No Other Gods

Some thoughts for your personal reflection:

 

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
“You shall have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:2-3)

1. In your own words, write a definition of worship.

2. Read Exodus 6:6–8.
What promises did God make to the Israelites? How did God help Israel?

3. Read Exodus 20:2-3.
In your opinion, why did God talk about Egypt before giving Israel the 10 commandments?

For you personally, in your own life, how has God worked powerfully for your benefit? How does thinking about God’s faithfulness impact the quality of our worship?

4. In your opinion, what are some common “gods” that people worship today? Why do you think people choose not to worship God?

5. For you personally: On whom do you rely? To where does your time, energy, and money go? Who are you trying to impress? Who or what is the center of your life?

6. Read Psalm 81:1-16. What does this Psalm teach us about how we ought to worship?

Bible Study: Galatians 3:1-4:7

Getting Started with Galatians 3:1-4:7

Begin with prayer: Ask God to make your heart pure, soft, and undivided. Confess your sins so you can receive his mercy and grace. Humble yourself so you can hear his voice. Release your worries so you can rest in his presence.

First read: Read without pausing, to get an overall sense of the chapter.

Second read: Make a note of any words, phrases, or verses that are personally encouraging, convicting, and/or confusing. It is a good thing to approach Scripture with questions!

This chapter can be tedious! My encouragement is that you wade through the details slowly, soaking up what you can. Read this passage several times. Allow the text to speak for itself, do your best to identify your assumptions — and don’t let them cloud the meaning of the text. At the end of the journey, this passage teaches some of the most important, essential, foundational truths about the life of faith. Engaging this chapter may feel like a marathon, but the finish line is worth it!

Re-read 3:1-14.

[  ] Why does Paul call the Galatians foolish?

[  ] How would you describe Paul’s tone? Do you think it is too harsh? Why or why not?

[  ] Survey the basic structure of 3:1-14, noting the following:

[a] How many questions does Paul ask?
[b] How many times does Paul mention works of the law (or works)?
[c] How many times does Paul mention believe (or faith)?

[  ] Why does it matter that Christ was portrayed as crucified? How does that support the point that Paul is making?

[  ] Why does Paul bring up Abraham? Isn’t Abraham “old news,” without much relevance for a life of faith in Christ?

[  ] Re-read 3:10-14. In your opinion, what does it look like, practically, when a person relies on the law? In chapter 2, what did it look like when Peter “relied on the law?”

Re-read 3:15-22.

[  ] Which came first, God’s promises to Abraham or the Law? Why is the order significant?

[  ] Why was the law given? Why wasn’t the promise to Abraham enough for God to have a relationship with his people?

[  ] Since the Law reveals God’s will for his people, why doesn’t the Law “impart life?” Since the law doesn’t give life, why did God give his people the Law?

Re-read 3:23-4:7.

“The law was our guardian” — A guardian was a specific role in ancient times. Wealthy families would hire a tutor to prepare their children for adulthood. Paul uses this imagery to teach the primary role of the Law, which was to prepare us for what’s next: faith in Jesus.

[  ] Given the context of everything you’ve read so far in Galatians, how is 3:28 significant? Why is the unity of the church so important?

[  ] In 4:7, Paul tells us that we are no longer a slave. Based on this passage, what were we once a slave to? How does the text support your answer?

[  ] Take a moment to step back and look at the bigger picture. What does this passage teach about the following:

Jesus:

Works / Works of the Law:

Believing / Faith:

The Law:

Abraham:

The Spirit:

Bible Study: Galatians chapter 2

Getting Started with Galatians 2

Begin with prayer: Ask God to make your heart pure, soft, and undivided. Confess your sins so you can receive his mercy and grace. Humble yourself so you can hear his voice. Release your worries so you can rest in his presence.

First read: read without pausing, to get an overall sense of the chapter.

Second read: make a note of any words, phrases, or verses that are personally encouraging, convicting, and/or confusing. It is a good thing to approach Scripture with questions!

[ ] At the close of chapter one, Paul went to Syria and Cilica– two areas that were hundreds of miles North of Jerusalem. Chapter 2 picks up fourteen years later in Jerusalem. Create a summary of the events in this chapter by making a list of the people, places, and events.

Historical Background: Understanding Circumcision
Circumcision was a Jewish practice that began in Genesis 17 as a reminder of God’s covenant with his people. “Uncircumcised” was a term that referred to Gentiles, all non-Jews. In Acts 15, certain teachers made circumcision a requirement for salvation. Paul and Barnabas strongly disagreed with this teaching because it contradicted the biblical teaching of salvation by faith, a central theme in this letter. Jesus did all the work for our salvation on the cross, and we are called to believe in him. Salvation can’t be achieved by good works, it can only be received by faith in Jesus.

Re-read 2:1-10

[ ] How do you reconcile 2:2 (“I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain”) with 1:10 (“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God”)? If Paul wasn’t looking for approval from the leaders in Jerusalem, why did he go to them to see if he was preaching the right message?

[ ] Verse four speaks of false believers, what was their incorrect beliefs?

[ ] Isn’t belief a personal thing, meaning that it’s okay for anyone to believe what ever they want? Explain why you feel the way you do.

[ ] Paul will speak directly to the topic of freedom later in in this letter. Based on everything you’ve read so far, what does Paul mean by freedom?

[ ] In your opinion, how is integrity connected to influence? Is it important for a person’s words to be backed up by their actions? Does a “do as I say, not as I do” attitude work? Why or why not?

[ ] In verse 5, Paul writes, “We did not give in to them for a moment,” (meaning allow Titus to be circumcised), “so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.” The integrity of Paul (and Titus) was directly connected to their teaching. If they preached “salvation by faith,” but if their actions didn’t reflect this teaching, they would have no credibility with the Galatian believers. In your opinion, why are people tempted to take shortcuts with their integrity? In your own life, how would you rate your personal integrity?

[ ] Respond to this statement: “It’s only hypocrisy if you get caught.” Is that true or false? Why?

[ ] Paul was called to preach to the Gentiles (uncircumcised) and Peter was called to preach to the Jews (circumcised). In your opinion, why do you think this distinction existed? Shouldn’t Paul and Peter (and therefore, us) simply preach to everyone?

Re-read 2:11-21.

[ ] Paul said that Peter (Cephas) “stood condemned.” Why do you think Paul opposed him?

[ ] Do you think it Paul treated Peter (Cephas) fairly? Why did Paul confront him publicly? In what way was Peter a hypocrite?

[ ] Peter changed his behavior, becoming a hypocrite because he was afraid of what the Jews might think. Under what kinds of situations are you tempted to compromise your integrity?

[ ] In your opinion, what’s the big deal about salvation by works or by faith? Why does it matter that salvation is only found by faith in Jesus?

[ ] In your opinion, why is Paul making a big scene over this issue? Sine we are saved by faith, wouldn’t God just forgive Paul of his hypocrisy?

[ ] Justified means “made right with God.” Based on this chapter, how is a person justified? What words or phrases from the text support your answer?

[ ] In verse 17 Paul asks, “Does Christ promote sin?” (a) In your own words, how does Paul answer this question? (b) In your opinion, why does Paul raise this issue? Does this question even need to be asked?

[ ] This chapter highlights the power of influence:
> Paul retained his integrity to have a positive influence with the Galatians (2:5).
> Barnabas was negatively influenced by others and became a hypocrite
(a) Who has (or had) a big influence in your life? (b) Who are some people with whom you have influence?

[ ] What are some practical changes you might make to be a better influence on others?

 

 

What’s missing from this Bible study? Comment below.

Bible Study: Galatians chapter 1

Getting Started with Galatians 1

Begin with prayer: Ask God to make your heart pure, soft, and undivided. Confess your sins so you can receive his mercy and grace. Humble yourself so you can hear his voice. Release your worries so you can rest in his presence.

First read: read without pausing, to get an overall sense of the chapter.

Second read: make a note of any words, phrases, or verses that are personally encouraging, convicting, and/or confusing. It is a good thing to approach Scripture with questions!

 

Re-read 1:1-5, out loud if possible.

In just a few words, Paul sets the tone for his letter to the Galatian churches. What does his introduction say specifically about Paul? God the Father? Jesus?

Paul:

God the Father:

Jesus:

 

Re-read 1:6-10.

In your own words, how would you describe Paul’s tone and feeling?

According to this passage, what were the core issues or problems facing Paul’s audience? Why was Paul “astonished?” What are the specific words from the text that support your answer?

In your opinion, was Paul too harsh? Why or why not?

In this passage, Paul talks about the gospel, but he doesn’t yet define it for us. In your opinion, based on what you’ve already learned, how would you define the gospel in a single sentence?

For Paul’s original audience, the ancient church was “quickly deserting” Jesus and turning to a different gospel. In our world, what are some things that move people away from Jesus? In your opinion, what are some false messages about Jesus?

Have you ever been “like Paul,” meaning, do you know someone who has wandered from Jesus? What happened? Do you think God might use you to encourage that person? If so, how?

Have you ever been “like Paul’s audience,” meaning that you have wandered from what you know to be true about Jesus? What happened? How were you pulled away? What did you do to return? (Or, what could it look like for you to return?)

 

Re-read 1:11-24.

In this passage, Paul talks a lot about his life: before Christ, his calling, and his ministry. Compile a list of facts about Paul’s life, as if you were making a biography.

Based on your study of this passage, what is the primary theme about Paul and the Gospel?

In the last section, you wrote a definition for the word, “gospel.” Is there anything in this passage which would enhance or change your definition?

Why is it important that the gospel is “not of human origin?” Why is this teaching personally significant?

Paul’s confidence was grounded in the fact that his calling was from God. His goal was to please God and not people. Based on your experience, why do so many people work for the approval of other people? In your opinion, why to we, the human race, care so much about what others think?

Before Paul knew Jesus, he worked hard to destroy the church. After coming to faith in Jesus, Paul spent his entire life building up the church. In your own life, what kinds of changed have you seen? What transformation has happened because of your faith in Jesus?