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136 Stand Firm in Grace Galatians 1:10-24

Stand Firm  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Intro

Last week we began a new series called “Stand Firm.” We’re examining Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia. Paul visited Galatia, led a small group to Christ and planted a church. Unfortunately, some others came to Galatia and said, “If you want to be a real Christian, you need to...” Paul says, “Absolutely not.”
Please open to Galatians 1.
Galatians 5:1 NIV
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Paul gives a plumb line. The gospel is the good news of God saving us in spite of ourselves, not some strange mixture of his work and mine.
Paul opens his letter Grace and Peace. It’s the cause and effect of the gospel.
God, instead of giving us what we deserved, sent his Son to pay the price. The Bible says, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” That’s grace. Because of his grace, we have peace.
The effect of grace is peace. It’s a state of life - peace with God and peace with others - enjoyed by those who have effectively experienced diving grace. I don’t have to worry about eternity because Jesus has covered me. I don’t have to worry about today because Jesus has that as well.
There isn’t a story bad enough that the grace can’t redeem. There’s not a story good enough where grace isn’t needed.
Committing to stand firm in the gospel of grace
Paul pleads with the church to stand firm in the gospel of grace.
Do you want change in your life
People are attempting to twist the gospel and say that Paul isn’t really an apostle and that he hasn’t told them the complete truth. If they would only...
Galatians 1:10 NIV
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Paul is saying that he’s not a people-pleaser

Is he trying to win the approval of people? Absolutely not. His job is bring the good news of grace, not to win people’s approval.
On the other hand, is he trying to win God’s approval? Absolutely not! Jesus did that by living a perfect life and dying an innocent death. By God’s grace, my approval is bought and paid for.
If I was up here trying to add something to the gospel by telling you that you could make God happy with you if you’d just…I wouldn’t be a servant of Christ.
On the other hand, when people tell me that God is mad at them or something like that, I want to say, “have you really considered the cross?”
Once you really get the gospel, you realize there’s more. There is a certain humility in knowing that you didn’t earn salvation that provides freedom. Because of God’s grace I have freedom from the tyranny of wondering if I’ve done enough. Of course I haven’t, but Jesus has.
Paul’s purpose is the gospel. Only the gospel can bring real change. Paul has little interest in trying to impress people.
God laid it on my heart after I’d been here about a year that I was spending way too much time trying to please people. He’s given me a different job.
So to demonstrate how grace changes lives, Paul gives a brief, autobiographical sketch. He briefly tells his story not to say, look how bad I was. He tells his story to tell look how great God is.
Galatians 1:11–12 NIV
I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

The true Gospel belongs to God

Paul is saying, “We’re not playing the telephone game.” This isn’t tradition (he didn’t receive it from one of the 12), and it isn’t an invention. Paul’s message came directly from God.
The gospel Paul preaches is the yardstick that we measure everything against.
The “Gospels” are the narrative account of Jesus redemption. Paul’s letters explain their purpose and function. Both originate from Jesus.
Galatians 1:13–14 NIV
For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers.
Galatians 1:13-14

Life before Jesus.

Paul was better and worse than most. In reality, Paul represents both the best and the worst of us. What we’ll see is that his best was insufficient for salvation. His worst was insufficient to keep him from salvation.
Better? I was advancing in Judaism “religion” beyond many of my own age. If going to church and doing the right thing is how you define “good”, Paul is better than all of us. When it came to being religious, he was Michael Jordan and I’m the water boy.
Worse? I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. Paul violently attempted destroy the church. He had them arrested and gave his approval when it came time for Christians to die. Let’s call it what it is, Paul was a terrorist who attempted to systematically eliminate the Christian church, just like ISIS is attempting to do to the Coptic church right now.
There is no one so good that they don’t need the grace of God that comes in Jesus.
if you’re here and you’re thinking; I’m a decent guy I don’t need all this. Please here me on this, you’re using yourself as the standard. Scripture is clear on this, God is the standard. We all need grace. If you think that’s not fair; you’re absolutely right! It’s not fair that Jesus should pay for every sin that we’ve ever committed, but he did. God loves you that much.
That means that those of us who know Jesus as Lord need to stop judging who does and doesn’t need to hear the good news. Everyone needs grace.
There’s a flip-side to this as well; there isn’t anyone so far gone, or so bad, that the gospel can’t peal back the callouses of their hearts and they experience salvation. Only God decides when someone is too far gone. That’s way above our pay-grade.
There is no one so bad...
if you’re here today and you’re thinking, man you don’t know my story. You’re right, I don’t. And you don’t need to tell it to me. You need to come to God, who already knows, and tell him that you’re ready to walk a different way. Ask for his forgiveness. Place your trust in his Son who has already paid the price, and know FREEDOM.
It’s for freedom that Christ set us free. Freedom from hell. Freedom from labels that have been placed on you. Freedom from fear and insecurity. Freedom comes through God’s grace.
That also means that if you have loved ones that are out there and you’re not sure they’ll ever come, don’t miss the obvious. As long as they are living, there’s still time. God can soften the hardest heart.
Watch what he does with Paul.
Galatians 1:15–16 NIV
But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being.
Galatians

Paul meets the living Jesus

Paul didn’t know that he had been set apart from birth. Like the prophets of the Old Testament, God had a plan for him all along.
Notice the change in Paul’s speech. Before it was I, I, I. Now he says, “But when God.” You see, when we experience grace by coming to Jesus, our story becomes enveloped in his greater story. Paul forced to the church to run, the God used him to go and help them!
This happens in all sorts of ways so don’t be surprised when it happens. God takes our sin and the sin committed to us and redeems it, as hard as that sounds, for good.
Indian pastor example
Chuck Colson example
Child abuse victim who goes on to help children.
I know biker who went to prison for attempted murder...
Charlie
He can redeem your story for good as well.
Paul was fighting against God, against Christ, against men. He neither deserved mercy, nor asked for it. Yet mercy found him, and grace called him. Stott
You may think; well Paul met Jesus...Today God calls people through the proclamation of his word. It is only and will always be only the gospel of grace. He can redeem your story.
Galatians 1:17–24 NIV
I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus. Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie. Then I went to Syria and Cilicia. I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they praised God because of me.
Galatians 1:17–24 NIV
I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus. Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie. Then I went to Syria and Cilicia. I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they praised God because of me.

Paul’s life was changed by grace.

A life changed by grace.
Paul knew he had met God, he didn’t need to go and consult with other people. Instead went into Arabia. Don’t think of Saudi Arabia - think just west of Israel. It was a very populated area at the time. More than anything Paul needed time alone with God. Remember, this is a man who had vast portions of the OT put to memory. Can you imagine what it must have meant for Paul to read his Bible now knowing the truth? To read the promises, prophecies, and sacrifices and realize they were all about God’s plan to send his Son?
This is coming from a guy who is going back to school again. I appreciate formal education. Having said that, I’d give anything in the world to have Seerley Creek be a place where people spent time alone with God. There is nothing more formative for the Christian than spending time in his word; us speaking to him in prayer and him speaking to us through his word. Nothing is more important.
How else would you know the depth of his love?
How else would you know truth from error?
How else would you know that you can trust him with your pain, hopes, finances, eternity?
The first thing Paul did was to get away and spend time with God and his word. Evidently, he began preaching as well.
Three years later. He went to Jerusalem. The trip referred to in , after he had been smuggled out of Damascus, being lowered down the city wall in a basket.
The occasion is probably that referred to in , after he had been smuggled out of Damascus, being lowered down the city wall in a basket. Paul is quite open about this visit to Jerusalem, but he makes light of it. It was not nearly as significant as the false teachers were obviously suggesting. Several features of it are mentioned.
When he went to Jerusalem - he only spent time with Cephas (Κηφᾶς , Peter) and saw James but he wasn’t there for instruction, Paul was there to meet his brothers in Christ. Then he went on preaching.
A complete turn around. The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.
By grace, that’s what God does!
Indian pastor - from orphan slave to orphan redeemer
Chuck Colson - from convicted felon to founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries
My friend who was abused - from abused child to helper of children in dangerous situations.
Biker who was convicted of attempted murder - I know biker who went to prison for attempted murder...
Charlie
You can see why Paul is so protective of the church when it comes to someone distorting the doctrine of grace! We don’t earn this! God earned it on our behalf! He provided the way - he changes stories.
Notice the way it closes - And they praised God because of me. By grace, God redeemed Paul’s story and people praise God. By grace, God redeemed my story and people praise God. By grace he can redeem your story and your loved-ones’s stories. Trust in completed work - trust in grace - and never let anyone move you from grace.
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