Paul, the missionary gospel preacher, writes a letter to the church in the area of Galatia which is modern day Turkey. The Church there had become a little “mixed=up” in their understanding and belief of the gospel of Jesus Christ that Paul had taught them.
Paul begins in verse 3 with the greeting “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
I love that! He is already laying out to them the fact that..
“HEY!!! The gospel of the grace of God found only in Jesus Christ is
the only thing that brings you peace!”
The church of Galatia started off well. They heard the message of Jesus Christ, the Son of God who was crucified, buried and resurrected and received the truth with joy and faith. But then…they began to hear that there was more to do than to simply believe.
I am sure the teachers who followed Paul were well intentioned and meant only to help disciple the new believers in Christ. Let’s just assume they were a lot like those we go to church with or our family members who feel the need to help us be good Christians.
Growing up in a small rural church, I know all about the good Christian how-to’s. When I was a little girl, I remember the preacher having a long pointy finger that he waved around to make his point a little more, well, pointed (no pun intended). And what I remember hearing him say was that I should “do this” and “not do that”, because if I didn’t then “Gooodd is gonna get yoooouuu…..he will judge yoooouu and punish yoooouuu…yoooouuu can mark my words”. (I grew up in rural North Carolina...so add that country, long drawn out drawal for effect to that last sentence!)
I grew up afraid of God.
But I knew that I had prayed to receive Jesus Christ as my savior.
I remember the night I was baptized…I felt like a princess….I loved Jesus and he loved me and I was going to heaven one day. But then, I heard that God was not pleased with me and that I needed to be good in order for Him to love me. God was pleased with me based on my ability to follow the rules and to not make any mistakes. This was unclear teaching.
This was re-enforced at home. No matter how hard I tried to be good and be perfect. I was not. I never remember hearing a compliment that wasn’t attached to some form of critique. The critique was the part that was emphasized and as far as my little girl self trying to please her parents went…the criticism totally cancelled out the compliment. I was not perfect.
So I tried harder and harder to please. And the more rules I tried to follow the more rules there were. So hard to keep up with.
I never measured up.
For the church of Galatia, they had received salvation through Jesus Christ, but then other teachers had come along and added rules for them to follow too. These were Jews who looked at salvation through Jesus Christ from The Law’s point of view. The church of Galatia was not of Jewish origin and did not have The Law as their point of view. And so, there was confusion, frustration, a lack of peace. The Galatians were being taught to follow a list of rules they did not understand in the first place. And this is what Paul wants to address in his letter to them.
Grace brings peace.
There is NO Other Gospel.
Salvation is ONLY BY GRACE through faith.