Sermon: The Gospel: Message or Miracle? (Galatians 1:1-10)

The letter of Paul to the

Galatians


1:1-10

The Gospel: Message or Miracle?

Grace Community Church

September, 20th 2009

Matthew Wright

1Paul, an apostle-not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead- 2. and all the brothers who are with me, To the churches of Galatia: 3. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4. Who Gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen

6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: if anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. 10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or and I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man. I would not be a servant of Christ

Intro:

It was 600 feet long and It had over 300 teeth. Get your hand out of there, my father would yell! You see my father would occasionally take me to work with him.  He owned a shoe repair business and at times I was his apprentice.  We would fix all kinds of shoes. Boots, ladies high heals, sandals, sneakers.  We would give the shoe a new life.  When we would finish the shoe the last step was my favorite.  We would use the buffer.

Remember the 300 teethed monster that was over 600 feet long.  I was more like 8 feet and it had no teeth rather it had 6 or so buffers on it. The buffer seemed like it was so big and it was desirable.  My father would put his hand in the shoe, turn on the buffer and bring back the shine on the leather. The soft bristles felt good on my hands.

My father knew the impending danger if I put my hands all over the machine. “I told you not to do that” my father would repeat.  His indignant response was what I needed.  He was justly angry as I wanted to prove that my hand would not be devoured by the monster.  His raised voice always caught my attention and I was quickly corrected.

Maybe that’s why I like the book of Galatians. Paul the spiritual father of the Galatian churches has looked over and seen his children hands in the monsters mouth.  They were caught in the act and not yet lost there fingers.

As we begin our study in Galatians there are a few questions we must first ask ourselves.  Why Galatians, where did it come from and by whom did it come from. The answer to these questions help us arrive at the importance of its existence.

To begin, The name Galatia comes from the barbaric Gaul’s or Celts who settled in Asia minor (Modern day turkey).  In the providence Paul and Barnabas established four churches in the southern part on there first missionary journey.  It is likely that Paul is writing to the churches he had established on that journey.

Galatians is classified as a letter.  There is not a document more personal than that of letter.  We arrive at the true character of an individual through there writings found in the letters. Maybe this is why we love the apostle Paul so much, because we know him, we have seen his heart pored out before us on page after page of his letters.  A letter reveals the passions, convictions, anger, hope, love and many other emotions.

At the same time there is not a document more difficult to understand than that of a letter.  Reading a letter is no more than listening to a one sided phone conversation.  We typically do not hear the other side of the conversation.  In a letter we typically do not know the writers intent unless reveled in his own penmanship.  So in Galatians we do not possess the letter in which Paul is answering or fully know the circumstances that demands  his attention.  In order to understand the letter we must try to reconstruct the situations that lead us to Galatians.

Paul in typical fashion would have had help in crafting his letter.  I picture Paul passing the room  poring out his heart as his secretary is frantically trying to keep up.  This is the reason the letter is not seen as  academia rather it does contain deep theological importance to the church.  Paul’s urgency and heart in the letter can epically be seen as he himself preened a portion of the letter.  (6:11) “see with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand.” If the Galatians miss what was already said Paul writes it again himself.

Some have viewed Galatians as a sword slashing back and forth as if to defend or attack something.  Well this is true, Paul’s authority is under attack,  and the validity of his message was under siege. His message was said to be from man and dependant on man (v1).

His message was seen as a second hand message and his apostleship was invalid.  Paul did not seem to meet the immediate qualification as first which were witnessing Jesus resurrection and companioning with Jesus during His earthly life.  Thou these things were lacking and not to  mention the fact that Paul’s former days were spent as a Christian persecutor, Christ personally met with Paul and Commissioned him with the Gospel to the gentiles.  Acts 9:15 “But the Lord said to him, go for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and Kings and the children of Israel“.

Paul was not the only thing under attack, more importantly the Gospel of Jesus Christ is under attack. There were Jews who accepted Christianity but also believed that God’s promises were for the Jews  alone.  This type of thinking aloud the Jews to say things like “God created the Gentiles to be fuel for the fires of Hell” and even laid down  the law  that prevented a Jew from helping a Gentile mother in childbearing which would only lead to another gentile in the world.

If a gentile wished to become a Christian he must first become a Jew.  He must be circumcised and he must place the weight of the law on himself. Paul saw that as the complete opposite to Christianity.  Paul’s salvation was entirely based on Grace, It was not what man could do for himself rather what God had done form man.  Paul saw the law as a thing that shows man his sin and the law drives man solely to grace. It was Paul’s theology that brought opposition by the Jews which states mans inability to come to God and salvation rested in Gods sovereignty alone. This kind of thinking left no room for man to boast in his works or abilities.  With the problem identified, Paul gets to work.

I. The Man, the Ministry and Message (1-5)

1Paul, an apostle-not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead- 2. and all the brothers who are with me, To the churches of Galatia: 3. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4. Who Gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen

MAN

1Paul, an apostle

Right from the start we are introduced to Paul as the author and he quickly begins to defend his authority.  Paul states that his apostleship is not from men or through man, WHY? This was the central attack which could be the fatal blow to the gospel message.  The converts in Galatia had witnessed Paul’s authority yet were being swayed by the Judaizers that Paul had no authority and the Law provided true authority.  Paul had come to Galatia’s preaching the Gospel and establishing churches.  The work he did with his own hands was now being torn down.

MINISTRY

V.1 not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead. and all the brothers who are with me, To the churches of Galatia:

Apostleship was set up in the early days of the church in which god called special men to do a certain task.  Apostle literally means “one who is sent with a commission.” Paul’s miraculous conversion and call to apostleship gave him his commission therefore giving him authority to write to Galatia.  The fact that he had started the church gave him even more authority.

When Paul heard that the people were turned away from him and begun following legalistic teachers who were mixing Old Testament law with the Gospel of Grace, Paul had speak.  In order for the Judiazers to gain any ground over the Galatians churches they must first attack the very source of there belief.  Salvation! They believed that Paul could not offer salvation through his gospel of grace rather true salvation lies in the hands of the law. They heard the gospel through Paul and to remove Paul’s message allows another message to come in.

MESSAGE

3. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4. Who Gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen

It was the message of the Gospel that Paul clearly states from the beginning.  The Gospel centers around Christ and his actions of giving up himself to die on a cross. Delivering sinners from bondage was not a part of the Judiazers message but Paul know that Christ had died to set man free.  It was bondage to legalism that the Galatians left and were not being enticed back into. In verse 5 we see  Paul’s driving force,  it was to minister to the glory of Christ forever and ever.

Now as we turn to the final portion of our text let us look ever intently at the gospel.  May the gospel be more than a message to preach, may it be a miracle to experience.  In our next 5 verses may we see Christ alone as the true gospel.  Christ as the beginning, middle and end.

I like the Gospel for it is alive and it moves.  It works! I love to figure out the way things work.  Some times I use that methodology on my wife and some of you can understand as I do that it does not work.  Though we may not fully comprehend to gospel we do see its effects in our lives.  1.Our minds are open to the knowledge of God and the Gospel. We begin to know Christ.  2. Our stone hard hears are transformed into hears of flesh the will beat and pump the gospel of Christ through our vines.  3. Our regenerate heart thought the imputation of Christ will allow our hand to no longer offer up service of sin rather service of sanctification.  Our hands will serve the lord.  Head, Heart and hands.  The gospel works!

I see this progression in the following verses.

V.6 Grace of Christ

6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel

Though it was obvious the churches of Galatia was quickly deserting Christ who called them by grace.  Law does not simply pollute grace rather it destroys it.  Grace can be destroyed but it cannot be molded and fashioned into another thing.  For if we add to it or take away from it we may no longer call it grace. For it is no longer grace.  It cannot be changed.  Modified grace holds no power to save, only it holds the power to condemn.  Grace is simply Gods favor to undeserving sinners. The greatest opposition to the church are those who openly contradict the bible and denounce Christ and pose to speak in his name.  Paul strikes with his sword.  God had called them in Grace of Christ and saved them from their sins. God has opened there minds to the gospel of Christ.  They are moving from grace back into, abandoning liberty for legalism.  Titus 1:10-11.  Paul warns Titus to watch out for empty talkers and deceiver who teach for shame full gain.  They teach what they ought not teach.

Titus 1:10-11 For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. 

They are not teaching freedom in the gospel of Christ they are preaching bondage to the law.

The Galatians were not simply changing churches rather they were abandoning the very grace of God.  They were even more so abandoning the God of Grace! May we never mix grace with works for one excludes the other.  It is of the Grace of Christ that we are exposed to the Gospel of Christ.  With enlightened minds the Galatians are given hearts of flesh through the Gospel of Christ.

V.7-8 Gospel of Christ

-7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you let him be accursed.

Paul simply say there is not a not another gospel but some were distorting the ONLY gospel.  I would imagine that the credentials of the Judiazers were pretty impressive. They may say things like I believe in Jesus Christ but lest add al little of this and a little of that.   The Judiazers destroyed the very support of the Gospel.  To destroy the support by means of distortion was to demolish the Gospel.  To rip out the heart is to leave one lifeless.  Death comes from the destruction of the heart.  Christ at the heart of the Gospel was under attack and to level Christ would level the gospel and make way for the law once again.

It is the Gospel of Christ that  provides the foundation of the Christian life.  We live by Christ as victorious soldiers, we suffer without complaining through Christ, and we persevere and stir one another on in Christ.  To trade in Christ is to live by our own means and resources.  We no longer live by the spirit rather we live according to the flesh.  We forfeit our chance to worship Christ.  It is through the Gospel of Christ that we are aloud to enter into communion with Christ, our communion with Christ allow us to respond to the gospel of Christ.

The final move is service to Christ. Look at me at the final verses as we are to become a servant of Christ.  As we have seen Paul’s, his ministry and his message we see that it has undoubtedly moved him to become a servant of Christ.

V.9-10 Servant of Christ

.9 As we have said before, so now I say again: if anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. 10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man. I would not be a servant of Christ

One who has had their mind awaken to the gospel, there hearts affection moved by Christ must respond in servitude.  The only logical response to the gospel is a surrendered life to Christ.  Paul knew that he cold not pleas man and God at the same time.  His heart belonged to Christ and his hands would prove it.  His works would exemplify that of a surrender life.  If we try to pleas man as the judiazers were obviously doing we would not be serving Christ.  In starch contrast between Paul and the Judiazsers we see the heart of two.  One a God pleaser and the other a people pleaser.

May we never waste the gospels effect on the pleasing of man.  May we never simply place the Gospel in chains as something to preach or tell others about. May we experience the miracle of its saving power and freedom that lies within.

As I count all ten fingers I am reminded by the gracious words of warning from my father. The impending danger was strong and severe.  Though not as important as the impending danger facing the Galatians, My father knew how to protect me.  Paul, the spiritual father knew the dangers of trading in liberty for law, speaks to his children with severe warnings.

May we never revert back to our former days rather look forward in servant hood to Christ and the Gospel.  Let us experience the power of the Gospel daily and from there grow in our love for Christ and one another more and more.

I leave you with these words from Galatians.

3. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4. Who Gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen

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