Sermon notes: Galatians Number 4...

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NOTE: This is number 4 in a series on Galatians. If this is your first time reading sermon notes here, please take time to read a helpful explanation at the bottom of this post.

"What must we do, then, seeing that we are truly dead in our trespasses and sins?

We must turn away from, we must forsake, all self-help schemes, whether they are found in education, psychology, Dr. Phil or Dr. Laura, or the more natural ones of marriage and family, and work. If we are a content wife or happy mother or devoted husband, we are still dead in our trespasses and sins—only slightly happier than the next corpse. This is not to disparage the joys and blessings of marriage and family life, but only to recognize that one can go to hell after a good marriage as well as one can go to hell after a bad one."

From the Pulpit of Church of the Good Shepherd (now Clearnote Church, Bloomington)

November 16, 2003; AM

Galatians Series No. 4

Who Gave Himself for Our Sins

Sermon Text: Galatians 1:1-5 

This Lord’s Day, we turn to our fourth in a series of sermons on the New Testament book of Galatians...

And for this, our fourth week, we will again read the introduction to this book, verses one through five.

* Galatians 1:1-5 This is the Word of God, eternally true.

Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead), 2 and all the brethren 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 so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen.” Galatians 1:1-5, NAS95.

We saw last week that these two words, ‘grace’ and ‘peace,’ contain all the Gospel. As Martin Luther, the great leader of the Reformation, said:

“…these two words (grace and peace)…comprehend in them whatsoever belongeth to Christianity. Grace releaseth sin, and peace maketh the conscience quiet. The two fiends that torment us are sin and conscience. But Christ hath vanquished these two monsters, and trodden them under foot, both in this world and the world to come (p. 40).

Here at this point, though, we might ask the questions, “If, as Luther claims, ‘Grace releases sin and peace makes the conscience quiet,’ how does this happen?”

Who would or could do this work; and how and why?

First Question: Who does this work?

Second Question: How is the work done?

Third Question: Why is the work done?

First, then, “Who does this work?”

This work is done by, verse 3:

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ…

Now this is no shock; long ago women and men of wisdom realized that grace and peace don’t come from man’s political schemes, from the civil courts, from a good education, or from psychotherapy; each of these things can help to restrain evil—and may, at times, cause there to be a brief period of relief from particularly acute pain—but none of them has ever given birth to anything close to a permanent state of “grace and peace.”

Not true grace; not real peace; not sustained over time.

Rather these divine blessings come from God; they are His good gifts. And when He gives them, they remain with us forever; we neither hunger nor thirst again, because we have drunk the living water, we have eaten the bread of life.

But in giving these gifts, God the Father works as a Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Notice how God the Father and God the Son are linked here in our passage:

“Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

The Apostle Paul does not separate the two, but shows them two Persons but One God.

And all through his letters we see this same theme—that God the Father and Jesus Christ His Only Begotten Son are joined together, as One, in the work of salvation. In fact, so closely intermingled is their work that, again and again, we see their Names used interchangeably in describing this work.

Note, for instance, how in the book of Galatians the Father and Son are both spoken of as the source of grace:

I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”” Galatians 2:21, NAS95.

“But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased” Galatians 1:15, NAS95.

“I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel;” Galatians 1:6, NAS95.

Similarly, note how in Paul’s other letters the Father and Son are both spoken of as the source of peace:

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7, NAS95.

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” Colossians 3:15, NAS95.

Here in our passage of Scripture, this morning, we see that the Apostle Paul addresses the Father and Son together in requesting grace and peace for the Galatian Christians:

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,” Galatians 1:3, NAS95.

Showing the unity of the Trinity, we have a similar joining of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit in 2Corinthians where the Apostle Paul writes:

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:14, NAS95.

Jesus is not a man, not even a good, very good, or great man; and certainly not simply a prophet—though He is all that.

Rather, Jesus is God Almighty, and this has been the confession of Christians down through the ages. So when Christians speak of God and Jesus in the same breath; when we confess, together, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth; and in Jesus Christ His Only Begotten Son, our Lord…” we are not making this up. Rather, we are confessing the same faith that those who wrote the New Testament confessed when they wrote, as here the Apostle Paul writes, verse 3:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,

So this is the answer to our first question, “Who does the work of blessing us with grace and peace?”

The work is done by “God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Let us turn to our second question, then, “How is that work done?”

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen.” Galatians 1:1-5, NAS95.

The work of blessing man with grace and peace is done by Jesus Christ giving “Himself for our sins.” And again, this is a theme frequent throughout Scripture, from the Old Testament to the New, from the first books of the New Testament, the Gospels, through the last book of the New Testament, Revelation.

When we ask how we receive grace and peace from God the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ, we find the same answer again and again; Jesus bore our sins on the Cross so that we might be saved from them. He lived a perfect life, as obedient to the will of His Father as we are disobedient, and then despite deserving nothing but endless rewards from His Father’s hand for that perfect obedience, He went to the Cross paying the penalty we deserved for our rebellion so that we might go free.

So many times in so many places the Bible repeats this truth:

““I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Galatians 2:20, NAS95.

“and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” Ephesians 5:2, NAS95.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,” Ephesians 5:25, NAS95.

“(Jesus) gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.” 1 Timothy 2:6, NAS95.

“(He, Jesus) gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.” Titus 2:14, NAS95.

And His Father participated in this work, being the One Who gave His Son to the work in the first place:

He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.” Romans 4:25, NAS95.

“He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32, NAS95.

So Jesus Himself reported this about His Own work:

(Jesus said) For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”” Mark 10:45, NAS95.

And do we find this same theme, this same teaching about the nature and purpose of Jesus’ work here on earth and what it was meant to accomplish, in the Old Testament?

Yes:

“But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.” Isaiah 53:5, 6, NAS95.

“Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.” Isaiah 53:12, NAS95.

Are you a soul that lives in fear of the guilt of your conscience, and therefore the Judgement Seat of God? Have you seen your sin and come to the realization that inside of you dwells no good thing, but only deception, greed, envy, pride, laziness, endless rebellion against the character and law of God?

Do you feel it, that at the end of the day you will have to admit to God that you have been a wicked and worthless servant; that although He made you for Himself, for His Own praise and glory, you have turned your back on Him and walked away. That with Adam, you have eaten of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil; that with King David, you have gazed next door, looking longingly on another man’s wife, and taken her for yourself; that with King Ahab, you have gazed next door, looking longingly on another man’s vineyard, and taken it for yourself; that with Peter, you have denied your Lord, even with curses; that with James and John, you have sought the best seats, the seats of honor, so that you could have precedence among your peers; that with Ananias and Saphira, you have lied to the Church, and therefore, to the Holy Spirit, claiming to have given a certain amount of money that you, in fact, did not give; with John Mark, quitting the work of the Lord when the going got tough and suffering appeared on the horizon; with the Apostle Peter, eating with Gentiles only until someone who disapproved of Gentiles came into the dining hall, and then switching your allegiance quickly and casting off the Gentiles for the higher status of the companionship of the Jews?

Have you found yourself, in endless ways across years and years, washing your hands of responsibility like Pontius Pilate, claiming the blood of Christ is not on your hands? Or have you seen yourself engaged directly in the death of the Son of God, with the Jewish mobs and their leaders, crying out against the Lord Jesus, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”; with the Roman soldiers, mocking and spitting on Jesus, lashing Him with the whip, shoving a crown of thorns on His head, casting lots for His clothes, nailing his hands and feet to the crossbeams and hoisting him into the air; and with the passersby and Jewish leaders, as Jesus hangs there suffocating, taunting and hurling abuse at Him,

…saying, “Ha! You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself, and come down from the cross!” In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes, were mocking Him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. Let this Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe!” Mark 15:29-32, NAS95.

Is this you? Can you recognize yourself here, not in one but in all of these sins?

Do you feel the burden of your gulty conscience and do you fear standing before the Judgement Seat of God?

You are right to feel the burden and to fear His throne, since it is God Himself Who has said “It is appointed unto man once to die, and after that the Judgement.” It is His Son, Jesus Christ, Who has said, “

Matthew 10:28 Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Right here, though, weighed down by sin and under the sentence of death, both in this life and in the life to come, you might make a terrible mistake—one all of us are forever tempted to make because it is so natural to us, it conforms so perfectly to our insatiable pride: We turn from our sin and grasp desperately at straws of human improvement thinking that our gaping wounds might be sewn up by our own hands, that we might be our own physician, nurse, and pharmacist; diagnosing, prescribing, fulfilling, and administering our own cure.

No, this is forevermore impossible. We are not sick, but terminal; or rather, we are not terminal, but dead—dead in our trespasses and sins. As the Word of God says:

1 Timothy 5:6 “6 But she who gives herself to wanton pleasure is dead even while she lives.”

Ephesians 2:1-3 “1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

What must we do, then, seeing that we are truly dead in our trespasses and sins?

We must turn away from, we must forsake, all self-help schemes, whether they are found in education, psychology, Dr. Phil or Dr. Laura, or the more natural ones of marriage and family, and work. If we are a content wife or happy mother or devoted husband, we are still dead in our trespasses and sins—only slightly happier than the next corpse. This is not to disparage the joys and blessings of marriage and family life, but only to recognize that one can go to hell after a good marriage as well as one can go to hell after a bad one.

Man—his wisdom and learning and riches and counsel—cannot heal us. We are dead in our trespasses and sins, and surrounding ourselves with many others who have found a slightly better way to live in death are no help to a dying man; he must be saved, not reassured that he’s not really lost, but only slightly befuddled.

We must turn away from, and forsake, all self-help schemes, though, that are religious; and this is the error that trumps all others for popularity across space and time.

We will never be saved by the works of our hands, even or especially religious works; the Moslem giving alms will not be saved by his gifts; the Jew obeying the Mosaic law, even the Hassidic Jew who goes across heaven and earth to avoid the least error in the face of the Law, will never be able to resuscitate his clammy corpse, but when he has done all, he is dead in his trespasses and sins; the Roman Catholic who lights her candles and pays for masses for her dead mother and grandmother, who attends Mass daily, who doesn’t stop at general absolution but continues on to the humiliating specificity of auricular confession; the Roman Catholic who makes her pilgrimage to Lourdes, or even rises to the elevated position of gaining a place in a private papal mass at St. Peter’s; or the Protestant who has appeared on the 700 Club, been slain in the Spirit by famous faith healers, spoken in tongues and felt a rush of wind lift him up to into the seventh heaven; been baptized in the Holy Spirit and given a glimpse of the 7th Heaven; the Baptist who went forward at a Billy Graham Crusade and etc.

Ephesians 2:4-10  4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

And it is standing in the long line of such verses of Scripture that John 3:16 tells us:

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16, NAS95.

The Father and Son are One and the same God doing different parts of the work of redemption: the Father sends His Son to the earth, God in human flesh, and the Son obeys His Father even to death, the death on a cross, and purchases a people who bear His name and, day by day, conform themselves to His Image.

First Question: Who is the work done by?

It’s done by God Almighty, Father and Son.

Second Question: How is that work done?

It’s done by God the Father sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to take on human flesh and live a life of perfect obedience, and then to pour out His life as a sin-offering to turn away the wrath of God from all those who put their faith in Him. Jesus bore our sins on the Cross that we migth go free from the penalty of sin and death, and might have everlasting life.

Third Question: Why is the work done; what is its purpose?

To rescue us from this evil age.

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen.” Galatians 1:3-5, NAS95.

* * *

EXPLANATION: Sermons are pastoral, and therefore of only limited value to those who are not present when a pastor feeds the flock God called him to serve. Yet, knowing even notes may be of some value to others, I'm posting past sermon notes here on Baylyblog. Because the notes weren't written for publication, no editor has cleaned them up for reproduction on the web. So, for instance, although the notes I take into the pulpit have formatting that highlights quotes, I haven't taken the time to reproduce that formatting here.

Please keep in mind these are only notes and not a transcription of the sermon that was preached. It is my commitment to depart from them, seeking freedom from the Holy Spirit to proclaim and apply God's Word to the souls under my care in a way that is helpful to them and gives all glory to God.

Bible quotes are from the New American Standard Bible (Updated '95 Edition). This is the best Bible available in the English language, having by far the closest correspondence of any English Bible in common use today between the original Hebrew and Greek and the English translation. We should all own a print Bible and it should be a two or three decade investment, so here are the NASB Bibles that will read easily and hold together best for twenty years. Their paper is opaque, their type is clean, their binding is superb, and I have no hesitation saying you would do well to spend one or two hundred dollars on one for yourself, your wife, and each of your children.

If the reader has good eyes, buy the Pitt Minion. It's very small and light and will last for decades. If the reader has fading or poor eyesight, buy the Clarion Reference. It has the larger typeface and, again, will last for decades. If the reader likes writing notes in the margin, buy the Wide-Margin Reference. It's big and heavy and you will be able to write to your heart's content.

Finally, near the beginning of each week's notes you will often notice repetition from the previous week. Each week I pick up where I left off the previous week.

May God bless you, dear brother and sister, as you study the Word of God and, only by faith, find it sweeter than honey.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!