No Other Gospel | An Introduction to the Book of Galatians
Topic: Faith, Saving Faith, Effectual Calling, False Faith, Curiosity Scripture: Galatians 1:1–2:21
Regarding Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians John MacArthur writes, “The book of Galatians has been conferred with such titles as the Magna Carta of spiritual liberty, the battle cry of the Reformation, and the Christian’s declaration of independence. It is clearly the Holy Spirit’s charter of spiritual freedom for those who have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.”
Though Galatians has been conferred with such complementary titles, it might not be immediately apparent to the reader since much of it takes the form of defense from the Apostle Paul of his apostolic office. It was not Paul’s policy to be defensive but on certain occasions, he deemed it necessary to mount a case for himself and his ministry as an apostle of Christ. In the case of the Galatian church, Paul’s life and ministry had come under attack by those who would supplant his role as the spiritual guide of the people of that congregation. These people were some of the same, apparently, that Paul had faced before. This was a group that had arisen or arrived at the Galatians church after Paul had left. They had been quite successful at convincing the church to question Paul’s teaching in favor of their brand of the faith. Historically speaking, these teachers were a group of quasi Christians who were convinced that to be righteous before God a person must not only convert to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord but also convert to Judaism. Because of this belief, they have been called “Judaizers.” Although there are some today like Seventh Day Adventism, Black Hebrew Israelism, and some Messianic Jewish Christians who might fall into this group today, the heart of the issue was how to obtain righteousness before God and how that works out practically in the worship and life of the believer.
These false teachers were so adamant to win over these young Christians they sought to dislodge the Apostle Paul’s apostolic influence upon them. The devil knows that to stop the message he must stop the messenger. As always, so now with Paul, Satan attacks the apostle’s person, position, and preaching.
Paul was ready to defend himself, if need be, to defend himself, his ministry, and his message, not because he was argumentative or because he desired prestige or power. Paul defends himself because he sought to protect the message - the gospel of Jesus Christ. The message, not the messenger, is always the real target. Paul knew this. He knew that if he allowed himself to be discredited he would be allowing the gospel of grace to suffer a blow and possibly the ruin of the Galatian congregation.
This is why much of Galatians takes the form of a defense of the ministry and office and message of the Apostle Paul. Even today there are rogue teachers who fight against the Apostle Paul over two thousand years later because they know that he stands in the way for them to demolish the gospel of Jesus Christ itself. This is real spiritual warfare and we must be ready to stand against the lies of the enemy as soon as we see it seeking to gain a hearing in the congregation.
Let’s use our time this morning to acquaint ourselves with this grand letter. Let’s hear and feel the Apostle’s passion and zeal for the purity of the gospel and be transformed by the power of salvation by grace through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. Let us soak in the self-renouncing teaching of free grace through repentance and faith in Jesus. And with it, let us deny all confidence in the flesh to keep the law of God for justification before Him. And with our abandonment of self-confidence let us not turn to a sinful life of mocking our Savior’s death but give ourselves to higher righteousness than that of law-keeping. Let us walk in the Spirit keeping the commandments of Christ which far exceed any form of ceremonial legalism. Let us trust the righteousness of Christ reckoned to us by faith in His death and ministered to us through His Holy Spirit.
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