The Fellowship of the Gospel – Gospel in Life

The Fellowship of the Gospel

Tim Keller |  October 19, 1997

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  • Doctrine
  • Salvation
  • Understanding the Gospel
Galatians 2:1-10
RS 288-05


We’re looking here at one particular truth: Paul is saying in this passage that doctrinal truth is absolutely critical. He’s fighting for a particular truth, the truth of the gospel. It is the mark of our culture right now that we want spirituality without theology. We want some kind of heart intimacy, but we don’t want to have to bring our mind and our entire life.

Yet you also can’t have theology without spirituality. What is Paul saying over and over again? If you lose the truth of the gospel, the freedom is gone. The liberation is gone. The spirituality is gone. The love, the power, the glory are all gone. That’s why we have to keep the truth.

Galatians 2:1–10

Paul’s writings in Galatians emphasize the importance of staying true to the gospel and its teachings. He cautions that if we lose sight of these truths, we also lose our freedom, power, love, and liberation. Nowadays, people seem to prefer new ideas over the wisdom of historical figures like Luther, Calvin, Augustine, and Aquinas. They crave spirituality without the need for deep theological understanding. However, real spirituality and meaning cannot exist without theology and doctrine, just like you can’t navigate without a map. Therefore, it’s crucial to understand and stick to religious teachings to maintain our freedom, liberation, spirituality, love, power, and glory.

1. Spiritual bondage

If we try to add anything to the perfection of Jesus Christ to feel worthy before God, we end up in spiritual bondage. This dangerous misunderstanding can trick people into thinking they are Christians without ever truly changing spiritually. Real repentance and freedom come from realizing that our best actions are never enough, and salvation comes only from trusting in Jesus Christ.

2. Psychological bondage

Galatians teaches us that just knowing the gospel and believing that we are accepted by Jesus Christ alone may not set us free if our hearts add more conditions for acceptance. If we attach things like financial success, the approval of our parents, or our kids’ happiness to our faith in Christ, we become slaves to these things. Any extra conditions for happiness beyond Jesus can stop us from being truly free, trapping us in endless bondage no matter how much we understand.

3. Cultural bondage

As Christians, we should steer clear of cultural bondage, which happens when we force our personal cultural values onto others as a requirement for true Christianity. The Bible doesn’t tell us everything about culture, such as how to dress or when to be on time, so it’s important not to judge others based on these differences. The danger is that this way of thinking could split Christianity into two—one bogged down by cultural norms and another that’s truly adaptable to any culture.



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