I Do Not Nullify the Grace of God: Upholding the Purpose of the Cross

Brian Mahon - 10/22/2023


Call to worship: Jeremiah 23:1-6

Text: Galatians 2:15-21


Paul asserts that the only way any person, Jew or Gentile, can be justified is through faith in Jesus Christ. Otherwise, no one will be justified. As this assertion settles the truth of our sinfulness, it also appears to allow for continued sinfulness. Paul seems to counter this probable accusation against a Gospel that posits full acceptance with God on the basis of a righteousness not our own. Every person God has justified, He has also vivified (made spiritually alive) in Jesus. His death and resurrection have both legal and personal power for us. As Christians, who we once were has been crucified with Christ. That person no longer lives. Christ lives in you. He now animates your life. The Christian life starts, not with 'I', but with 'Christ.' It's a life lived no longer by faith in ourselves, which leads to sin, but by faith in self-giving Son of God, which leads to Christlikeness. Accusation answered, Paul stands pat on the grace his opponents would cancel out. Jesus died out of divine necessity. To God's glory, there remains no other way for sinners to be justified with God than through faith in Christ and Him crucified.

Sermon Outline:

  1. If any one will be justified, it will be through faith in Jesus. (2:15-16)
  2. Every sinner God's justified, He's also vivified in Jesus. (2:17-20)
  3. Justification, as Paul holds it, upholds the purpose of the cross. (2:21)


Discussion Questions:

  1. Read Galatians 2:15-21. Compare with the texts given for our call to worship and intermediate reading above.
  2. In continuation of his thought process with the Jews in Antioch, Paul makes a distinction between Jews by birth and Gentile sinners. But as it relates to justification, is there any difference (2:16)? What is true of every person since the Fall of Man? What impact has sin had upon our ability to keep the Law for justification with God? Can any human being be justified by works of the law? How is it that we can be justified? What has Jesus done that we may be justified through faith in Him?
  3. In believing that sinners are justified through faith in Jesus, what else do we confess about ourselves? If God justifies sinners freely and fully through the work of another Person (and not then of our own), why wouldn't we find allowance to go on sinning? Is Christ not then a servant of sin? Why not?
  4. Can a person be justified and yet not also have been vivified (made alive in union with Christ)? What does it mean that 'through the law' Paul 'died to the law'? How does that bring about one's coming to live to God? Or how does Paul explain it in 2:20? How is it that he was crucified with Christ? Was he actually crucified with Christ? If not, what does he mean? How is it that he no longer lives and, still, he lives? What's the difference between who Paul used to be and who he is then and now? Who's at the center of Paul's being? What kind of life does the indwelling Christ produce in Paul? What is it to live by faith in the self-giving Son of God? How is that different than how you lived prior to conversion?
  5. How does one nullify the grace of God? Why would justification by works of the law make the death of Christ pointless? How does Paul's understanding of the Gospel vindicate God's purpose in the cross of Christ? Songs: My Hope is Built on Nothing Less, Christ Will Be My Hideaway, What Love My God, I Will Trust My Savior Jesus.
Downloads & Resources