Introduction: There is a great movement in Christianity that asks the preacher for 'relevant' preaching. "Give me something that will teach me to plan my finances, to have a happy marriage, to help me through my depression, to raise my children, to be a man of integrity, to find my place in the world, to make me happy."
I'll give you something that will do all of that and more. It's called the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
But that is not what we were thinking, is it? However, that is what we most desperately need. We need the Gospel, now that we are Christians as much as ever. And the Gospel is the subject of Paul's letter to the Galatians.
Paul wrote to the Galatians in order to call them back to the Gospel that he had originally proclaimed to them. The Galatian churches were born in intense persecution from the Jews. In the cities of Galatia; Antioch, Derbe, Lystra, and Iconium, Paul had been very bold in preaching the true faith that had been revealed to him from Jesus Christ. He had been run out of all those cities by the Jews who the Bible says were jealous of him, because of the crowds that gathered to hear him preach. (Acts 13:13-14:23) First in Antioch, after there had been some success in preaching, Paul and Barnabas were persecuted and thrown out of that area. Then in Iconium, after a large number of both Jews and Gentiles were saved, the Jews from Antioch stirred up the people in Iconium against Paul and Barnabas. Then in Lystra, after Paul had healed a crippled man, and where the people were barely restrained from offering sacrifices to Paul and Barnabas because of that healing, the Jews came down from Antioch and Iconium, and stirred up more trouble among the people. It was there that Paul was stoned and left for dead outside of the city. Then, the very next day, Paul moves on to Derbe. Derbe is a welcome experience for Paul, probably because the angry Jews from Antioch and Iconium thought that they had killed him, and so did not follow him into Derbe.
After many disciples were made in Derbe, they backtracked back through Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, appointing elders in each city.
And now, just a few years later, the Galatians had been seduced by the Judaizers who had denounced Paul and his Gospel. They had been turned aside from the true Gospel, and been seduced by the Jewish customs and commandments that had been the cause of their persecution in the first place! No wonder Paul is amazed at their quick departure from the Gospel! And, no wonder he uses such harsh language with them. And no wonder, in light of all that he had suffered for their sakes, that he was compelled to write them and turn them back to the true Gospel.
See, Paul understood that the Gospel is not just for unbelievers, but for those who have already believed, and who are being sanctified. We need the Gospel. Not just for Justification, but for the whole Christian life. The Gospel is practical and relevant for the Christian's daily life.
Paul's letter to the Galatians can be divided into three main sections:
Section 1; Paul defends his Apostleship (Chapters 1-2)These three themes are seen in Paul's introduction to Galatians.
Section 2; Paul describes the Gospel (Chapters 3-4)
Section 3; Paul directs the Galatians (Chapters 5-6)
I. Paul's Apostleship
A. Apostleship defined (Acts 1:15-22) "An Apostle is one who had been commissioned by the resurrected Christ as a witness to His resurrection." Paul was qualified by his Damascus road experience.II. Paul's Gospel
B. Not from or through men
The Judaizers had no doubt diminished Paul's Apostleship by saying that he was an Apostle from the Apostles, and not from Jesus Christ.
C. Through Jesus Christ And The Father An Apostle was Christ's representative. Not like an Ambassador, who only speaks for the government that he represents, but as one who Jesus gives authority to, to speak and act on His behalf.
D. To The Churches Of Galatia (Eph. 4:11-12)
An Apostle is God's gift to the Church. The Apostle's teachings are the final authority in the Church. That is, their writings that have been passed down to us in Sacred Scripture. (Irenaus quote)
A. Grace And PeaceIII. Paul's Freedom
The whole Gospel message can be summed up in these two words.
B. Christ Gave Himself
For ours sins and to deliver us from this present evil age.
C. According To The Will Of The Father
All things are for the Glory of God alone. (Eph 1)
A. Salvation From SinsConclusion: The Gospel is not an invention of man. Just as Paul was not made an Apostle by men but received form God, the Gospel is revealed to us through the writings of the Apostles. These writings are to be our final authority in all things and the final appeal to conscience is to be made by them.
He shall save His people from their sins. (Matt. 1:21)
B. Deliverance From This Evil Age (World)
In distinction from the righteous Kingdom of God. Whether it be false religion or blatant evil.
C. For True Freedom (5:1)
The Scriptures have been passed down to us, for our instruction in righteousness, enjoyment of grace, and 'to be the ground and pillar of our faith.'
The Gospel is sufficient not only for our initial salvation, but for the entire Christian life, granting us the freedom to live day by day in the power of the Spirit.
Our Father, may we never ever abandon the Gospel as it has been revealed to us in Scripture, may we never look to our own merits for our hope of heaven, and may You keep us through the power of the Spirit given to us by Christ so that we may live to Your glory forever and ever, Amen.