How Did You Receive the Spirit?: The Sufficiency of Christ Crucified and Hearing with Faith

Brian Mahon - 10/29/2023


Call to worship: Genesis 15:1-6

Text: Galatians 3:1-6


Though they'd heard the message of Christ crucified, some had bewitched these churches. They'd stopped beholding Christ in His sufficiency, and started believing they needed to (and could) supply what, apparently, He didn't completely purchase. It pays to return to one's beginning in Christ. Paul asks but one question: how did they receive the Holy Spirit? The Spirit's work of regeneration, sanctification, and preservation is implied; but the question is, from Whom did/does He come, and how was/is He received? Is God's eschatological promise and blessing of the Holy Spirit earned by works of the law, or is He freely given on the basis of Christ's work to all who, hearing the message, and believing God, are counted as righteous in His sight? In proving the latter by Abraham as the paradigm for all, Paul begins to make his Scriptural case for the efficacy and sufficiency of faith in Jesus Christ. The Law of Moses serves faith in Christ crucified whereby, being justified, we become heirs of God's Spirit, regardless of ethnicity.

Sermon Outline:

  1. Don't be foolish; be faithful to what you heard of Christ crucified. (3:1)
  2. The Spirit is received by hearing, with faith, Christ crucified. (3:2-5)
  3. The Law itself asserts the sufficiency of faith in Christ crucified. (3:6)


Discussion Questions:

  1. Read Galatians 3:1-6. Compare with the texts given for our call to worship and intermediate reading above.
  2. In this context, what is it to be a fool? What is it to be bewitched? What is the antidote to the spell the Judaizers cast? Why is it important that our church centrally, pervasively, and enduringly herald Jesus Christ as crucified?
  3. What is Paul's one question? Why does he ask it, or what is the connection between the preaching of Christ crucified and the giving/receiving of the Holy Spirit? Think on Matthew 3:11 and Acts 2. Simple question: did you receive the Spirit by observing the Law of Moses, or by hearing the message of the cross with faith? Are we foolish enough to believe that we 'earned the Gift' of the Holy Spirit? What does wisdom confess?
  4. Paul asserts we began by the Spirit. What does how we began have to do with how we continue and move ahead into Christian maturity? Do we suffer for believing what all men essentially believe, or for believing the truth of Christ? Why have we suffered whatever we have suffered for the sake of Christ? How have we endured it with our faith intact? How does slipping into a Christ-plus view of the Christian life invalidate what we've suffered for Christ crucified? Upon what basis does God/Christ supply the Spirit still? Is it upon our righteousness, or by grace upon Christ's righteousness?
  5. How does 3:1-5 flow into 3:6? Note 'just as.' From where does Paul quote? And about whom? Whom does Abraham believe? What does Abraham believe? Why is his faith counted as righteousness? What does justification have to do with the ministry of the Holy Spirit (3:7-14)? For what reasons does Abraham's faith become the paradigm for the sufficiency of faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe in Him? How does this section function to preserve the Gospel of God's all-sufficient grace in Jesus Christ?
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