Sunday, March 18, 2012

Preaching the Book of Galatians to Yourself – Chapter One

Guest post by BJ Stockman

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones asks a provoking question, ”Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?”  (Spiritual Depression, p. 20)

He then offers an equally provoking remedy to this condition: “The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself.  You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself.” (Ibid., p. 20, emphasis mine)

I too am convinced that preaching the Gospel to yourself is a wonderful “art” to develop as a Christian.  I need the Gospel every day, and because I need the Gospel every day I need ways in which to remind myself of what God has done in Christ.  Since Paul’s book of Galatians is a kind of Gospel punch-in-the-gut, I figured that’d be a good book to start preaching to myself.  Therefore I will be doing a series of blog posts on “Preaching the Book of Galatians to Yourself”.  I will be taking, for the most part, every verse in Galatians and turn it into self-sermons.

There are two main caveats to what follows.

First, it could be argued that some of these are more like resolutions from the book of Galatians, and that if a person took only one particular bullet point it could turn into moralism.  That is true. These bullet points are meant to be taken more in chunks rather than just one at a time. They are not meant to be some sort of positive-thinking or self-actualizing  mantra.  My hope is that they are Gospel laden.  However, if you want to call ‘em resolutions from Galatians go for it.

Second, some may think this is a bit individualistic and introspective.  I do not mean it to be so. Preaching the Gospel to yourself should lift you out of preoccupation with yourself and move you into preoccupation with God and what he has done in the person and work of Jesus Christ.  A preoccupation with what Jesus has done will overflow with greater love for God and greater love for your neighbor.
With that in mind, here goes…

Chapter One
  • Paul is a man on a mission sent from God not from other men, and thus I believe that his message to the Galatians is a message sent from God not from man. (1:1)
  • I too am on mission sent from God.  God is a sending God doing mission on the earth and I am a Gospel-missionary to my surrounding context no matter what my social or “ministry” status.  (1:1)
  • Paul’s message to the Galatians is sent to churches not to an individual.  Therefore I recognize that God’s Gospel is not just for me, but to a wider community of brothers and sisters in Christ.  I will not live a life centered upon “I” but upon “us.” (1:2)
  • I receive the grace and peace that God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ has given me through the Gospel and within Paul’s letter to the Galatians. (1:3)
  • Jesus gave Himself for my sins in order to rescue me from this present evil age.   Therefore one of the reasons my sins are forgiven is to rescue me from living a life committed to the values of the world. (1:4)
  • God’s rescue and Gods’ gift of salvation in Christ are the plan of God.  It was God’s will to save me.  My salvation is a result of God’s initiative not my own initiative. (1:4)
  • My salvation is more about God’s glory than it is about me. (1:5)
  • I, like the Galatians, am prone to desert the true Gospel of the grace of Jesus for something different. Therefore I repent of my Gospel-forgetfulness and will seek daily Gospel-wakefulness (1:6)
  • I recognize that there are those in the church who want to disturb God’s people and distort the gospel of Christ. Therefore I will not live gullibly, but circumspectly in life and doctrine (1:7)
  • Any “gospel” message that de-emphasizes and de-centralizes the grace of God is a distortion of God’s Gospel.  Therefore I will reject any message that seeks to combine the work of man with the work of God in salvation.  (1:6-7)
  • If any man or woman preaches a message contrary to the grace of Christ: let them be accursed. (1:8)
  • Even if angels were to show up and give me a message different from Paul’s message to the Galatians: let them be anathema. (1:8)
  • Since Paul repeats this I recognize that Gospel repetition is important, and I believe that any human being or any angel who preaches something contrary to God’s grace in Christ and that which is different than Paul’s message to the Galatians is to be damned to hell. Therefore I will not trifle and tinker with the Gospel, because it is a matter of an eternal blessing or an eternal curse. (1:9)
  • I will not seek the favor of men, but the favor of God.  (1:10)
  • The Gospel of Jesus Christ was not made up by men, but originates in God.  Since Paul was taught the message of the Gospel through a revelation of Jesus Christ I will reject any supposed revelation that subverts or minimizes his message. (1:11-12)
  • In the Gospel I am a recipient of divine revelation not man-made tradition. (1:11-12)
  • Before Paul became a Christian he was zealous for man-made traditions and was one of the best students of Judaism, and even persecuted the church of God because he thought he was defending the truth and doing righteousness.  In light of this, I will seek to be zealous not for man-made traditions and religion, but for God’s Gospel. (1:13-14)
  • I, like Paul, have been set apart by God from my mother’s womb and have been called by the grace of Christ.  I am encouraged that God’s loving pleasure in me precedes my birth and precedes my faith in His Gospel. I am also encouraged that God’s call does not rest on my faith, but that my faith was born out of God’s call.  (1:15)
  • I will seek to preach Jesus and not myself to those around me. (1:16)
  • I do not need validation from the culture or men and women that surround me to confirm the truth of the Gospel.  God has already publicly validated his message by raising Jesus from the dead. (1:1, 1:16-21)
  • I will glorify God when He saves wicked men like Paul, because I recognize first and foremost that he has saved wicked men like me. (1:22-24)
  • I will not be frustrated by the fact that God chooses and saves those who have mistreated his church, ones I love, and even those who have mistreated me, but I will glory in the gracious work of God. (1:22-24)

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