Galatians: Journey from Law to Freedom
Summer Series taught in 2017
Gal 6:1-10 A freedom that asserts independence and self-sufficiency is not freedom at all. Rather it results in a life turned inward on self that becomes empty. Christ has set us free from a self-focused life (law) to a sacrificial life of loving service towards others (grace). The ability to care for others through the work of the Spirit is the highest form of freedom, to which we have been called (#free2live). As we conclude our studies in Galatians this week, we will examine what love looks like in action, especially in the community of faith.
Gal 5:16-25 Do you at times struggle with feeling “enslaved by religion,” the do’s and don’ts, even though your brain knows you shouldn’t? Surely there must be a different way to Christian living that would yield a life that actually “feels” freeing instead of simply “looking” free on the outside… right? Join us this Sunday as we see Paul’s roadmap to a life of being #free2live!
Gal 5:13-15 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” Freedom is its own reward! Sounds so simple doesn’t it? We all want to be free – so why aren’t we? Perhaps more importantly how can we be… Especially when everyone (including ourselves) seems intent on putting us right back into slavery?! Join us on Sunday, as we explore what True Freedom looks like and how we can live into the freedom that (in Christ!) is already ours.
Gal 4:21-31 Islam seems to be a daily topic in the media and conversations. But do we understand Islam and how we can relate to Muslims? Our study in Galatians this week centers on Abraham’s two sons, Isaac and Ishmael, and their two mothers, Sarah and Hagar. The apostle Paul presents a surprising spin on the OT story as it relates now to freedom in Christ. And because Ishmael, from whom the Arab race descends, will be a part of our study on Sunday morning, Bernard Bell will be sharing Sunday night on the topic of Islam. This is a rich opportunity to grow in our understanding of an important topic for our times.
Gal 4:8-20 Our deepest desire is to be transformed into the image of Christ rather than becoming a cardboard cutout of religious perfection. We don’t want to just talk about freedom. #free2live.
Gal 4:1-7 The story of the prodigal son in Luke 15 portrays God as a father who shows extravagant love to his two sons and desires to have an adult relationship with them, meaning a relationship based on total acceptance, free of judgment, fear, and control. Believe it or not this is the relationship that God wants to have with each of us. God wants us not only to know his love but to be the beloved, even as his Son. Galatians is a book that talks about gospel freedom as opposed to living under law. Christ sets us free from a rule-keeping, performance-based relationship with God where we try through our own efforts to gain his approval and love. But it is hard to break away from living as a slave to law. The key to the free life is knowing in our hearts, not just in our minds, that we are beloved daughters and sons of the Father. This incredible relationship comes as a total gift. Jesus redeems us from the law and the Holy Spirit allows us to address God as “Abba.” In preparation for our study this week I would encourage you to read Luke 15 and Galatians 3:25-4:7 and think through how you would describe your relationship with God.
Gal 3:15-29 Long ago God made a promise to Abraham: “In your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” Who is this seed and what is the blessing? The next passage in our summer series on Galatians (3:15-29) answers these questions. The seed is Jesus Christ. No matter what our identity, when we identify by faith with Jesus and his faithfulness even unto death, we receive the promised blessing, the gift of the Holy Spirit. We are adopted into God’s family as the true children of Abraham, the man of faith. We have a new identity: we are “in Christ,” in whom God is bringing everything together. I encourage you to read Galatians 3 and think about your identity: How do your define yourself and what marks your identity? On Sunday evening we will have a forum to consider the implications of this new identity for our understanding of Israel and the Church.
Gal 2:15 – 3:9 We continue our studies in Galatians this week in chapter 2 where Paul begins his long explanation of the Gospel so that the Galatians will not resort to living under law. He begins by explaining what the authentic Gospel really is. What we find is the Gospel is a love story written by a gracious God and centered around his son Jesus, who loved us and gave his life for us (Gal 2:20). “Gracious”, “loved” and “gave” – these three words show us that the Gospel is all gift, not to be earned, but to be received in faith. The Gospel of Freedom has nothing to do with what we do, but has everything to do with what Christ has already done. Oh, what a gift! In preparation for this Sunday, I would encourage you to read Galatians 2:15-3:9, but also Ephesians 2:8-9. A question you might ask yourself is how have you experienced the love and grace of our good, good God in your life? Feel free to post a response to #free2livepbcc.
Gal 2:1-13 Jesus ushered in a new era for the people of God, one where we are set free from rule-keeping and empowered by the Spirit to live a transformed life. But the free life is not easy to maintain. There are many factors that pull us back into slavery under the law. We can know intellectually that we are a new creation but the reality of our lives is often different. Freedom goes against our natural inclinations and default mechanisms. If we want the free life we are in for a battle. This week we continue the journey from law to freedom by looking at the apostle Paul and his battle for freedom against the early church leaders. We realize that if Paul had not taken such a firm stand on the gospel of freedom that was revealed to him by God the Christian life would still be defined by rules. In preparation for this week I would encourage you to read Galatians 1:11-2:14 and think about the question, why is it hard for you to live in freedom? You might even want to post a response to #free2livepbcc before Sunday.
Gal 1:6-9 Many people outside the church have a negative perception of organized religion. And many others who have attended church deal with negative experiences. Church is often viewed as an oppressive system of do’s and don’ts where people keep track of your progress. Tragically, people live with a distorted picture of God. In the book of Galatians, the apostle Paul dispels the myth of a rule-keeping God and calls us to life and freedom. As Paul explains the gospel through the lens of Israel’s story, we get a clear picture of God and his love for us. Christ sets us free from the bondage of law, and the Spirit empowers us so that we can become the holy and loving people of God. Sounds great, doesn’t it? But living this out isn’t always easy. This Sunday we are going embark on a journey from law to freedom. Plus, since Paul’s explanation of the gospel centers on Israel’s story and the “seed” of Abraham, we will have two evening forums to allow more in depth discussions: July 16 – Israel and the Church August 6 – Understanding Islam (Both forums will be from 7:00-8:30pm) Our hope is that God would open our minds and hearts to a deeper understanding of the gospel and a renewed relationship with God. Indeed, Jesus has set us #free2live. Bring your friends. This is exciting stuff!