(1-5) The church is supposed to be a caring community, but that doesn’t mean ignoring sin. It does, however, have everything to do with our attitude in confronting sin! We fulfill “the law of Christ” by displaying the same love towards each other that Jesus showed to us by dying on the cross for our sins. And we shouldn’t think that we are better than others, perhaps only because we are comparing ourselves to those who are caught up in sin! We are to examine ourselves, because we are responsible for our own lives.
(6-10) We are to share with our teachers because that shows both our gratitude and our generosity. Being inconsiderate and selfish will bring trouble in our lives, but living by the Spirit will bring benefits when we enter into eternal life (seen as starting when our physical life is over)! We should always try to be good to all, but we need to especially remember those who are a part of the family of faith.”
(11-18) Paul takes over from the scribe to “sign” the letter. His final words are a warning against the legalists. One of the motives for their false teaching is fear – they don’t want to be persecuted by the Jews! They are hypocrites because, even though they insist on circumcision, they aren’t keeping the whole law. Paul’s boast is always about the sufficiency of Christ and the significance of the cross. The cross unites Jew and Gentile in faith! The cross brings about a change in our natures through the Spirit! The cross enables us to persevere and endure during suffering! And Paul ends the letter the way he started it – with grace!
I) _______ did we get here?
II) Some people don’t _________ what happens here
III) But ___________ is served
IV) And the message of the __________ is one of justice
A) All have __________
B) Sin has ____________
V) _____________ there is a measure of justice in this life
VI) We _________ have to wait for justice
VII) But we can be certain that justice will eventually ___________
A) In _______________
B) With ______________
VIII) How should we ____________?
A) With __________
B) With ________________
C) With ________________
Jesus is enough! There is nothing that needs to be added to His sacrifice. That’s why Paul’s preaching of the cross was offensive to Jews. And if you try to make one part of it necessary (like circumcision), then you make keeping the whole law necessary. Paul realizes that some might think that being free from the law would cause us to be immoral, but the law could never make us righteous. Remember Romans 7:8? “But sin, seizing the opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of wrong desires. For apart from the law, sin is dead.” The best the law could do was to show us what sin was. It was our guardian until Christ (3:24). Now that we have the Spirit, we can follow God and love each other. In fact, the Spirit does what the law couldn’t! It produces the fruit of righteousness in our lives: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.“
For worship: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNXd0KQaYXg
Paul continues with his discussion from the end of chapter three. A heir is no better than a slave until he has come of age. The Galatians have come of age through Jesus Christ and were adopted into God’s family when they believed. Why would they turn back to the law and become slaves again? Paul reminds them that they received him joyfully when he first came, and eagerly accepted his message. Shouldn’t they listen to him now, instead of to those who are trying to deceive them? Perhaps an illustration will help. Abraham had two sons. One represents the law, and the other the promise. They are like Isaac. They are children of the promise! They are free! They have the Spirit! Why would they want to go back to slavery!
Do you ever find yourself doubting the power of grace? Perhaps you wonder if human effort is necessary for salvation. Some religious traditions struggle with that very thing. They elevate baptism, circumcision, communion, or something else as necessary for salvation or as necessary to keep salvation. In truth, there is nothing else needed but Jesus Christ. Jesus is enough!
(1-14) Paul reminds us that the Spirit is given as a result of believing the gospel, not as a result of trying to follow the law. The law can’t give the Spirit. The law can’t make us righteous. The law can’t save. If we try to keep the law, we’re cursed (Deuteronomy 27:26), because no-one can do everything that the law requires. Thankfully, Jesus Christ became a curse for us (Deuteronomy 21:23) when He was crucified. When we believe in Him we are made righteous, and we inherit the promise first revealed to Abraham (Genesis 12:3): “all the nations shall be blessed in you.” Jews and Gentiles are united through their faith in Jesus Christ, not the works of the law!
(15-29) The promise of Jesus Christ was given to Abraham (Genesis 22:18). It came before the law and the law didn’t negate it. The law was given so that we would realize our need for a savior, since the law reveals sin. It was our guardian until the promise came. Now that the promise has come, we are children of faith and heirs of the promise!
Isn’t it amazing that God brings all people together in Christ? Isn’t it astonishing that God revealed that plan to Abraham? Isn’t it astounding that He has given us the Spirit?
Deuteronomy 10:17 “For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, mighty, and awesome God…”
(1-14) Paul eventually went to the leaders in Jerusalem, because he wanted a unified church with a unified message (he didn’t want to “run in vain“). The only difference was that his mission was primarily to the Gentiles, while Peter’s was to the Jews. The leadership only asked that he would also remember the poor in his ministry, which he was eager to do.
When he was with the leadership some issues came up regarding circumcision and its necessity for salvation. Paul strenuously defended the concept of grace, because, in his mind, the very “truth of the gospel” was at stake. He even had to rebuke Peter at one point, because Peter was preaching about grace and inclusion, but ended up shunning the Gentiles because of the pro-circumcision camp.
(15-21) The next few verses give a wonderful description of justification by grace. Justification means being made right with God.
- Paul acknowledges that both he and Peter had an advantage by birth.
- But it still wasn’t enough to save them.
- No-one can be saved by works.
- We can only be saved by faith in Jesus Christ.
- Our faith brings justification. We need to be justified because even the law taught that we are all sinners (Psalm 14:1). We aren’t sinners because Jesus Christ came, we were sinners already!
- If we go back to the law, we deny the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
- He fulfilled the law and died in our place.
- We can now live to please God.
- Because we live by faith! (Our faith or God’s faith is a discussion too big to have now!)
For worship: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-JGcVRNPRo
Some notes on chapter 1:
- Notice where Paul’s apostleship comes from (1)!
- Galatia is a region, not a city (2).
- “Who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from this present evil age according to the will of our God and Father” (4). What a description of salvation!
- Notice that we are living in a “present evil age.”
- Paul is writing because they are being deceived by false teachers who are teaching another gospel (6-10). As we’ll learn later, they were teaching that Jesus isn’t enough and that his sacrifice on the cross didn’t fully atone for sin. You had to keep the law too!
- How serious is it? Paul says this about false teachers: “let him be condemned to hell” (8).
- Paul’s comments in 1:1 are now explained (11-24). God miraculously saved him and made him a missionary to the Gentiles (16). Paul’s authority comes from God, not man!
In our own lives, we need to be concerned about pleasing and following God (10). The truth is the truth, and we need to stand firm on it!
2 Corinthians 13
Paul makes a final appeal to the Corinthians. Some were saying that he was too weak, too soft, and spoke without power when in person. He warns them to be careful what they wish for! They need to fix their problems before he gets there, or he will not be weak, soft, or powerless when he speaks to them. But even then, the power won’t be his, it will come from God who lives in him – that same power that raised Jesus from the dead! And that power is in them as well, if they are truly Christ’s. They need to examine themselves, not for Paul’s sake but for their own, and correct the wrongs in their lives and in the church. He is hoping that he won’t have to be harsh with them when he comes, and his final list of instructions shows them the way forward (11):
- They should rejoice that they have the opportunity to set things right.
- They need to repent of their wrong.
- Which means that they will experience encouragement from Paul’s ministry.
- Because they will have united, confronting the “super-apostles” and supporting Paul.
- Then they will then be at peace, because God’s love and peace will be with them.
Two quick notes: (1) Do we examine ourselves regularly to make sure that we are following God the way we should, and (2) did you catch, “he was crucified by reason of weakness, but He lives because of God’s power“? What an amazing description of the reality of our sinfulness and the awesome might of the God who saves us!
2 Corinthians 12
(1-10) Paul really doesn’t try to hide the fact that he’s boasting about himself in the first few verses, but he acts like it’s somebody else. If he’s going to boast, it’s about his weakness. If he can’t do it in his own strength, then it’s God working through him. And God has helped him out with that, by giving him a “thorn in the flesh” to deal with! Although there are many suggestions concerning what that was, it seems best to see it as a physical ailment because of the way it’s described. Paul wasn’t above asking it to be removed, and did so three times. But three times it was revealed to him that it was God’s will for the thorn to remain, so he stopped asking. How does this correlate with the idea that we are to be persistent in prayer? Well, Paul seemingly got an answer, so he stopped. Should this remind us of Jesus in the Garden?
(11-21) Paul reminds them that he lacks nothing compared to the “super-apostles.” He displayed the “signs of an apostle” (identified as “signs and wonders and powerful deeds“). Neither he nor his companions were ever a burden to them, nor would they be. The difference in ministry was so stark compared to his opponents that they claimed he was only that way to try to deceive the Corinthians! All Paul wants to do is build them up on his next visit, but he’s worried that it won’t happen. He’s afraid that after all his boasting about them and his care for them that they will still be engaging in sinful practices.
There is quite a list here of things that we (as individuals) and we (as churches) should stay away from: quarreling, jealousy, intense anger, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance, disorder, sexual immorality, and licentiousness (lack of self-restraint, probably in sexual matters). How are you doing?
“Being an Influencer”
I) ________________ leadership is an ongoing problem
A) Government is meant to be ___________
B) But it is corrupted by _______
C) Xerxes is _____________
D) Xerxes is _____________
II) Esther is an example of how we can _____________ society
A) Some see Esther as __________
B) But Esther is _________
1) She is _______________
2) She uses what is at her ___________
3) She appeals to the kings ______________
4) She realizes that ________ is at work
C) She teaches us that we need to be __________ and
III) Our influence should be ____________
A) The Jews are given the power to ___________
B) People notice the ____________
C) But do their hearts really ____________?
D) We can’t know peoples ___________
E) But we can continue to _____________!