Galatians 1 Lesson

Saved By Faith, Not Works

INTRODUCTION TO GALATIANS

Galatians is sometimes referred to as, “The Declaration of Independence for Christians.”

This is because it tells the story of how we are freed from the Law (Old Testament) through our faith in Jesus Christ.

The central message of Galatians is that Christians are saved by faith and not by works. Paul wrote this letter to address an ongoing concern in Galatia. At the time of his letter, there was concern over the rise of false prophets and a belief that they were still under the Law and saved by works, not faith. Paul is astonished that the Galatians are falling back into the teachings of the Old Law after all they have learned!

  • “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.  But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!  As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” – Galatians 1:6-9.

Most scholars agree that Paul’s letter to the Galatians was written in approximately 50 AD. Therefore, Paul’s conversion to Christianity on the road to Damascus would have happened about 15 years prior to him writing this letter.

Paul’s conversion was so powerful that he devoted the rest of his life to serving Jesus! He would endure beatings, ridicule, imprisonment, and suffer through great adversity along the way, but he never stopped following Jesus after his conversion. That is a lesson we can all learn from!

A few years after writing to Galatia, Paul would also write to the Romans. In this letter Paul would say:

  • “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.  For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin,” – Romans 8:1.

As we begin our six-day study on the Book of Galatians, we will first ground ourselves in the definitions of faith and grace.

FAITH: Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1. When you have faith, you trust or believe in something very strongly.

GRACE: “Unmerited favor. Receiving something that you have not earned.” The greatest example of grace is Jesus 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 forevermore.” – Galatians 1:4.

The Galatians, like all of us, needed to hear that there was a plan to save them from the “present evil age.”

Knowing that Jesus freely gave Himself on the cross to rescue us from our sins liberates us from the constant offering of sacrifices that were required under the Law. Consider the following two scriptures:

  1. “For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near.” – Hebrews 10:1,
  2. “He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” – Hebrews 9:26.

As you read through the book of Galatians, pay attention to how Paul repeatedly tells us that we are saved through faith and not by works.

We must let go of the concept that we can gain salvation through our own works and accept the gift of Jesus. As humans, it is hard to fathom how a gift so valuable could be freely given to the entire world. That is the wonderment of the grace that we have in God the Father, and God the Son.

CONCLUSION

The book of Galatians is sometimes referred to as, “The Declaration of Independence for Christians,” because it freed us from the obligations under the Law that nobody was able to keep (except Jesus). Paul repeatedly makes the point that we are saved through our faith in Jesus, and not by our works.

In this epistle, Paul uses the word “grace” more than one hundred times! The Bible will often repeat a message when it is a point that God really needs for us to understand.

Since we are saved by faith and not by works, we need to constantly study the Bible and apply what we have learned to grow our faith.

We will conclude today’s lesson with the following scripture:

  • “A person is not justified by works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the Law; since by works of the Law no flesh will be justified.” - Galatians 2:16.

Comments

Shawn Hart

This scripture is often taken out of context to turn baptism into a "work" that does not need to be performed in order to have a relationship with Jesus; however, Paul's instruction here is not in regard to negating the need of baptism, but rather to address those who have already been baptized and are being drawn back into the practices of the old law. As the study progresses Paul also repeatedly addresses those who are in Christ through faith. In Galatians 3:26-27, he further sustains this by finally declaring exactly how they had come into that relationship: "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ."

Reply
Fred Moritz

It is important to note that Paul received his message of the Gospel by revelation (v 12, 16). It is the message from God to mankind.

Reply
Chuck

It's a matter of who is in control. If I'm thinking that my works will save me, then I believe that I am in control of my destiny and my eternity as well. I try and try and try not to stumble and sin, but daily I have to come back and ask forgiveness for my sins. I am not able on my own accord to measure up to the standard which God requires to enter Heaven... sinlessness. However, here's the good news, even though I can not achieve this requirement, Jesus Christ has willfully laid his life down as the payment of the penalty of my sins. Scripture says that he now sits at the right hand of the Father pleading my case. In Him, I have acceptance and reconciliation with the Father. Faith is me trusting my life and my destiny and all my eternity that Jesus is who He says He is and believing the Holy Spirit's promptings and guiding my life. Only through faith in Jesus Christ, can I hope to live with Him and the Father in Heaven forever. If I think I'm in control, I have deceived myself. When I look at the world around us right now, what really can I control? My mindset, my choices, and how I chose to allow the media, the economy, and the people I'm around me shape my thinking and create fear and anxiety in my life today.

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