Galatians 1:4-5; brief thoughts

3Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of God and our Father, 5to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Grace and peace have been given to us from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ granted us grace and peace by willingly surrendering himself as a sacrifice for our sins. Note, Jesus “gave himself” (v.4). No one forced Jesus to surrender His life for believers. No one compelled Jesus to walk the earth in holy preparation for the day of atonement. No one coerced our Lord to the cross. He. Gave. Himself. It was by His own will that Jesus lay His life down (c.f. John 10:18). It was by His own will that He went to the cross.

His gift was not merely a general sacrifice or some sort of certificate of salvation. The substance of what Jesus gave is Himself. Consider that for a moment. “He gave HIMSELF” (v.4). Jesus is the payment for sin. He is the one who covers the cost and defeats death. No amount of self-righteous work can do this. No law can withstand abate the wrath of God. No good deed could overcome the darkness. But Jesus, the Lord of all things, surrenders and pays the price for our sin. He did not give us a get out of jail free card or a recommendation to our eternal job interview. He gave us Himself! He is the prize. He is the payment. It is He that rescues us. He is the gift. He is what is given.

He is given on behalf of our sins in order to rescue us. All men have failed to be holy (Romans 3:23). Some may argue that men cannot effectively know what it means to be holy until they learn and therefore cannot be held accountable for such a condition. Still, Romans chapter 1 argues that all mankind is aware of the “invisible qualities of God” and are thereby held accountable for their lack of recognition of God (Romans 1:20). Notice that God does not hold man accountable for a lack of perfection, rather, it is a lack of acknowledgment (Rom. 1:21). It is the rejection of God as God that leads to man’s sinfulness. Men reject the One true God who stands before them offering life. But men love their evil deeds more than the light of life (John 3:19). As a result of this rejection of God, humanity consistently defies the holiness and reality of God and His righteousness. Breaking the law of God, all humanity shakes their first in the face of an exceedingly patient God who will one day judge all of humanity deeds. Imagine a perfect judge examining all your secret moments. Imagine a judge who does not have error is responsible for judging your behavior. If God is the judge, then we have much to fear. This is a justifiable fear because His position as the righteous judge is secure. We have tried to save ourselves by being righteous on our own. Yet, the Scripture tells us that “no one is justified by the law” (Romans 3:20). There is no amount of good that can save you. There is only Christ and His act of righteous atonement. He is all that can save. Trust Him.

What does He save us from? This “present evil age” (v.4). His atoning work saves us from the current condition that we live in. Enslaved to sin and unable to be right with God on our own, Jesus is the remedy for that cancer. He rescues us from the death that so abounds in our souls. That emptiness that you feel deep within your heart when you look in the mirror. That evil you sense within yourself in moments of extreme honesty. Jesus comes to rescue you from that. To enable a believer to be righteous. The despair and desperation that overtakes our souls are driven from our hearts in His rescue.  A rescue designed by the Father’s will (v.4b). Consider for a moment the truth that the God of the Old Testament, who set forth the law is the God who desired to save you through Christ. It was the Father’s love that drove Christ to the cross. It was the love of God for the people of the world that directed the divine will of the Trinity to save humanity (John 3:16 states, “for GOD loved the world in that…”).

Consider the emphasis Paul makes on God’s relationship to us. He is “our Father” (v.3,5). Not merely the father of Jesus Christ, but ours. He is our Father. He has made us His children. Those who were once far off are now His. Those who were not His children have been adopted. Adoption, the act of grace that secures a family for an orphan. Likewise, humanity has been orphaned and left to die in our own sinfulness, so God intervenes and grants us son-ship from a world of slavery. God could rightly be named as “our judge” but Paul reminds us that God has chosen to call us His children because He is gracious and kind. So God is “our Father.” You cannot lose this relationship to God. He has made you His child, assuming you have believed in Jesus. He has made Himself your Father. No law can break that relationship.

All glory and honor and praise are due to the God who passed over the judgment of our wickedness in favor of Grace. He has called us, who were enemies of Him and His law, sons and daughters. He has granted us a status we could never earn. He has rescued us in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 1:2-3; Brief Thoughts

To the Churches of Galatia:

3Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, …

Peace is never safe and grace always comes at cost to the giver. Law is always safe and order only costs the one on whom the law is imposed. Law and order provide a modicum of security at the expense of freedom and joy. But grace and peace offer freedom and joy to the recipient. Security and safety are not to be found in the adventure of grace and peace.

Grace is given by the Supreme Lord at cost to Himself. He has granted forgiveness of sins and has refused to hold those under grace to the Law. In such a great gift, God has granted freedom to those who believe. Grace is contradictory to the law. Law demands obedience in exchange for security, grace gives freedom at cost of control. God has determined that He will walk with man. He walks alongside mankind, engaging in the seemingly mundane designs of life. So Christ grants grace for freedom over law for control.

Peace can only be attained by risk. One must surrender and trust the One who promises peace. If you wish to know peace, then you must surrender your need to control the circumstances in your own life. This surrender of control and security in exchange for lasting, real peace seems difficult. Mankind is not inclined to “let go.” Every person desires to shape their own destiny and decide their own fate. The irony of such a struggle is that it is dependent on controlling external circumstances – circumstances that are decidedly out of a man’s control. These circumstances that we so fear are beyond our ability to control, yet they are held fast in the hands of the Almighty God. He has power over all things and keeps all things (Col. 1:17). Indeed, He is the only active agent that can change ANY circumstance. Thus, He is the only one who can guarantee peace. Yet the peace can only come when trust is given entirely to Him. A man must surrender his need to make himself righteous and trust that Jesus’ sacrifice will rescue those who believe.

Further, this grace and peace come from God who has a particular relationship with us. He is “our Father” (v.3). He is Lord over all, and He is our Father. He has an intimately personal investment in you as a person. He is the One whom you derive your character from as a believer. He is the One who has taken care of you. Think for a moment about Jesus’ example of fatherhood in Luke 11:1-13. God is a good father who gives good things to His children. He gives peace. In Luke, this peace is particularly through the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Father gives the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit to grant peace and grace to those who believe! What greater peace can be given than the constant presence of the Father to guide and walk life with us!? There is no greater peace a person can have than the presence of the One who is Lord over all!

God the Father and Jesus Christ provide perfect peace and sufficient grace for those who believe in Christ Jesus. If you wish to have this grace and peace, you must trust in Jesus for salvation. This means that you admit that you have sinned against God- that means that you have broken His law and attempted to secure your own righteousness apart from Him (an impossible task). Trust in Christ’s atoning work for your sins – past, present, and future. Jesus died on the cross, taking the sins of those who believe upon Himself. In His death, your sin is defeated! Consider this for a moment: when Jesus died, all your sins were future sins. You trust in Christ, He takes ALL your sins upon himself. The Gospel is well stated succinctly by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:3-11.

To put it simply:

  1. Recognize you are a sinner in need of forgiveness from God.
  2. Trust that Jesus, who was perfect and sinless, died – taking sin upon Himself.
  3. Trust that Jesus overcame death by being resurrected from the dead.
  4. Surrender to Him as Savior and Lord.

You can pray to God and ask His forgiveness and He will give it. Place your trust in Him. There is no law that can save you, no amount of self-made-righteousness that can rescue you from your own wickedness. Only trusting in Christ can save you.

Galatians 1:1-2; Brief Thoughts

Paul, an apostle – not from me nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead – 2and all the brothers who are with me.

All the goodness and efforts of man cannot compare with the holiness of God and God’s own work. No amount of human strength can rescue the sinful man from their own disposition. No about of effort can redeem a man’s heart or rescue a man’s soul from death. Yet, the very word of God brings life. The Lord created the world with a word and brings life to the dead through very same means. God speaks, we breathe – that’s how it works.

Confronted by a leagalistic heresy, a mass of well-intentioned church people, and a culture that demanded religious observance and public piety, Paul wrote the church in Galatia about the miraculous and profound nature of salvation. There is no power that can free a man, no law that can restore a man to right relationship with God, only the gospel of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross can rescue mankind. One must trust Him for salvation. Thus, Paul begins his message to the Galatians by asserting his authority and message are from Jesus, not man nor any work of man.

Paul is an apostle. The word apostle means one who is sent. Paul has been sent by God with a message from God. He does not simply commend a message from God or reference a message from God. Rather, he brings the message from God. The words that proceed from the pen of Paul are words of tremendous conviction and are of a confrontational nature. Paul establishes, before engaging in the nuances of the Christian life, that this message comes from Jesus. He brings the word of the Lord to bare on the conscience of the reader.

Further, Paul’s apostleship did not come from his own ambition or from the urging of other men. Indeed, Paul’s original ambition was to remove every semblance of Christianity from the earth (Acts. 7:58-8:3). His own ambition was no longer a viable part of his life. He had surrendered his rights to promotion and self-exaltation in effort to see the gospel advance. Likewise, there were not many who believed that Paul should be in ministry. His history of persecution over the church was not lauded with tremendous zeal for him to begin Christian ministry. Indeed, it is much more likely that many were wary of his ministry given his history. Ananias, the first Christian to reach out to Paul even objected to the Lord’s command to go to Paul saying, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much even he has done to your saints in Jerusalem.” (Acts 9:13) Yet, the Lord saw fit to redeem and call Paul an apostle. No committee or vote was held, no church ordination, no seminary degree was required, only God’s calling an commission were present. Paul’s apostleship was unique from all the others. He was commissioned by Christ on a road and the Holy Spirit in the desert (c.f. Acts 9).

Paul was made an apostle through Jesus Christ. He did not merit the apostleship. He did not earn it through years of study. He was made an apostle through the work and effort of Jesus Christ and Christ alone. Note the name by which Paul calls Jesus – Jesus Christ. He is the Christ. The one whom the law points all mankind. The Savior. The bringer of freedom. The righteousness of God and salvation for all who believe. The Christ! The anointed one in whom freedom and Sabbath is found! Paul’s apostleship comes from this Lord. This King who rules over all with the word of grace and life. Further, it is not simply through Jesus, but also with the authority of God, the one who brings resurrection and life. Paul’s apostleship comes from the very seat of life and creation. The very hand that wrote the law on tablets of stone and lead the Israelites through the wilderness into the promised land is the same One who gave Paul the commission of “apostle!”

Consider the power of such an authority. Is there a greater authority available? Is there a power stronger than the one who can defy death? Is there a strength greater? No… no there is not. The mission and authority by which Paul writes is unparalleled.

Finally, Paul does not write in a vacuum. He writes with the witness  of the community of grace. He calls to a community within the context of a community of faith that loves him well. Consider the focus of this letter – the law verses grace. Where law is overcome by grace, community thrives. In a community of grace, the apostleship of all Christians is recognized and self-inflated piety dissipates into nothingness because Christ has covered all who trust in Him.

This letter to the Galatians is much more than just a commentary on the Law. It is about living in grace. Christ has freed us from the Law. He has freed us from sin and death and enabled us to live in right relationship with Him and also with each other. This repaired relationship is the context by which Paul writes.