Galatians - A Call To Freedom - 6. Gospel Completed
Galatians – A Call to Freedom 6. Gospel completed Key Text: 3:1-5 Galatians 3:1-5New International Version (NIV) Faith or Works of the Law
3 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?[a]4 Have you experienced[b] so much in vain—if it really was in vain? 5 So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?
I love how Paul starts this passage; You foolish Galatians; the Greek literally one without a mind. Basically Paul is saying; “your poor idiots”, but as we will see tonight; we miss this because we are pig headed. Sometimes we are the “poor idiots” Nice, come to church on a Sunday and be called an idiot… This passage builds on what we developed last week. Paul is putting the nail in the coffin of the thought that God wants us to believe in Jesus and the law. Essentially, we will see in this passage how we have the power to live the middle road we spoke about last week. Essentially, how do we actually live this Christian road of grace and obedience, of love and truth? To understand this we have to go back to the beginning of our transformation; just as Paul does. 1.The power of inner transformation Paul asks the obvious question is verse 2; . 2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Essentially, how are we saved? Are we saved because we are good enough for God? Or does He give us His Spirit that enables the power of faith? We have spent 5 weeks; establishing the fact that you are not saved because you obey; or because you are good enough; you are saved by faith in Jesus Christ! Now we have to stop here and go through something at this point: When you believe you receive the Spirit of God. In fact Scripture makes belief and the receiving the Spirit the same reality: 1 Cor 6:17 But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with Him in spirit. Again; Romans 8:9 You, however, are controlled not by the flesh, but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. And again; John 3:6 Flesh is born of flesh, but spirit is born of the Spirit. 7Do not be amazed that I said, ‘You must be born again.’… In other words, you have the Spirit of God because you are saved and you are saved because you have the Spirit of God. Now don’t miss this; who is the Spirit that Paul is talking about here? Is it a power force? Is it an energy? No! this is God Holy Spirit; the third person of the trinity. Christianity is the only religion that has the audacious claim that God Himself dwells within us. Not an emanation of God; not the power of God, but God Himself in the person of the Holy Spirit lives in us; empowers us and gives us the power for transformation in this Christian life! So, because I have little kids now, I have an excuse to watch old Disney movies; and the one I love is Aladdin; one of my favourite scenes in that movie is when Genie tells Aladdin about his desire to be free, and he says one the problems of being a genie is, “Infinite Cosmic power, itty bitty living space.” Well church you are the itty bitty living space with infinite Cosmic power! God himself (with all his power and resources) dwells within you! That is an incredible claim; and it is the claim of our transformation. We change not because we willed it; or because we are good people; we have an infinite source of power within us; driving the change in our lives. All of us know that you can’t tell yourself to be better; to stop a sinning, to not have that extra cookie, to stop stressing. In fact; if you are a guy and you are in a relationship and you want to make your life miserable the next time your girlfriend or wife is stressing or worried about something; grab her firmly by the shoulders had just tell her to stop! Then tell me how that goes for you… So, if the means of our transformation is the power of God, why do we think we can complete our journey through self-will? Which leads me to my next point; 2. The means of inner transformation The means of our transformation is the gospel and the Spirit’s power in our lives because of the gospel. So how do we know that this happens. How do we complete the gospel’s work in us; how do we move from trying to win our salvation to resting in him and allowing His power to change us without becoming completely apathetic and passive? Well Paul gives us this in this passage. The power of the Spirit comes into our lives and the gospel completes us when… a.The Gospel becomes real In verse 1 Paul says; You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. What does Paul mean here? None of them saw Christ being crucified; the city was many kilometres away from Jerusalem, so how did they see Christ Crucified? Well the answer is in the words that Paul uses here; he says before your very eyes Christ was portrayed as crucified. Paul is saying that he portrayed Christ as crucified the word here literally means a shown as on a bill board. Or graphically displayed. They understood the graphic reality of the cross. Their eyes saw it; or to put another way; it sunk in. it became real to them. There is a profound difference between knowing something and it sinking in; we often say it’s the differences between being taught something and catching it. It was like when Nats was pregnant with nic; I knew that I was going to be a father; but it was only when I held him that I got it; it sunk in; I was a father. This is how it is with the gospel; we either get it or we don’t; if we don’t get it we will continue to walk in the ways of the world; trying to win God’s approval through our doing or simply ignoring his reality. Andy Stanley puts it this way; if you have an encounter with God you are changed; you cannot have an encounter with a 10 ton truck moving at pace without it changing you; so how can you say you have encountered God yet you remain unchanged. So the means of our transformation, how we know we have the Spirit and therefore the power to change is that it becomes real to us. But secondly… b. The Gospel becomes everything Paul says 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?[ The final means of gospel completion of the true power of transformation is the fact that we stay in the gospel. We live in the reality of the cross. That we – as we have looked at for the last couple of week – rest in the finished work of Christ! And the way we do this is to constantly wrestle with and identify what is replacing the centrality of Christ in our life. What do I mean by this? Well (and unfortunate this is a sermon on its own), we see what owns our heart and we replace it with the love of Jesus. How do we see what owns our hearts what we have put in the place of Jesus? Well have you made this thing your idol. An idol is anything in this world that you are looking too to give you what God alone, and Jesus alone can give you. To these Galatians they were looking to their obedience to the law as their saviour rather than Jesus but to us it can be far more subtle. We can look to our girlfriend or boyfriend to complete us and save us. We can look to our career, or money, or love, or power, or our toys, new things, and cloths. If any of these things are the centre of our hope and joy. What we need to feel complete or worthy or loved, we have just replaced Jesus. He alone can fill that hole in our hearts, he alone can truly save us, He alone can give us peace and joy and security and hope. I have this struggle with my wife. You see I love my wife! However, I know that I have a tendency of making my wife more than my wife; making her my saviour. Making it that I would die without her. And in fact it was a couple of years ago when Nic was younger and Nats was getting sick with her Hyperthyroidism I remember feeling that I was loosing her. And rather than being a good husband and simply loving her through her struggle I had to save her, so I would give unloving advice and I became more and more harsh with her as she got worse which in turn made her feel worse and worse. Eventually I had to realise that I could save her; in fact I wasn’t her saviour I was her husband and she couldn’t save me. It was a powerful release, I just loved her and it was there that I believe I became free to actually just be her husband. I had made Jesus and Nats the source of my happiness and hope. It was when I return to having Christ and Christ alone as my true reward and hope and source of happiness that I could for the first time love my wife in the way she needed me to. I had put a burden on my wife that she could never bare and should never bare, she couldn’t be my hope and my source of joy. That is Christ’s. And when He became my joy and my hope I became free to love her properly. You see church, the power we have in this life to complete this gospel journey, comes only from the gospel. Your hope for change does not come from your ability to follow the rules, it comes from your satisfaction in Christ! It is when we fully satisfy ourselves in Christ that sin becomes naturally cheap to us; it seems a poor imitation of what we have in Him. Sex is wonderful in marriage, but it can’t give you worth; Christ can. Money is a great tool, but you will never feel valuable from it or the things you buy; Christ values you so much He died for you. Relationships are powerfully joyful, but they cannot save you from yourself. Christ can and has because of His death on the cross. Success is wonderful validation of hard work; but it cannot give you rest; only Christ can and He does. He calls us to lay our doing down and his feet and rest in him complete. Then by the Holy Spirit awaken rich desires within us to walk in His ways. Church the gospel starts in faith, it ends in faith and is sustained in faith. So walk, rest and be in Christ! [PRAY]