Galatians 1 – The Gospel

This Sunday, we started a new series in Galatians. I love to walk through books of the Bible and I’m so excited about this one. Martin Luther said Galatians was his epistle. If he could marry a book of the bible this would be his bride. Galatia is modern-day Turkey. Paul went there, started churches, and raised up leaders. Then, false teachers came preaching another gospel. There is only one gospel – the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.  In the first two chapters, the word “gospel” is used 10 times.

God’s Story

From the very beginning of the book, Paul makes it clear that the gospel is God’s story. In verse 1 he says that he’s an apostle “not from men or by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised him from the dead.” In verse 4 he says Jesus “gave himself for our sins to rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.” Christ died for our sins. He was buried and rose on the third day!  Salvation is about God rescuing us. We are born dead in our sins and God brings us from death to life. The only thing we contribute to salvation is that we did all the sinning. Jesus did all the saving! It is not of works less anyone should boast.

In verses 6-7 Paul is shocked that the churches were turning away from this truth. He says, “…even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, a curse be on him!” (v. 8).  Again, there is only one gospel! Mormons teach that an angel appeared to Joseph Smith and gave him the book of Mormon. Muslims teach that an angel appeared to Mohamed and gave him the Koran. God knew these things would come, so he had Paul write this verse long before it happened! The other gospel the false teachers were preaching was turning from grace to law, from relationship to rules. The Judaizers said, “We believe in Jesus, but Jesus is not enough.” They were saying that people needed Jesus plus something, grace plus works. In this case, Jesus plus circumcision.

How do you get to God? Go to the first story in the Bible. In Genesis 2 and 3, we read about the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God told Adam and Eve that they were free to eat of any tree, but not of that one. Satan deceived them into to thinking they would be like God if they ate from it. The fake gospel focuses on YOU. The real gospel focuses on GOD.  Today, we can get into the mindset, “Real Christians do this and don’t do that.” There is nothing wrong with rules and standards. Rules are good. You GO on green and STOP on red. But, rules are not the heart of the Gospel.  Rules are not the focus. Jesus is the focus. It is not about measuring up, but on what Jesus has already done. His last words were not, “I got it started, now you go finish it.”  His last words were, “It is finished.” Jesus is the only way to God.

Paul’s Story

In verses 11-20, Paul shares the message that changed his life. He told his story – his former life, how he met Jesus, and how his life changed. You can be raised in church but not raised in Christ. Paul was religious, but he was dead spiritually. Then, Paul realized that God had a plan for his life from the womb! Jesus taught him and used others to disciple him. All the world religions are about human achievement. The gospel of Jesus is about divine accomplishment. DO vs DONE! Paul had been in legalism and he knew it leads to death. Jesus came to set the captives free.  Jesus said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”  What the gospel did for Paul, it can do for you.

Your Story

Paul closes this chapter saying that people heard his story and glorified God. When is the last time you told your story? Do you have a salvation story? You have no power to save yourself and no power to live the Christian life. Trust in Jesus alone. Say, “God I am all in! I trust you alone to save my soul.”