Introduction to Galatians
Welcome to my office, well actually it’s not mine, it belongs to my church – but it is the office I work from. So it’s nice to have you join me here.
If you are getting this video by email, it means that you subscribed to my newsletter from my website. If you’re watching from a social media site, I hope that means you’ve decided to join in this Galatians study. If you’re not sure how to go about that, message me and I’d be happy to help you sign up. We’re about to engage in a 6 week study through the book of Galatians.
Today I’m going to give you a bit of background so you have context to apply as you read through the book. It’s important to remember the who, what, whys, so that we don’t impose our own interpretation on scripture, right?
Before we get to the background, I want to share a little Galatians trivia and some of my goals for us through this study. So, if you’re ready… let’s go. Slow.
This format, although not unique, is somewhat unique to me in my ministry. I’ve been praying for a way to reach some of the busiest people I know. Those stay-at-home moms with 4, 5, 6 kids. Some of whom are also home-schooling-moms. People who have full time jobs, are parents of active kids, and those who, for whatever reason, just can’t get together with other believers as often as they’d like.
What I’m super excited about, and the thing I never could have imagined when this idea first struck me is that we have people joining us from all over the globe. From Australia, from the UK and the US, and from various cities all over Canada.
God gives us even greater capacity for understanding scripture when we’re tracking together thru the same scripture passages, sharing our insights, praying for one another for clarity and power to do God’s will.
We can hold one another accountable to the principles we are learning about. God’s ways are always right – but they don’t always make sense to us. So we can wrestle through some stuff together, encourage one another in doing what’s best.
So, let’s make the best use of this opportunity to learn together. I invite you to engage with others. I know of a couple of smaller groups have formed. They are going through this study together. I invite you to engage with the larger community through my Facebook page, or here on my website in the comment section.
Ask your questions, share your insights. Hey – you can even begin praying for one another. If you’d like a more private conversation, message or email me.
We’ll be getting together here in Kelowna twice, January 27 and February 17.
I started out the new year with an email to some of you. If you haven’t received it and you’d like to, just let me know. I’d be happy to forward it to you. I invited you to join me in some goal setting for 2018.
Here’s a fun idea I’m doing with my family: Kelly (that’s my husband) and Taelyn (my 15 year old son) and I have identified 3 individual, personal goals that we want to work on this year. Just to give you an idea, I have one spiritual goal, one financial goal, and one professional development goal. We also decided to do one family goal, where we brainstormed and came up with what we felt like would be the most beneficial for us all.
We wrote down our goals, sealed them in an envelope, and we’ll open it up December 31 to see what God has done. I did this last year and it was such a faith builder. To see what God has done in and through me over the last year was pretty remarkable.
When it comes to Goal setting, if you’re anything like me, you might swing back and forth between highly motivated in goal setting, with no follow through. I do nothing about my goals and then I’m surprised when nothing happens.
My other default is that I set too many goals, planning to achieve them way too soon, and thinking I ALONE CAN CHANGE THE WORLD!
By January 31, i’m discouraged, dejected, DONE!
God has spoken two words to me for 2018. Go. SLOW!
Go, because we can’t just sit around waiting/expecting to grow. God gives us the choice to participate in our spiritual growth. He won’t simply do it for us.
Slow, because true relational development and personal transformation doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. It happens little-by-little. It’s the Exodus 23:30 principle.
That said, I have developed a few goals that I’m asking God to help us with over the next 6 weeks. Here are those goals:
1). That we will have a deeper fellowship with the Lord than before we began this 6 week study.
2). That you and I will have more Biblical insight in what it means to be free in Christ.
Freedom begins with this: Jesus Christ is God’s one and only son. He was born to a virgin. He lived a sinless life. He died a sinners death on the cross, a sacrifice so that you and I could be forgiven and have fellowship with God. He was resurrected after the third day and sent His Holy Spirit to live in us and give us life. Believing this truth is not part of the freedom process – this IS the freedom process.
3). With increased knowledge and a deeper relationship with the Lord, this will culminate in wisdom and discernment, so that we can make the best choices for our lives.
4). With the Lord at the centre, you and I will have more fulfilling relationships with each other and with others in our lives, to God’s glory and praise.
Trivia about Galatians:
John Piper said this Galatians:
“It’s One of the most explosive, hard-hitting, controversial, liberating, grace-saturated, salvation-clarifying, Christ-exalting, gospel-advancing, Bible-defending books in all of Scripture.
It is the book that blew up the earliest major distortion of the gospel during the days of the apostles. And it is the book that blew up the prison that the Pope and councils and tradition had built for the Scriptures and where they had been held captive for almost 1,500 years.
And so it is not surprising that this book of Galatians put steel in Martin Luther’s spine when he had to stand against the world, the church, and the devil on behalf of the supreme authority of Scripture and on behalf of the truth of justification by faith alone.”
The book of Galatians is known to scholars as the Magna Carta of Spiritual liberty, it was the battle cry for the Reformation, and the Christians’ declaration of independence. Our fundamental guarantee of our rights, our privileges and our responsibilities.
1Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2and all the brothers and sistersa with me,
To the churches in Galatia: 3Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
No Other Gospel
6I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s cursed
2). The Apostle Paul was the author.
Unlike his other epistles, Paul expresses sheer urgency. You can tell because he doesn’t go through his usual greeting process. In fact, I almost imagine Paul speaking in a rushed and somewhat louder tone of voice.
Kind of like the morning I woke up to find that over night, our dishwasher has sprung a leak. At first, I could hear water running and I thought to myself – oh shoot, we left the sprinklers on all night. However, when I got out of bed and ventured down stairs, I realized – quite quickly when I was up to my knees in water, that it wasn’t the sprinklers.
All of our electronics, tv, kids game systems, our couch/chairs – all kinds of stuff was submerged under water. The kids toys, books, and other stuff came floating my way.
I can assure you, I didn’t walk calmly up stairs, make coffee and deliver it to my husband in bed. I didn’t let him ease into his day. NO! I ran! Yelling all the way. Wake up! Wake up, NOW!
That’s kind of the sense I get to Paul’s letter. He’s blindsided by what has gone on in such a short time since he planted the church.In chapter 1:6, Paul writes, I am astonished that you’ve been so misled. WAKE UP! WAKE UP NOW!
C). What was Paul’s deal?
To Paul, it was as if his very own children had been kidnapped, spiritually. It was as if those kids had been brainwashed into believing that Paul, not the kidnappers, was the bad guy. He was about to go all Momma Bear.
I’ve been around the church for a very long time. As a ministry leader, I can tell you with all certainty, when even one person follows a false gospel, it’s a devastating thing to watch. Those in church leadership have poured their heart and soul into helping equip others, they pray and seek God for wisdom and guidance in how to lead. They sacrifice – as a good parent would for their children.
When even one of those sheep go astray, it’s like your own child has walked away from God. This is Paul’s experience.
The captors were the Judaizers. A group of Jewish-Christian converts who were insisting that the Gentile new believers must become Jewish before they became “real” Christians. This meant the Gentiles would have to conform to certain customs and traditions – more specific to this situation, the Judaizers were demanding the Gentiles be circumcised if they wanted to find favour with God.
Now to be fair, the Jewish converts were suffering from dual identity. They believed that faith in Jesus was necessary for justification, but performance was necessary to become righteous.
In other words; Jesus Christ was not enough. It wasn’t enough for God’s one and only son, who lived a sinless life, who gave his live to death on the cross, it was not enough that he was resurrected after the third day. It was not enough to believe this truth. It was part of the salvation process – but it wasn’t enough.
Now before we judge them, let me ask a few simple questions. I’d love for you to ponder them throughout the next few days.
When are you most tempted to add to what Jesus has already done?
Is it after some sort of failure?
Do you try to clean yourself up after some sort of personal failure – BEFORE you return to God? Do you delay in reading your bible or in praying because you think God doesn’t want to speak to you or He won’t hear you?
Paul makes the same argument throughout the entire letter; If it’s true that these Gentiles must adhere to the Jewish practices, then you can’t stop at circumcision – you have to fulfill the entire law – perfectly.
It’s like if you’ve been “given” a brand new car. The car is a gift – unless there’s conditions attached. Like an incentive package – if there’s conditions, then the car is part of an agreed upon deal. It’s not a gift. You’re gonna have to work like a dog to keep that car.
I see so many many working hard to maintain some sort of “ideal” lifestyle – and yes, even Christians trying to work out their salvation this way. Paul was outraged at this face teaching. It’s slavery in disguise.
To maintain our freedom in Christ, we must resist anyone who would promote the ways in which we must earn or maintain God’s favour. No person, method or ritual can give us eternal life or sanctify us. God does not accept man-made religion as a substitute for faith in Jesus Christ. EVER.
Over these next 6 weeks, I’m going to be drawing out ONE principle per week. I’ll expound on that. However, it will surely not be the only principle in the chapter we read. I BELIEVE THAT GOD WILL reveal to each one of us the very personal circumstances that hold us captive.
You see – often, the choices me make we believe are the result of exercising our freedom. However, what we believe is freedom is often very restrictive and what we believe restricts our freedom is actually freedom.
ONE CHAPTER PER WEEK
As you read and re-read ONE chapter per week. Did I mention we’re only going to read one chapter per week? As you read through One chapter per week – slowly, keep a journal close at hand. Write down the verse(s) that jump out at you.
Pray, and as God for insight. He’s going to show you exactly where you’re being held captive in some way because He wants to set you free.
Unfortunately, the false teaching brought to the Galatian churches by the Judaizers has been extremely difficult to root out even today. We must walk a fine line—on one hand, we do not want to fall into the legalism that the Galatians struggled with, but on the other, we cannot just live as if anything goes, right?
Too often we lose ourselves at the extremes.
The Christian’s commitment to Christ is based on the free gift of grace through faith, but as Paul articulated at the end of Galatians, it also results in a life of walking by the Spirit.
If you wonder what that looks like, it’s the fruit of the spirit you can read about it in Chapter 5. Is the fruit of the Spirit evident in your life, or do you find yourself living according to the flesh or “the compulsions of selfishness?
If so, this will end in a legalistic attempt to earn your salvation, and often it presents in a complacent attitude about our sin.
Paul opened up his letter stating a very important fact; he was an apostle not chosen by man but by God. The Judaizers were self-appointed. We must be so careful whose thoughts we give weight to in our lives. Just because someone claims to be “a messenger of God’s word,” doesn’t mean they are.
You will know the difference by really listening their messages. Does their teaching lean heavily on one side or the other? All grace – or all legalism? A lopsided message makes for a distorted gospel.
Paul was adamant about the need for followers of Christ to live holy lives. His message was tempered with the Grace of God.
As my friend June Button from down under so wisely stated: “It is important for us to pay attention to those whose authority is from God. Their teaching is worthy of our attention (switched on minds), worthy of allowing their words to move our hearts and shape our lives. When our Godly leaders rely on Him we can be secure in their message and their teaching from Scripture as being God’s personal message for us.
Let Paul’s words in Galatians be used as an encouragement to pursue a life of holiness, not in our own strength but in the knowledge of God’s empowering grace in our lives.
Subscribe to receive friendly Biblical encouragement straight to your inbox.