Sermon – October 1, 2017

Galatians Cover

Conversion of St. Paul on the Road to Damascus – Hans Speeckaert (1570)

Galatians 1:6 – The Galatians’ Problems, and Ours (mp3)

In the book of Galatians, there are three primary actors.  We have already been introduced to Paul, the apostle commissioned by God, who preaches God’s gospel to the nations.  Today, we are introduced to the Galatians.  The Galatians are shown to be models of how not to proceed in the faith.  Paul, skipping his normal thanksgiving, dives directly into the problems confronting the churches.  If we are to avoid the problems faced by the Galatians, let us:

1. Be planted
Paul is astonished at the actions of the Galatians in leaving the gospel.  Although they must have seemed strong in the faith when Paul left them, it did not take long for them to be uprooted and unsettled.  Here we have an excellent reminder not to “count our chickens before they are hatched.” We cannot count someone in the Kingdom upon an immediate confession, but allow testing to reveal the quality of their faith.  It is my sincere prayer that none of us befalls this fate, that those among us who seem strong in the gospel might continue until the Lord returns.  Remember, appearing strong in the faith is not being strong in the faith.

2. Be growing
It is not surprising that such a young congregation was attacked.  While we pray that those who appear strong might continue in their faith, we need to realize that most need time to mature in the Lord.  This is why the church and doctrinal teaching exist: to provide maturity to the body of Christ, making the entire body stronger and less vulnerable to attack.  Let us press one another forward, digging deep roots in the gospel that we might not be moved.

3. Be thick-barked
Paul does not take their departure personally; rather, he knows quite well that they are leaving God, not Paul.  This does not mean that Paul is not hurt by their quick departure (see 4:19), but it does mean that he understands the greater injury is to the Galatians.  This is the sign of one who loves well – that while we could take personal offense at people rejecting the gospel, we are much more concerned about their turning away from a wrathful God.

It is always tempting to look at failures around us, whether by other churches, other Christians, over even the biblical examples, and think that those failures will never happen to us.  To think this way is to court disaster.  Friend, know that these examples exist, not for you to pat your own back and to ensure yourself of the stability of your own faith, but rather for you to gird yourself for the fight and to strengthen your own defenses.