Controversy – Gospel in Life


Tim Keller |  October 5, 1997

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  • Doctrine
  • Justification
  • Understanding the Gospel
Galatians 1:6-12
RS 288-03


The book of Galatians is not for non-Christians. It’s not for unbelievers. It’s not for people who say, “Oh, I don’t believe the gospel.” The whole book of Galatians is a book on the gospel, a book communicating the gospel, explaining the gospel, applying the gospel, and it’s a book for Christians, a book for people who say they believe it.

To break down this passage, first, Paul shows us the need for controversy, essentially why and when we need controversy. Secondly, he tells us what the authority is to appeal to in controversy, the method of conducting it. Again, we’re talking about Christians struggling with beliefs. Thirdly, he tells us how to heal controversy.

Understanding Galatians 1:6–12

The book of Galatians emphasizes that the good news of Jesus is not just for newcomers to the faith or those who haven’t believed yet. It presents the gospel as the main course of the Bible, from beginning to end. It also talks about disagreements in the church about faith and teaches us how to handle and heal these disagreements.

1. Why disagreements occur

The gospel is a critical topic in the church, and any change to its true message can completely alter its meaning. The book examines the connection between being made right with God (justification) and becoming more like Christ (sanctification). It critiques churches that emphasize our actions (sanctification) over God’s grace (justification). It discusses how people can feel uneasy and unchanged if they doubt God’s love outside their spiritual achievements, highlighting the harm from misunderstanding the gospel and the need to protect its true meaning.

2. Who to turn to in disagreements

Paul’s teachings remind us to base our beliefs on the gospel, not just our feelings, personal experiences, or what church leaders say. He teaches that the gospel should be our ultimate guide, helping us judge our experiences and even the words of church leaders. While God can speak to us through pastors and feelings, the Bible’s teachings are our most trustworthy guide to understanding God’s voice.

3. How to resolve disagreements

The Bible warns us about the sin of pleasing people, which comes from the fear of not being approved by others. But being a servant of Christ frees us from the fear of what others think, reminding us that Jesus Christ’s opinion is the only one that really matters. Serving Christ frees us from the fear of people and the disagreements it causes.



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Reading Galatians Can Change Your Life!

Galatians is a powerful book that shows how people can think they know the gospel but are actually losing touch with it. In this study of the book of Galatians, Dr. Keller helps you understand how this short book in the New Testament can transform your life.