Until Christ is Formed in You: Pushing Through the Pains of Gospel Labor

Brian Mahon - 2/4/2024


Call to worship: Jeremiah 23:1-6

Text: Galatians 4:8-20


Having been delivered from the redemptive ideologies of the world, the Galatian churches are now returning to their former slavery by adopting the Mosaic covenant as part of their justification. Anything that robs Jesus of His saving sufficiency, including a false understanding of God’s law-covenant, is anti-Christ, anti-Gospel. Fearing thus that he’s labored over them in vain, Paul reminds them of how God blessed them, and of how it was proven by their Christian care of Paul himself. Expressing his grief, however, those he led to the truth now oppose him for it. Having essentially adopted a man-flattering religion, Paul counteractively resolves to press forward in his labors until Christ is formed in them. At the heart of the true Gospel and true Christianity is the truth as it is in Jesus.

Sermon Outline:

  1. Paul's fear: the churches' turning from the Gospel. (4:8-11)
  2. Paul's grief: the churches' opposition to the truth. (4:12-17)
  3. Paul's resolve: the churches' maturity in Christ. (4:18-20)


Discussion Questions:

  1. Read Galatians 4:8-20.
  2. How does the text describe Paul's fear (4:8-11)? In adding the Mosaic law to faith in Jesus for their justification with God, what have the churches forsaken? If, in believing the Gospel, what they left was pagan idolatry, why does Paul call their present departure (to faith plus works of the law) a 'return' to 'the weak and elementary principles of the world'? How is their submission to Moses the same as their prior, unbelieving slavery to idolatry? What does this imply about Gospel labor in terms of what it calls people to leave in the process of embracing Christ alone?
  3. How does 4:12-17 detail Paul's grief? How did he end up preaching the Gospel to the Galatians? What lesson can we draw from the circumstances? What's implied about their reception of the Gospel in their reception of Paul? Does God make His blessings known and felt on the basis of a man's stature and strength? How is Paul's condition an apologetic for 'My strength is made known in weakness'?
  4. Continuing in his grief, why might they count Paul their enemy? Take some time on 4:17. What's at the heart of a church's desertion of the Gospel? What greases a church's slide into potential apostasy? How is it that the false teachers mean, both, to shut them out and not only make much of them, but still be made much of by them?
  5. What is Paul's resolve in 4:18-20? Is he against all honor and commendation? When is it good to commend someone? How does this principle keep us from the flattery that exalts people, even as it demotes Christ? Is Gospel ministry easy? To what does Paul relate it? Through all his labor pains, what hope and goal does Paul maintain? What should be our goal as a church?
Downloads & Resources