08 Oct Galatians 05: How do we grow as Christians?
O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? 7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
The word love is one of those words which can mean everything, but it can also mean nothing. You use the word love for pretty much anything. You can say, “I love KFC. I love Manchester United. I love one piece. I love Japan. I love dogs. I love cats. I love my spouse. I love my children.” You can love anything, but the meaning behind the word love is different. When you say, “I love my spouse and I love my dog,” you don’t mean you love your spouse the same way you love your dog. At least, I hope so. Some of you are like, “Of course, I don’t mean it the same way. I love my dog more than my spouse.” Come and see me after the service, and we can schedule a counselling session. And when you love someone, you usually love to highlight certain things about that person that you are drawn to. You tend to encourage that person’s strengths. You tend to focus on his or her virtue and praise it. You say things like, “I love that you are so good at singing. Your voice is like the voice of an angel. I love listening to it. It soothes my heart.” People love that kind of love, the kind of love that celebrates strengths and virtues.
But there is another kind of love that people don’t enjoy. And that is tough love. The kind of love that is willing to confront and rebuke the ones you love because you see them heading toward destruction. Parents, you get this. You love your children. And because you love your children, sometimes you have to be their enemy for their good. Sometimes you have to yell at them and inflict pain to discipline them. When you see your 4-year-old out on the street, you don’t say, “Have a good time son. Enjoy the street.” No. Instead, you quickly snatch him out of the street, and you yell at him saying, “What were you thinking? Do you know how dangerous that was? Look at that dead squirrel, son. Look at it. That could be you. Do you want to end up like that? Don’t ever run into the street again. Do you understand?” And your kid is like, “Yes, dad. I am sorry. I don’t want to be like that dead squirrel.” And he probably needs counselling later when he is older. That is what’s happening in the book of Galatians, especially the passage that we are in today. Paul is mad. He is angry. But not because he is offended by them. Paul is angry because he loves them.
Let’s recap what we have learned so far. In Galatians chapters 1 and 2, Paul is defending his apostleship and his gospel. He tells them that he received his gospel and apostleship directly from Jesus himself. And Paul has shown that his gospel is independent and yet identical to the gospel that is preached by other apostles. There is only one gospel. Any variation of that gospel is not gospel. The gospel is how we begin the Christian life. But now, Paul will show that the gospel is so much more than that. The gospel is not only the way we begin the Christian life, but the gospel is also the way we grow as Christians. And this is the heart of the problem with the Galatians. John Piper puts it this way. “The essence of the Galatian heresy is the teaching that you begin the Christian life by faith, and then you grow in the Christian life by works, that is, by drawing on powers in yourself to make your contribution to salvation.” So, the false teachers were teaching, “Yes, you need the gospel to become a Christian. But to grow as a Christian, you need something more than the gospel. You need to be circumcised and obey the law of Moses.” And Paul argues strongly against this false teaching throughout Galatians. Paul will tell us that we don’t begin by faith and then grow through our works. Or, if I can put it in theological language, we are not only justified by faith in Christ but we are also sanctified by faith in Christ. Here is my sermon in a nutshell. The way we grow as Christians is exactly the same way we become Christians. We never walk away from the gospel.
I have three points for my sermon: our justification; our sanctification; our status.
Galatians 3:1-2 – O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?
Paul is not holding back his words. He calls the Christians in Galatia, “O foolish Galatians.” One of the commentators paraphrases these verses nicely. “O you dear idiotic Galatians… surely you can’t be so idiotic.” We can easily tell that Paul is angry. Why? Because the Galatians have been bewitched. It is as if a sorcerer had cast an evil spell on them. They were not thinking straight. They were mentally drunk. They were not being their original selves. Why? Because they have accepted the false gospel. They have walked away from Jesus + nothing and have accepted Jesus + something. And Paul says that it was before their eyes that Jesus was publicly portrayed as crucified. It doesn’t mean they saw Jesus’ crucifixion personally. This is a metaphorical language. Paul is saying, “When I came and preached the gospel to you, I did not only give you facts. I did not only give you dry lectures. I showed you Jesus crucified in my teachings. And you did not only believe it, but you also saw it with your heart.” Or, if I can put it differently, “You not only know that the Lord is good; you tasted that the Lord is good.” So, they not only knew the gospel, but they also experienced the gospel. The gospel was no longer just a concept; it hit them in the heart. The gospel was not just something Paul said, the gospel had become a 4K definition before their eyes. And this is what it means to be a Christian. A Christian is not someone who knows about Jesus, but someone who has “seen” Jesus crucified at the cross. We not only know that Jesus died but our hearts are moved that Jesus died for us. We see the beauty of the cross.
It is one thing to say, “I know I am a sinner.” It is another to feel that we are a sinner. It is one thing to say, “I know Jesus died on the cross.” It is another to see Jesus die on the cross because of how much he loves us. It is one thing to see Jesus as useful. It is another to see Jesus as beautiful. I remember it happened to me in my fourth year in Dallas. At that time, I moved to a new place and the church I served in was relocating to a new area that was very far from where I lived. So, I researched churches in the area where I lived, and I found out one of the teachers at my Bible College had a church in the area. I went there one Sunday, and that Sunday, I heard the gospel preached and it blew me away. The pastor was preaching on Romans 3:23, how all of us are sinners who fall short of the glory of God. And I’ve been a Christian all my life. I was in my fourth year at Bible College at the time. I’ve heard that verse preached and taught countless times. But that day something clicked and I saw the gospel portrayed before my eyes. At the end of the sermon, I was on my knee crying and repenting of my sin and trusting Christ’s righteousness for the very first time. And this is what had happened to the Galatians. Their spiritual eyes had awakened to the beauty of the gospel. The coin had dropped. So, Paul’s question is, “What happened to you? You have seen the beauty of the gospel. How can you be so foolish to leave the gospel behind?”
And then Paul throws a set of rhetorical questions. Married couples, let me help you. If you don’t know, a rhetorical question is a question that your spouse loves to ask in the heat of an argument but does not need you to answer because the answer is obvious. So, if your spouse is talking to you using rhetorical questions, don’t be tricked. They are not looking for an answer. If you know what I am talking about, say amen. So, Paul’s first question deals with our justification; how we become a Christian. Here is his question. “How did you receive the Holy Spirit? Is it by works of the law or by hearing with faith?” And this tells us something important about receiving the Holy Spirit. This is just a side note, but an important side note. There are some Christians who believe that receiving salvation and receiving the Holy Spirit are two different things. They say we are saved first, and then we need to receive the Holy Spirit. They see the Holy Spirit as the second blessing Christians receive after salvation. But not so with Paul. For Paul, to receive the Holy Spirit is to be saved. How do we know? Because this passage is talking about salvation. Paul is talking about justification and sanctification. And Paul equates salvation to receiving the Holy Spirit. That means everyone who receives the Holy Spirit is saved. Everyone who is saved receives the Holy Spirit. The blessing of salvation and the Holy Spirit come together. They cannot be separated.
The question is, how are we saved? How did we receive the Holy Spirit? Was it by obeying the law or by hearing with faith? Are we saved because we tried hard to obey God and seek God? Or are we saved because God sought us, and we believed by faith? Look at this chart on the difference between salvation by faith (gospel) and salvation by works (law). It is one or the other. We cannot mix the two.
Gospel: Christ has done it all; trust in Christ’s achievement; promises to believe.
Law: We must do it all; works of human achievement; demands to obey.
So, how did we become Christians? The answer is clear. We did not become Christians by working hard for God. We became Christians because God worked for us. All we have to do is simply believe. We all have different stories of who we were before we became Christians. Some of you have a similar story to mine. I grew up in a Christian family. I learned how to behave well from when I was very young. I knew how to say the right words and do the right things from an early age. I got lots of stars in Sunday School. But I never loved Jesus. I was simply being religious. I never had a personal relationship with God, and the relationship I think I had was simply me using God for my agenda. Deep inside, I was empty. I confessed I was a Christian, but I actually did not need God. I thought I was good enough to save myself by my good deeds. Or maybe your story was the total opposite. You grew up in a broken family. You learned how to use the F-word when you were three years old. You grew up addicted to drugs and sex. You committed many crimes, and you were broken in every way imaginable. You thought there was no way you could be saved. You were non-religious. And here is what’s amazing about the gospel. God is the one who saved both the religious and the non-religious. We did not become Christians because we tried hard enough. We became Christians because God is merciful. We did not receive the Holy Spirit because we deserved it. We received the Holy Spirit because we heard the gospel, and we believed it. We did not choose God; God chose us. We are saved by faith in the perfect work of Christ. That’s our justification.
Galatians 3:3-5 – 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith–
Now, this is the heart of the problem with the Galatians. They knew they were saved by faith in Christ. The problem was, having begun by the Spirit, they were trying to become perfect by the flesh. The word perfect comes from a Greek word that means completion. In other words, after beginning their Christian life by faith, they were trying to complete their Christian life by their obedience to the law. And Paul is asking, “How can you be so idiot?” Let me put it theologically and practically. Let’s start with the theological. After you become a Christian, after you receive Christ’s righteousness, you are still not fully righteous. God sees you as fully righteous, but you still have lots of sin in your life. So, how do you move from being seen as righteous to being truly righteous in your conduct? You know you are justified by faith, but what should you do with your sanctification? Now let me put it practically. You know you are accepted by God. You know you have been forgiven of all your sins. But you still can’t forgive your ex who cheated on you. You still can’t get over your addiction. You still have problems with anger. You know God loves you. You know God is for you. But how do you become more forgiving? How do you get rid of your addiction? How do you grow as a Christian?
And this is what the Galatians thought was the answer. They said, “Okay, I know I am saved by the gospel. But now to grow as a Christian, I need to obey all the Biblical principles and apply them to every area of life. God has saved me. God has done his part. And now it is up to me to make sure that I grow.” Friends, this is the source of the problem for the Galatians. But this is not only their problem; this is our problem as well. Here is the problem: We believe we are justified by faith, but we believe we are sanctified by trying really hard. We believe we are forgiven of our sins not by doing anything but believing. But when it comes to forgiving our in-laws, when it comes to dealing with our secret sins, we need to try really hard. Paul says, “No! How can you be so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now trying to get better by trying really hard?”
Paul goes on to say, “Did you suffer so many things in vain?” The Galatians had suffered many things for the sake of the gospel. And suffering for the gospel’s sake is a good thing. But if they leave the gospel behind and embrace the false gospel, then they suffer in vain. And the last rhetorical question he asks is, “When God works miracles among you; when God heals the sick, opens the blind eyes, makes the lame walk, when God provides for your need supernaturally, does he do all of that because you obey his law? Or is it because you hear God’s promises and you put your faith in God?” The answer is of course by hearing with faith. And here is Paul’s point. “If that’s true, if you receive all the good things from God by faith, what makes you think that you have to perform and rely on your own strength to complete what God has started?” Paul is making a point that the key to Christian growth is not obedience to the law but believing and applying the gospel to every area of life. Justification and sanctification are by grace through faith alone, not our good works.
In other words, whatever sin issue we face in life, it is rooted in the fact that we have yet to rest in Jesus’ perfect work at the cross. The root of all our struggles is we still try to seek control of our lives through our own righteousness. And the way we grow as Christians is to continually repent of those sins in the same way we became Christians – by abandoning our trust in ourselves and looking to Jesus’s saving work for us. We must go back again and again to the gospel so that our hearts are more deeply gripped by the reality of what Jesus did and who we are in him. It’s like having a wireless phone charger. My new car has a wireless charger and I love it. All I have to do is rest my phone on top of the wireless charger, and it automatically charges my phone. Now I don’t have to worry about consuming my phone batteries when I listen to podcasts while I drive. The same with us as Christians. Get this. We receive spiritual power when we are resting on Jesus’ finished work at the cross. The power to do Christian life comes from being soaked in the fuel of what Christ has done.
Let’s get very practical. I have people come to me and say, “Yos, I know God forgives me. I know God accepts me. But I can’t forgive myself. I can’t get over the guilt of what I’ve done.” What they are saying is, “Yes, I believe in the gospel. But now it is up to me to try really really hard to forgive myself.” And I said, “You don’t get the gospel. You still think that it is up to you to get God’s acceptance. There is something else besides Jesus that you must have to feel good about yourself. Instead of believing that Jesus is your hope and righteousness, you are looking to some other things to make you feel good and complete. You may say Jesus is your saviour, but something else is your functional saviour.” When someone says, “I can’t forgive myself,” what they mean is, “I really put my hope in that relationship to make me complete. I really put my hope in that business opportunity to make me feel like I am somebody. And I blew it. And because of it, it is gone forever. And now I can’t forgive myself.” What they mean is the thing that they thought would save them, their functional saviour, is not forgiving them.
So, when they say, “I can’t forgive myself,” I am going to ask, “Why? Why can’t you forgive yourself?” Almost always, it is because there is something that they thought would complete them, and now that they lost it, they feel worthless and incomplete deep inside of them. And what they have to do is to look at that thing, and then look at Jesus, and they have to say, “Because I already have Jesus, I don’t need you.” Paul says our problem is always rooted in we think we believe in Jesus as Saviour, but we don’t. The answer is not to try harder. The answer is to repent of our self-righteousness and our lack of rejoicing in the finished work of Christ. We go back to the gospel. As we behold the beauty of the gospel once again, the Holy Spirit will work to replace our functional saviour with the saviour. And the root of our problem will diminish.
This means that if you are struggling in your marriage, you don’t just need to learn new techniques in marriage. The power to change your marriage comes from the gospel. Learning 10 steps on how to be a better spouse is good, but it is no way near as important as embracing how Jesus has loved you sacrificially on the cross. It is looking to Jesus’ perfect sacrificial love for you that enables you to love your spouse sacrificially. If you are struggling as a parent, if you do not know what to do with your children anymore, where do you turn? Try harder and do better? Give them 101 rules to change their behaviours? You can do that, but you cannot produce righteousness in their hearts. What you need is to turn to the gospel and embrace God’s perfect fatherly love for you that he has shown at the cross. That’s what enables you to love your children the same. If you are struggling with sin, the power to break free from sin is not more self-will and determination. You tried it and it did not work. It only leads to more frustration and shame. What you need is to look to the gospel and rest in God’s perfect acceptance of you. Praise God that his acceptance of you is not based on your failing performances but on Jesus’ unfailing performance on your behalf. That’s what gives you the power to get up and continue to fight sin.
And I know this is far from easy. One of the hardest things we struggle with is the free nature of the gospel. I am sure you’ve heard the phrase, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” We are wired to think that when something is too good to be true, it is too good to be true. There is always some catch. And we bring the same mindset to the gospel. The gospel is too good to be true and therefore it is good to be true. So, when we hear that we are justified before God by faith alone, that our righteous status is given to us freely because of Jesus’ perfect work at the cross, we immediately think that we might have been given the status freely, but it is now up to us to maintain this status by our good works. There must be something we can contribute to our status, some effort we must make. And Paul strongly rebukes this mindset. He says that all Christian life, from beginning to end, is all by grace through faith alone. Our works do not contribute to our salvation. To add even a bit of our works to the gospel is not supplementing the gospel; it is poisoning the gospel. Imagine a glass of iced coffee. And let’s say I add a drop of cyanide. That’s it. Just one tiny drop. So, the glass is now 99% iced coffee and 1% cyanide. Is anyone thirsty? This illustration may or may not have been inspired by the documentary I saw on Netflix. This is what Paul is saying. If we add just a bit of our work to Jesus’ perfect work, if we accept even just one small addition to the gospel, then Christ is worthless to us.
Let me read you a quote from Phillip Ryken. It is quite long, but it is very good. “It is true enough that sanctification follows justification, but justification never gets left behind. We will never stand before God on the basis of our own righteousness. We can stand before God only on the basis of the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Once and forever, we are justified before God by the righteousness we have received by faith. To be sure, we are becoming more holy all the time. Having been justified, we are now becoming sanctified. But we cannot use our obedience—as imperfect as it is—to establish our righteousness before God. To put this another way, we cannot base our justification on our sanctification.” From start to finish, our Christian life is about the gospel. We never advanced beyond the gospel. Jesus is the author and the finisher of our faith. Whatever the problem is, the answer is the gospel. So, when we struggle to grow, when we are frustrated at our sinfulness, the solution is to return to the gospel and rest in Jesus’ finished work. That’s where we find the strength to grow. And what Paul does next is extremely brilliant.
Galatians 3:6 – just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?
At first, it seems random that Paul suddenly introduces Abraham to his argument. But it is not; it is a masterstroke. Remember that the false teachers were teaching, “In order to be saved, you have to be circumcised. You have to obey the law of Moses. You have to live like a Jew.” And the father of Jews is Abraham. The story of Israel began not with Moses, but with Abraham. And Paul is making his case using Abraham. If you grew up in church, I’m sure you have heard of this song. “Father Abraham had many sons, and many sons had Father Abraham; I am one of them, and so are you, so let’s all praise the Lord!” And the song becomes a body combat exercise after that. But the question is, how does one become a son of Abraham? So, let’s look at Abraham’s story for a bit.
Genesis 12:1-3 – Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
This is a grand promise. The rest of the Bible is the fulfilment of Genesis 12:1-3. That’s how massive God’s promise to Abraham was. In the end, all the families of the earth shall be blessed in Abraham. Abraham was already considerably wealthy at this time. He was a man with many possessions. But there was one thing he was lacking, an offspring. But God promised Abraham that God would make Abraham into a great nation, which means he had to have children. However, Sarah, Abraham’s wife, was barren. Biologically speaking, it was impossible for Sarah to have children. But God promised that Abraham would have an offspring. How? God would do it. How many “I” do you see in this promise? God wanted Abraham to know from the beginning that God was the one who was going to do it. God was saying, “I and not you will be the one who will make this promise come true.”
Many years passed and Abraham was still childless. But then God came to Abraham and said that he would have many children. Genesis 15:5-6 – And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness. This is one of the most important verses in the Bible. Abraham looked at the impossibility of his situation and he chose to believe God’s promise over his situation. And God counted it to him as righteousness. This is Paul’s argument. Abraham did nothing to deserve his blessing. Abraham simply believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness. The word counted is an accounting word. It means if you work 80 hours a week to earn a million dollars, and then you transfer that money into my account, that money is mine. I didn’t work for it. I didn’t do a thing. But it’s on my account. It’s in my name. Because the account is in my name, the money is counted as mine. And Paul says that is exactly how Abraham was counted as righteous. Note: Abraham did not become righteous. When he believed God’s promise, he did not become righteous; he was counted righteous. He did not work for it, but it was transferred into his account. And God treated him as righteous.
So, if we put it together with what Paul was saying earlier, Paul is saying, “When you believe in Jesus as your saviour, when you believe the gospel, you get a new status. God sees you as righteous. You don’t become good. You don’t become better. You don’t become unselfish. You are counted as good. You are counted as perfect. You are counted as righteous. In all your flaws, God sees you as flawless.” When the Bible tells us that God credited Abraham’s faith as righteousness, it means God was treating Abraham as if he were living a righteous life. Listen. When God credits righteousness to us, he treats us as actually righteous and free from condemnation, even though we are still actually unrighteous in many ways. We are justified. When we put our faith in Jesus and receive justification, we are still wicked. That justified status is given to us not because we clean up our lives. We receive that status while we are still a sinner. You don’t believe me? Look at Abraham. After God counted Abraham as righteous, did he stop sinning? No. The following chapters of Genesis tell us that Abraham doubted God and conceived a son through another woman. And he also lied about his wife twice. So, Abraham was a doubter and a liar, and yet God called him righteous. And this is the fatal blow to the false teachers who taught that one must circumcised to be saved. When was Abraham counted as righteous? Before or after circumcision? Before circumcision. Circumcision came in Genesis 17. That means that Abraham’s righteous status had nothing to do with circumcision or obeying the law. Abraham was already righteous before he was circumcised and knew anything about the law. Abraham was counted righteous not because he tried hard but because he believed God’s words. Do you see Paul’s point? God saved Abraham not because of circumcision or obedience to the law but because of faith.
So, the question is, how does one become a son of Abraham? Galatians 3:7 – Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. Paul is clear. It is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. It is not those who were born as Jews who are sons of Abraham. It is not those who are circumcised and obey the law of Moses who are sons of Abraham. It is those who put their faith in God who are sons of Abraham. If Abraham was justified by faith, then his children must be justified by faith as well. It means that we will never become children of God by what we do, but by what we believe. It does not matter who we are. We might be Jews, Asians, Latinos, Caucasians, Africans, anyone can become a son of Abraham when they put their faith in Jesus. And this is not something new in the New Testament. Paul tells us that this has been God’s plan from the very beginning.
Galatians 3:8-9 – 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. Listen. The gospel is not God’s plan B; the gospel is God’s plan A. God did not change his plan of salvation. God had preached the gospel to Abraham when God promised that all the nations shall be blessed in him. Through Abraham’s offspring, all the nations would receive the blessing of Abraham. What is the blessing of Abraham? It is the blessing of justification. It is a blessing that people would be declared righteous by God on the basis of faith and not works. The blessing of Abraham is the gospel. Justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone has always been the very heart of God’s plan for the salvation of sinners. So, this is Paul’s argument. If we want the same blessing Abraham received, we have to receive it the same way. Abraham was not justified because of circumcision. Abraham was justified because of faith. That means we do not have to be circumcised to be justified before God. We do not have to keep the law. We do not have to do anything. We only need to believe. It is those who believe in Jesus who receive the blessing of Abraham.
Let me close with this. If you feel uncomfortable at the thought of salvation by grace through faith alone, you are not alone. Some of you might be saying, “Yos, you have no idea what I’ve done. You have no idea how much of a wreck I am. I am a very sinful person. Surely, there must be something I can do to contribute to my salvation. Surely, I must do something to make me more acceptable in God’s sight.” I get you. I feel the same way. It is much easier for me to do than to be. It is easy for me to feel like God loves me when I’m nailing it. When I am preaching well, leading well, doing all I am supposed to do well, I feel like God loves me more. I know that’s not true, but that’s how I often feel. The opposite is also true. If I am not doing well, if I am not as disciplined, if I mess up a lot, I feel like God loves me less. And it is now up to me to make it work. I need to try harder and do more so that I can have God’s approval. The thought of doing nothing but rest in the gospel makes me feel uneasy. How many of you know what I am talking about? Do you know what Paul would have said to us? “O foolish ROCK Sydney.” We are just like the foolish Galatians, aren’t we? We have the tendency to move on from the gospel and start basing our acceptance before God based on our performance. We try to earn what we have been freely given.
And here is what Galatians is preaching to us. Stop looking at how you measure up and don’t measure up, but rather turn your eyes on Jesus who measures up fully. Because that’s the gospel. There is no such thing as a free lunch, yes. But the gospel is not free. The gospel is extremely costly for Jesus. The only reason it is free for us is because we can’t afford it. Only Jesus can and that’s why he paid the bill for us. He cried out on the cross “It is finished” to let us know that the bill had been paid in full. The moment we put our faith in Jesus, we don’t owe a cent to God. And not only do we owe God nothing, but Jesus’ infinite bank account is transferred into our account. So that we are counted righteous by our faith in him. This is the greatest news in the universe. As long as we are still looking at us, how we measure up and don’t measure up, we won’t go anywhere. We are trapped in guilt and shame. But the more we look to Jesus and his perfect work at the cross, the more we rejoice in Jesus as the author and finisher of our faith, the more we are empowered to grow as Christians. There is no other way. Only the gospel justified and sanctified the people of God. The way we grow as Christians is the same way we become Christians. We never walk away from the gospel. We never can, and we never need to. The gospel is the power of God for salvation. Let’s pray.
- What struck you the most from the sermon?
- How do you “portray” Christ to yourself? Could you do this more?
- Explain the heart of the problem with the Galatians. Can you see yourself repeating the same mistake?
- What does it mean to be counted as righteous? How does it change the way you see Christian life?
- How does the gospel empower us to grow as Christians?