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Jesus is Enough (Galatians 1:1-5)

March 18, 2012 Speaker: Bryce Morgan Series: When Jesus Isn't Enough (Galatians)

Topic: Galatians Passage: Galatians 1:1–1:5

When Jesus Isn’t Enough (Galatians)

Why Jesus is Enough

Galatians 1:1-5

March 18th, 2012

Way of Grace Church

I. Introduction: When Does “Full” Mean Full?

One of the most interesting things about kids is how their stomachs, when (quote-un-quote) 'full', are always full of surprises. Here's what I mean: there are certain instances in which our children will grab their stomachs, and squint their eyes, and cock their heads and say, “I'm full.” And then we'll tell them, “Okay five more bites.” And they might say, “No, I can't eat one more bite...I'm so full.”

But can you guess what happens when the topic of dessert is introduced? Surprise, surprise, all of a sudden no is one is full anymore. Everyone seems to have extra room in their stomachs.

So even though our kids claim they've had more than enough, their desire to add one more thing makes that claim a little suspicious.

This morning we begin a new study, a study of the book of, or more specifically, the letter to the Galatians (Paul's letter to the Galatians). So let’s look together at Galatians 1:1.

II. The Passage: “But through Jesus Christ” (1:1-5)

Now, this morning we’re just going to look at the first five verses of chapter 1. As you will see, these five verses represent the formal introduction of the letter. In our formal introductions, in our letters, we usually just write something like “Dear ‘So and So’” or “To whom it may concern”. Or we might add a little more like “I hope this note finds you well”.

But in several of Paul’s letters we find an extended introduction. And that’s what we find here. So as we read this formal introduction, let’s think about why Paul begins the letter this way, that is, why he includes here what he does.

Let me begin in verse 1:

Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead—[2] and all the brothers who are with me, to the churches of Galatia: [3] Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, [4] who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, [5] to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

That’s quite an introduction, isn’t it? In these verses I see three pairs that form the backbone of this very substantial introduction.

A. The Apostle and His Audience (1:1, 2)

The first pair I see here includes the apostle and his audience.

Very clearly, Paul is the author of this letter, and right ‘out of the gate’ he identifies himself as “an apostle”. The word “apostle” means “one who is sent”. An apostle was someone who was sent out to be an official representative of the sender. For this reason, even Jesus is labeled an “apostle” in Hebrews 3:1, since He was sent as God’s official representative.

But when Paul calls himself “an apostle” here, he is referring to himself as one who was hand-picked by Jesus (Acts 9) to go for Jesus with the authority to represent Jesus and His message. Apostles like this included the Twelve from the Gospels and Acts, Paul, and probably also James the half-brother of Jesus.

And we see from the rest of verse 1 that Paul wants to emphasize the meaning of the word “apostle” by emphasizing the fact that he was sent “not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father.”

But notice where the letter is directed. Unlike most of the letters in the New Testament, this letter is not directed to people living in a city called Galatia, but to “churches” (v. 2) in the Roman province of Galatia.

In fact, when you consider what this book tells us about Paul's personal history and what the book of Acts tells us, when you harmonize the book of Galatians and the book of Acts, what seems most likely is that these Galatian churches were the churches in cities like Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe, cities in southern Galatia.

From the book of Acts, we know these were the churches that Paul and Barnabas established on their first missionary journey described in Acts 13 and 14. And given other clues from this book and from Acts, this letter seems to have been written very soon after that missionary journey. So this means that these were young Christians that Paul was writing to, and that Galatians was one of the first letters, if not THE first letter written by Paul.

B. The Father and His Son (1:1, 3-5)

The second pair we find here includes the Father and His Son.

Did you notice the way God the Father and Jesus the Son are woven together in this section? Jesus is mentioned first in verse 1, and then God the Father. But God the Father is quickly qualified as the one “who raised him [who raised Jesus] from the dead”. Then in verse 3, God the Father is listed first, followed by Jesus. But this time, it's Jesus who is quickly qualified as the one “who gave himself for our sins”. But notice what Paul writes after that qualification. He specifies that Jesus “gave himself...according to the will of our God and Father”.

In five verses, “God the Father” is mentioned three times. But in all of those instances, he is connected in some way with Jesus the Son.

Now Jesus is not specifically called the “Son” here until verse 16 of this chapter, but you can see how closely Paul is connecting Jesus Christ and God the Father. It was God who was at work in the work of Jesus, and it was Jesus who was uniquely carrying out the will of God.

Now keep that in mind as we look at the last pair in these opening verses.

C. The Sacrifice and His Resurrection (1:1, 4)

Look at the two things that are emphasized about Jesus in verses 1 and 4. God “raised him from the dead” and “he gave himself for our sins”. This is the last pair we find here. Paul is highlighitng the sacrifice and His resurrection.

On the cross, Jesus was the sacrifice. But verse 4 tells us His sacrifice was a voluntary sacrifice (he “gave himself”), AND verse 4 goes on to tell us His sacrifice was a sacrifice “for our sins.” The Apostle Peter expressed this same idea in I Peter 2:24: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”

But notice what Paul tells us in verse 4 about what Jesus' sacrifice accomplished. His death on our behalf, for “our sins”, resulted in our being “deliver[ed] from the present evil age”.

All throughout the Bible we find a contrast between the “present” age and the “age to come”. And in many places (John 12:31, II Corinthians 4:4, Ephesians 2:2, I John 5:19....in those verses), what defines this present age is the fact that it is corrupted by the influence of the devil. In Acts 2:40, it is described as a “crooked generation”. In Philippians 2:15, Paul describes it as a “crooked and twisted generation”.

But through His death, Jesus has delivered us from the power of this corruption. The word Paul uses here literally means “to pluck out”. In the book of Acts, in Acts 7, Luke uses this same word to describe how God “delivered” the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Through His death, Christ has plucked us out of the flood of evil that is carrying this world away; through His death he has delivered us from the slavery with which this world is enslaved.

But the death of Jesus was not the end of Jesus. Verse 1: God “raised him from the dead”. So the two facts Paul explicitly emphasizes about Jesus in these opening verses are the the two pillars of the gospel, the “Good News”. Paul makes this clear in I Corinthians 15:

“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you...that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, [4] that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (I Corinthians 15:1a, 3b-4)

Jesus Christ is the very center of the entire Bible. But Jesus Christ is not fully declared unless His death and resurrection are declared. You cannot separate Jesus from the “Good News” about Jesus. As Jesus said in Mark 8:35...

For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it.

III. Stuffed with the Sufficiency of Jesus

Now let's go back to one of our initial observations this morning. Paul begins his letter to the Galatians with what can be described as an extended introduction. And as I mentioned before, of Paul's thirteen New Testament letters, only two other letters have this kind of extended introduction: Romans and Titus.

So as we begin our study of Galatians, this observation begs the question, “Why? Why did Paul begin the letter this way? Why did he emphasize these things from the outset of the book? Why devote so much ink to these truths in the the introduction of the letter?”

I think the answer to that question can only be understood when we understand the reason Paul was writing to these churches in Galatia. If we had time to read through the entire letter this morning, it would be absolutely clear that these churches were in trouble, AND that Paul was very concerned about what was happening with them.

As Paul writes in 4:20, “I am perplexed about you”. In 3:20 he asks, “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?” And in 5:7 he asks, “You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?” These young Christians were being “troubled” (5:10), and Paul is clear with them about the stakes involved in their struggle. Look at 5:1...For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

If we go back to chapter 1, and look at the very next verse after the introduction, we see that Paul is as clear as He can be about how the serious the situation really is. He writes 1:6: 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... (Galatians 1:6)

Now this morning we are not going to jump into the specifics of how these churches were being led astray, but it’s enough to say that these Christians were being told thatJesus isn’t enough. Those might not have been the specific words used by whoever was troubling them, but these new believers were being taught that the formula of salvation is “Jesus + Something Else = Everything”.

Have you ever fallen into that trap? Have you ever tried to live according to that equation? The reality is that all of us are easily “bewitched”. We might confess that “Jesus is enough”, but our lives can communicate just the opposite.

We say, “Yes, I trust Jesus, but…”. We declare, “I will follow Jesus, but…”. We say, “I am content with Jesus, but…”, “I do love Jesus, but…”, “I am not ashamed of Jesus, but…”, “I will obey Jesus, but…”.

We say “We’re full” with Christ and then run after the latest this, or the next great that. We say “We’re full” with Christ, but aggressively pursue a new life, or a new house, or a new spouse, or a new job. We say, “We’re full” with Christ, but accept the world’s answers for why we’re struggling: “I just need to be medicated. I just need to be educated. I just need to be venerated and celebrated.”

Like my children, we claim we've had more than enough, but our desire to add one more thing makes that claim a little suspicious.

The fourth century church leader Augustine said this: Jesus Christ is not valued at all until He is valued above all.

Why does Paul begin this letter the way he does? Why does the letter open with this extended introduction? Paul starts the letter this way because, right from the ‘get-go’, Paul wants them to understand that Jesus is enough! Faith in Jesus Christ is enough. Do you believe that?

Before he begins to dismantle the false formula they’ve been given, Paul wants to remind them of the true formula they were taught when Paul and Barnabas first brought the gospel to them. You see, “Jesus + Something Else = Nothing”, but “Jesus + Nothing = Everything”! Faith in Jesus, and faith alone, is the word of grace that Paul first brought these churches.

Right from the start Paul wants them to understand that through faith, they have been stuffed with the sufficiency of Jesus. Have you ever been stuffed by a delicious meal? Maybe on Thanksgiving, or at some amazing restaurant where the food was so good that you had to eat every last bite. And when you’re stuffed and satisfied like that, and the waiter brings that dessert tray around, even the best looking dessert is unable ‘bewitch’ you, because you know that you are completely full.

Look at how Paul reminds the Galatians in these opening verses that Jesus is enough, that they have been stuffed with the absolute sufficiency of Jesus. I see four ways Paul does that here.

1. He has clearly made himself known. (CHANGE: He is enough because God said so)

First,Jesus is enough because God has said that Jesus is enough. Paul makes it clear in verse 1 that he has not been sent from men; that his authority as a messenger did not come through man, but came from and “through Jesus Christ and God the Father”.

The sufficiency of Jesus, the sufficiency of faith in Christ, is not based on Paul’s words or my words to you this morning. It’s based on the testimony of God, the One who made you, the One who made everything. The men who were troubling and bewitching the Galatians had no basis for their teaching. They could not say that Jesus had commissioned them. But Paul could. His message of faith alone was straight from God. It came with divine authority.

2. He is the Christ, the Lord, and the Son.

Second, Jesus is enough because, as we see from these verses, He is the Christ, the Lord, and the Son.

“Christ” was not Jesus’ last name. He was from the “Christ household of Bethlehem”. The title Christ is simply the Greek word for the Hebrew word Messiah, which means “Anointed One” or the “Anointed King”. So Jesus is the fulfillment of all the Old Testament promises about the coming King and Savior.

But as we see from verse 3, he is also “the Lord Jesus Christ”. The Greek word here also connects back to the Old Testament, to the Hebrew word adonai.

Paul is telling us here that Jesus is adonai; He is the God of the Old Testament, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

But He’s also the Son. Even though Paul refers to God as :”our Father” in verse 3, he first describes Him as “the Father” in verse 1. This is simply shorthand for an expression we find in Paul’s other letters, “the father of our Lord Jesus Christ”. Jesus is the Son of God. He is God the Son.

If the invitation of Scripture is to feast in faith, could there be a more filling, a richer feast than this?

3. He has done the impossible: come back from the dead.

The third way that Paul wants to remind them that Jesus is enough is by reminding them that Jesus has done the impossible: He has come back from the dead.

Jesus is not like the empty and lifeless philosophies of this world, or the dead philosophers and teachers who gave them. He is a living Lord! He is alive right now. And because He is alive, His sufficiency is real and available. Jesus is not like the great military leaders of the world, who, no matter how many victories they achieved, were finally defeated by death. No, Jesus is enough because Jesus has triumphed. He has defeated death!

4. He delivered Himself over to death in order to deliver us for life.

And that takes us to our fourth point. Jesus is enough because Jesus delivered Himself over to death in order to deliver us for life. Our number one problem is what the Bible calls sin. But instead of being given over to death because of our sins, Jesus gave himself to death “for our sins” (v. 4). And because He delivered himself over to death in order to satisfy God’s justice, the judgment we deserved, He was able to deliver us from this “present evil age”.

Jesus has delivered us from the power of sin for new life now, and Jesus will deliver us from the presence of sin for an everlasting life in God’s presence, in the age to come.

And all of that belongs to the Galatians because of faith in Jesus. Paul is remind them of how stuffed they are because of the gospel.

Do you feel stuffed with the sufficiency of Christ this morning? Or, and this may sound a little strange and little scandalous, or…do you have a “but” this morning? Have you come this morning saying, “Yes, Jesus is enough, BUT…”.

Like the Galatians, all of us will, at different times and in different ways, all of us will be tempted by and all of us will struggle with the idea that Jesus isn’t enough. But God’s word reminds us time and time again that the table of grace, at which we eat in faith, is so full of everything we need because it is full of Jesus.

Are you ‘stuffed’ this morning? Let’s pray and ask God to strengthen our faith.

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