Galatians, an overview. Be free

Sermon transcript:

Let’s take our Bibles. Hopefully you have them with you.

We delve into our new series today by turning to Galatians chapter one

and if you are able to, we ask that you please stand in honor of the formal reading of God’s word

Galatians chapter one verses one through five.

Beginning in verse one, says “Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man,

but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead),

and all the brethren who are with me, To the churches of Galatia:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins,

so that he might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,

to whom be the glory for forevermore. Amen.” You may be seated.

Let’s go to the Lord in prayer, as we open His word this morning.

Thank you, Lord, for this opportunity.

We pray that in these moments as we take some time to look into your word,

what the apostle Paul wrote here, and as we talked, start this overview,

I pray, Father, that the Holy Spirit will guide everyone’s minds as we read it through the Scriptures,

but Lord I pray that the Holy Spirit will especially guide my voice and my words,

so that what I what I say is what you are looking for, which you have planned.

And so Father, we just pray for the leading of the Holy Spirit.

We pray that you open our hearts and our minds to you and to what your word has to say.

In the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.

Read a story this week about a man who noticed this lady in the grocery store

and she was pushing her cart around the grocery store. She had a about a three year old child

in the cart in front of her. And at one point the child asked for some cookies and the mother said no.

And the girl began to cry kind of loudly. The mother, patient, said now Missy we’re halfway done,

it won’t be long now.

Same thing happened when they got to the candy aisle,

the child asked for candy and became even more agitated but mom said no, you can’t have any candy.

And the mother said there there missy. Only two more aisles and we’ll be done.

At the checkout counter, the child reached for some gum and her mom again

said no and she began to scream even louder than before. And the mother said patiently,

Missy we’ll be through this checkout stand in just about five minutes, and we can go home

and both of us can have a nice nap. Well, the man followed her out to the parking lot

and complimented the woman. He said, I couldn’t help but notice how patient you were

with little Missy here. And the mother turned around, looked at him and says thank you,

but my little girl’s name is Francine. I’m Missy. [congregation laughter]

We have to understand that not everything in Scripture is equally exciting.

There are parts of the Scriptures that are that are very exciting to read.

When you read about David’s mighty men.

The things that they did and all the amazing stuff that was accomplished back in that time.

And though I find a lot of enjoyment in reading and studying the Scripture.

I sometimes have to stop and remind myself

that it’s okay, that I can step back in and like Missy, take a nap.

That sometimes I just need to just take a step back and that’s okay.

It’s okay to to to have that understanding that, that Yeah, I want to know as much as I can

about the Scripture, but it’s okay when I find myself kind of bogged down.

I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to read through the entirety of the Bible, but,

but especially when you get into the middle of things like Numbers or Leviticus,

it’s easy to get bogged down and to say,

But that’s okay. We need to remind ourselves as Missy kept reminding herself, it’s okay we’re almost done,

just a few more aisles, just a few more minutes. Now we can go home and take a nap.

Well, last week we kind of took our first steps, dipped our toe, if you will, into the Book of Galatians.

We had a wonderful presentation of of recitation of the Book of Galatians by Rod Carlson.

If you weren’t here to see it, I would encourage you to go online on our Facebook page, last week’s

sermon time. It’s really, it was really interesting, especially to have the entirety of the book presented

in one fell swoop. And not just, you know, a lot of times when I read it,

and I’m trying to read out of the Scriptures and I may be a little stilted or,

or I might stumble over a word,

to listen to Rod who has memorized the entirety of the book of Galatians now, to watch it presented –

I found it fascinating. He’d only done the first four chapters before last week.

And when he found out his wife couldn’t come into the final two chapters of Galatians,

he memorized all of chapter five. And he said, I may have to use my Bible for just a minute.

And he popped it open for like two verses of chapter six of Galatians. I was amazed.

And hopefully many of you – I took the challenge, the challenge to try to memorize a chapter of a book

and so, and like he said, Don’t pick Psalm 117, that’s only two verses long, it’s kind of cheating.

But pick a chapter of the Bible ,or if you want to, pick a book. Now that’s where I would say you know,

maybe Philemon or you know, second John or something like that, that’s only one chapter long.

But memorize it and commit to it and do as he said, read through it once a day.

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed his presentation.

I’ve heard him before, several times before.

Again, you can go online to the LivingLogos.org and find out more about Rod and Jenny

and their journey and what led them to this.

They also have some tips on how to do some scripture memory that was really good.

Again, I highly recommend you go back and watch last week’s.

And I’m already thinking about what to have him come back and do another book of, you know.

I don’t know if I’m going to wait till I’m ready to start another series and then have him do it again.

But, or just just have him come back and do it but it was wonderful. So, but it was,

it gave us a different perspective. Or at least me anyway,

gave a different perspective of this book of Galatians. And so as we, as this week I want to continue on,

I go a little deeper in this overview of the book of Galatians as we get started.

It’s important for us to lay the proper groundwork.

Anytime we start a study of an entire book especially.

And so this week, I want to do that I want to, I want to, you know,

go beyond simply surface reading the book, or surface teaching it.

I want us to, to really have our groundwork laid before we get started on this overview.

To not have that, that groundwork would be like,

like trying to dive into a lake that you’ve never been to before. That’s just dangerous.

You don’t know what rocks might be there, you don’t know how deep the water may be, especially if it’s,

if it’s a little murky. So it’s important for us to have that good, firm footing before we walk in,

and try to go into this book. And so I want us to do that today. We’re going to start this study that way,

with a short summary of this book of Galatians.

And we’re going to begin with who the author of the book is.

Now it’s, that seems kind of funny to say that because it starts with who it’s from: Paul, an apostle.

He was, he said, I wasn’t sent by a group of men. I didn’t go to a missionary assessment center.

I didn’t go to pastor assessment center. I was sent by God.

No agency of man sent me out to be the apostle that I am.

One of the things we know about him from Scripture is that he was born in Tarsus.

In Acts 21:39, when Paul said, I am a Jew of Tarsus in Silicia, a citizen of no insignificant city.

Now Tarsus was a fairly major port in Silicia, which is the southern part of

Asia Minor we call Turkey today.

It was below the area of Galatia ,which we’ll see in a few minutes.

But it was a fairly major port city in that area, that regions.

At some point his parents or grandparents moved to Tarsus from Israel.

And they were there long enough, or however it happened, that they became Roman citizens.

This area of Silicia was, again, it was taken over by the Romans,

set up as an important port for them in that southern part of Asia Minor,

and it was a very important place for them to live.

He became a citizen of Rome because of the fact that his parents were citizens.

And therefore he was, the citizenship was passed on to him through his, through his birth,

and where it was at. Later on, he would use that when he was talking to a Roman centurion.

He would say, Hey, wait a minute, I purchased my citizenship. And Paul said, no not me,

I was born a Roman citizen, which really kind of made that Centurion take a step back

and further Paul’s ministry of going on eventually,

going on to Rome itself, without being killed or anything in between time.

At some point, when he was still young, the family moved from Tarsus to Jerusalem.

In Acts 22:3, Paul says that he was raised in Jerusalem, and we don’t know exactly what age

that he moved back to Jerusalem. We don’t know at what exactly, what point in time, we just

know that he was born in Tarsus, he was a Roman citizen, and most likely his entire family,

moved then back to Jerusalem when he was quite young.

We know that he attended the School of Gamaliel,

he would have been between 10 and 14 years of age. And he was enrolled, if you will,

with the school of Rabbi Gamaliel, who was one of the most influential and famous Bible rabbis or

Jewish rabbis of that time period. If again, if you’re familiar with the book of Acts,

when they were discussing what to do with the disciples, Gamaliel was the one that stood up and said,

no, wait a minute. remember a few years ago there was a guy who rose up and said, Hey, I’m a

I’m the Christ, people followed after. We killed him and his people have been disbanded.

So we’ll see what happens with this guy. We killed the leader.

and it grows and it becomes what it ended up becoming, then we’ll want to be standing against that.

In fact, Gamaliel said, If this turns out to be from God,

you don’t want to be on the side being opposite of God.

It would be, I guess it would be comparable in our day and age to say somebody went to Harvard.

And that was where they got their education,

to grow up and get your education at the feet of Gamaliel, the scripture says.

He was very zealous for the things of the church because of that. The thanksgiving of the,

of the synagogue and things of Judaism. He was very zealous about that.

When he went about arresting and killing believers, he was certain that he was doing the will of God.

He was certain that he was doing what God wanted him to do to protect their way of life.

He was a Pharisee. He was part of the whole Jewish Council.

In fact, at one point, we know that, we believe he was in on the trial of the deacon Stephen,

and we know for certain that he was there, approving of what was happening

as he watched the cloaks of those who stoned Stephen to death. But most likely at that point,

he was a young member of the Council, who was at least in there as Stephen gave his testimony.

If you haven’t yet, you can read about his conversion, in Acts chapter 22.

Most of us probably know that story. He’s going to Damascus. He’s got letters from the,

from the priests and the Pharisees and the council and he’s going down to Damascus

for the sole purpose of finding those followers of The Way,

which is what believers were referred to back then, and to arrest them, and to bring them back.

And before he could get there, at about noontime, a bright light came,

he fell from his horse and he was confronted by Jesus Christ. And as he is confronted by Christ,

he realizes that he’s really been following his own version of God’s will,

and not what God really wanted to have happen. And as Paul began to study then after that,

he made that step, that connection between, okay, I know what we’ve been taught as Jews.

Here’s what the scripture says. And then he began to look at perhaps Isaiah 53.

We know that many, many Jewish people today are encouraged not to read Isaiah 53,

because Isaiah 53 talks about the suffering servant. It talks about Christ

as somebody who’s going to come and be, and be suffering and, and to be put to death.

When they read that, and they realize what that that chapter was talking about, many Jews,

then they come to Christ and then realize the truth of what the Old Testament was really saying all along.

Don’t read chapter 53, of Isaiah.

But Paul then began to put the pieces together and he finds himself now after this,

this confrontation with Christ, he finds himself in a position now where,

where he has a much better understanding. He does a number of different things,

he doesn’t go straight to Jerusalem. Instead he takes a step back and,

and he goes into a time of studying and a time of learning from Christ Himself.

In Galatians chapter one, further on in Galatians – and we’ll get to this in,

more in depth later on – he says “nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me;

but I went away to Arabia and returned once more to Damascus. Then three years later,

I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him 15 days.”

He went from being in Damascus, went into into Arabia, or basically into the desert area,

or to be by himself, to learn and to – later on, he says that I have learned from Christ himself

who taught me. And so as as Christ, stayed with the disciple and the disciple stayed with Christ

here on the earth for about three, three and a half years.

Now Paul goes and spends about that much time, apparently, being taught directly by Christ,

the truth of what the scripture has to say. At some point later on in his life,

he goes from being – at this point, he’s still known as Saul of Tarsus –

he goes to being known as Paul the apostle.

And part of that comes from the fact that he was born in the Roman city of Tarsus.

It was very common for Roman citizens to have more than one name. I don’t think that, you know,

we can’t find anywhere where, where Christ said, as he did with Peter, okay, you’re your Cephas,

and now you’re going to be called Peter. And he had a very specific reason for doing this.

What I believe was that Saul had two names. He had his, his citizen name, which would be Paul,

as a Jewish, I mean, as a Latin name Paulus. And then he had his ancestral Hebrew name, which is Saul.

And many Hebrew boys were named Saul after the first king of Israel.

And he was a hero to many of the Jews.

And so he started that whole kingdom thing of being the very first king of Israel,

and so they oftentimes named their children after famous Bible history person like Saul, or David or,

or Nathan or one of the others. So he had his Jewish name. And at this time, he’s in Judah,

and he’s working with the council and, and he’s going out and, and he’s called Saul. Then later on,

as he becomes the apostle to the Gentiles, he goes out into the Roman world, he becomes known as Paul.

He just started using that as a surname as he went out into this Gentile world.

So that’s kind of our author in a nutshell. He was a very learned man, I said,

he’d been at one of the most prestigious colleges or schools, if you will, he’d been part of the council.

He was very zealous for what he did. And you can see you see that zeal as we,

as you study the life of Paul, I would encourage you to do that. There’s much more to learn about Paul.

But as you look at that, you see how that zeal that he had for Judaism,

carried over into the zeal for sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with others.

And it was just an amazing transformation in the life of Paul.

In fact, there were many in the church who didn’t believe it.

So take some time and read about the life of Paul and, and all of the various things about him.

So that’s who wrote the book, but a little bit of the background of this book.

First of all, it was written to the churches of Galatia.

Now, Galatia, there were two different areas called Galatia.

One was kind of that entire region of Asia Minor, what we call Turkey today.

That was kind of a general name for that area.

But then there was a more specific area that was called Galatia.

And that was just north and a little west of Tarsus, where he grew up,

and it in an included towns like Derbe and Iconium and Lystra and names again,

if you’ve read anything about the the journeys of Paul, the missionary journeys of Paul,

you’ll recognize some of those things. There are places that he went to establish churches.

Now he could have been, because he established churches all through Asia Minor, in Silicia,

in Phrygia, and others around there and Galatia.

He may have been talking about the entire region, which is entirely possible.

As a Roman citizen, he would have known that entire area there was called Galatia.

But most likely, most people,

or most scholars believe that he was specifically talking to those churches

in that southern part of Galatia, where he had planted them in that,

one of the first missionary journeys that he took.

Galatia is an area that was, they believe, historians believe was settled by the Gauls

as they came out of the out of the north and west, and moved eastward.

In fact, Galatia means Land of the Gauls. And so they were there for a while,

and they begin to retreat back north. And they ended up in what we consider now modern day France,

France and Germany, that area. But they had moved down to the to the east in the south,

it was too cold up there, at that time, I don’t know why, but they move south.

And they settled in this area of Galatia, the land of the goals,

and then the Romans conquered that area and turn it into, again, a much larger province.

Paul spent a good bit of time in and out of there.

Paul would write his epistle, this episode of Galatia, after his second visit to the area.

So somewhere around 57 to 58 A.D. was when we believe Paul wrote this letter to the Galatians.

This was an again an important Roman province, and that, the Silk Road kind of went through there,

if you’re familiar with that, would cut down through there and then go across Persia

and then eastward into the Far East. It was very important because

it was extremely fertile agricultural ground. That area you see, there’s a couple of lakes up in there.

I know when I think of Turkey, I don’t always think of, of fertile land.

I think you know, every time we see pictures of it is closer to you know, over to the east, where it’s dry,

or down by Syria, where it’s almost desert-ish. But when we remember that,

that these areas at one point in time, were not, were not like that,

that’s part of what would be called the Fertile Crescent, if you look at anything about history.

The river coming down there, all those lakes. So it’s very important agriculturally to Rome.

They produced a lot of the agriculture products that Rome would use. It was a center for trade,

you know, all those ports down there. This whole area was very, very important for the center for trade.

So there were many different nationalities that lived in this, in this region.

And that made it a very fertile field for the gospel.

These foreign nations as they moved in and brought their worship with them, and,

and that’s why if you go there today, and look at, in the ancient cities, there are so many different religious styles and religious offerings in those cities, from everything from the Far East,

through the paganism and everything else. Jews to Gentiles from all over the world,

settled in the province of Galatia.

And that also meant that it was a fertile field for Paul to establish believing churches.

There were many, there were there were many people there who were questioning, who were seeking,

who were looking for, and a large part of the population was Greek.

And the Greeks were known for, if nothing else, questioning everything.

And wanting to know more and wanting to go on. In fact,

one of the one of the wonderful stories about Paul was when he went to the Areopagus in Athens

and debated with people, and so many of them said, Hey, we want to come back tomorrow,

we want to hear more about this guy you’re telling us about. He said you got all these shrines.

And these are the same type of people that were here in this area.

A lot of them were Greeks and so they had these important questions.

So it was really just the right place for Paul to establish the church and establish the West churches.

Because there were, there were people asking questions,

there were people wanting to know what was going on,

they were coming from all kinds of religious backgrounds,

most of them had some sort of sacrifice that was needed in order to get close to their gods,

some of them even still require human sacrifices. And Paul was saying, I’ve got,

I’ve got to, let me tell you about this guy, who provided his own sacrifice.

And that sacrifice was himself.

And so it was a fertile field, not only for agriculture, but for the growth of the church.

And so that’s kind of the background to that area of Galatia. And finally, the theme of the book.

And this is an important thing to look at, the theme of this book is found in chapter five, verse one,

where it says, “it was for freedom, that Christ set us free, therefore keep standing firm,

and do not be subject again, to the yoke of slavery.” That is, as we go through this,

you’re going to see how many times – in fact, if you, again,

I’ve kind of mentioned to pay attention last week, the number of times that,

that the Apostle Paul uses, either the word free, or some metaphor of being freed from something,

of being able to do something, because it’s what our design is. That’s the design,

and that’s what this design is all about. And again, I want to thank Michael,

for the hard work you put into this. I mean, this is literally the theme of the book of Galatians,

that we are in, we are in chains, we’re behind bars, because of sin and everything else in the law.

And we are able to break free because of the cross.

That’s, that’s the purpose. That’s the theme of the Book of Galatians.

In John 8:36, Jesus said, “so if the Son has set you free, you are free indeed.”

It was for this freedom that Christ set us free. This is the week that our country celebrates our freedom,

as we celebrate breaking free from the tyranny of England. We were, We were freed from that yoke.

And then, less than 100 years later, we fought a conflict

in order to free those who were being held in slavery. And our president at the time, Abraham Lincoln,

signed the Emancipation Proclamation, making all slaves free in the eyes of the federal government.

And again, then we we fought a major conflict over this. And we can, I mean,

you can discuss there are a number of things I know that led to the war between the states.

But I’m not, but but I mean, let’s be real about it.

The biggest thing that led to that was freeing people who were enslaved. And that was the whole,

the main purpose, not the whole purpose. But the main purpose of the work to the states.

And we don’t have, the great thing is, is as believers, Paul is saying, we don’t have to fight that.

We are free from so much more through Jesus Christ. We can be free from our past.

So many people that I talked to feel bound up in their past,

feel bound up by all the things that have happened before.

They just feel like they’re wrapped in these chains, and they can’t get out of it,

they can’t get away from them. I’ve talked to numerous people who say that

every time they feel themselves, just starting to break free, that the enemy reminds them of their past.

I love Romans 8:1. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” [amen]

Man is set free from our past. It was for freedom that Christ has set you free.

We’re free from sin and darkness. Romans 13:12 says, “Therefore, let us lay aside the deeds of darkness

and put on the armor of light.”

We can lay aside or we can get free from the sin of the stuff that so we usually as Roman

or Hebrews says, lay aside every encumbrance of the sin, which so easily entangles us,

so that we can run with endurance the race that is set before us.

That’s the message that Paul is sending to the Galatians.

That it’s not about the law. It’s not about your past. It’s not about all of these other things.

It’s not about the sin that so easily entangles us and weighs us down.

He wants the Galatians to understand that we’re no longer jailed by our sin.

We are free – if we are followers of Christ.

If you are here today and you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you also are free.

Being free in Christ was extremely important to Paul.

And as we’re going to see in our study, there were forces in the local church

trying to keep the believers under a yoke of slavery to that law, and trying to bring them back under,

under some sort of some sort of heavy yoke that they, they couldn’t,

the people who were trying to make them bear it couldn’t even bear it.

We’re free from these legalistic rules because Christ has set us free.

Maybe – and we’re going to sing a song in a minute but –

maybe you’re here today and you still feel bound up by your past, maybe even by your present.

And you just don’t know how to break free.

As we sing this final song, I want to invite you. You want to come forward,

Ben can pray with you, Bernie will pray with you.

When I’m done with the with the music, I’ll come up and pray with you.

Maybe you just want to come up and pray on your own.

But we need to understand that we are no longer slaves to sin. We have been set free.

Father, these moments that we’ve had together this morning.

We, hopefully Lord, we’ve come to understand that it’s not about,

it’s not about all the things that the world tries to tell us.

But it’s about what you have for us, and so, Father,

as we think about this being bound by our past, so many people have that dragging them down.

We know that we can be free, free from all those things.

We don’t have to be a slave to anything else anymore.

We are free because if the Son has set us free, we are free indeed.

And it was for freedom that Christ, the Son, set us free.

Thank you for loving us.

Thank you for sending Jesus Christ to die on our behalf, in whose name we pray. Amen.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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