Friday, July 30, 2010

Lessons from Galatians

In my Bible study we've been studying Galatians with a guide by Tim Keller. We are nearing the end, and I was processing what I've learned and thought I'd post it here.

So much of Galatians is about the Gospel and how that impacts everything. It is by grace through Christ that we are saved from sin and given eternal life. I've always thought that I heard the Gospel, was saved and now I can move on to learn deeper things. But this study has taught me that the Gospel is everything, and I found the study to be very convicting and challenging.

The sermon last Sunday was on Psalm 34, which presents God as our deliverer and refuge. The pastor noted that this is the Gospel, we have to have God as our deliverer. But we hate admitting that and hold tightly to our independence and I-can-do-it-my-way attitude. This pretty much sums up the tug-of-war I've had with God as I worked through this study.

I am realizing that I frequently approach life from a place of works righteousness — yes, I know I was saved by grace but I tend to think now I need to earn God's favor. This study taught me a few things, one is that I will fail every time if I try to earn my righteousness and two that this life isn't about rewards and trying to earn things from God, we've already been given more than we deserve by our salvation.

In the midst of this study I was struggling with some envy over what someone else had and frustration at what I didn't. I found myself saying over and over, "But I obeyed you God. Why won't you give me this?" As I worked through this study and this struggle, I was taught over and over that seeking to earn something from God and trying to manipulate Him (yeah, I know that doesn't work) was actually taking me farther away from Him.

One of the extra lessons in the study was Keller's sermon on the parable of the prodigal son, but Keller points out that it is actually the parable of two sons. He makes the point that the elder brother, who stays home and does everything his father asks, is just as lost as the younger brother who ran away. This was extremely convicting because I identify so much more with the elder brother but thought that I was right all of these years.

As I continued to work through the study and my own struggle, I found the idols that were making the current struggle so hard and how I was placing those things before God. I am still working through those things and feeling challenged in putting God first.

My eyes and my heart were certainly opened during this study, I am still trying to grasp the full impact of the Gospel (which Keller calls "slippery") on my life at all times. I am trying to break down the idols I cling to and live in the freedom of the Gospel and escape the works righteousness that was so present in my life. I have a long way to go, but that is the beauty of the Gospel. I'm saved because of God's grace not by anything I do or don't do. I am loved and forgiven.

I am amazed at how God provides and speaks to us exactly when and how we need to hear them. He has used this study and my church's current sermon series on the Psalms to reach me and both challenge and comfort me when I found myself in such a place of brokenness.

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" Galatians 2:20-21


  1. thank you for these posts and the truth they bring.

  2. Those verses have a whole new meaning after this study! I almost feel like I've been born again, again, the gospel feels so fresh and new. Thanks for summarizing our study and sharing your journey with it. Can't wait to see what we're going to study next! (Hopefully not suffering - LOL)

  3. That is my favorite Keller sermon of all time. I love his reference to the moralistic grid. Thanks for sharing your heart.