07: The Road to Faith in Galatians 3 – Discussion Questions

Keeping within the lines 1

Darcy and Danielle laid out the pictures on the table next to the box of crayons. Darcy’s picture was of a giraffe surrounded by trees with a monkey peering around the giraffe’s neck. Danielle’s was of a picnic table in a forest, loaded with pineapples, bananas, and other tropical fruit with a big bird posed on one end of the table.

Before Dad left them to their coloring, he said, “Keep within the lines, do you understand?”

The girls nodded. “We understand.”

“The lines are there to help you build a beautiful picture. Don’t go outside the lines.”

“Okay, Daddy.” “Sure, Daddy.”

When Dad came back much later his daughters were past being eager to show him what they had done. They insisted that he carefully view each picture and each girl pushed hers on top so he would see it first.

Both girls had kept within the lines. In Darcy’s picture the colors were drawn inside and very close to the lines but never across them. The page was neat and orderly. Danielle’s picture was different. She had scribbled all the crayon marks—never outside the line but not in a neat and orderly way. In short, the page was a mess.

Dad cleared his throat. “I see you both listened to me,” he said. “You both kept your crayons within the line. But Danielle,” he continued, “what were you trying to do?”

With a slight smirk, Danielle tossed her blonde curls and said, “I wanted to show you that staying within the lines doesn’t always make a pretty picture.” Then she grinned at him. “Does it, Daddy?”

[Discussion for The Road to Faith November 9, 2011]

1.    The letter of the law. How do you think we should regard God’s moral law in our Christian life? Should we comply with the law in every possible way? Should we not worry very much about the law and think instead about what gives us happiness? As long as we do not openly disobey the law, is our behavior acceptable to God? Does breaking God’s law have the same short-term and long-term effect on Christians as on non-Christians? Do we have more freedom within the law than without it? Explain.

2.  Law and promise. Why was Paul so emphatic in denying opposition between the law and the promises of God? (Gal 3:21). Isn’t the law negative and the promises positive? Doesn’t the law bring death and the promises life? How can these two aspects of salvation be perceived as being in perfect harmony? What is the role of the law in your life as a Christian? How do the promises of God affect your willingness to obey the law? How is your friendship with Jesus affected by your attitude towards His commands?

3. Under the law.  Your lesson guide points out that Paul uses the phrase “under the law” twelve times in his New Testament writings. What does the phrase mean to you? That you are judged by how you regard and keep the law? That the law will guide you to salvation? Explain. Can you keep the law of God without God living within you? Can you have salvation without the law? Does the law belong in your heart, along with your acceptance of God’s salvation? How does that work?

4. Adding the law.  Paul says the law was added because of transgressions. Whose transgressions? Hasn’t the law of love always existed? In what sense was it added? How is Galatians 3:19-24 interpreted by people who do not accept the seventh day of the week as Sabbath? Can you accept alternate meanings for the word “kept,” such as “guarded” as well as “protected” and “enclosed?” Is Paul talking about the Ten Commandments or the ceremonial laws in Galatians 3? Or both? How were the ceremonial laws predictive of the Savior? Did the Jewish people of Old Testament days understand the promise of a coming Messiah?

5. Guarded by the law.  When I was a missionary in Zambia I often visited Victoria Falls. Although the falls were foreboding—and gorgeous—at that time there were no fences or guard rails on the Zambian side of the falls. One slip and you could be headed hundreds of feet down the falls. Is the moral law something like that? Keep it or die? Or is the law like a fence that keeps us from taking that one step? Does God step in and show us how to keep His law for our own protection? How does He do that? Does He ever give up showing us bit by bit the way we should live? Do you appreciate the guardianship of God expressed in His law of love and mercy?

6. Paul and the law. How can some read Galatians 3 and get the idea that Paul was a “free Christian” who did not accept the moral law? What impression do you receive about Paul’s view of the law in Romans 8? Did Paul accept the concept that he was free, enjoying ultimate freedom through the grace of God? What is the relationship between God’s grace and our sins? Are you bound by sin? Can God’s grace release you? Does the law of God assist in the process of obtaining salvation? How? Would Paul agree?



07: The Road to Faith in Galatians 3 – Discussion Questions — 3 Comments

  1. Sir, I am facing a difficulty in understanding the entire chapter of the letter to Galatians. I would like to have your explanation.

  2. Denzeer, first of all I would like for you to know that I am not the writer of the “discussion questions.’ Neither am I an employee of the church or a Bible worker but just a layman with a certain understanding of Paul’s letters.

    As one looks through the comments on last quarter’s lessons it becomes quite clear that there are widely differing views as to what the book of Galatians is about. Many of the comments discuss which law Paul was referring to, the moral law of the Ten Commandments or the ceremonial law of Moses. My view is much different. To me Paul is discussing the relationship of law in the Christian’s life regardless of which law is involved. Even though circumcision was the specific problem Paul was addressing, it was because the Galatians were trying to be justified by doing it rather than simply obtaining justification by having faith in the free gift of salvation from our Redeemer. In other words they were attempting to work their way to Heaven.

    Paul was not a “no law” person as one can easily see from all that he says about doing good works. The problem that he faced with the Jews was over how we are saved, not over whether we should do law or not. Concerning this issue Paul devotes the first half of his letter to the Romans arguing that we are justified by faith alone without the involvement of the works of the law. And in Ephesians he states, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph 2:8-9 NKJV). Galatians, as far as I am concerned, deals with the same problem.

    We can see the point that Paul was trying to make by several statements he makes throughout the book, many in the form of concluding statements. Paul first states the problem in a couple of statements in the beginning of his letter which includes chapter three:

    I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel (Gal 1:6 NKJV).

    But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews? We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified” (Gal 2:14-16 NKJV).

    O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? (Gal 3:1-3 NKJV)

    Paul then goes on to argue his point:

    For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them." But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for "the just shall live by faith." Yet the law is not of faith, but "the man who does them shall live by them." (Gal 3:10-12 NKJV)

    Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe (Gal 3:21-22 NKJV)

    You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith (Gal 5:4-5 NKJV)

    If we would only keep Paul’s letter to the Galatians in the context of the problem Paul faced throughout his entire ministry concerning the process of salvation by those who wanted to be saved on the basis of doing some law we would see that this letter of his fits right in with the rest of his other letters dealing with that subject. We would also see that it is a rebuttal to the argument for doing some law in order to obtain salvation, no matter what law that may be.

  3. When our wants die, or our selfishness, called "dying daily" in His word, which is the act of repentance, Christ then keeps the law, which is His character, in us, and works through us using our hands and feet to serve others. "Not I, but Christ." Any act which we are tempted to do, as Peter did in succumbing to peer pressure and old habits of pride, take Christ's will out of the equation.


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