Today, I wanted to share a few devotional thoughts from the 1st chapter of Galatians.
(1) Paul, an apostle-sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead- (2) and all the brothers with me, To the churches in Galatia: (3) Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, (4) who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, (5) to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
At first glance this book appears to start off just like any other of Paul’s letters. There’s the introduction and greeting, just as we see in all of his other letters. But looking a bit closer, we see some differences….
He says, “(1) Paul, an apostle-sent not from men nor by man,”. See how abruptly Paul asserts that he is an apostle? He says, I’m Paul…an apostle! The folks who came along after Paul and started poisoning the minds of the Galatians, the first thing they did was try to undermine Paul’s ministry by saying he wasn’t a real apostle. The word “apostle” means “one who is sent with a commission”. Jesus had many disciples, but only 12 apostles. Later, one of the requirements for being named an apostle was that you had encountered the resurrected Jesus. Well, Paul certainly wasn’t one of Jesus’ disciples during His ministry, but Paul did encounter the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus. So Paul defends his apostleship here and goes on to say that this Jesus whom he met face to face is the one who sent him. He says, I am an apostle, and I’m (verse 1) “sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead-
Paul’s confidence and his boldness is made possible because he knows that he has been sent by God Himself, not by man.
We too have been given a mission. In a sense we too are “apostles” of a different era, because we have been sent with a mission as well. The Great Commission is our mission….to “make disciples of all nations”…to join the Lord in His Mission of redeeming a people through the Gospel for His glory. As we seek to boldly live out that commission (in other words, as we seek to “live missionally”), our confidence for doing so is made possible by us understanding that we have not been sent out to do this by man, but by God. It is not man that sends you to share the Gospel with your friends and neighbors, and coworkers…it is God Himself. Is is He who has sent you. Knowing this gave greater confidence to Paul, and it will give greater confidence to us.
(2) and [from] all the brothers with me, To the churches in Galatia: (3) Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,
It’s interesting here that Paul greets the Galatians with grace” …because “grace” is the very thing that they were giving up in exchange for something else.
We do this as well. We set aside grace, and accept the burden of performing for God…of trying to earn His favor by living the Christian life in our own efforts. How silly! We know we can’t do this; we know that our righteousness is like filthy rags before a holy God. What we need is grace…not just for our coming to faith in Christ, but for our being sustained each day by faith in Christ.
(4) who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, (5) to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
That’s basically the gospel right there. That Jesus gave himself for our sins (that he took our sins, and he gave us His righteousness through His blood sacrifice)…in order to rescue us. To rescue us from our prison of sin. To release the shackles of sin’s bondage over us.
And he asserts that it was God’s will that Jesus make that sacrifice. I’m always amazed when I hear that….that Jesus was crucified not because the Jews wanted it so or because Pilate wanted it so, but because God the Father wanted it so. It was God’s plan to rescue us, through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. And He did this primarily (as verse 5 says) for the glory of God. Through the substitutionary death of the Son of God, those who trust in Jesus Christ alone for forgiveness are rescued from the bondage of sin; released from the prison of sin and death so that they might live for the glory of God for all eternity!
Brother, sister, you’ve been freed. Don’t put the shackles of sin and legalism back on!
Live your life today with the joy of knowing that you have been redeemed by His grace, for His glory!