Galatians Bible Study, Pt. 43: Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

Class #43:  Where there is no concord in the true Christian doctrine, there is also no peace in Christian love. Parties and factions form based on human law opinions. Making demands for particular external works, these self-appointed life-styles create dissension and thus cause limitations on love. In the end, each one bites and devours the other. For the Christian, the law reveals sin and the Gospel message is to be trusted for righteousness/ forgiveness. The forgiven Christian is free to serve the neighbor in love–the true spiritual life.  We carry each others burdens.

This lesson examines a list of good works compiled by Dr. Martin Luther.  It may not be what you would expect.  Some are passive directing us not to strike back when offended or harmed.  Others are mundane works within your vocation.  We also consider a list of those who are “your neighbor.”

Overhead: Galatians Class 43 Overhead
Handout: Galatians Bible Study Chapter 5 16 thru 21

#71- You Have No Ability To Pray Except in Christ Jesus

“For if we prayed without faith, this would be to curse twice over, as we learned in our nasty papistical holiness. But where there is a believing heart and that heart has before it the promise of God it quite simply and artlessly prays its ‘Our Father’ and is heard. Outside of this church of God you may present your prayers and supplications to great lords and potentates to the best of your ability, but here you have no ability to pray except in Christ Jesus, in order that we may not boast that we are holy as they do in the papacy, who protest, of course, and say: Oh, it would be a presumption for anybody to call himself holy and fit; and yet they teach that man of himself has a ‘certain preparation’ for prayer.

They also teach prayer according to this doctrine in their chants and say: I have prayed in despair as a poor sinner. Oh, stop that kind of praying! It would be better to drop such praying altogether if you despair. For despair ruins everything and if you go to baptism, prayer, and the sacrament without faith and in despair, you are actually mocking God. What you should quickly say, however, is this: I am certain that my dear God has so commanded and that he has assured me of the forgiveness of sins; therefore I will baptize, absolve, and pray. And immediately you will receive this treasure in your heart. It does not depend on our worthiness or unworthiness, for both of these can only make us despair. Therefore do not allow yourself by any means to be driven to despair. For it is a mockery of God when we do not believe the words, ‘Go and baptize’ [Matt. 28:19], that is, baptize those who repent and are sorry for their sins. Here you hear that this is not human work, but the work of God the Father; he is the Householder who wills to dwell here. But if we despair, then we should stay away from the sacrament and from prayer, and first learn to say: All right, it makes no difference that I am unworthy, God is truthful nevertheless, and he has most certainly promised and assured us; I’ll stake my life on this” (Luther’s Works, v. 51, p. 307-308).

Galatians Bible Study, Pt. 42: Freedom FOR…

Class #42:  We often speak of how we are saved FROM sin, death and the power of the devil.  With Galatians 5:13ff, St. Paul tell us what we were saved FOR.  Having been slaves, we were called by the Gospel NOT FOR indulging the flesh, but FOR serving one another in love.  Having laid the true foundation (salvation through faith in Jesus alone), St. Paul directs us to build on that foundation by good works of love toward the neighbor.

When it come to the true doctrine, we are to hold firmly to the Word and not give up even one teaching.  When it comes to the life of others, we generously forgive sins, as love bears with all things.

Overhead: Galatians Class 42 Overhead
Handout: Galatians Bible Study Chapter 5 16 thru 21

#70- By God’s Command, Authority and Power Come Deliverance

“Likewise, the blessed sacrament is not administered by men, but rather by God’s command; we only lend our hands to it. Do you think this is an insignificant meal, which feeds not only the soul but also the mortal body of a poor, condemned sinner for the forgiveness of sins in order that the body too may live? This is God’s power, this Householder’s power, not men’s.

So also in the absolution, when a distressed sinner is pardoned. By what authority and command is he pardoned? Not by human command, but by God’s command. Behold, here by God’s power I deliver you from the kingdom of the devil and transfer you to the kingdom of God [Col. 1:13]. So it is too with our prayer, which gains all things from God, not through its own power, or because it is able to do this, but because it trusts in God’s promise. In the world you see how hard it is to approach the Roman emperor and gain help; but a devout Christian can always come to God with a humble, believing prayer and be heard.

In short, the Word and the Holy Spirit, who prepares us for prayer, are in God’s power. It is the Word which we believe—this is what makes our hearts so bold that we dare to call ourselves the children of the Father. Where does this come from? The answer is: From God, who teaches us to pray in the Lord’s Prayer and puts into our hands the book of Psalms” (Luther’s Works, v. 51, p. 307).

Galatians Bible Study, Pt. 41: Not a License to Sin

Class #41:  St. Paul has presented the truth of the believer’s justification through faith in Jesus Christ alone.  He has made it clear that anyone who admits the bondage of the yoke of the law into the article of justification has “fallen away from grace” (5:4).  Last of all, St. Paul tells the Galatians to remove the false teachers from the congregation.

Beginning with 5:13, St. Paul builds on this foundation of Christian freedom and directs the members to “Serve one another through love.”  The Galatians are not to use their Christian freedom as a license(permission) to sin.  St. Paul encourages and exhorts them to do true good works of love, which flow from faith.


Overhead: Galatians Class 41 Overhead
Handout: Galatians Bible Study Chapter 5 16 thru 21