GALATIANS 1:1-9

Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— and all the brothers who are with me,  To the churches of Galatia:

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, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

How would you explain the gospel to someone who asked you today what you believe? 

The book of Galatians leaves us enjoying a deep significance, security, and satisfaction - the life of blessing that God calls His people into. This is true because it brings us face to face with the gospel. The gospel is not just for non-Christians. The gospel is not just the basic ABC’s of doctrine and belief. 

In this short letter called Galatians, Paul makes it clear that the gospel is the A to Z of the Christian life. It is not just the way to enter the kingdom - it is the way to live as part of the kingdom. Christians need the gospel just as much as non-Christians! The gospel is the way that Christ transforms people, churches, and communities. 

Paul tells the Galatians - and us - that all we need is the gospel of God’s unmerited favor to us through Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. He is deeply concerned about these churches. He doesn’t just tell them to be better Christians. Instead, Paul addresses their problems and issues by calling them to live out the implications of the gospel. 

Why Is Paul So Emotional?

The opening tone of Paul’s letter is striking. He is surprised and seems angry. His language is strong. Usually Paul moves on to thanksgiving after his greeting. Instead, he simply says, “I am astonished…” (verse 6). What has made Paul so emotional? 

Paul is astonished because these young Christians are deserting Christ and following a “different gospel” (verse 6). In the gospel we are attached to Jesus, we are in Christ. Paul says, “I am astonished that you have so quickly deserted him.” Notice that he didn’t say it - but him. Paul is saying, “It’s not that you deserted a message; you deserted a person. You deserted him. I am astonished. I am baffled. I am bewildered that you would desert him and move on to another gospel.” 

Paul sees these people as being in enormous danger and confusion. He is angry at the ones who are misleading them “trying to pervert the gospel” (verse 7) and he condemns them in verse 9. The history behind this text is that there was a group of men from Jerusalem called the Judaizers who have come down into the churches of Galatia, and they began teaching the Christians in Galatia, who were Gentile (non-Jew) converts, that in order for them to be fully Christian, they must first become Jews. They need to be circumcised and be obedient to the dietary laws and the festivals. So they were adding to Christ. Jesus, plus these things, equals salvation. 

Paul maintained that the added requirements to the gospel made it no gospel at all. The moment the gospel is revised, it is reversed and is no longer good news. Paul condemns any teaching that does not contain these two facts:

  • We are too sinful to contribute to salvation (we need complete rescue).
  • We are saved by belief in Jesus’ work, the “grace of Christ” - plus nothing else. 
The moment the gospel is revised, it is reversed and is no longer good.

What Is The Gospel? 

Paul, divinely appointed, reminds the Galatians of the true gospel in his opening. It is a great outline of this good news message.

Who we are:  Helpless and lost. Verse 4 says, “who gave himself for our sins to deliver (rescue) us”. Founders of other religions came to teach, not rescue. Jesus was a great teacher, but Paul does not even mention that when he gives this nutshell version of Jesus’ ministry. You don’t rescue people unless they are in a lost state and helpless condition. We are spiritually unable to save ourselves. Nothing in who we are or what we do saves us. 

What Jesus did: How did Jesus rescue us? He “gave himself for our sins” (verse 4). He sacrificed for us - on our behalf - in place of us. Jesus did all we should have done, in our place. This means that when He becomes our Savior, we are absolutely free from penalty or condemnation. This is Good News!

What the Father did: God accepted the work of Christ on our behalf by raising Him “from the dead” (verse 1) and gives us the grace and peace (verse 3) that Christ won and achieved for us. 

Why God did it: This was all done out of grace “according to the will of our God and Father” (verse 4). We did not ask for rescue but God planned it when we didn’t even know we needed it. The Bible does not give us any other motivation or cause for Christ’s mission except the love and will of our Heavenly Father. That is why only God alone gets “glory for ever and ever” (verse 5). 

Our salvation is all God’s doing. This is a humbling truth that is at the heart of Christianity. We tend to love being our own saviors. Self-salvation messages are appealing to us - like: 

  • Keep the rules and you earn eternal blessing. 
  • Be a good, sincere, loving person and you will see God. 
  • Have enough faith and you will be saved. 

In fact, the gospel brings us lower than you can imagine - we are hopeless and need rescue. Then it brings us higher than we can imagine - God in Jesus provides a rescue far more than any false salvation your heart may love to chase. We are more wicked than we dare to believe, but more loved and accepted by Jesus than we ever dared to hope. 

To God Be The Glory For Ever And Ever!


IN COMMUNITY

This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing to discuss the implications of the message.

BLESS RHYTHMS

This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.

Bless
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.

Listen
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.

Eat
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.

Speak
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.

Sabbath
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.

 
 

GOSPEL TRANSFORMATION

The Gospel is powerful. The good news of Jesus changes us. This section is to record the ways you are noticing the good news of Jesus transforming your life. Jot notes to help you remember.

As we examined God’s Word, in what ways was His Word examining you?

Describe how Jesus is becoming more central in your life.

What does trusting in Jesus look like for you this week?