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Jan 07, 2018

Why it might be just that free--and that freeing

Why it might be just that free--and that freeing

Passage: Galatians 1:1-9

Speaker: Patrick Lafferty

Series: Free, a study in the book of Galatians

On nearly every level of human experience--personally, relationally, communally, geo-politically--there’s some quest for freedom. But the most widespread and protracted battle we face is for freedom from the constraints of our own heart. We long to be new people, free from the inclinations that lead to frustration, if not despair. “For freedom Christ has set us free,” Paul tells the church at Galatia. Freedom from what? Freedom for what? And moreover, why should we believe the gospel--the news that comes in and through Jesus--is key to that freedom? In just the strained introduction to his letter to the churches of Galatia, we’ll find three reasons.

Order of Worship

Call To Worship: Isaiah 52:7-10
Reading: Old Testament: Psalm 40:9-11
New Testament: Matthew 7:24-27
Central Text: Galatians 1:1-9
Sermon Title: Why it might be just that free--and that freeing
Benediction: Galatians 5:1, 13

01.07.18 Lyrics

01.07.18 Sermon Slides

Illustration: Tree of Life

Readings & Scripture

Call To Worship: Isaiah 52:7-10
LEADER: How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.
PEOPLE: The voice of your watchmen—they lift up their voice; together they sing for joy; for eye to eye they see the return of the LORD to Zion.
LEADER: Break forth together into singing, you waste places of Jerusalem, for the LORD has comforted his people; he has redeemed Jerusalem.
ALL: The LORD has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

Old Testament: Psalm 40:9-11
I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O LORD. 10 I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation. 11 As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me!

New Testament: Matthew 7:24-27
Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.

Central Text: Galatians 1:1-9
1 Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2 and all the brothers who are with me,

To the churches of Galatia:

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 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.

Benediction: Galatians 5:1, 13
LEADER: For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh,
PEOPLE: but through love serve one another.

Related Scriptures:

Isaiah 55:6-11
Romans 5:1
Colossians 1:13
1 Corinthians 15:20-24
2 Corinthians 11:1-6

Discussion Questions & Applications:

  1. How do you test for what claims have credibility? Are you prone more to credulity or skepticism? Why? Why do (or don’t) you find the news Paul calls the “gospel” credible?
  2. Why is it hard to believe that this gospel--this news of being freed from our sins and the “present evil age”--is a promise offered to us at cost only to God?
  3. What’s the danger in embracing a counterfeit form of the gospel? Or of confusing the content of the gospel with its implications and applications?
  4. What do you long most to be freed from right now? How might this news of the free gift of deliverance answer that longing--or any other issue with which you’re presently struggling?
  5. What’s the best argument you’ve heard for not believing in this news of grace and peace? What’s even your most preliminary answer to that argument for unbelief? How would you explain the gospel in simplest terms, and in terms familiar to the person who might hold that strong argument for unbelief?


  • I’ve heard Richard Dawkins, on a stage respond to someone asking why people’s conviction of the presence of God doesn’t count as data: ‘Oh, all sorts of funny things happen in people’s heads. But you can’t measure them, so they don’t mean anything.’ Yet atheists, like everybody else, fall in love, read novels, hum songs, and value the unrepeatable shadings of their sensory and cognitive experiences. The subjective makes its irrefutable demand for attention as soon as you quit the lectern.   Francis Spufford
  • If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.  C.S. Lewis
  • Men despise religion, they hate it and are afraid it might be true. To cure that we have to begin by showing that religion is not contrary to reason. That it is worthy of veneration and should be given respect. Next it should be made lovable, should make the good wish it were true. Then show that it is indeed true. Blaise Pascal
  • Most necessary it is, therefore, that we should know this article well, teach it unto others, and beat it into their heads continually.  Martin Luther


Related Media

Inview Media 01.07.18 Album

Galatians Gospel Application

Some ways you might engage this new series in Galatians to your greater benefit:

  • Read the letter every day—or at least three times a week—for a month. Everyone has their own reading speed, but it might take 15-20 minutes to read through Paul’s letter. It might seem curious to read the same words every day. “Won’t it get tedious? Won’t I become so bored with reading repeatedly that I’ll just glaze over with each successive reading?” That’s what you might assume on the front end, but as you become immersed in the flow of the letter you’ll begin to notice things you simply can’t on one reading—just as it is with the first reading of a novel or the viewing of a film. Don’t read with the expectation that it will all make sense; over time some of the ideas and categories Paul addresses will require outside voices to help grasp their meaning. But read only to familiarize yourself with Paul’s basic argument. It’s by the regular and consistent readings you may gain far more than you imagined.
  • Send us (whether by email or anonymously) some expression of your response to the reading—whether prayers or images or poems or songs. The text is meant for meditation, and that meditation is meant to provoke something in and from us. That can be prayers—prayers of either thanksgiving or confusion, of either praise or lament. Or it may elicit some other kind of expression from you. Perhaps over the course of the whole series, if enough of you send in what the consideration of Galatians evokes, we might compile and share those with each other.
    ...just pay attention, then patch a few words together and don’t try to make them elaborate, this isn’t a contest but the doorway into thanks” —Mary Oliver, “Praying” (source)
  • By the end of the series, compose your simplest explanation of what Paul means by the gospel. If he is so defiantly (and properly) protective of the church’s understanding of what the gospel is (and isn’t), doesn’t that behoove us to be able to put into words—our own words—what he means by it. But as I suggested at the end of the sermon, summarize your understanding of the gospel in a particular way: imagine someone you know who has a strong argument for not believing in the gospel, and then compose your summary in a way that they at least could understand, even if they were not persuaded by it. Paul labors to restate the gospel in terms the churches of Galatia can understand. In so doing he both impresses upon us the need to grasp its simplicity, and also provides an example for us all in taking pains to make it clear. Blaise Pascal once wrote: “Men despise religion, they hate it and are afraid it might be true. To cure that we have to begin by showing that religion is not contrary to reason. That it is worthy of veneration and should be given respect. Next it should be made lovable, should make the good wish it were true. Then show that it is indeed true.” What would make the gospel desirable to the person who still does not yet find it believable? Aim for that nuance to your summary.