There have been numerous opportunities for people to act heroically in recent days, and some have done so. During floods, fires, and storms heroic acts have been witnessed and recorded.
1. In what sense could we say, “Paul is acting heroically” in our study of Galatians? (Paul knew the Galatians were in danger, and he wasn’t afraid to act. He spoke up and pleaded with them to turn back to the freedom of Christ.)
In a sense Paul was acting as a coach who had prepared his team to go out and play the game well. Although the issue at hand was no game, to Paul, it seemed like he had prepared them and now someone else is coming in and taking away the truths Paul had taught them.
2. Which impacts an outcome more, talent or passion?
3. When is ambition good and godly and when is it wrong and selfish? (When self is promoted above the good of the whole it is both wrong and selfish!)
Today look for how Paul transitioned from explaining the gospel to the Galatians to seeking to direct their passion toward the best goal of all—Christlikeness.
The Problem! Read Galatians 4:8-11
1. What had the Galatian believers turned back to doing?
Paul recognized the Galatians as believers by stating their condition before Christ and their new position in Christ.
2. Why was Paul so upset with the Galatians? (They were choosing to go back into the “jail” of legalism. They were putting their faith in their actions rather than Christ!)
3. How would you describe the difference between slavery and freedom?
4. How was the Galatians’ pagan past similar to the legalism that bound them?
5. How might a person’s past religious views continue to be an issue after accepting Christ?
Paul feared that the Galatians were trusting in religious observances to establish a relationship with God, meaning that they were trying to achieve their salvation by working for it rather than trusting in what Jesus did on the cross.
6. What was the point of Paul qualifying his statement in verse 9 with the phrase “or rather have become known by God”? (Just as He had with everyone else, God had taken the initiative to bring them into relationship with Him.)
It isn’t just head knowledge about God it is “to know by experience”!
7. What religious practices might people today falsely trust to achieve salvation? (Tithing, church attendance, helping the poor, reading the Bible, etc)
8. How do the practices of today compare to the practices addressed by Paul?
We don’t just say we place our faith in Jesus to be sure we’ve covered all the bases, so to speak! When we come to “know” God we place our trust in Jesus alone and relinquish all other so called paths to God. God is a jealous God and will share His glory with nothing or no one else! See Exodus 20:5.
The Plea! Read Galatians 4:12-14
The request to be like him served as a common refrain for Paul (see 1 Cor. 4:14-16, 11:1; Phil. 3:17; 1 Thess. 1:6).
1. How did Paul become like the Galatians? (In his mission work, Paul tried to relate to the people he was reaching in whatever situation they were in. This included Jews and Gentiles. Paul was a student of culture.)
2. In what way does he want them to become like him? (Paul reminded the Galatians to treat salvation and the law as he did—not depending on the law for salvation. When Paul first went to the Galatians, they were not under the law because they were Gentiles!)
3. We don’t know what Paul’s physical ailment was, but regardless of what it was, how could the Galatians have chosen to treat him? (Sometimes physical ailments were seen as God’s curse on a person.)
4. What attitude or tone do you see expressed by Paul as he confronted the Galatians?
5. How does the attitude and tone used to approach people impact their willingness to listen?
Paul wanted them to remember how they felt when they originally heard the gospel and put their faith in Christ!
The Passion! Galatians 4:15-20
1. What kind of relationship did Paul have with them while he was there according to these verses? (They cared for him so much that they would have taken on the infirmity themselves so that Paul would be freed from it if it were possible!)
2. How does concern and serving others grow out of a love of Christ in someone?
3. What does Paul’s statement in verse 19 about his suffering express to them?
4. According to verse 19, what was Paul’s deep desire for them? (To become more and more like Christ!)
5. What heartfelt emotion does Paul’s last statement in verse 20 express?
6. How can we follow Paul’s model when we see other believers struggling in their faith? (Paul did not shy away from calling out the fallacy in the Galatians’ new thinking. However, he did not shun them, but pleaded with them to turn back to Christ alone.)
Paul reminded them of the abundant freedom they had already experienced in Christ. It isn’t always easy to speak the truth—Paul compared his distress to the pains of childbirth—but it is necessary!
Summarize and Challenge!
1. What are some ways our class can serve as a safeguard against a gospel that becomes less than faith in Christ alone for salvation?
2. What adjustments need to be made to strengthen this safeguard?
There are believers in our lives who may look like they are enslaved more than they are free. What the Lord calls us to do as a body of believers is to go to them with pure hearts and motives and seek to restore them gently to the fellowship of believers.
Pray for an opportunity this week to speak the truth in love to someone and help that person grow in Christ.