A Defense of the Gospel of Salvation by Faith in Jesus: The Christian Life of Freedom

Sunday Sermon Series Galatians

Galatians 5:1-16

In most of Paul’s letters, the first part is about how we should believe and who we are, but the second half is more about how we should live and what we ought to do because of the truths in the first half.

The Christian life is freedom, not bondage. This freedom must be guarded so that we do not slide back into bondage (Galatians 5:1). … Some people think becoming a Christian is restricting. They think there’s no more partying and no more fun, but the Bible tells us differently. The Christian life is one free from the slavery of sin. There are two ditches that Christians might veer into on their walk with Christ:

There are two threats to Christian freedom:

  1. Legalism: The danger of returning to the bondage to the law (Galatians 5:2-12). … This ditch is a danger to long-term Christians and those with conservative beliefs. Here’s four signs that  you might be a legalist.

    1. If your Christian life is based more on rituals than a relationship with Christ, you might be a legalist. … That’s not to say rituals are bad--baptism and Lord’s Supper, among others are important--but if you’re Christian life is mainly focused on rituals, that is a dangerous path.

    2. If you known for what you are against instead of what you are for, you might be a legalist … Legalism focuses on what we are against and tends to forget to tell the world what we are for, for grace, love, forgiveness, and salvation of all mankind.

    3. If you focus on minor issues instead of faith and love, you might be a legalist. … Faith and love are the big things we should focus on.

    4. If you are quarrelsome and divisive, you might be a legalist. … Sometimes we get caught up on small things and start arguments over things that are of no consequence to salvation. Paul uses some hyperbole to express how

  2. License: The danger of returning to the bondage of indulgence (Galatians 5:13). … This ditch is where the more liberal crowd has a greater chance of falling into. Some take the boundless grace that God offers and abuse it. Grace is no excuse to live in sin.

How do we stay on the road of Christian freedom and avoid these two dangers?

  1. Follow the law of love (Galatians 5:14-15). … We are to serve one another in love. … Loving someone doesn’t mean always agreeing with them or letting them get away with everything. Sometimes love is tough. Sometimes love is confronting someone in their sin.

  2. Walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). … When we veer into either ditch, it grieves the Spirit. One way to avoid grieving the Spirit is to be aware of Him. Have an awareness that the Spirit is with you and wants to keep you on the path.

A Defense of the Gospel by Faith in Jesus: Questions for Christians Who Are Turning Back

Sunday Sermon Series Galatians

Galatians 4:8-20

Once we are saved we become disciples. As disciples, we embark on a journey of discipleship. This journey is part of being saved. Sometimes people turn back to their old ways instead of continuing the journey. Paul wrote this passage for those who have turned back, which is likely all of us at some point.

Are you faithfully following Christ with Perseverance? The Galatians were on the verge of turning back, and it broke Paul’s heart. In this passage he shares a passionate plea with these churches. He asks them a series of questions:

  • Why would you turn back? Do you wish to be enslaved to sin and wors-religion all over again? (Galatians 4:8-11) … Salvation brings freedom from sin. Why go back? Salvation brings freedom from the old law, which some had added as a requirement from salvation. Why go back to having to keep all the laws and ceremonies? Paul seems to fear that some of them aren’t actually saved. They had likely professed their faith, but not everyone who makes a declaration of faith does it in sincerity, and those who didn’t do it with an honest intention, are not saved.

  • Where is your joy? Where is your blessing of me now? Have I become your enemy by telling you the truth? (Galatians 4:12-18). … When Paul went to Galatia, it sounds like he may have had some type of illness that made him not a pleasant sight to behold. As a result he stayed there longer and had more time to spend with them. They treated him well and took care of him. However, as he writes this letter, there is some emotional and spiritual distance between Paul and the Galatians. Pulling away from people and sermons that are speaking truth about your situation is a sign that you are turning back.

  • Paul expresses his wish for the Galatians. This is the longing of every pastor for his church members. This is God’s desire for you: O that Christ may be formed in you (Galatians 4:19-20). … Paul, and our pastors today, desire for Christ to be formed in us. This is the goal of discipleship, that Christ shines through us, that we may become like Christ.

A Defense of the Gospel of Salvation by Faith in Jesus: We Have Been Adopted by God!

Sunday Sermon Series Galatians

Galatians 3:26--4:7

The way to be adopted by God is through faith in Jesus (Galatians 3:26). … Paul makes it clear, once again, that faith alone is what is required for salvation.

The outward sign of adoption is baptism (Galatians 3:27). … What happens in the heart needs to come to the surface and be made public.

Three benefits of being adopted by God:

  1. Adoption means we have equal standing in the family of God (Galatians 3:28). … There are no divisions between us. Race, gender, culture, etc. no longer stand in the way of us getting along. We are all one family and we all have equal standing in this family.

  2. Adoption means we inherit all God’s kingdom (Galatians 3:29--4:5, 7). … By being part of the family, we are now heirs to the promises received by Abraham and his descendants. An not only to Abraham, but we are also heirs to Jesus, the one true king of all. Before we were saved, we were slaves to sin, but as we grew and became saved, we received our standing as part of the family and no longer are slaves to sin.

  3. Adoption means we have a new relationship with God (Galatians 4:6). The Spirit of Jesus allows us to call God “abba, father”. … Jesus called God “abba” in His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. “Abba” is the Hebrew equivalent of “da-da” in English. It is the intimate first name a baby calls their father. We get to be in a relationship so close to God that we can call him “abba”.

God wants to adopt you today. If you aren’t already part of His family, would you consider His invitation to join it?

A Defense of the Gospel of Salvation by Faith in Jesus:: What Is the Purpose of the Old Testament?

Sunday Sermon Series Galatians

Galatians 3:19-25

Paul has said that no one was ever saved by keeping the Old Testament law. Abraham was saved by his faith (see last week’s sermon). What then is the purpose of the Old Testament law? Why didn’t God skip the Old Covenant and go straight to the New Covenant?

  1. The law establishes us as transgressors. It exposes our sinful nature (Galatians 3:19). … The law does make us transgressors or sinners, but it does reveal us as sinners. It’s impossible to understand that we need salvation without understanding why we need salvation. The law shows us why we need salvation.

  2. The law imprisons us in our sin. It cuts off any avenue of escape (Galatians 3: 21-23). … After the law reveals us as sinners, the natural reaction is to try to do better at following the law, However, we are incapable of following the law perfectly and will always fall short. There is no way to get out from under the law on our own.

  3. The law leads us to Christ. It points us to our only hope of salvation (Galatians 3:24-25). … The law, after revealing us to be sinners and imprisoning us in sin, shows us that we need salvation and that salvation can only come through Christ.

Jesus follows this process in His conversation with the rich young ruler (Luke 18:18-22). … Jesus starts with the Old Testament law when discussing salvation with this man, possibly with the intent to make the man realize his own transgressions. However the young ruler is convinced he has kept the law to an adequate level since he was a child. Then Jesus ups the ante and tells him to sell everything and give that money to the poor. The young ruler refuses, revealing at least one sin issue that he has, that of greed. Even when we think we’ve done everything right, there’s something in our lives that makes us sinners. The law reveals that to us. Then we realize we are imprisoned by the law and it points us to Jesus.

Galatians: A Defense of the Gospel of Salvation by Faith in Jesus: Faith in Jesus Is Sufficient to Save

Sunday Sermon Series Galatians

Galatians 3:1-14

  1. Faith in Jesus was sufficient to save you (Galatians 3:1-5). … Paul reminds the people of Galatia that they were saved by faith in Jesus. Paul was there; he was the one who planted the church there and led many of them to become followers of Christ. Last week we saw one extreme in licentiousness, that grace is a ticket to do anything we want. That’s not what grace is for. This week we see the ditch on the opposite side: legalism. Those who are legalistic believe that works are more important than faith in salvation, that keeping the law is required for salvation.

  2. Faith in Jesus was sufficient to save people in the Old Testament (Galatians 3:6-9). … Paul, writing to people who have started to think the law is what saves them, points out that even Old Testament characters, the fathers of the Jewish faith, were saved by faith. Abraham was saved because he had faith in God (Genesis 15), which occurred before circumcision (Genesis 17).

  3. Works are not sufficient to save because you would have to continually do everything written in the law (Galatians 3:10-14). … If you’re going to make up for everything you’ve done wrong, then you need to do everything in the law all the time. If you slip up just once, you have failed. We are all cursed because none of us are capable of keeping the entire law for our whole lives.
    Christ redeemed us from the law by becoming a sacrifice for us! He took our curse and gave us His righteousness and the Holy Spirit. All we have to do is accept this trade, this offer, this gift by faith.

Galatians A Defense of the Gospel of Salvation by Faith in Jesus: Faith in Jesus is the Only Way to Be Right with God

Sunday Sermon Series Galatians

Galatians 2:16-21

We are all guilty of sin. We are all under the condemnation of a just God. How does a person move from condemnation to justification? How does a person become right with God?

“A person is not justified by works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ” (Galatians 2:16). … This is the verse that best sums up the book of Galatians. Paul tells us three times that we are saved by faith in Jesus and not by works or by the law.







Not Guilty

What goes in the blank?

  • Works? All other major religions tell us we have to do something to achieve righteousness/Nirvana/Paradise/Heaven, but Christianity is the only one that has God doing the work. In all other religions its humankind reaching up to God, but Christianity is God reaching down to humankind.

  • Faith? Only Christianity tells us that all we need is faith to be right with God.

  • Works + Faith? Cults tend to add works as a requirement alongside faith, but that taints the Gospel and the news that was good is no longer good when works are also required. Rather, as Christianity teaches, works are the result of faith.

If salvation is a free gift received by faith alone, does this encourage sin? (Galatians 2:17-18) … Paul either anticipated this question or had already been asked it and addressed it. Keep reading.

No, because when we believe Jesus, we are reborn. We die to our old life and now Jesus lives in us (Galatians 2:19-20). … When we receive the gift of salvation through faith, we are joined with Jesus and spiritually take part in the crucifixion. This experience of being reborn has the power to completely change a life.

In Galatians 2:21 Paul states that if there were other ways to obtain righteousness and salvation than Jesus died for nothing. There is no other way. Rituals don’t please God. Works don’t please God. Self-suffering doesn’t please God.

Throughout the history of the church, we have had to keep coming back to the truths in Galatians, that salvation is by faith alone. In fact, this is how the Reformation started. A young monk named Martin Luther tried to do whatever he could think of to be right with God, but he sensed none of it working. Eventually he was assigned to be a Bible teacher and as he studied and taught more he began to realize some truths that the church had strayed from, including salvation is by faith in Christ alone. He posted his findings hoping to start productive conversations and it led to the reformation, producing the protestant churches many of us worship at today. If you don’t know much about the reformation, I encourage to look it up because it is a major part of church history.

Galatians: A Defense of the Gospel of Salvation by Faith in Jesus: How Do We Know the Gospel Is True? Paul Defends His Apostleship

Sunday Sermon Series Galatians

Galatians 1:11-2:14

This letter is about defending the Gospel, but before Paul can defend the Gospel, he must first defend himself and his apostleship. What does this have to do with us and why is Paul’s credibility important even today? Paul wrote much of the New Testament and his teaching have been important to Christians ever since he wrote them down. If Paul’s credibility is no good, then neither are his teachings. He understood this and defended himself as an apostle.

  1. Paul’s apostleship came by revelation from Jesus (Galatians 1:11-24). … Paul, who was originally Saul, persecuted Christians before his conversion. Then Jesus appeared to him on the road and called Paul to serve Him. Paul’s apostleship wasn’t simply granTed by some man or woman. He had a miraculous meeting with Jesus.

  2. Paul’s apostleship was affirmed by the leaders of the twelve apostles (Galatians 2:1-10). … The apostles recognized that Paul was an apostle like them and was called by Christ like they were.

  3. Paul’s apostleship was asserted in a confrontation with Peter (Galatians 2:11-14). … Peter, also called Cephus, feared some of the Jewish believers who thought every believer should be circumcised and started to draw away from the uncircumcised gentiles. Peter already knew God didn’t show favoritism between circumcised and uncircumcised, but still withdrew fellowship from the gentiles and comprised his faith because of peer pressure. Others noticed Peter doing this and followed suit. Paul also noticed and rebuked the leader, Peter.

Questions to consider:

  • Do you accept the whole Bible as God’s revelation to you through the apostles?

  • Will you listen to God’s call in your life? Is He calling you to salvation? To a ministry Assignment?

  • Is there an area of compromise in your life due to the pressure of other people?

Galatians: A Defense of the Gospel of Salvation by Faith in Jesus: Don’t Desert the One True Gospel

Sunday Sermon Series Galatians

Galatians 1:1-10

This week we start a series of sermon going through the book of Galatians. It’s going to take a while to get through it, but the goal is to know what Galatians is about by the end of this series. That way we know where to look when we struggle with something that relates to it. Galatians is primarily “a defense of the Gospel of salvation by faith in Jesus” as the title suggests. The background for Galatians comes from Acts 13-15 and is in modern day Turkey. Certain teachers were instricting believers among the gentiles that they must also be circumcised to be saved. Paul didn’t like this because it added a required work to the free gift of salvation, which is obtained by faith alone.

Paul opens the letter defending his own apostleship, which gives him more authority on the subject in the letter. Then he states who the letter is for and greets them with a summarisation of the Gospel. The next part is typically where the thanksgiving goes, but Paul foregoes that here because he is apparently ticked off. He jumps straight into the issue.

“I 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--which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the Gospel” (Galatians 1:6-7).

Paul expresses his astonishment at how quickly the people have turned from what he had taught them. Scholars believe that this letter was written just a year after Paul was at the church he’s writing to. It took only a short time for them to be led astray by false teachers, and Paul has to write to them in an attempt to turn them back.

Paul really finds the perversion of the Gospel to be a truly horrible thing. He says that they shouldn’t listen to anyone who preaches a different gospel, even if it is him or an angel, going so as far as saying to let them be damned to Hell. Sometimes people change the gospel to please people; however, we aren’t here to please people; we’re here to please God. Changing the Gospel does not please God.

Questions to consider:

  • Have you embraced the Gospel of salvation by faith in Jesus?

  • In what direction is your life trending?

  • Are you allowing anyone to lead you astray?

  • Do you have friends or relatives who are trending away from the Gospel for whom you need to pray? (James 5:19-20)

For Such a Time as This

Sunday Sermon

Esther 1-7

Context: Esther’s story begins in 483 BC. Esther is part of a large Jewish community that has remained in Persia (modern day Iran), where God had sent them into exile. In 536 BC the Persian king, Cyrus, said the Jews could return to their homeland and rebuild the temple. A large group returned the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah. But there was a group of Jewish people remained in Persia and didn’t go with Ezra and Nehemiah. The group that remained in Persia was sometimes looked down on by the Jews who returned to Israel. They were looked down upon because they were considered too worldly.

In Esther the king throws a massive party to celebrate himself. When he summoned the queen to come to the party wearing only her crown, she refused. This greatly embarrassed the king and would set a terrible precedent in the eyes of all the men of Persia. So Queen Vashti was kicked to the curb and the king held a long search for a new queen. Esther was one of the young women that was taken to the king as a possible queen. She was apparently extremely beautiful. She had been living with her cousin Mordecai as his daughter until then. She was chosen as the new queen.

Haman was an adviser to the king and had an agenda to get rid of the Jews. There was a decree that everyone had to bow to Haman. Well, Mordecai refused to. Mordecai learned of Haman’s plan to rid Persia of the Jews requests Esther’s help since she is the queen. Esther hosts a dinner with Haman and the king. Haman thought he was really doing well to be eating with the king and queen and Esther asked them back the next night.

When Haman was walking home, he saw Mordecai and grew angry and ordered a gallows to be set up for him tomorrow. That same night the king had trouble sleeping and had some past events read to him. One of those events was when Mordecai had saved the king’s life. The king had never done anything to thank him though. Haman walked in and the king asked him what he would do for someone who deserved the highest praise. Haman assumed the king meant Haman, so he suggested a grand parade.

The king told him to put together the parade for Mordecai. After the parade, Esther hosted that second dinner and revealed Haman’s evil plot against the jews and the fact that she was a Jew. The next day, Haman is on the gallows instead of Mordecai.

Four big ideas for a new year:

  1. God is able to use ‘Mordecais’ and ‘Esthers.’ … What matters in the Kingdom of God is your surrender and availability to the King. Mordecai and Esther were normal people who simply were willing to be part of God’s plan.

  2. God is always at work in your life. … God is weaving the stories of His people for His Redemptive Plan. God’s name is never mentioned in the book of Esther, but His fingerprints are all over it. There’s just too many coincidences for it not to be a plan.

  3. You can’t hold on to this life, so risk it all for the Gospel. … “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” --John Elliott

  4. The need is urgent. Our time is short. … Just like Esther could not ignore the life and death reality, neither can we.

We’re in the same moment as Esther--we’re in a divinely orchestrated moment, with life or death implications. We’ve been placed here for “just such a time as this.”

How are you going to respond in 2019?

The the Christmas Story Teaches Us about God: God Saves Us

Sunday Sermon Series What the Christmas Story Tells Us about God Christmas

The main theme of the whole Bible is God’s intention to save us. The Christmas story reveals some things about God’s salvation that we did not clearly see before then.

  1. Christmas reveals the nature of God’s salvation:
    God saves us from our sins (Matthew 1:20-21; John 3:17-18). … The very name of Jesus means “God saves”. The angel tells Joseph to name the baby Jesus to show the character of God. The angel also told Joseph whose sins the people needed to be saved from: their own, not their oppressor’s sins. Our biggest problem is ourselves. My biggest problem is me and your biggest problem is you. Our sins, not others’, are what condemn us to Hell, but Christ came to save us from our own sins so that we may have a way into to Heaven.

  2. Christmas reveals the method of God’s salvation:
    God saves us through His Son (1 John 4:14; Matthew 20:28). … It was possible to keep the law and make it to Heaven before. God tried to reach the world through the Israelites. They failed Him over and over again. Eventually God decided to go Himself, to send His Son. They used to teach “reach, throw, row, and go” in lifeguard classes. The first option to reach in and help is the safest but isn’t always possible. The last one, going out to the person who needs help, is the most dangerous and can result in the deaths of both the original person in need and the one who went to help. God sent His Son knowing that He would have to die to save us all.

  3. Christmas reveals the scope of God’s salvation:
    God extends His off of salvation to the whole world (Luke 2:10-11, 29-32; John 4:42). … Luke emphasizes in his Gospel that Jesus is the savior for all, not just the Jews. Jesus is the Savior of the World, not just the savior of the Jews or the savior of my family or your family. He is the Savior of the World. What this means for us is that the best gift we can give to others is our testimony in Christ and the offer of salvation through Christ.