Thursday, November 8, 2012

Galatians I

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.  Galatians 1:3-4

Galatians is one of what I call Paul's fighting epistles. Colossians, Philippians, and Ephesians are the other fighting epistles. I call them that because in them Paul is fighting back at false teachers, who are presenting a distorted gospel, that is not true Christianity, among the churches that Paul and his team of other missionaries started.

At the beginning of Galatians, as is Paul's custom in all his letters, he wishes grace and peace on the believers in the churches. Paul talks a lot about grace, it is a word that encompasses all that God has done for us in and through and for Jesus Christ. The verses listed above explain the basis of our new life, our resurrection life, in that, Christ came down from heaven to die for sinners like me and you. God accepting Christ sacrifice, raises Him from the dead, and justifying all believers in Christ also. Christ clothes us in His righteousness and we are adopted into the family of God forevermore.

The churches in Galatia were being assaulted by Judiazers, who believe that you must be circumcised in order to be saved. But not only that, Paul was attacked personally. The Judaziers said that Paul was not an Apostle. That is why Paul opens the letter stating that he is indeed an apostle, that he was made one not by other men, but by the risen Jesus Christ. Paul fights for authentic Christianity and he does not back down from attacking those who would distort the gospel because Paul understands that peoples eternal destiny is in the balance. Paul tell the Galatians that if anyone preaches to them any other gospel than the gospel he presented to them, they should be cursed. He repeats it for emphasis. He is saying that to believe in a distorted gospel is to miss the true gospel and the graces that it brings. Paul tells them that the gospel he preached to them was not made up by man, he did not learn it in school , are from other men, but he received it from a revelation of Jesus Christ. We should take from this that if we want to see the true gospel look at the gospel Paul preached, for it is the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is precious. That is why since the beginning of the church it has been attacked and attempts are always being made to distort it. It is God's plan of salvation for humankind. It is the only rescue from God's wrath.  God has protected the gospel from the beginning, raising up men like Paul who defend it against those who try to deceive, blind, detract from the pure gospel message.

If you are in a church that honors the Word of God, that honors Jesus Christ, that honors the pure gospel of Jesus Christ, thank God.

In the remainder of chapter one of Galatians, Paul talks about the fact that he persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. He talks about his zealousness for Judaism. In verse 15 Paul makes this amazing statement.

15 But when He who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by His grace.

Paul is talking about Ephesians 1:4 which talks about God choosing all believers before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him in love. God has chosen Paul to be a believer and to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. Each one of us was chosen by God before the foundation of the world, we were chosen to be holy and blameless before God in love. If you are believing in a distorted gospel, there probably is no push to live a holy life. Only those who set under the pure gospel of Jesus Christ are exhorted to live a holy life. It is, as it should be our God is a holy God, and we, as His children are to be trained in the doctrines of God, which all place an emphasis  on holiness.

The two go together: the gospel of Jesus Christ and a holy life. That is what Paul was fighting for, he cares about the churches and he  fought against those who would lead the believers astray. Paul knows that the power to save is in Jesus Christ and only in Jesus Christ and in His gospel. There is no other gospel, there is no other way to lead a holy blameless life.

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