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Barriers to Grace

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Text: Galatians 3:1-5


Paul is expressing a great deal of emotion.

Who has bewitched/hypnotized you?

Portrayed - Placards/Posters put all around

Fasinated with a lie.

Fasinated with the Flesh and Rules.

As with the Galatians it is easy to be fasinated or hypnotized. There are barriers that keep us from focusing on the Cross.

A prof once said that once you think you understand grace, you don't. It is a hard balancing act.

Illustration: Dirt Bike on the ridge.

In vv. 2, 5 Paul gives us the focus - "works of the Law or by hearing with faith" - one valley is legalism the other antinomianism.

Proposition: Since your righteousness comes through the Gospel of Grace, you must be aware of the barriers to the Gospel of Grace and keep your focus on the Cross.

I. Barrier #1: The Law (Law vs Gospel) (vv. 1-2)


The Cross of Christ is central to the gospel. 1 Cor 1:18 Paul calls the gospel "the word of the cross.

This was confusing to Paul that if someone understood the gospel of Christ crucified would completely rule out the law as a means of getting right with God.

Illustration: Ruler & Stick

The ruller has no power to straighten the stick. It can only show how crooked it is. The focus cannot be on the ruler, the law, but on the Cross.


Focus: The Cross

II. Barrier #2: Trying Harder (Trying Harder vs Training) (vv. 3-4)


"Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ." DIETRICH BONHOEFFER

Discpleship/Training has always been at the heart of Paul and Jesus' teachings and methods.

I am afraid that our idea of training or discipleship is not what Jesus or Paul had in mind. We tend to try harder by ourselves instead of training with the Master.

We tend to work harder and focus on covering up the sin that has already been exposed and paid for on the Cross.

It seems to be all too easy for us to be like that drowning man. Our self-efforts can actually prevent us from being saved! Unfortunately, some people must reach the point of being too exhausted to continue trying to save themselves (by dealing with their own sin) before they become willing to trust in the Savior and accept his gift of salvation.

Illustration: Wrist Computer & Biking


Focus: Training with the Master. Training in Grace

III. Barrier #3: Pleasing God (Pleasing God vs Trusting God) (vv. 5-6)


"Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you?" (Gal 3:5, The Message)

Not about working it is about dependence.

Faith is the ticket that gets you on the train. Not being good enough.

Martin Luther, who had made himself the apostle and champion of faith alone, wrote the following: “Faith is a living, busy, active, powerful thing; it is impossible for it not to do us good continually. It never asks whether good works are to be done, but has done them before there is time to ask the question, and it is always doing them.”

As a parent, which would you prefer from your child?

  • That he or she diligently strives to please you and earn your approval all the time? OR
  • That he or she relaxes in unquestioning assurance of your love and trusts your guidance?

Illustration: Pictures by children on refrigerator


How are you at trusting?

Which is your motivation? Pleasing or Trusting God?

Focus: Trusting God and the work of Christ on the Cross



Proposition: Since your righteousness comes through the Gospel of Grace, you must be aware of the barriers to the Gospel of Grace and keep your focus on the Cross.

  • Barrier #1: The Law - Focus on The Cross. The power of God to change you.

  • Barrier #2: Trying Harder - Focus on Training with the Master not self-effort

  • Barrier #3: Pleasing God - Focus on Trusting God and the work of Christ on the Cross

Illustration: Scuba diving in the pool vs ocean. You would have to be foolish to go back to the pool.

Sermon Notes:

Anyone Else?

A man slipped and fell off a cliff while hiking on a mountaintop. Luckily he was able to grab a branch on his way down. Holding on for dear life, he looked down only to see a rock valley some fifteen hundred feet below. When he looked up it was twenty feet to the cliff where he had fallen.

Panicked, he yelled, “Help! Help! Is anybody there? Help!”

A booming voice spoke up. “I am here, and I will save you if you believe in me.”

“I believe! I believe!” yelled back the man.

“If you believe me, let go of the branch and then I will save you.”

The young man, hearing what the voice said, looked down again. Seeing the rock valley below, he quickly looked back up and shouted, “Is there anybody else up there!”

Like Boy on Seashore

Sir Isaac Newton, after his sublime discoveries in science, said, “I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem only like a boy playing upon the seashore, and diverting myself by now and then finding a pebble, or a prettier shell than ordinary, while the great ocean of truth lies all undiscovered before me.”

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