“To succeed in this world, we learn to rely on our strengths. Why is that so foolish, however, when it comes to our spiritual lives?”
- Galatians 3:1-14 – Personal experience and Scripture testify salvation is not by works.
- Genesis 12:1-3 – God’s promise to Abraham was based on what God alone would do.
Key Points and Questions:
1. Remembering Our Story: To help the Galatians see the foolishness of trying to do something to earn their salvation, Paul reminds them of their experience when they first came to faith in Christ. It all started when the gospel came to them. They had done nothing to earn it. God had sent Paul to share the good news of what Jesus had done for them and they had simply accepted it. What would make them think that now they had to do something?
A. Paul says Jesus was “publicly portrayed as crucified” before the Galatians? How did this happen? Were they in Jerusalem when Jesus died? What can we learn from this?
B. The Galatians had made a good start, but had lost their way. Why do humans fall so easily into the trap of relying on their own behavior for salvation? Can we do anything to avoid making this mistake?
2. The Testimony of Scripture: After trying to show the Galatians from their own experience that salvation can only be based on what God does for us and not our own behavior, Paul turns his attention to the testimony of “Scripture” on this issue. After briefly mentioning the story of Abraham, Paul quotes bits and pieces from four Old Testament passages to make his point.
A. Why are decisions by church councils and personal experience not sufficient for proving Paul’s point? Why does he ultimately appeal to Scripture?
B. Many people equate salvation by faith with the New Testament and salvation by works with the Old Testament. Why is this a mistake? What do these passages teach us?
3. Redemption in Christ: Paul introduces two additional metaphors of salvation in Galatians 3:1-14. The first metaphor is drawn from the world of business and accounting. Paul says that Christ’s “counts” or “reckons” his followers as “just” on the basis of what He did for them. Secondly, Paul says that Christ redeemed us. The word redemption was primarily a secular term that referred to the release of a slave.
A. What is it that Christians have been redeemed from? See Heb 2:14-15; 1 Cor 15:56-57; Rom 3:24; Rom 6:22; and Gal 3:13.
B. What metaphors would you use to explain the gospel to a person who did not have a Christian background?