The Cross & New Creation

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Freedom in Christ
Study 6 – The Cross & New Creation - Galatians 6

Welcome

Think of a moment when you received an undeserved gift or kindness.  Share stories

Summary of the whole study of Galatians – this is our last study

After Word spend 20 min in Witness - what has been most helpful in thinking and most helpful in promoting freedom in Christ in practical ways to share?

Word – Lighter Bite and Main Meal – Study 6

There are two themes in this chapter.

One is about how we live, which illustrates our core beliefs, questions 1-3.

The other is a reminder of the central truths of the Christian gospel, questions 4-6.

Lighter Bite – pick one or two questions from 1-3, and from 4-6

Main Meal – aim to tackle them all

  1. How we live – coping with mistakes and burdens. Galatians 6.1-5.

Discuss your understanding of these words about kindness. Use Galatians 5.14-15 and Luke 6.41-42 if appropriate. Ask individuals if they have any positive experiences which will help the whole group.

‘The best people can slip up. The [Greek] word Paul uses (paraptoma) does not mean a deliberate sin; but a slip that might come to someone on an icy road or a dangerous path. Now the danger of those who are really trying to lead the Christian life is that they are apt to judge the sins of others harshly. There is an element of hardness in many good people…. Paul says that, if people do slip, the real Christian duty is to get them on their feet again. The word he uses for ‘to correct’ is used for making a repair and also for the work of a surgeon in removing some growth or in setting a broken limb. The whole atmosphere of the word lays the stress not on punishment but on cure: the correction is thought of not as a penalty, but as putting something right…. We also need to remember: ‘There but for the grace of God go I.’

William Barclay 2002 page 63

Lead this gently! We may have experienced correction from another Christian. Some helpful and good, and we have found a better path. Other correction may have hurt, and come from a motivation that is unloving or controlling. Read verses 3 & 4.
Sometimes we need to say sorry to each other. Allow time to pray.

The burden of life (Galatians 6.5) can mean two things, how do these apply to you?

i) The troubles and challenges that come our way, in which we are grateful for the support and help of other Christians. We should be looking out for each other.

  1. Also the “backpack” we must carry for ourselves which is our responsibility.  

As leader it would be helpful if you had some ready examples from your own life.

  1. How we live – to support church family. Galatians 6.6 and 6.10.

What do you think this is referring to? Paul was a tentmaker (Acts 18.3) that allowed him to offer his ministry without pay for some of the time. For other church leaders they would not be able to offer their lives to serve the church without support.

Compare with Jesus’ words. Luke 9.1-6. Luke 10.1-7. Think about this teaching in a wider context, and discuss how this might apply in our church family.

  1. How we live – our choices. Sow & Reap. Galatians 6.7-9.

Paul is practical. If we sow grass seed onto our lawns, we get a lawn. If we blow dandelion clock seeds, we get dandelions. This is not a surprising principle of action and consequence. How might this might apply to the spiritual life?

Compare these words of Paul with the teaching of Jesus in Luke 6.46-49.

This message could be unsettling, after our discussion about the core message of this letter to the Galatians. We have discussed the whole principle of ‘justification by faith’, grace, and God’s forgiveness. How can this additional practical teaching help us live going forward in the Freedom that God offers us – Freedom ‘to’?

Paul suggests that we seek the help of God’s Holy Spirit to enable us to live fruitfully. Note that the Greeks believed in a goddess of retribution, Nemesis. They believed that when people did wrong, Nemesis would catch up. Barclay 2002 page 65. Think how the Gospel of God’s grace might be an encouragement to Greek-thinkers.

Be really sensitive to stories of poor past decisions that have brought unhappy events. If you as leader are able to share, your own vulnerability might be a help to others. Please chat to Marion if you are concerned at all.

  1. Summary of our belief – freedom from Torah. Galatians 6.12-13.

Paul introduces this again here because of the pressure on new Galatian Christians to adopt circumcision as a practice in addition to belief in Jesus Christ.

Why does Paul say the non-Galatians are promoting circumcision?

How might this be relevant today?

To avoid persecution for ‘allegiance to the cross of Christ’ (Amplified Bible),

Personal success if the Galatian Christians give in to external religious rites.

  1. Summary of our belief – the Cross. Galatians 6.14.

“The heart of your real religion is what you boast in.” Keller 2013 page 82.

What does Paul say is his glory? What does he mean?

What is important to him now? How could you explain this to a Christian friend?

How will this apply to us in the 21st century?

“It is difficult after sixteen centuries and more during which the cross has been a sacred symbol, to realize the unspeakable horror and loathing which the very mention or thought of the cross provoked in Paul’s day.”

F.F.Bruce, cited in Lifebuilder Bible Study. Galatians. © Kuhatschek 2000 page 63. Scripture Union

  1. Summary of our belief – New Creation. Galatians 6.15.

“What God is doing… he is creating something totally new, a free life!”

Eugene Peterson, The Message Bible © 2002.

Explore your understanding of Christian life being a new creation, a new birth. You may like to look up Jesus’ own words to the Pharisee, Nicodemus (John 3.3-8) and St Peter’s words to early Christians (1 Peter 1.3-9). How may the freshness of new freedom in Christ mean to you a new birth? How have you experienced this? How might you share this with friends and family?

Witness

From all these studies, what has changed your thinking, and been most helpful in promoting freedom in Christ in your life? Share your ideas and practical stories.

It might be best to do this in pairs first, to give space to share your own thoughts before discussing with the whole group?

Find a person in our church family who has not been able to join these studies, and explain to them the new values you have discovered. Anything from ‘grace’ to ‘justified’ to the ‘fruit of the spirit…’

Worship – at the end – read, sing or pray

‘Amazing Grace’ the story of the slave trader who found that God forgave his most horrendous life decisions, and offered him a new start. This hymn was part of the response of John Newton to his new-found freedom in Christ. He continued to be transformed as a disciple of Jesus after he had written this song.

1 Amazing grace!   How sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I’m found;
was blind, but now I see.
2 Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
and grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
the hour I first believed.
3 Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come.
Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
and grace will lead me home.
4 The Lord has promised good to me,
his word my hope secures;
he will my shield and portion be
as long as life endures.
5 When we’ve been there a thousand years,
bright shining as the sun,
we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
than when we first begun.

American melody R Lloyd (b 1933). Words vs 1-4: J.Newton (1725-1807), alt v 5 J Rees (1828-1900)

Marion de Quidt, May 2016