For questions or comments regarding this study please contact Terry Evans at terryevans@upi.org


“Galatians is perhaps the fiercest and clearest dismissal of salvation through human effort written by the apostle Paul.”
— Terry Evans


Study 1: Turning to a different gospel

Summary Statements

  • Christianity, at its core, is simply news about what God has done in human history.
  • There’s only one true gospel message, and it was given to the appointed apostles of Christ once and for all.
  • Nobody hurts the church more than false teachers who teach false messages in the name of Christ and Christianity.
  • Heaven is not a matter of ‘being good’ or ‘being anything in particular’. It’s a matter of ‘being saved’.

Discussion Questions

  • Question #1: What is a ‘gospel’? What are the only ways in which you can respond to hearing a ‘gospel’? What is the difference between religious- moralism and the true gospel of Christ as taught by the apostles?

 

  • Question #2: What are some ways in which believers desert the true gospel message? What are some ways in which non-believers desert the true gospel message? What makes the true gospel an unchangeable and unalterable message?

 

  • Question #3: In what way does changing or adding to the gospel message change it completely? In what ways do those within the church pose the biggest threat to the life of the church?

 

  • Question #4: In what ways does your understanding of the gospel impact your life daily? In what ways might we be able to show greater concern for the gospel and therefore greater concern for the glory and honor of Christ?

Study 2: not man's gospel

Summary Statements

  • A measure of your Christian condition is whether you believe the Bible to be a message from God or merely a message of men.
  • To reject the authenticity and authority of the apostles’ gospel message is the same as rejecting God Himself.
  • A true Christian experiences what He believes to be true about God.
  • Christ calls us out of religious performance, Christ makes us worthy of this calling and Christ calls us into a relationship with God.

Discussion Questions

  • Question #1: In what ways do people challenge or question the authority and authenticity of the Bible? How would you respond to these people?

 

  • Question #2: Read Jesus’ words in John 13:20. How do we go about receiving those whom Christ has ‘sent’? What does this look like practically speaking?

 

  • Question #3: In what ways does the gospel free you from the pride and guilt that can come from religious and moral performance?

Study 3: The right hand of fellowship

Summary Statements

  • The gospel of Christ offers us a freedom and a fellowship that transcends cultural demands and distinctions.
  • The gospel of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone frees us from viewing God’s people through cultural discriminatory lenses.
  • The gospel of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone frees us from viewing ourselves or others through the lenses of religious and moral performance.
  • The gospel sets us free to view ourselves and others simply through our common need to trust in the perfect work of Christ.

Discussion Questions

  • Question #1: What was the apostle Paul attempting to accomplish by bringing Titus? In what way would forcing Titus to be circumcised be compromising the truth of the gospel?

 

  • Question #2: Have you ever believed or been led to believe that your performance (or what you do) is what leads to your justification by God? What might be some reasons why the apostle Paul says that this kind of belief ‘brings us into slavery’ (v. 4)?

 

  • Question #3: In what ways can cultural demands harm the fellowship of the church and compromise the truth of the gospel?

 

  • Question #4: Do you ever experience feelings of guilt and insecurity in your relationship with God? What hope does the gospel offer in freeing you from these feelings of guilt and insecurity?

Study 4: Not In step with the truth of the gospel

Summary Statements

  • Our beliefs always drive our behavior.
  • When we’ve lost the truth of the gospel then we’ve lost true Christianity.
  • A Christian is someone who has radically become a new person with a new motivation for living.
  • If we continue to act according to our old ways then we are acting out of step with the truth of the gospel.

Discussion Questions

  • Question #1: Can you think of anything in your regular behavior and conduct that perhaps contradicts the truth of the gospel? What are some reasons why this kind of behavior is worthy of rebuke and needs to be addressed?

 

  • Question #2: Can you think of any current situations among the church today that threaten the truth of the gospel? Why is it absolutely necessary for Christians to live their lives in step with the truth of the gospel? What measures can we take in making sure that happens?

 

  • Question #3: In what ways does an understanding of the gospel of our justification by God motivate you to live differently? In what ways have you died to sins and efforts of self-justification through your faith in Christ? 

study 5: those who are of faith are blessed

Summary Statements

  • Living by standards of personal performance may temporarily change our behavior, but it’ll never eternally transform our hearts.
  • The gospel is what initially saves us, but the gospel is also what progressively sanctifies us.
  • We’re all born under a curse we can’t escape and desire a blessing that we cannot obtain.  
  • If our hearts truly desire the blessings God has promised then we must come to know that faith in Christ is our only hope in receiving those promises.

Discussion Questions

  • Question #1: In what ways do people associating themselves with Christianity today, misplace their hope in their desire to receive the blessings of God? Why is putting all our hope in Christ so infinitely important?

 

  • Question #2: What is the difference between ‘believing God’ and ‘believing in God’? What did believing God look like for Abraham (see Romans 4:18-25) and what does believing God look like for us? 

 

  • Question #3: Discuss the difference between gospel-motivated obedience versus performance-motivated obedience?

Study 6: Why then the Law?

Summary Statements

  • God’s Law exposes us as sinners, and it enslaves us to sin.
  • Disregarding God’s Law is not an option because judgement is inevitable; trusting in God’s Law is not an option because perfect obedience is impossible.
  • Christ became a slave so that we might become sons.
  • For the Christian, the Law is no longer a guardian that holds you in bondage as a slave, but becomes the guide that helps you live as a son.

Discussion Questions

  • Question #1: In what ways are the concepts of ‘promise’ and ‘performance’ (law) mutually exclusive? Why is God’s promise to Abraham not received based on our performance to God’s Law given to Moses? 

 

  • Question #2: In what ways does the Law make things worse before making things better? What are some negative implications that may result when we bypass the Law of God and simply go straight to the gospel of Christ? 

 

  • Question #3: What’s the difference between living as a slave to a master versus living as an adopted son who has been sacrificially purchased by a father? In what ways do you struggle to live as a son rather than as a slave? 

study 7: elementary principles of the world

Summary Statements

  • Turning to anything other than the truth of the gospel is turning to something other than God to give you what only God can give.
  • We will never totally trust someone that we don't know.
  • A good measure of your Christian condition and the state of your Christian belief is whether or not the cross of Christ is enough for you to totally trust God.
  • If we’ve gotten a taste of the freedom found only through faith in Christ, then we must continue to grow in that faith in order for Christ to be ‘formed’ in us. 

Discussion Questions

  • Question #1: What might be some reasons why we become dissatisfied with simply and unadulterated faith in Christ?

 

  • Question #2: In light of Paul’s argument, in what ways are the ‘cultured and enlightened’ worldviews of secular society nothing more than newer versions of what has always been the elementary principle of this world?

  

  • Question #3: In your own words, why is the unadulterated truth of the gospel and whole-hearted faith in Christ so hard for us to grasp and firmly hang on to? Why are forms of false worship in false gods easier for us to fall into than simply standing firm with unwavering faith in Christ?  

Study 8: Children of Promise

Summary Statements

  • True Christianity is something much greater than man’s mere efforts to do something different than he’s done in the past.
  • True Christianity is something that is done to you.
  • The sin of self-reliance strips men of the supernatural freedom found only through faith in Christ.
  • The regeneration, justification, sanctification and glorification of a Christian is a collective supernatural work of God on account of His own purpose and His own plan to redeem and purify a people for Himself.

Discussion Questions

  • Question #1: In what ways have you been led to believe that Christianity is something you must do or something you must become? If Christianity is something that God does to you, how does that impact your obedience?  

 

  • Question #2: In what ways does our own culture promote an attitude of self-reliance and in what ways does this create tension for you as a Christian living and working in this culture? 

 

  • Question #3: Does your life and lifestyle look like something that only God could do? Do people close to you and who are able to observe your life find your way of life amazing, astonishing or interesting? Why should they?

study 9: waiting for the hope of righteousness

Summary Statements

  • Christian deeds are only properly 'Christian' when they are motivated by Christian doctrine.
  • The Christian life is not about working constantly on your life or wandering casually throughout your life, but rather the Christian life is about waiting confidently on another life.
  • Obedience to the truth of the gospel is not constantly working to excel in our moral performance but confidently ‘standing firm’ and ‘eagerly waiting’ for what our faith in Christ has promised.
  • A good measure of your Christian condition is whether or not you expect your life here in this world to be the waiting period or the actual wedding party.

Discussion Questions

  • Question #1: In what way and why were the Galatians choosing 'slavery' over the freedom given and experienced in the gospel of Christ? In what ways are we tempted to do the same thing and why?

 

  • Question #2: In what way might the freedom offered in the gospel of Christ be offensive to those who may put too much emphasis on Christian behavior?

 

  • Question #3: In what way might the freedom offered in the gospel of Christ be offensive to those who put too much emphasis on Christian inspiration? In what ways is Christ infinitely more than an inspiring example or our friend and helpful companion?

Study 10: Through love serve one another

Summary Statements

  • True love is the willing sacrifice of yourself for the ultimate good and eternal redemption of someone else.
  • Christian love powered by the Holy Spirit produces a love for God and a love for others that has been motivated by the incredible love of Christ.
  • Christian freedom is not an opportunity to serve yourself, but rather a call to serve others through compassionate, confrontational and costly love.
  • Only the love of God demonstrated in the cross of Christ possesses the power to shatter our selfish pursuits to live for mere personal pleasure.

Discussion Questions

  • Question #1: Do you agree or disagree with the above definition of true love? In what ways does it cause conflict with our culture’s redefinition of love? 

 

  • Question #2: In what way is Christian salvation not a matter of our obedience to God, and yet the Christian life is a life of obedience to God?

 

  • Question #3: In what ways are you most prone to struggle in your efforts to love the people around you? In what specific way might you need to sacrifice more of your time, energy or resources in order to better serve those around you?

study 11: walk by the spirit

Summary Statements

  • We can perform Works, but we can only bear Fruit.
  • Every individual Christian will gradually and inevitably find themselves producing this fruit of the Spirit.
  • Walking by the Spirit is committing ourselves to the way Christ calls us to live and trusting Him to take care of the rest. 
  • Rather than working on our sin in fear, we must be working out our faith in love.

Discussion Questions

  • Question #1: Which of the "works of the flesh" listed here by the apostle Paul stands out to you in your own personal struggle? What might be a deeply rooted reason for our particular struggle in this area? 

 

  • Question #2: Define the phrases “works of the flesh” and “fruit of the Spirit” in two simple phrases that you can remember. Why will we continuously feel the internal tension between the two throughout this life and what is our ultimate hope and strength for overcoming the “works of the flesh”?  

 

  • Question #3: What does it mean practically for us on a daily basis to have "crucified the flesh" and to now "walk by the Spirit"?

study 12: a man reaps what he sows

Summary Statements

  • Self-conceit is our deep sense of lacking the honor or glory we feel that we deserve.
  • When we live in inferiority, we will focus on our gain or another’s loss but never purely on our loss for another’s gain.
  • When we live in superiority, we will focus on how others prove that we’re better but never purely on how we can help make them better.
  • Christian man recognizes that he is completely underserving of anything, but at the same time rejoices that God has considered him worthy of everything.

Discussion Questions

  • Question #1: In what ways do you find your conceit playing itself out in your own relationships? In what ways do you find yourself trying to prove your worth to yourself and others? How might this hinder your service to others?   

 

  • Question #2: How should viewing ourselves in light of the gospel change the way we view ourselves and view others? How does this empower us to actually serve others through pure love?

 

  • Question #3: What might be some specific opportunities that we currently have to work out our faith in love by serving others and especially serving those who are among the “household of faith”?

Study 13: the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ

Summary Statements

  • Christianity is not about what man must do but only about what Christ has done.
  • Do you understand the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and are you certain that you have understood it rightly?
  • Is the cross of Christ the pride and joy of your life and the very thing that gives your life its ultimate meaning and purpose?
  • The truth concerning the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ was the pride and joy of Paul’s life, and he had the scars of persecution to prove it.

Discussion Questions

  • Question #1: In what ways do people minimize the importance of knowing and understanding Christian doctrine? In what ways has Paul’s letter to the Galatians highlighted the importance of understanding Christian doctrine? 

 

  • Question #2: Justification before God is only granted when we receive it by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone. How is any attempt to play a part in our own salvation an outright refusal to receive what God has offered us?

 

  • Question #3: How does what Paul proclaims in v. 14 encourage and excite you? How does what Paul proclaims in v. 14 challenge or concern you?