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"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources
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"Not by Works, But Through Faith" -- Galatians 2:15-21

The Third in a Series of Sermons on the Book of Galatians

Paul opens his letter to the churches of Galatia by taking direct aim at the false gospel which those identified as Judaizers were preaching to the Galatians–and which many Galatians were embracing!  The Apostle exposes the deceitful tactics the Judaizers used to infiltrate the Galatian churches spying on the liberty which Christians enjoyed.  In response, Paul lays out the specifics of the gospel revealed to him by Jesus Christ–a gospel not of works, but of faith in Jesus.

No doubt, Paul was angry when he wrote Galatians.  During his second missionary journey, Paul traveled throughout the region of Galatia, preaching Christ crucified–publicly placarding Christ (Galatians 3:1) to all who would listen.  God graciously granted Paul the privilege of seeing many Gentiles converted from paganism to faith in Jesus, the Son of God.  Many Jews who lived in the region also came to believe that Jesus Christ was Israel’s Messiah as promised throughout the Old Testament.  They too embraced the same Savior the Gentiles had through faith.  It was not long after Paul left the region that a group of false teachers, known to us as Judaizers, infiltrated these churches, undermining Paul’s authority and distorting the gospel which he had just preached to them.  The so-called gospel these Judaizers were proclaiming was a different gospel from that preached by Paul, which was, in reality, no gospel at all.

The Judaizers were a group of Jews who apparently converted to Christianity once convinced that Jesus was Israel’s Messiah.  But as zealous Jews, and fully committed to the law of Moses, they were not eager to see the ways of their fathers overturned.  In addition to faith in Jesus Christ, they contended, Gentile converts to Christianity must also submit to circumcision and keep elements of the ceremonial law in order to be justified, just as they were doing.  Paul describes how these Judaizers deceptively entered into the Galatian churches by spying on the liberty that the Gentile Christians were enjoying.  They had even been able to pressure Peter and Barnabas into withdrawing from Gentile believers who did not keep ceremonial aspects of the Mosaic Law such as the dietary laws.  

In chapter 2:11-14 of this epistle, Paul recounts how he was forced to confront Peter to his face in Antioch, since Peter was hypocritically living as a Gentile–Peter had acquired a taste for pork chops and honey-baked ham–but after a visit from a group of Judaizers, Peter began insisting that Gentile converts keep the dietary laws that he had given up keeping.  “Do as I say, not as I do,” became Peter’s motto, a reaction arising from his fear of the Judaizers.  As Paul saw it, Peter’s actions compromised the gospel, since the gospel has nothing to do whatsoever with human merit, circumcision, and the obedience to the law of Moses, but is instead based upon the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In verses 15-16 of Galatians 2, we come to the very heart of Paul’s argument he will use throughout the rest of the letter.  The apostle defines the gospel as a doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone, on account of Christ alone.  Paul writes, “we ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.”  Verse 16 has been correctly identified as “the doctrine of justification in a nutshell.”  This is one of the clearest definitions in all of Scripture regarding the doctrine of justification, that is, of how we as sinners obtain a “right standing” before God. 

To read the rest of this sermon: Click Here

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