Today’s text continues to strengthen our grip on the gospel. But, first let’s clarify two things from last week’s sermon.
What do you mean by “faith in Jesus”?
Faith is entrusting yourself to something because you believe in it.
Hebrews 11:1 defines Christian faith like this: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
Faith is ‘persuaded belief’ that leads to action. If you are persuaded that you need to eat vegetables to be healthy, you act on that belief by adding vegetables to your dinner plate. If you believe a chair will hold you and give your legs relief from standing up at work all day, you act on that belief by sitting down in it. If you believe that Jesus died on the cross to save you from your sins, you act on that belief by entrusting yourself to him as your Savior. You stop trying to justify yourself or earn God’s love by doing good deeds, and you ask for his forgiveness based on Jesus’ death in your place.
Faith in Jesus is entrusting yourself to him for forgiveness and reconciliation with God because you believe he is the Savior.
Do you mean that Christians don’t have to change their ways at all?
No, faith in Jesus involves change—comprehensive change in fact.
So far in Galatians, Paul has specifically focused on “justification” (being declared innocent before holy God). Only faith in Jesus justifies sinners. Good works and religious traditions cannot make us innocent before God.
But as we proceed in the book of Galatians, we will see that those who trust in Jesus as their Savior begin a life of dramatic and progressive change. They begin to live in light of their new identity as righteous children of God. They begin to learn how to fulfill their new desires for closeness with God and to forsake their old desires for sin. They begin to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to live the new life instead of depending on their willpower.
The Galatians were dealing with false teachers who claimed that you had to trust in Jesus and fulfill Jewish law in order to be justified before God. But “we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ” (Galatians 2:16).
This is the gospel, the ‘good news’ of Christianity: God, through Jesus, made a way for sinners to be made right with him.
The gospel is true whether it pleases people or not
As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:9-10)
The Galatians were turning from the gospel because people they respected were pressuring them to. But Paul was “an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father” (Galatians 1:1). Pleasing people was not in Paul’s job description. Serving Christ was.
Where are you on the people-pleasing spectrum? If you are highly motivated by making others happy with you, you will be vulnerable to adjusting the gospel when it offends others. But we must be like Paul. When confronted with a choice between serving Christ by holding to the true gospel or pleasing people by adjusting it, we must always choose Christ.
We live in a culture that tries to align the truth to themselves, rather than aligning themselves to the truth. Truth is true, no matter how much we like or dislike it and the gospel is the central truth of Christianity.
Whether it pleases or displeases people, we can stand strong when people pressure us to adjust the gospel.
To help you respond in concrete, practical ways this week, download the Response Sheet:
- Go to https://jamesmirror.com/2011/12/12/bible-verses-that-summarize-the-gospel/ and read the verses that summarize the gospel. Pick one to write out and post someplace you’ll see every day this week.
- Find a quiet place and prayerfully reflect on these questions:
Do I only know about Jesus, or am I entrusting myself to Jesus as my Savior?
Is my faith in Jesus bringing about changes in how I live?
Am I feeling any pressure from people to adjust my understanding of the gospel?
- On a scale of 1 to 5, how much do you care if people are pleased with you?
1 = Not at all
2 = Very little
3 = Somewhat
4 = A lot
5 = Extremely
If you’re high on the scale, be extra careful not to adjust the gospel due to peer pressure.
- Share the gospel with someone this week. Simply say it out loud to another person, even if it is a fellow Christian.
- Call a fellow church member this week to discuss your response to Galatians 1:9-10.