Gospel Humility and Self-Forgetfulness

1 Corinthians 4:3-4 "I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me."

The truth about Christians: It is quite possible for Christians to do all sorts of morally virtuous "biblical" things, such as serving God faithfully and sacrificially in church, when our hearts might still be filled with pride, fear, or a desire for power, control, praise, honor and recognition.

Key Question(s):
  • What are the marks of a heart that has been radically changed by the grace of God?
  • What are the marks of a supernaturally changed heart?
  • If we trust in Jesus, what should our hearts--changed at the root by the grace of God--look like in real life?


Love is God Who Needs Nothing, yet has Plenty to Give, even the Cross

"In God there is no hunger that needs to be filled, only plenteousness that desires to give. The doctrine that God was under no necessity to create is not a piece of dry scholastic speculation. It is essential. Without it we can hardly avoid the conception of what I can only call a 'managerial' God; a Being whose function or nature is to 'run' the universe, who stands to it as a head-master to a school . . . . But to be sovereign of the universe is no great matter to God. In himself, at home in 'the land of the Trinity,' he is Sovereign of a far greater realm. We must keep always before our eyes that vision of Lady Julian's in which God carried in his hand a little object like a nut, and that nut was 'all that is made.' God, who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that He may love and perfect them. He creates the universe, already foreseeing—or should we say 'seeing' there are no tenses in God—the buzzing cloud of flies about the cross, the flayed back pressed against the uneven stake, the nails driven through the mesial nerves, the repeated incipient suffocation as the body droops, the repeated torture of back and arms as it is time after time, for breath's sake, hitched up. If I may dare the biological image, God is a 'host' who deliberately creates His own parasites; causes us to be that we may exploit and 'take advantage of' Him. Herein is love. This is the diagram of Love Himself, the inventor of all loves."

- C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves (New York: Hardcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1960), 175-76.

Passive Righteousness by Martin Luther

There is a righteousness which Paul calls "the righteousness of faith." God imputes it to us apart from our works — in other words, it is passive righteousness… So then, have we nothing to do to obtain this righteousness? No, nothing at all! For this righteousness comes by doing nothing, hearing nothing, knowing nothing, but rather in knowing and believing this only — that Christ has gone to the right hand of the Father, not to become our judge, but to become for us our wisdom, our righteousness, our holiness, our salvation! Now God sees no sin in us, for in this heavenly righteousness sin has no place. So now we may certainly think, "Although I still sin, I don't despair, because Christ lives, who is both my righteousness and my eternal life." In that righteousness I have no sin, no fear, no guilty conscience, no fear of death. I am indeed a sinner in this life of mine and in my own righteousness, but I have another life, another righteousness above this life, which is in Christ, the Son of God.

Christians never completely understand [this] themselves, and thus do not take advantage of it when they are troubled and tempted. So we have to constantly teach it, repeat it, and work it out in practice. Anyone who does not understand this righteousness or cherish it in the heart and conscience will continually be buffeted by fears and depression. Nothing gives peace like this passive righteousness. The troubled conscience has no cure for its desperation and feeling of unworthiness unless it takes hold of the forgiveness of sins by grace, offered free of charge in Jesus Christ, which is this passive or Christian righteousness… Once you are in Christ, the Law is the greatest guide for your life, but until you have Christian righteousness, all the law can do is to show you how sinful and condemned you are. But if we first receive Christian righteousness, then we can use the law, not for our salvation, but for his honor and glory, and to lovingly show our gratitude.
– Martin Luther

Justification by John Stott

"'Justification' is a legal term borrowed from the law courts. It is the exact opposite of 'condemnation' (cf. Deut 25:1; Prov 17:15; Rom 8:33, 34). 'To condemn' is to declare somebody guilty; 'to justify' is to declare him…righteous. In the Bible it refers to God's act of unmerited favor by which He puts a sinner right with himself, not only pardoning or acquitting him, but accepting and treating him as righteous." – John Stott, Galatians, p.60


What is a good friend?

Four attributes characterize a good friend (Derek Kidner):
  1. Constancy. A good friend loves at all times (Prov 17:17) and sticks closer than a brother (Prov 18:24).
  2. Candor. A good friend is willing to risk hurting you for your good (Prov 27:6; Eph 4:15).
  3. Counsel. A good friend cheers (Prov 27:9) and challenges (Prov 27:17).
  4. Tact. A good friend does not force or impose one's friendship (Prov 27:14), or overstay one's welcome (Prov 25:17), or gloat (Prov 25:20), or joke crassly (Prov 26:18-19).

What To Do To Be Free

Freedom is what everyone wants. But it often seems that we human beings default and gravitate toward living in slavery, often without resistance or without knowing it.

Some random thoughts as to what to do to be free and not a slave:
  1. Love God by loving others (Mt 22:37-39). Look upward and outward, rather than being excessively introspective, self-centered and self-obsessed.
  2. Think things through thoroughly (Phil 4:9; Rom 12:2; 2 Tim 2:7; Col 3:2; Prov 15:28). Be a critical thinker. Blindly accepting anything is likely unwise and unhealthy.
  3. Have a clear goal and plan (Ac 20:24, 27). Otherwise you will live randomly and aimlessly and waste your life. Regret repels freedom.


How Most Christians Misunderstand Justification

Most Christians rely of their sanctification (how well they are doing and living and performing as Christians) for their justification (who they are in Christ):

"Only a fraction of the present body of professing Christians are solidly appropriating the justifying work of Christ in their lives… Many… have a theoretical commitment to this doctrine, but in their day-to-day existence they rely on their sanctification for their justification… drawing their assurance of acceptance with God from their sincerity, their past experience of conversion, their recent religious performance or the relative infrequency of their conscious, willful disobedience. Few know enough to start each day with a thoroughgoing stand upon Luther's platform: you are accepted, looking outward in faith and claiming the wholly alien righteousness of Christ as the only ground for acceptance, relaxing in that quality of trust which will produce increasing sanctification as faith is active in love and gratitude…



Psalm 119:45 (Galatians)

"I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments." (NLT)

"Give me liberty or give me death!" These famous immortal words were the conclusion of one of the best speeches in history. They were uttered with the utmost of passion and earnestness in 1775 by Patrick Henry, a month before the start of the Revolutionary War against the expansive policies of the British Empire. Henry's extended quote says, "I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" It might be the words that most exemplify who an American is at his or her very core. It likely also expresses the utmost cry of every living human being.

Theme: Give me freedom or give me death. 


Faith (The Message of Galatians) Mark Dever

Introducing Galatians
  • The Source: God
  • The Means of Distribution: A Cognitive Proposition
  • The Fact-Checkers: The Galatian Christians
  • The Content, Part 1: Death of Christ
  • The Content, Part 2: Faith in Christ
  • It Changes Our Relationship with Our Teachers
    • Paul and the Galatians
    • The False Teachers and the Galatians
  • It Changes Our Relationship with God
  • It Changes Our Relationships with Each Other

Being United Despite Having Irreconcilable Differences

1. Make a plan and stick to it                             1. Make a plan and constantly change it

2. Have one clear direction                                 2. Have many options at the same time

3. Start in the shallow end                                   3. Jump in the deep end

ONLY ONE GOSPEL (The Message of Galatians) by John Stott

Synopsis and overview (in 19 sermons)

1. Gal 1:1-5; 3-4: Paul's Authority and Paul's Gospel

I. Paul's authority (1,2)

II. Paul's gospel (3-5)

1) Christ died for our sins (4a)

2) Christ died to rescue us from this present age (4b)

3) Christ died according to God's will (4c)

2. Gal 1:6-10; 8,9: No Other Gospel

I. The unfaithfulness of the Galatians (6)

II. False teachers distort the Gospel (7)

III. Paul curses the false teachers (8-10)


Our Earthly Fathers and Our Heavenly Father

Some questions for you to probe and ponder:
  1. What recollections do you have about your dad?
  2. How has your relationship with your dad affected you? Others? Your view of God?
  3. How can fathers love their children (Ex 20:5; Dt 5:9; 6:5; Col 3:19; Eph 5:25)?
  4. Why do you think Jesus teaches us to call God "Father" (Mt 6:9; Lk 11:2)?
  5. When his son Absalom died, how did King David express the heart of a father (2 Sam 18:33)?
  6. What is God like according to Isa 9:6; Ex 34:6-7; Ps 103:13; Lk 15:11-32?
  7. Why is Jesus the way to the Father (Jn 14:6; Mt 27:46; Mk 15:34)?



Psalm 103:13 (Lk 15:11-32)

"As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him."

E is for Experience: Taste and See (Ps 34:8)

  1. What is the difference between knowing and tasting? How might we taste and see that God is good?

  1. How exhilarating are our senses? Isn't our world a world of sensory delight (even overload)?

  1. Why does God create a world that inundates our senses?

  1. Should we fear our feelings? Can they lead us astray?

  1. Have you tasted God's goodness? How?