Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Evening Sermon Notes -

Galatians: Defending The Truthfulness Of Paul's Teaching On God's Grace
Part IV: Clarifying HOW Justification Is By God's Grace And Not Man's Works
(Galatians 2:15-21)
  1. Introduction
    1. Paul's belief that one is justified by God's grace apart from works needs explaining today, for numerous parties in Christendom hold salvation is by faith plus some form of human works or merit.
    2. Galatians 2:15-21 concisely argues how salvation is by God's grace apart from human merit or work:
  2. Clarifying HOW Justification Is By God's Grace And Not Man's Works, Galatians 2:15-21.
    1. Bible scholars are divided as to whether Galatians 2:15-21 is or is not a continuation of Paul's Galatians 2:14 admonition by which he corrected Peter's hypocrisy regarding the Gospel of grace before the Church, cf. Bible Knowledge Commentary, New Testament, p. 595.
    2. Regardless of this debate, the content of Galatians 2:15-21 certainly fits the thesis introduced by Galatians 2:14, and shows "the inconsistency between Peter's behavior and his beliefs," Ibid.
    3. Thus, Galatians 2:15-21 offers invaluable argumentation as to why one is justified by God only by faith:
      1. First, Paul argued that the experience of the apostles showed no one can be justified by works, 2:15-16:
        1. Paul referred to himself and to Peter as Jews who culturally and religiously "knew" they were not as vile "sinners" as were the pagan Gentiles, Galatians 2:15 in the context of Galatians 2:14.
        2. However, being thus "better" than vile Gentiles, Paul asserted that both he and Peter knew they themselves had to be justified by faith in Christ, for they themselves had not been able to be justified by keeping the Law, Gal . 2:16a,b. [Note how Peter admitted as much in Acts 15:8-11!]
        3. Indeed, if the apostles, Orthodox Jews who had tried keeping the Law, had been unable to attain to God's righteousness because of their own sin so that they had to turn to God's grace through Christ to be justified by faith, then no one else could be justified by human work or merit, either, 2:16c!
      2. Second, Paul argued that where keeping the Law could not produce holiness, this was available only by God's grace through Christ in the Christian walk of faith, Galatians 2:17-20:
        1. In Galatians 2:17, Paul was responding to a criticism he knew existed among the Judaizers who had opposed him, and who influenced the Galatians to seek circumcision for salvation; that verse reveals these Judaizers suggested that Paul's assertion that justification by faith apart from the Law eliminated the need for the Law, and "encouraged sinful living," Ibid.
        2. In reply, Paul first revealed that to build again what he had destroyed -- that is, to go back to living under the Law once he had believed in Christ -- was to make himself a sinner all over again; this was because the Law could only condemn one who tried to keep it as no mortal man could come up with sufficient works or merit that satisfied a perfectly holy God, Galatians 2:18; Romans 3:20!
        3. Paul then revealed the answer to the need for believers to live holy lives is not found in trying to keep the Law in one's own effort, for the believer's justified status in Christ meant he was positionally dead to the Law with Christ by way of His substitutional death for him, Galatians 2:20a. However, because of his identification with Christ in His death and resurrection, the believer has Christ living in him, so that by trusting in Christ, the Lord lives a holy life through the believer apart from that believer's own merit or human works, producing holy living apart from the Law, 2:20b.
      3. Third, Paul revealed that were righteousness available by human merit or works, the death of Christ for sinners was a terrible mistake by God, a needless waste of suffering for the Son of God, Galatians 2:21. [This final point powerfully undermines all arguments favoring human merit or work for salvation!]
Lesson: Justification can ONLY be by GRACE through FAITH APART FROM ALL HUMAN MERIT or WORKS, for (1) if the apostles had to be saved by faith since they could not achieve it by works, no one else can be saved by human merit or works; (2) the Law can only condemn as no one can achieve the merits to be saved; (3) holy living comes only by the believer's trust in Christ to live through him, and (4) were justification available by human merit or work, Christ's death was a big mistake by God!

Application: May we REST ASSURED that justification can ONLY be by FAITH ALONE in Christ!