Galatians Bible Study, Pt. 20: Believing Abraham

Class #20:  Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness” (Galatians 3:6, Genesis 15:6).  All of the Old Testament upholds the Scriptural doctrine of justification by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.  The promise given to Abraham was not that he was to be the father of the Jewish nation.  God’s promise was that in Abraham “all the nations/families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen 12:3, 18:18, etc.).  God justifies the people of all nations by faith.

Abraham believed in the promise of the Savior, Jesus Christ, coming from his own body.  Abraham’s righteousness was not accomplished by his own works.  He was declared to be righteous from faith.  Abraham believed that God would create from him “a great nation,” that is the church!  The false teachers cannot claim Abraham in support of their righteousness by works. On the contrary, it is the Galatians, who are “of faith,” that can claim Abraham as their father.  The believing Galatians are the true sons of believing Abraham.

Overhead: Galatians Class 20 Overhead
Handouts: Galatians Bible Study Chapter 3 6-9  and seed offspring descendant NKJV

#14-Forgiveness of Sins Comes Only Through Hearing

Psalm 51:8. To my hearing Thou wilt give joy and gladness, and the humbled bones will rejoice.

“There is good reason for my repeated statement that this psalm not only provides an example of justification in David, but also presents the true teaching about the reason and manner of justification in all men. Thus this psalm is a sort of general rule how sinners become righteous. The last two verses have set forth a part of this rule, refuting all the other ways on which men rely for cleansing from their sins and reconciliation with God, either by the works of the Law or by other works they chose for themselves. He does not only require a hidden truth against hypocrisy, but he also requires another sprinkling than the one the Law had. To make this more clearly understood, he adds: ‘To my hearing Thou wilt give joy.’ It is as though he were to say: ‘Sprinkle me in such a way that Thou wilt give joy to my hearing, that is, that I might have peace of heart through the Word of grace.’ The emphasis falls on the noun ‘hearing,’ but the Hebrew reads a little differently: ‘Make me hear joy.’ The meaning is the same in either case. He simply wants the forgiveness of sins, which alone grants joy, to come only through the Word or only through hearing. For if you tortured yourself to death, if you shed your blood, if with ready heart you underwent and bore everything that is humanly possible—all this would not help you. Only hearing brings joy. This is the only way for the heart to find peace before God. Everything else that it can undertake leaves doubt in the mind” (Luther’s Works, vol. 12, p.367-368).

Galatians Bible Study, Pt. 19: A Christian By The Hearing of Faith

Class #19:  St. Paul unceasingly preached Jesus Christ as crucified for their sins, in order that faith would come to the Galatians by the hearing of the Gospel message.  They had received the Spirit by the hearing of faith.  They were progressing in sanctification by the hearing of faith.  Both St. Paul and the Galatians had suffered at the hands of others for their profession of justification by the hearing of faith.  With Galatians 3:1, St. Paul calls them “foolish” for setting aside the hearing of faith in order to cling to works of the law.  The teachers who taught this falsehood had “bewitched” the Galatians.

We briefly touch upon the reason for the omission of the words “that you should not obey the truth” in Galatians 3:1 of some English translations.

Overhead:  Galatians Class 19 Overheads
Handout: Galatians Class 19 Handouts

#13-Other Writings are Only a Testimony and Explanation of Our Faith

“According to the above mentioned principles, all doctrines must be conformed, and that which is contrary to them, must be rejected and condemned, as being repugnant to the unanimous declaration of our faith.

In this manner the difference between the holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments and all other writings, will be preserved, and the holy Scriptures alone will remain as the sole judge, rule, and standard, according to which, as the only touchstone, all doctrines shall and must be understood and judged whether they be good or evil, right or wrong.

But the other symbols and writings mentioned above, are not authorities like the holy Scriptures; but they are only a testimony and explanation of our faith, showing the manner in which at any time the holy Scriptures were understood and explained by those who then lived, in respect to articles that had been controverted in the church of God, and also the grounds on which doctrines that were opposed to the holy Scriptures, had been rejected and condemned”  (Formula of Concord, Epitome, Rule and Standard, Henkel p. 554)

Galatians Bible Study, Part 18: Distinguishing Justification and Sanctification

Class #18:  There is a distinction between justification(Christ for me) and the fruits of justification, called sanctification(Christ in me).  A person is saved when he is justified by faith in Christ, “who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal 2:20).  It always follows that the person who is justified, is sanctified.  That is, God creates a new heart so that the Christian desires to please God and love the neighbor.  Nevertheless, due to the sinful nature, that sanctification is imperfect.   We are not saved by our sanctification, nor do we trust in our sanctification.  We trust in Christ for our justification, which is always perfect.

At the end of Galatians, chapter 2, St. Paul begins to speak about the results or fruits of the Galatians having been crucified with Christ(justification).  “Christ lives in(ἐν) me” and “I live in(ἐν) faith to the Son of God” (Gal 2:20).  Beginning with Galatians, chapter 3, he asks them to look at how their Christian life began, if they were now continuing to live by faith, and the suffering they had endured as a Christian.

With this lesson, we examine the Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article III. Righteousness, 24-29, 37-54, in order to clearly speak about justification and sanctification.  We take note Of the 7+ ways to fail at distinguishing between justification and sanctification.

Overhead: Galatians Class 18 Overhead
Handout: Formula of Concord Solid Declaration III Righteousness Jan 15 2017

#12-Luther’s Catechisms: All that a Christian Needs to Know for His Salvation

“3. But so far as it pertains to the divisions in matters of faith, which have arisen in our day, we regard as the unanimous expression and declaration of our Christian faith and confession,—particularly in opposition to the Papacy and its false methods of worship, its idolatry, and its superstition, as well as to other sects,—the symbol of our time, the original, unaltered Augsburg Confession, delivered to the Emperor Charles V. at Augsburg, in the year 1530, at the great Diet; together with the Apology of the same, and the Articles drawn up at Smalcald, in the year 1537, and subscribed by the most eminent theologians at that time.

And inasmuch as these matters also concern all laymen, and the salvation of their souls, we also acknowledge the Smaller and Larger Catechisms of Dr. Luther, in the form in which both these Catechisms occur in the writings of Luther, as a species of bible of the laity, comprising all that is treated of copiously in the holy Scriptures, and all that it is necessary for a Christian to know for his salvation” (Formula of Concord, Epitome, Rule and Standard, Henkel p. 554)

Galatians Bible Study, Pt. 17: The Law has No Place in Justification

Class #17:  St. Paul continues to emphasize the contrast between righteousness by(διά) faith in Christ and righteousness by (διά) law.   The Scriptural teaching of justification by faith cannot allow the introduction of even a drop of works-righteousness otherwise grace is frustrated and Christ died for nothing.

The law has no place in the doctrine of justification.  Of course, the law is to be used to show me my sin, so that I die to the law.  The law is no longer my master and I am no longer his servant.  Through faith in Christ, I live a new life of thankfulness toward God.

Overhead: Galatians Class 17 Overhead

Galatians Bible Study, Pt. 16: Christ isn’t a Minister of Sin, is He?

Class #16:  St. Paul declares that Jews know—because of the teaching of the Old Testament—that no flesh is justified by keeping the law(Ps 143:2).  Therefore, in order to be justified according to the promise of the Gospel(Mk 16:16), Christians have believed in Jesus Christ.

With Galatians 2:17-18, St. Paul shows the logical result of what happens when a Christian (who is seeking to be justified by faith) adds the requirement of keeping the law for his justification.  With verse 17, we learn that if faith in Christ alone is insufficient to save, then Christ has become a servant who lead us into sin.  Similarly in verse 18, we see that if believers in Christ need the law in order to be justified, then the church’s teaching of faith alone makes us lawbreakers.  We cannot rebuild the law as a requirement for justification, without turning Christ into a sin-causer and us back into a transgressor.  The truth of the Gospel is that important!

Overhead:  Galatians Class 16 Overhead

#11-The Only Rule and Standard is The Word of God

“1. We believe, teach and confess, that the only rule and standard, according to which all doctrines and teachers alike ought to be tried and judged, are the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments alone, as it is written, Psalm 119:105: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” And St. Paul, Gal. 1:8, says: “Though an angel from heaven preach any other Gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” Other writings, however, of ancient and modern teachers, whatever their reputation may be, shall not be held to be of equal authority with the holy Scripture, but to be subordinate to it, and shall not be received otherwise or further than as witnesses respecting the manner in which such doctrine of the Prophets and Apostles, was held in certain places, after the age of the Apostles.

  1. And as, immediately after the time of the Apostles, and even while they were yet living, false teachers and heretics arose, against whom Symbols, that is, short, plain confessions, were drawn up in the first churches, which were unanimously held as the universal Christian faith and confession of the orthodox and true churches, namely, the Apostolic Symbol, the Nicene Symbol, and the Athanasian Symbol; we publicly acknowledge these, and hereby reject all heresies and doctrines, which, in opposition to these, have been introduced into the church of God” (Formula of Concord, Epitome, Rule and Standard, Henkel p. 553-554).

#10 –Controversies need to be explained from the Word of God

“…just as our Papist adversaries at present exult on account of the dissensions which have arisen among us, cherishing a hope by no means pious, indeed a false hope, that the utter ruin and extinction of our sound doctrine must follow from our internal controversies. In the meantime, weak persons are exceedingly offended and disturbed; some doubt whether, in the midst of these serious dissensions, the true doctrine can be found among us; some cannot decide to which party they ought to adhere in these controverted articles. For these controversies are not mere misunderstandings or vain and unnecessary disputes concerning words, such as often arise when one party has not fully understood the opinion of another, as perhaps in these religious transactions it may appear to be the case to some, who imagine that these disputes refer only to a few words which can surely be of no great importance. But these are very important subjects and are of such a nature, that the opinion of that party which departs from the truth, neither can be nor ought to be tolerated in the church of God—much less be excused or defended.

Wherefore necessity requires that these controverted articles should be distinctly explained from the Word of God, and from approved writings, so that all pious and intelligent persons may perceive whose opinion, in these controversies is conformable to the Word of God, and the orthodox Augsburg Confession, and what opinion is opposed to these approved writings; that good and pious minds, to whom truth is dear, may avoid and escape the corruptions and errors which have arisen” (Formula of Concord, Full Declaration, Preface, Henkel p.594).