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Reformation Day 2016 Notes: Galatians 1:1-10

October 30, 2016

Teaching young men on Sundays is great. It’s an awesome experience coupled to great responsibility. Today’s Bible lesson was no exception.

First, some background info, I’m a Christian who was raised in a Baptist Church, got wet at a very young age, heard so many thou shalls and thou shall nots without ever really hearing a message about Grace. It wasn’t until after many years of being away from the “church” that I started to understand that Christian faith is a matter of heart, head, and intellect. I was baptized as a believer right after Father’s Day 2012, and reminded once again that God has set us apart beforehand, even allowing me to live through my sins and failures, no longer for grief and guilt, but as a toolbox to use to teach and reach others. The Holy Spirit’s pretty good at convicting me, always has and always will.

Before that time, I knew all the right “Sunday School” answers, but hated the idea of not being in charge of my own salvation (queue up the “free will” conversation anytime). The more I read, the more I realized I had nothing to do with my salvation except for providing the sin that made it necessary. Galatians has to be one of my favorite books in the New Testament. It’s a book that encourages me when I feel like grace isn’t enough (it is), and that when I hear a message that isn’t quite the Gospel it both saddens me and emboldens me to speak up.

Today, I had the opportunity to share my testimony with a class of young men, guys in high school who are at the awkward age of trying to be cool and smart, but who need assurance that we’re all sinners saved by grace. Even when a 48 year old guy tells them he’s one, and was just like them.

It’s also Reformation Sunday, some churches recognize it and some don’t. Today was a good day to combine a bit of church history with the Bible lesson from Galatians. I was a bit out of place in monk’s garb, while others were looking forward to the annual trunk or treat this evening at church. Was I early in costume? I had a good time fellowshipping with adults and with the class before Bible study. The costume was a good conversation starter.

Sometimes students remember the weird stuff and cool stuff, today was no exception. So after reading through the first 10 verses of Galatians 1, I learned a few things about our youth and why they will always need teachers, and why adults need teachers, and why we all need teachers and mentors. It’s awkward when asking how does the gospel of grace free us of pride and from guilt. I know it’s awkward, because it’s sometimes just as hard for me to answer it honestly, especially when I think I’ve got it all together and don’t need grace. That’s about the time I get humbled and realize it’s ok that my pride gets shaken.

Today’s notes from class aren’t just for high school guys, they’re really for me as well and for those who need the encouragement of the gospel. Church history is important, but Biblical literacy is even more important. Without it, church history becomes footnotes, and Christians fall for false doctrine and teaching. It’s why I love both history and the Bible. They really do go hand in hand, especially as we look to see why we whom claim to be Christians so often get frustrated that we can’t save ourselves.

So, with some help from Martin Luther’s “On the Freedom of a Christian”, Tim Keller’s “Galatians for You” and most importantly, from God’s Word itself, Galatians 1:1-10 (ESV) I bring you 13 points (I was about to call them Thesis) from today’s class.

  1. Paul’s tone in Galatians reminds us that the Christian faith is a matter of heart, as well as the head (feelings) and of intellect. How does this encourage us? How does it challenge us?
  2. Why does it feel so difficult to accept the authority of apostolic New Testament teaching? (I had them define apostolic, and encouraged the use of reference material to define it)
  3. How do you explain the Gospel to someone who asks you today what you believe and why?
  4. We find messages of self-salvation attractive whether they be religious (keep these rules and earn eternal blessings) or secular (grab hold of those things and you’ll experience blessings now) (also had them define “secular”). “The Gospel says it oh so differently. It says ‘You are in such a hopeless position that you need a rescue that has nothing to do with you at all…God in Jesus provides a rescue which gives you far more than any false salvation your heart may love to chase.” (Keller, Galatians for You). Why do we love to be our own saviors?
  5. Next, (yes, it may have been a lot of information for one day) I asked what is our foundational beliefs. Our principle. Had great answers: “Jesus loves me, this I know”, “Jesus”, then I asked how about “Jesus died for me”. Simple theology, leading to our core beliefs. What are they? Even from the Reformation, up to today, we stand on these five. Five Solas (explained that though they may have heard the phrases, did they really ever think about what they mean, so we went through all five, from Latin to English translation. Siri and Google worked overtime in class for them today). We believe in salvation by faith alone; that Scripture alone is the supreme authority in matters of doctrine and practice; that Christ alone is our mediator through whose work we are redeemed; that we are saved by grace alone; and that all glory is given to God alone. If they ever looked at a church mission statement, they might find similar language that comes from the Five Solas.
  6. Reiterated verses 6-10 again, asked if anything was added to the Gospel was it still the Gospel? They all agreed the answer is NO. Then read through 6-10 again, emphasizing why.
  7. How important is the Gospel truth to you? How is it shown in your life? Why will understanding the true Gospel produce anger at false gospels (and referenced Pastor Blake’s message from James 1 on Wednesday as reinforcement).
  8. Explained that some believe, either implicitly or explicitly, that we are saved through our surrender to Christ PLUS right beliefs and behavior. Asked if they could explain grace in such a context, and if not, was it a true gospel?
  9. Discussed that some believe that it doesn’t really matter what you believe, as long as you are a good and loving person. Asked if this was wrong, and why (explained that if works and tolerance were pleasing to God, then Christ didn’t need to die for us on the cross as substitution, and that grace is nowhere to be found in this false gospel either).
  10. Discussed that some churches are extremely intolerant of small differences in dress or custom (like the false teachers coming in at Galatia). The false teachers wanted to impose the Jewish rules and regulations having to do with diet, dress and ritual observances. How do we ensure the Gospel we believe is true (re-read verses 8-10).
  11. So, why does this matter? What’s wrong with preaching/teaching a gospel contrary to the one we received? (re-read verse 9). Which of the previous false gospel messages do we, could we most easily fall for? If the false gospel message is false then what does it do? (divides the church and believers).
  12. Do I ever find myself thinking I deserve God’s grace? Or I don’t? What causes us to think this way?
  13. How does the Gospel of grace free us from pride and from guilt?
  14. As a testimony, in what ways can I see how God worked in my life to equip me to serve Him after I believed? God does not free us from the consequences of our sin though we are forgiven and seen as blameless through Christ. Asked for examples of how this works. For example, a Christian, recovering addict knowing what another addict is facing, can testify their hope in Christ with a personal touch that someone else may not be able to do as effectively.
  15. Closed with grace doesn’t free us from obedience, that we obey out of love of God rather than fear of punishment. As a Christian, the phrase “God’s going to get you for that” should be looked at as one who is forgiven at the Cross. God can’t get me again, Christ already paid that price, I can’t pay back enough. Once again, we all have consequences. We’re all considered both sinners and saints simultaneously. God still loves us, if he didn’t he wouldn’t have sent His son to die a substitutionary death in our place.

 

 

class-notes

From → Gospel, Grace, Theology

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