O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith (Galatians 3:1-5 ESV).
What’s it all about?
You do not have to participate in any religious ritual to become a part of God’s family. Although the outward sign of Christian conversion is baptism, the act itself cannot save a person because it has no atoning significance. However, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in a believer is the true mark of conversion and the evidence that a person has believed the gospel.
Unlike other religions that require very specific external marks for adherents, the New Testament teaches that such marks or acts do not qualify one as a member of God’s family. The only mark that a Christian receives is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Followers of Christ know that they have been made alive (regenerated) by the internal work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit’s work consists of conviction of sin, confidence in Christ’s atoning work, illumination of Scripture, and a new nature.
As Christians, we must trust in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives as verification of our salvation. Conversely, we must resist the temptation to trust in anything (rituals, acts, etc.) other than the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our redemption.
1. What was the core of Paul’s message (3:1)?
2. How does a person receive the Holy Spirit (3:2 cf. Ephesians 1:13-14)?
3. How does a person grow and persevere as a Christian (3:3-5)?
Now what? We are made new in Christ and persevere in the Christian life by the power of the Spirit alone. Thus, we must learn to fully rely upon the grace of God for the forgiveness of our sins as well as for our ongoing growth in Christ.
Small Group Questions
Scripture: Joel 2:28-32; John 16:4-15; Acts 2:1-13; 1st Corinthians. 12:4-6
1. According to Joel, what were the abilities, gifts, and signs that would accompany the coming of the Spirit?
2. How did Peter and the Apostles interpret and apply Joel’s prophecy on the day of Pentecost?
3. According to Jesus, what are the three primary activities of the Holy Spirit?
4. What does 1st Corinthians 12:4-6 teach about the person and work of the Holy Spirit?