Monday, December 21, 2009

Bible Study - Book of Galatians

The Book of Ephesians is a positive statement on the doctrines and practices of a believer. This book of Galatians is a correction to the distortions of the doctrine of the gospel. This book is one of the earlier, if not the earliest, of Paul's letters. There were challenges to Paul's authority and his messages since he was not one of the Jesus' original 12 disciples.

The Gospel message is simply God's acceptance of man through faith in Jesus Christ's atonement. That is all and no more is needed on man's part. 

Yet man are very uncomfortable with the simple grace of by faith alone.

Firstly, Man's pride find it too ridiculous to accept. There must be something else I must do to 'earn' or 'justify' my salvation. There must be some effort on my part to gain my salvation. He felt the formula for salvation must be Faith-in-Christ + Good-Work of the Law.

True Gospel of Grace = Faith in Christ

Distorted Gospel = Faith in Christ + Work of the Law

[Generalized Form] Distorted Gospel = Faith in Christ + any extra

The most obvious sign of the work of the Law is by circumcision of the flesh and hence the early believers are asked to follow the past Jewish practices.

Any extra could be baptism, holy living, observing quiet time, prayers, etc. It is not that baptism, holy living etc are not important. It is that such activities are not the pre-requisites of salvation (or acceptance by God) and they should be the consequences of salvation. Baptism is a public proclaim of one's belief in Jesus Christ. Holy living naturally follows when one is truly associated with Christ as John explained in 1 John 1:6-7, the one with the light does not walk in darkness.

Secondly, if grace alone is sufficient and following the laws is done away, will it not encourage man to sin?  Is the Gospel of Grace a license to sin?

I struggled with this for a year or two. True acceptance of the Gospel of Grace will produce good work beyond the requirement of the Law. The grace of love exceeds the 'shall not do harm' requirements of the Law. The methods are different. Before salvation, we try to be good through our own effort. After salvation, we learn (it is a process of growth) to follow after the new identity created by the Holy Spirit, to live out the new nature within, and will new-naturally leads to fruit of the spirit. If we are still following after the old-nature, then we are most likely not salved or ignorant of the true meaning of salvation.

Thirdly, does the Gospel of Grace do away with man doing good work?
This is answered in Eph 2:8-10 - We are saved for good work. In Galatians, we are to bear the good fruit of the Spirit in Gal 5:22-24. In fact, it is the grace of God that enables us to bear the good fruit or good work. Let's study Galatians carefully.

The first part of Galatians, Chapter 1 to 4,  Paul first established the source of his gospel, the authority, and the validation with the other Apostles like Peter and leaders in Jerusalem. He explained the purpose of the Law is to guide and show us the need for Christ. Chapter 5-6 shows us how to live out the new creation nature.

Key Themes
  1. Paul's apostleship - message was directly from Jesus Christ and validated with the other apostles and leaders.
  2. The just shall live by faith in Jesus' completed work
  3. Christ's Atonement is Sufficient - No need to add any more work of law to it
  4. Circumcision is of the Heart and not of the flesh.
  5. The Right Living - A Journey of Faith
    The Life I now live, I live by faith in Christ Jesus, who love me and gave Himself for me.
  6. Right Life produces the right kind of fruit.
    • don't worry if we forget the law
    • the new nature exceeds the standards of law
    • follow the new nature of the spirit and you will shine forth with God's glory
The Outlines
  1. Gal 1 Paul's True Gospel & His Life
  2. Gal 2 Validation of Paul's Gospel
  3. Gal 3 Faith Alone - Not work of Law 
  4. Gal 4 Son vs Slave
  5. Gal 5 Freedom & Fruit
  6. Gal 6 New Creation Living 
Next ---Galatians 1 Paul's True Gospel and His Life Testim...

    1 comment:

    Anonymous said...

    nice post. thanks.