were accustomed to following the law. It didn’t take long for them to once again get caught up in the same thing. It is happening today in some Christian churches where there is a form of religion but a denial of the power thereof  -- with following legalism over grace and faith.

There is a danger for the Christian who gets into that habit of thinking she can make herself more spiritual by certain things she does -- by thinking she needs to EARN God’s approval. But God teaches us as new believers we have received His gift of salvation freely.

There were others in Galatia who began claiming they would earn God’s favor through
  • Intellectualism
  • Moralism
  • Emotionalism
  • Legalism especially
Paul will show how quickly an out of balance a walk and the disregard of God’s can  turn into heresy if a person is not careful with what she takes in or  shares about the Christian life. 

Paul will show how ANY gospel other than the pure gospel of SALVATION through the CROSS with no alterations will take away from the truth we live by. We do not need to depend upon Intellectualism, Moralism, Emotionalism, or Legalism to get us or keep us on the right path.

Paulgoes so far as to call it anathema (accursed) to do lead the Christian on to the wrong path and back to a type of bondage. In chapter 5:1 we will read where he says, “Stand fast…in the LIBERTY by which Christ has made us FREE. Do NOT be entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Simply put, Paul is going to show us the importance of not wavering from the simple truth of the gospel.

“Test the spirits and prove all things religious and moral that come …
or are brought or offered …by anyone” 
~ Max Lucado, The Inspirational Study Bible

I.                   The First Observation
Galatians 1:1-5

Some say Galatians was the only letter Paul wrote with his own hand. Others have come to believe Paul penned three letters with his own hand (while the others he dictated to a secretary). Those letters he might have penned with his own hand, besides Galatians, are Hebrews and Romans.

We know Paul had problems seeing well. At the end of Galatians we will even read, “See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand.”   

So why was it so important for him to write this letter? Paul, raised up in the Jewish custom himself by the conservative teachings of Galileo understood both traditions of the Jews . He understood the Alexandrian influence which was what we would call Helenistic or Greek or  Liberal teachings and there was the  Babylonian influence which was the conservative thought. The Israelites, as we know, were very strict in the law.

Paul was greatly concerned because these Jewish Christians and many others he had brought to the knowledge of the Lord.  Now they were turning from the ministry of God’s grace back to legalistic teachings of the LAW.  This was important to him.

Because the true teachings of the Lord were now very much a part of him. After all he got stopped head on by the Lord himself while on the road to Damascus. It reminded me only slightly of what we read back in JOB where JOB a fervently religious man had found himself in such a terrible place with his afflictions, but when he saw GOD face to face, all of a sudden his boils and his sufferings meant nothing to him.  AFTER ALL HE HAD SEEN GOD. He got a taste of GLORY.

Paul, though he wasn’t necessarily suffering like JOB was also fervently religious in his train of thought. Still, God chose to stop him and meet with him. And all of a sudden Paul (who was Saul before) saw the TRUTH in front of him.

Question: If you were to come before God face-to-face right now, what would you want to say to Him or ask Him?
__________________________________________________________________________  

We will see in this letter how Paul emphasized a portion of scripture he learned from the OT
book of Habakkuk 2:4 “The Just Shall Live by Faith.” What is interesting about this, is that Paul
uses this same verse of scripture also in Romans and in Hebrews. We will see his point of
doing that in a moment.

Question:  How has your born again relationship with God and your faith in Him affected your attitude toward
      ~ GOD HIMSELF
      ~ JESUS CHRIST
      ~ THE HOLY SPIRIT
      ~ YOURSELF
      ~ OTHER CHRISTIANS
      ~ THE WORLD
      ~ SIN
      ~ SOMEONE SLIPPING FROM THE TRUTH

All of us need to be affected by ALL these things in a way that the world is not.  

“THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH”

When Paul wrote this same verse in the three letters I mentioned he did something unique.
 In each of the three letters he emphasized a different portion of that verse.

In Galatians 3:11 We find he emphasizes the words “THE JUST” to show this is WHO
God is offering His promise to. THE JUST shall live by faith.

In Hebrews 10:36-30 he puts the emphasis on SHALL LIVE to show HOW the promise
will be witnessed by a woman’s Christian’s lifestyle and by the way she walks the walk
and talks the talk. In other words, HOW WILL SHE reach for her promise?  The just
SHALL LIVE by faith.

In Romans 1:17 He most interestingly places the emphasis on BY FAITH to show HOW the
promise, as lived by the Christian will COME.  It will only come BY FAITH.

That may seem redundant but it isn’t. The focus changes in each area to show us the main
truth God is trying to teach us by way of Paul’s pen.

With each of those we get an even clearer understanding of what Habakkuk was writing
about don’t wait.

Paul went to see the Galatians more than once. The third time he made plans to travel there,
the Holy Spirit showed him it wasn’t God’s will to go there (Acts 13 & 14). This is when he
instead penned this letter. Though you don’t see it in these first five verses, through research
we also learn that the Galatian people originally were made up of the mystical Scots, the
volatile French, the Energetic Irish, the warm-hearted Welsh and all the way to
where we later find the people of Northern Spain. 

Question: What does all of that tell us?
______________________________________________________________

The gospel is for all, isn't it.

Paul was showing everyone that it is important not to become enslaved by the things of
the world, and not by anything that would pull you from your freedom in Christ without
completely separating yourself from Society.

II.                 Only One Gospel
Galatians 1:6-10

Now we get to that place where some people were preaching that different gospel. They were
teaching that in order to be believers, faith was not enough.  Their message undermined the
truth of the good news. (This could reflect on ANYONE who does such a thing and there are
many misconceptions floating about the world today)

Another reason Paul was so grieved by this was that people’s points of view were distorting
the doctrine of the Lord.

Back then it was a matter of extreme importance to cling to the truth and ONLY the truth. Is it
not as important today? Sadly, we find that believers in this day and age are more open to
compromising their walks than ever for mistruths and misinformation.

Question: Why do you think that is?
________________________________________________________________________

In these verses we just read how strongly Paul felt by the way he wrote to the ones who were
being misleading to others. Two times he pronounces a curse upon these types of people. It
wasn’t his attitude to go around cursing people. But it was the inspiration of the Holy Spirit
and God’s divine judgment that directed Paul’s pen toward anyone who tries to pervert the
gospel.

It is  serious to mislead people on spiritual issues let alone practical ones. Again, we saw this
back in the Book of JOB. We saw it by the very words that came from Job’s friends. Then we
called it miss-communication (exaggerated thoughts). Here it leans toward misinformation
(misleading half truths).   

Question: WHY is it so dangerous to allow the blind to lead the blind in situations like this?
______________________________________________________________________________

Listen to this which speaks to the dangers of MISINFORMATION and what can happen from
receiving it or giving it.

H.A. Ironside, a wonderful commentator from the past said this.

A woman and her baby were on a train back east. It was a very stormy and wintry day. The storm had hit hard and snow was falling, and sleet covered everything. Ice was now on the train tracks. The woman with the baby was frightened she would miss her station because she could see nothing outside.
She asked the conductor to guide her so she would know when to get off at her station. He said he would. He told her to remain in her seat till he came for her.
She even asked him again. “You won’t forget me now will you?” and he told her to trust him.
At the same time a man across the aisle from her leaned over as the conductor left and said, “I see you are nervous. I know this road well myself. I can let you know when It’s time to get off. I’ll even help you with your baggage.
She was very grateful.
He reminded her that the next stop was hers. As they drew near the station she looked anxiously for the conductor who did not come.
The man told her “SEE. The conductor has forgotten you.” Then he helped her off the train with her baby and  baggage. A moment later the train moved forward.
A few minutes later the conductor came and looked around. He said “Why this is strange. There was a woman here who wanted me to tell her when we arrived at her station.”
The guy on the aisle said “YOU FORGOT HER. I SAW HER OFF OKAY.”
The conductor gave him a strange look and said “WHEN?”
The passenger told him back when the train stopped.
The conductor’s eyes widened and he hollered out, “THAT WAS AN EMERGENCY STOP. Don’t you see what you’ve done? You’ve put that woman and her baby out in the wild country district in the midst of this terrible storm where there is no one to meet her.”
There was only one thing to do. They had to reverse the engine and go back a number of miles to search for the woman.
After a great deal of time, somebody stumbled upon her, frozen on the ground with her dead little baby in her arms.
SHE HAD BECOME THE VICTIM OF WRONG INFORMATION.

Think about it! If a person can cause a serious thing to happen by bringing people wrong
information in regard to the temporal things, HOW about the grave seriousness of misleading
another in regard to the great question of salvation and a person’s immortal soul?

There is such a danger of hearing or sharing a false gospel. Of putting trust in ANYTHING
contrary to the Word of God. Not only can a person be lost for a time, they could become lost
for eternity.

Question: Why is a twisting of the truth more difficult to spot than an outright lie?
____________________________________________________________________________

The truth of the gospel never changes. In order to set our lives in order, we have to make
certain we begin our walks and end our walks on that sure foundation and not be easily
swayed from the path.

III.             The Call
Galatians 1:11-12

Question: What do you see as a good reason the Galatians should have continued listening to Paul instead of listening instead to the misleading teachers?
______________________________________________________________________________

It is not about a degree from a famous seminary, no.
-          Paul had received his message DIRECTLY from Jesus Christ
-          As a Jew he had lived the life. He knew every angle
-          He had good spiritual guidance continually
-          His words were more than ideas or what ifs.

Ø  Know what you believe.
Ø  Know why you believe it.
Ø  Set your life in order that begins with both.  


For personal study, read again: Galatians 1;11, 12 again; 2:20; 3:14; 3:21, 22; 3:26-28; 5:24, 25