This is the sermon for Sunday, June 20th, 2010.
The beauty of justification.
Galatians 3:1-5 ESV – 1O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith.
Galatians is such a wonderful book. Within it’s pages Paul skillfully explains justification by faith. I personally feel that many a legalistic false doctrine plus some questions people may have are explained within this inspired book.
Before we go any further, we need to have a working definition into what justification is. Let’s look at one.
- The act of God whereby humankind is made or accounted just, or free from guilt or penalty of sin.
Why did Paul write to the Galatian church? Well, in my opinion, it was because they were headed down a slippery slope of trying to be justified before God by works and not by faith. There were two instigators into this false doctrine before them.
- The Judaizers (circumcision party).
Galatians 2:11-14 ESV – 11But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
In this morning’s sermon we are going to look at four questions within the text, plus the benefits of being justified by faith in Christ. Let’s begin.
Question one: How does one receive the Spirit?
Galatians 3:2 ESV – Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?
When the Galatian Christians were gloriously coverted to Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit – was it a result of law keeping, or the result of being in Jesus Christ? And keeping the Holy Spirit – was it a result of works, or faith?
We need to ask the very same question. In our works oriented society, we often propose some type of work for someone to be saved, or some type of work for them to keep their salvation. Folks, the Spirit came, not because we earned Him, or worked hard, but because we believed in Christ and received the forgiveness of sins in His name.
We are also kept in the Spirit, not because of some good work on our part – but by the power of the Spirit Himself.
An important question must be asked before we move on to the next question: How is faith produced in us? The answer is: through the preaching of the word of Christ, i.e. the Gospel.
Romans 10:17 ESV – So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Question two: Are we perfected by our own works, or the Spirit’s works?
Galatians 3:3 ESV – Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
Paul is asking, “Are we going to complete what the Spirit began with our own works?” Please do not misunderstand me: as Christians, we do good works. Not to earn salvation, or to keep our salvation, but the good works are evidence of our salvation.
Whose job is it to perfect us? Well, it’s the Spirit’s job!
Philippians 1:6 ESV – And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Question three: Is Christian suffering done in vain?
Galatians 3:4 ESV – Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?
If we suffer because of works of the Law, then our suffering is in vain – we have our reward. But if we suffer because we have been justified by faith, then the glory that awaits us far outweighs our suffering.
2 Corinthians 4:17 ESV – For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.
Question four: Is God working amongst us because of works – or faith?
Galatians 3:5 ESV – Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith.
Some people believe you’ve got to pray so many minutes, fast so many times, and read so many Scriptures, plus live lives sin free; and then and only then will the Spirit come in power. Well, while all these things are great to do, the Spirit moving in our midst is a result of faith, not of works!
Now let’s look at our final point.
- The benefits of justification by faith.
- Justification is beneficial for the damned. Those who know they are lost in their sins and can’t work their way to forgiveness.
- Justification is beneficial to the doubting. Are you good enough? No! But Christ Jesus is and He imputes His righteousness to you!
- Justification is beneficial to the discouraged. This truth is hope to the hopeless.
Justification by faith is a beautiful thing! Today, get off the endless merry-go-round of trying to earn favor with God by your works. Trust in Christ’s finished work on the cross and be set free!