Reach Gather Grow
in Galatians

Lesson One • Reach

Pastor Ben Kirkman

I absolutely love the book of Galatians. It also happens to be the first book of the Bible that I taught entirely through as a Pastor. The Lord knew it was exactly what I and the wonderful people I was pastoring needed. It was a life-changing study for many reasons. One of the biggest impacts Galatians had on my life was seeing the passion the apostle Paul had for the truth of the Gospel.

1. Is there a Bible passage that has been influential in your life? Why?

In his letter to the churches of Galatia, Paul gets straight to the point. He has something very important to say - no time for small talk. You have been there before, right? You have some information so important you skip the conversational formalities.

Before we get to Paul's important warning to these churches, I want to give you a quick background on his history with them. Before the writing of this letter to these churches, Paul had spent some time personally ministering to the people of Galatia. This is modern-day Turkey, and you can read about some of his adventures there in Acts. While he was in those places, Paul did what he always did (after the Lord got ahold of him) - he preached the Gospel. He faithfully spread the message of the sufficiency of the sacrifice of Christ. He spread the message of salvation by grace, through faith, in Jesus Christ alone.

Some of the people of Galatia received this message well, and the Gospel was spreading there. With the Gospel circulating so well, there were people that would follow Paul around and spread a “false” gospel that Jesus was not enough for salvation. Their message was that a person needed to add religious rituals, traditions, and activities to what Jesus did in order to truly be saved. They brought confusion and contention to the believers in Galatia. Their message would have been something like, “I know Paul said this, but here is what you really need to do to be truly saved.”

With the confusion dominating at these churches, we can see why Paul would skip the small talk and get straight to the point. He starts out by reminding them where his Gospel message came from. Galatians 1:1 says, “Paul, an apostle - not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father.” Paul’s message was, “People of Galatia, remember; you can trust the Gospel I have shared with you because it is directly from God. Remember, the Gospel I taught you is a Gospel of grace and peace from God!” Galatians 1:3-4 adds, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins.”

The true Gospel is only possible because of God’s grace. The result of trusting in the necessary, gracious payment of Jesus for salvation brings peace with God.
The false gospel that the Judaizers in Galatia were spreading did not offer peace or hope. In fact, the reality of a performance-based gospel is doubt and fear. It left (and still leaves) people hoping they had done enough to be at peace with God, but they were always in a spot of uncertainty. The true Gospel offers the certainty of grace and peace with God through Jesus. Romans 5:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into his grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

2. How would you explain salvation by grace through faith to someone?

3. How would a “gospel” that required religious works plus trusting in Jesus be problematic?

Even with the true Gospel preached by Paul and its impact of grace and peace in their lives, the believers of Galatia were starting to be swayed by this different, legalistic “gospel” of the Judaizers. Galatians 1:6-7 says, “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 - not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.”

4. What might be the appeal to a works-based gospel?

5. What is the problem with this distorted works-based gospel?

Paul has encouraged the believers of Galatia with what the true Gospel provides. He then warns them that there is no other gospel but the one that is from God through Jesus and gives a strong warning against the people spreading a false gospel. Galatians 1:8-9 continues, “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. 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.” Paul gives more than just a “be careful” to the people spreading a false gospel, twice he calls for them to be cursed! Paul is not playing around with the necessity of the true Gospel.

6. Why would Paul call for a curse against those spreading a false gospel?

After Jesus got ahold of Paul with the true Gospel, Paul devoted himself to spreading the message of peace with God through Christ alone. He knew the truth. He knew where hope truly came from, and he passionately shared the message at any cost. His whole life became about sharing Jesus no matter what. He was so passionate about the Gospel that the only one he cared about pleasing was Jesus. Galatians 1:10 says, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man?  If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” He faithfully served Christ, spreading the Gospel with his whole life.  

7. Have you truly believed in the Gospel of Jesus for salvation?

8.How and who can you share the Gospel with this week?