The focus of our study today is not only defining what grace means but understanding how it applies in our lives.
“Various requirements exist for inclusion into some groups. The military sets age requirements for recruits, along with physical restrictions. Lawyers must pass an exam to be admitted to the bar. Nurses and doctors must pass an exam to be able to practice medicine. Many organizations charge fees for membership. Inclusion into God’s family operates differently. The gospel of grace means God welcomes all people into His family. He excludes no person who responds to Him in faith.”—PSG pg 19
Today’s study will cover “The Gospel Revealed.” From the end of our focal passage last week to our passage for today, Paul clarified his authority to speak as an apostle. He explained the origin of his apostolic commission in response to questions and accusations about the validity of his apostleship.
Read Gal. 2:1-10.
Have you ever been called out publicly for doing something you knew was wrong and yet for some reason you did it anyway? Let’s see what happened in our focal passage today.
Confronted by Truth! Read Galatians 2:11-14
It is evident that Paul and Peter shared the same mission, that is to go and share the gospel—Peter to the Jews and Paul to the Gentiles. Paul stated, though, how there arose a disagreement between Paul and Peter. The issue at hand was that Peter associated with the Gentiles in Antioch; that is, until some Christian Jews came from Jerusalem to visit Peter. He then immediately disassociated with the Gentiles at a fellowship meal, evidently held at a church gathering. Paul basically revealed the hypocrisy that Peter demonstrated!
1. What compelled Peter to separate from the Gentiles and eat at another table with only Jews?
2. What in this passage leads us to believe that these Jews from Jerusalem were Judaizers? (Verse 12, “…from the circumcision party.” Although not stated, they thought they were more acceptable to God because they were Jews than the Gentiles who did not keep the law.)
3. What factors might have made confronting Peter a difficult decision for Paul? (Peter was perhaps considered the main leader among the Jewish Christians. He had actually walked and talked with Jesus.)
4. What had happened to Peter that should have been a lesson learned concerning accepting Gentiles just as Jews? (Peter’s experience in Acts 10 that records the conversion of Cornelius.)
5. Why did Paul need to confront the situation with Peter, and do so publicly, rather than just ignore it? (Sin needs to be addressed at the same level it is committed. If it was public then address it publicly. There are no different classes of Christians. All people—Jews and Gentiles—are sinners in need of God’s saving grace!)
This issue was serious enough to gather the church and make sure that the truth of the gospel had a proper defense.
6. What do you do when opposition arises among believers?
7. How should we express boldness and love to address issues with confrontation rather than allowing them to slip by? (We speak the truth in love. We speak respecting the other person while speaking the truth about the falseness of their position.)
8. What might have led some of the other Jews to join Peter and the Jews from Jerusalem? (Without thinking about how it looked they just wanted to visit with these fellow Jews. But, we must quickly say that does not seem to be the case based on what Paul says about the issue.)
9. Are we ever guilty of this same sin without thinking? (When we walk into a room and our friends are in one area of the room and a new person or someone “different” is sitting alone in another part of the room, where do we sit?)
10. How can a bias get in the way of us sharing the gospel?
Paul had a purpose in showing the people of Galatia the details of the confrontation with Peter. Let’s see where Paul goes with this!
Justified By Grace! Read Galatians 2:15-18
As we read these verses we might wonder, “What was the purpose of the law in the first place?” Read Romans 7:7 for that answer.
(Lecture briefly on Gal. 2:15-18.)
The Law is God’s standard. No one can meet it! See Psalm 143:2.
1. How would you define “justification”? (“The action of declaring or making righteous in the sight of God.”)
2. How would you define justification by faith?
3. What makes this so important to understand? (We can never achieve a right standing with God apart from faith in what Jesus did for me at Calvary. No amount of human effort can make us right with God!)
Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Jesus.
4. How is this statement seen in Galatians 2?
5. Why are people often resistant to the message of salvation by grace?
6. What are some things people today attempt to add to Jesus for salvation? (Church attendance. Tithing. Serving—teaching, being a deacon, etc. Not doing some things like drinking, swearing, gambling, etc.)
7. How do some people respond to knowing they are unable to earn salvation? (Freedom comes once we rest in the truth of Christ’s ultimate work on our behalf. This in unlike anything else we will experience in our lives, and it may seem difficult at times to accept this gift as entirely free with no strings attached.)
When we try to earn our salvation, even just a small part, we will find that all our efforts fall short. Recognizing this can lead to complete faith in and dependence on Christ. Faith is the opposite of independence. Faith accepts that we cannot do it, and we trust Christ to do it for us.
Can you imagine the freedom Paul must have felt when he finally realized his standing with God did not depend on his effort!
We do not receive grace because we obey; we obey because we have received grace. And there is a world of difference in the two!
Crucified with Christ! Read Galatians 2:19-21
Paul’s argument was for the gospel to be expressed by death to the law and living by faith in Christ!
Paul uses a lot of pairs in Galatians:
· The gospel vs. false gospels
· Law vs. freedom
· Law vs. faith
· Sons and heirs
· Works vs. grace
· Slave vs. free
· Spirit vs. flesh
1. What are some opposites if following the law versus faith? (Bondage and freedom. Condemned and justified.)
2. What would be the point in Jesus’ death if people could be justified by their own efforts?
3. How does “dying to the law” help you to “live for Christ”? (We die to trusting the law to save us or attempting to earn our salvation by following the law! We are free to be obedient to the leadership of the Holy Spirit with great joy!)
4. In what sense were we crucified with Christ?
Later in his letter Paul will clarify the purpose of the law. Paul’s statement in verse 21 is used to explain the love and power of Christ’s death on the cross.
5. Why does the gospel demand absolute trust in Jesus’ death on the cross? (That was the price paid for our freedom!)
Summarize and Challenge!
1. How does the truth of the gospel impact how we treat others who are lost? Even our very faith is a gracious gift from God. Once we recognize this, we are free from the condemnation of the Law in our own lives, but we must also embrace this truth with regard to others!
2. How does the truth of the gospel impact how we treat others who are already saved?
Spend some time in prayer this week, asking God to search your heart and open your eyes to areas where you are harboring biases toward others. Ask God to remove them from your heart.