Boasting in Christ Alone Lesson Plan

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Leader Guide Sunday, March 4th, 2018

Boasting in Christ Alone Sermon Text:​ Galatians 6:11-18 Study Texts:​ Philippians 3:12-21 Sermon Recap​: ​Jesus Christ is the center of history, the Church, and every new creation. This is theme of Galatians but also of the entire Bible. This week’s sermon focuses on leading us to see the glory of the cross, not in its gruesome nature of death, but to see the glorious triumph of the particular death of Christ, Whom God raised from that death and is now seated in Heaven. For Paul, nothing was greater than the cross of Christ for it represented the finished work of the gospel. Paul was entirely cross-centered, and this verse draws attention to that. The false teachers among the Galatian churches sought to draw their hearers from the cross, but Paul would not be moved; he would not stand by while others professed false gospels. And whereas these false teachers preached salvation through works, Paul heralded the finished work of Jesus Christ. This is the entire message of Galatians in one verse: “​But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world​.” Sermon Connection:​ I hope you have noticed throughout this study that all of Paul’s writings contain similar and interdependent ideas, primarily one idea: Jesus Christ. In Philippians 3, Paul reflects on all that he had gained in his own right and came to see it as loss for the sake of Christ. In our study text, Paul urges Christians to see that salvation is totally from Christ, and because of that, we must give our lives for His glory in the world. What is there to cling to here that is not worth sacrificing for Jesus? Nothing! Paul calls us to be mature in our Christian thinking, which is gospel thinking, and to live up to the gospel. Why? Because we are waiting for Jesus to return from heaven, and when He does, we will be transformed fully into His likeness, and we shall be with Him forever. He is the center of Christianity, of the Church, of history, and of all things. As Paul notes in Colossians 3:11, “...​Christ is all, and in all​.”

Lesson Plan Lesson Goal: ​The goal of this lesson is to see Christ as the center and motivation of the Christian life. 1

Lesson Points: Point 1: The Glorious Reason We Know Christ ​(vv. 12-14) Point 2: The Call to Know Him More and Walk in His Ways ​(vv. 15-19) Point 3: The Call to Hope in Christ’s Coming ​(vv. 20-21) The Context: ​Philippians is a letter of encouragement. Paul desires to encourage the Philippian church to live unto God, serving Him with their lives, and in turn, serving one another. The ESV study Bible states, “Paul wants to encourage the Philippians to live out their lives as citizens of a heavenly colony, as evidenced by a growing commitment of service to God and to one another. The way of life that Paul encourages was manifested uniquely in Jesus Christ; it was also evident in the lives of Paul, Timothy, and Epaphroditus.” In chapter 3 of Philippians, we find Paul offering specific reflections and teaching on loving God and one another because of Christ. Opening Question: ​When was the last time you received encouragement? What was it for? When was the last time you had encouraged someone? Transition Statement: ​Philippians is a letter of encouragement from Paul to the Philippian church. He is encouraging them to press forward in their faith while holding tightly to Jesus! Point 1- ​The Glorious Reason We Know Christ​ ​(vv. 12-14) In verse 12, what is Paul teaching about our salvation? Paul is developing an idea that is common throughout all of his writings: That salvation is the work of God in Christ alone (Rm. 3; 1 Cor. 15; Gal. 5:1; Eph 1-2). Paul clearly says that he has not attained his own salvation. It is not his own work or merit but solely because “​...Christ Jesus has made me His own.​” What a glorious thought; Christ works to ​make us​ children of God through the gospel. Paul also reflects on how this reality serves as a motivation to press on in faithfulness, in faithful living. If salvation had come by way of his own efforts, there would be no reason to try anymore. But, because of Christ’s glorious work in his life, Paul views this gospel as reason to press forward and glorify God through his entire life. Because of Jesus, Paul knows the gospel is his so he can confidently live his life unto God no matter what may come. Optional Application Point for Teachers (​Not to be in study guide) Connecting this to bearing one another’s burdens. (Gal. 6:2) This helps us to see salvation and sanctification through a gospel lens. Salvation is the work of God in Christ and not by anyone’s effort. Therefore, we should bear the burden of the non-Christian by bearing the gospel to them. It is, after all, the power of God unto salvation (Rm. 1:17). We also see Paul reflecting on sanctification—that 2

supernatural process whereby we grow in Christlikeness. When salvation occurs, God does not make a lump sum deposit of holiness into our accounts. We progressively, over time, learn to follow Jesus and live righteous lives. This is what Paul means in “​pressing forward​” and this is why we bear the burdens of others. How does this truth help us better understand Paul’s boast in Christ alone from Gal. 6:14? Salvation is in no other name, in no other person, and through no other means than Christ alone. Paul says in Phil. 3:12 that Christ has obtained him, and that because of this, his life is now totally for God. Because of the gospel, Paul is now focused on heaven where the glory of the cross stands ready to save and receive His people. Why does Paul boast in the cross of Christ alone? Because through the cross, Jesus made 0.Paul His child; and through the cross, Jesus makes all who believe and follow Him His children. Considering verses 13-14, what does it mean to “​forget what lies behind​” and “​strain forward to what lies ahead​”? See also Phil. 3:7-11. The gospel is everything to Paul. It is greater than anything he has in this life, anything he has accomplished previously (3:7), and is even greater than the keeping of his own earthly life (3:10-11). Through salvation, Paul has come to see that Jesus stands at the very center of all things. Jesus is the reason for life, happiness, joy and contentment. As he writes in Col. 3:11, “...​Christ is all, and in all.​” Therefore, in 3:7, we see that Paul is ready and willing to put everything he had gained in this worldly life aside for the sake of Christ. Nothing was too dear, too valuable or too worthy to keep Him from Jesus. He goes on to say that worldly gain apart from Christ is rubbish; trash; and worthless. Having put these things behind him, he strains forward toward Christ, toward the resurrection (3:11), and toward the call of Christ (3:14). Nothing will keep him from gaining Christ because Christ has already obtained Him. How can your Growth Group better help one another in “pressing on”? Allow some time for personal reflection and response, but also be ready to give some practical applications and ways that your group can do this. We have been discussing bearing one another’s burdens and doing good, especially to those within the household of faith. So, this would be a good time for you to lead your group to reflect on the practical applications of this doctrinal truth: Christ is all, and in all. Transition Statement: ​Knowing that we are to press forward towards Jesus, Paul is now giving some additional application about growing in Christ and living in Christian community.


Point 2 - The Call to Know Him More and Walk in His Ways​ ​(vv. 15-19) In verse 15, Paul says, “​Let those of us who are mature ​think this way​…​” Who are the mature, and to what ​way of thinking​ is he referring? (See also Gal. 6:1, “​ who are spiritual...​”) The mature are those who walk with Jesus and follow Him with their lives. These are not the super-spiritual, the elite Christian missionaries, or the pastors. ​This is a call to every Christian​. To be mature in Christ is to hold Christ and the gospel as the center of everything, just as Paul has just talked about, which is the manner of thinking he is referencing. Mature Christian thinking is gospel-centered thinking. It is as simple as that, and yet, it is far more complex than we often think about. It means discipling ourselves towards the cross of Christ in every area of our lives. What have Christians attained according to verse 16? Why does Paul command us to “​hold true”​ or “​live up to it​”? (See also Gal. 6:14.) We take our cues from the passages and look back to verse 12. ​We have obtained Christ! Or, more accurately stated, ​Christ has obtained us! ​Being a Christian means being in Christ Jesus by the power of the Spirit. He did that work for us and now calls us to walk in faithfulness. When Paul states, “hold true” or “live up to it,” he is simply calling Christians to honor the work of God in their lives by being faithful, by being mature and thinking along gospel-centered lines. He means, as he writes in Gal. 6:14, to boast in nothing but the cross of Christ alone. What implications does this have for Growth Group? The implications for our Growth Groups are limitless. For the individual, it means that we are to watch after our own lives, ensuring that we are following Jesus in every way. Collectively, it means that our gospel communities (Growth Groups) have a definite shape and purpose: To live up to the guard one another from sin (Heb. 3:12); to encourage one another towards holiness (Rm. 15:1-5); to bear with one another when burdens and hardships arise (Gal. 6); and to share the gospel with the lost world (Mt. 28:19-20). How does verse 17 help us to understand discipleship? Throughout Paul’s writings, he often encourages imitation as a primary means of discipling (See also 1 Cor. 11:1). Discipleship is primarily teaching another person how to live. Christian discipleship, then, is teaching another how to live unto God. Recall Mark Dever’s book, Discipling,​ that we studied through last year. He writes, Discipling is inviting them to imitate you, making your trust in Christ an example to be followed. It requires that you be willing to be watched, and then folding people into your life so that they actually do watch.”1 1

Mark Dever, ​Discipling​, 40.


How do vv. 18-19 help us understand the non-Christian and our response to them? Non-Christians exist in the world, and as the Church, we recognize several things. First, we recognize that before Christ, we too walked as enemies of the cross (Eph. 2:1-3). Second, we see that for the non-Christian, Jesus is not the center of all things; it is their own passions and desires. Finally, we see the terrifying reality for those who walk as enemies of the cross: eternal destruction. Before we move on, let’s note Paul’s response here to these non-Christians. Because he is consumed with Christ, Paul is able to see the true harm and danger non-Christians are in. This leads him to mourn over these people. He is not hateful nor revengeful, but mournful. Having set their minds on earthly things (which Paul has already said is death, Gal. 6:8), they have come to reject Christ. Therefore, as we hold Christ as the center of our lives, we should seek to share the gospel message with the lost. Transition Statement:​ Finally, having encouraged Christians to press forward towards Christ and to live faithfully in the world, Paul calls us to reflect on the great hope we are awaiting. Point 3 - ​The Call to Hope in Christ’s Coming​ ​(vv. 20-21) What does Paul mean “...​our citizenship is in heaven...​”? See also Col. 3:1-5. Throughout this letter, Paul develops the idea that Christian citizenship is in heaven, and that we are not citizens of the world. He grounds this idea, not in our beliefs or actions, but in Christ Himself (Paul’s boast!). Our citizenship is in heaven because ​“…from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ​...” Paul also expounds on this in Col. 3:3-4 saying, “​For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory​.” What do verses 20-21 affirm about the future for Christians? Why/how is that motivation for today, tomorrow, and for the rest of our lives? It affirms the coming reality of heaven; it means that there is coming a day when Jesus will return and collect His people. He will gather them, both the dead and the living, and we will, together, go to be with Him in heaven. He will wipe away every tear, instill an eternal, unwavering joy, and He Himself will be with us forever. What, in this life, could ever dampen that hope? What, in this life, could ever cause us to waver from that hope? This is what Paul has in mind when he says, ​“…forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on…” The hope of heaven is deep and wide for the Christian. Our primary joy will be to be with God Himself. Paul says that He “​will transform our lowly body to be life His glorious body…​” John


says this will happen the moment we see Him (1 John 3:2). The promise of heaven then is being with God, being completely ridden of sin, and totally transformed into Christ’s likeness. How do we see Jesus as the centerpiece of Heaven? (vs. 21) Speaking of Jesus, Paul says He,​ “will transform our lowly body…by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself​.” It may seem overly elementary to say Jesus is the center of heaven, but have we considered its truthfulness? We can often find ourselves longing for heaven but longing for it for the wrong reasons. We may want an end to our suffering or the suffering of a loved one; we may want to be rid of sin or to be in paradise; or we may be longing for heaven to see a loved one gone on before us. And while these things are not bad, or many of them are true, they do not stand at the center of heaven. At the center, the blazing glorious center of heaven, stands Jesus Christ. ​He is all, and in all. How does this help us understand Paul’s boasting in the cross of Christ alone? Having all this in mind, it is easy to understand Paul’s boast in the cross of Christ alone. There is nothing greater than God. There is nothing higher, or of more worth, or anything worthy of greater commitment. Jesus was worth Paul’s entire life, and Jesus is worth our lives as well. The Big Picture Jesus is the very center of everything. Colossians 1:17 says, “​And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.​” The grammar of that sentence leads us to understand that in Christ, all things are “holding” together; He is, at this moment and forevermore, holding all things together. Jesus is the center of history, the center of the Church, and the center of the Christian life. We cannot understand Christianity without having Jesus as the very center of and motivation for all things. We long, with Paul, “...​to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.”​ (Phil. 1:23), but we also know that while the Lord keeps us here, we know that it is “...for your progress and joy in the faith…”​ (Phil. 1:25). Let us together love Jesus, treasure Him, follow Him, and glorify Him with our lives. Let’s call one another to faithfulness and call the lost to repent and believe... Application Questions ● How have you seen Jesus to be the center of all things through this lesson? ● How does this apply to your own life? ● In what areas of your life is Christ not the center? Why? ● Husbands and wives, how does your marriage proclaim Christ as the center? ● Parents, how are you teaching your child(ren) that Christ is the center of all things?