Friday, 19 September 2014
Galatians: Free! What now?
“Ah, BE! Ah, BE!” Emily’s call rang down the stairs into the kitchen. I was just pouring my coffee. Mark had settled into the armchair with his Bible. “Ahhhhhhh, BE!” Despite the late night out at a New Year’s party, little Emily was awake, and insisting that she be let out of her cage, I mean, crib.
“Do you want me to get her up?” I asked my daughter. “No, I want her to go back to sleep. Brendan’s still out cold.” By now Emily had begun rocking, banging her crib against the wall. The rhythmic thump thump thump was a kind of trump card. It announced, “Come Let Me Out Or I Will Wake Up The Entire World!”
Rachel dashed upstairs. Moment later she descended with a very plump, very pleased toddler in her arms. Emily surveyed her world from the arms of her Liberator. Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, I’m free at last! Now…what shall I do first?
Free! Now what? That’s the question I want to ask as we begin our study of Galatians. What would I do with freedom if I had it? Or better, what will I do with freedom now that I have it? For Galatians is a book about our salvation. Christ came to set us free. But it seems hard to live in this freedom. I often seem to spin my wheels, trying too hard to do things he has already done for me, neglecting to do things that I am now free to do.
What about you? Do you have any idea of what to do with the free life Christ has given you? I remember asking a young mom some years ago what she would do if I took her kids for a day and money was no object. She said she would clean her house. I said, what if I paid someone to clean it? What would you do? She had no idea. She needed a vision for using the freedom I was giving her.
Not just about freedom, but about Him. Even though we’re going to keep freedom before us as we study Galatians, we aren’t going to forget the One who set us free. Christ is our Liberator. Our freedom comes from him. Our free life is lived towards him. We don’t want to lose sight of him as we study the book.
You might think it would be hard to lose sight of Jesus in the New Testament. In the Old Testament, sure, it makes sense that it would take effort to see Christ there. But in the gospels? In the epistles? In Galatians? Yes, we can lose him when we just see doctrines (like justification) or ideas (like law versus grace) or even benefits (like freedom). Like this sentence from Galatians 5: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Say it once and emphasize “freedom”. Say it again and emphasize “Christ.” Both deserve emphasis, but I find I focus on the former without thinking about it.
Schedule for Galatians. I’m so glad that our blog will be lining up with the sermon series for the spring. God will be speaking to us in stereo. The overall plan is to study our passage the week before it is preached. It will be a slower pace, but that will provide lots of opportunity for application. When there is a guest speaker or a departure from Galatians, we’ll use the time to do some extra reading, which I will make available to you. Mark will let me know if there are any changes to the preaching schedule, in which case we’ll adjust.
1. January 2-6 overview
2. January 9-13 Galatians 1:1-5
3. January 16-20 Galatians 1:6-10
4. January 23-27 Galatians 1:11-24
5. January 30-February 3 Luther’s Introduction to Galatians
6. February 6-10 Galatians 2:1-10
7. February 13-17 Galatians 2:11-14
8. February 20-24 Galatians 2:15-21
9. February 27-March 2 Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality
10. March 5-9 Galatians 3:1-5
11. March 12-16
12. March 19-23 Galatians 3:6-14
13. March 26-30 Galatians 3:15-29
14. April 2-6 Easter!
15. April 9-13 Galatians 4:1-7
16. April 16-20
17. April 23-27 Galatians 4:8-11
18. April 30-May 4 Galatians 4:12-20
19. May 7-11 Galatians 4:21-31
20. May 14-18 Galatians 5:1-12
21. May 21-25 Galatians 5:13-15
22. May 28-June 1 Galatians 5:16-18
23. June 4-8
24. June 11-15 Galatians 5:19-26
25. June 18-22 Galatians 6:1-10
26. June 25-29 Galatians 6:11-18
This week: For our overview just read through the book of Galatians a chapter a day and answer the first two questions. Ponder the third question through the week and write down a response by Friday.
1. Paul says Christ gives us freedom in 5:1. He warned of people who want to steal our freedom in 2:5. As you read each chapter, look for clues that help you understand what Jesus has set us free from.
2. The purpose of our freedom is clearly stated in 5:13-15, but other parts of the book give examples of freedom well used or poorly used. What clues do you find that help you see what Jesus has freed us for?
3. Where are you most aware of a need for freedom in your life?