THE BOOK OF GALATIANS:
To study the theme of Great Grace – Good News for Ragamuffins and Les Miserables – we’re going to look at the book of Galatians. When I preach, I like to do a series and go through whole books of the Bible chapter by chapter. One of the dangers of pastors who pick random topics to preach on is that they will inevitably miss important doctrines of Scripture. Every pastor has their own favourite passages from the Word, and if they do a topical hop every Sunday, they will miss some of the other key themes from the Bible.
When you go through a book of the Bible verse by verse, you are eventually going to come across truths that you don’t like. Let’s be honest here – there are Bible verses that you don’t like! How many of you like when Jesus said, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” in Matthew 5:44? When was the last time someone was persecuting you that you said, “Praise God, let me just take twenty dollars out of my wallet and bless you – thank you for the persecution. Hallelujah!” By going systematically through books of the Bible, we will come across things that we might not want to read, but we need to learn about. It’s a good way to preach, because that way you will give a more fully rounded picture of what’s in the Word.
The Apostle Paul boldly declared, “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:26-27). My prayer is that when I have finished my ministry, that I would be able to say the same thing.
This little booklet is just a primer – an introduction – to the Book of Galatians. Once you have finished reading it, I encourage you to pick up your Bible and read through all six chapters of Galatians in the Bible on your own. It’s a short little book, and you could easily read it in one sitting, maybe in half an hour.
Warren Wiersbe, in his Galatians commentary Be Free writes: “Galatians is a dangerous book. It exposes the most popular substitute for spiritual living that we have in our churches today – legalism.” Notice he didn’t say in the world or in the cults or false religions – he said in the churches! So many Christian churches have substituted legalism for God’s grace.
If you know anything about the history of the church, you know that after Jesus started His church in the first century, over a thousand years later, the church had become institutionalized. The church had become so traditional and wandered away from the truth of the Bible. But in the early 1500’s, a German monk named Martin Luther did something radical: He started reading the Bible! As he opened up God’s Word, he discovered that the church was doing many things that the Bible said not to do. After nailing his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg church in 1517, he began calling the church leaders to return to the Bible and its overarching theme of grace. However, these religious Pharisees would have nothing to do with it, and so the Protestant Reformation was sparked. Warren Wiersbe aptly declared: “Galatians was Martin Luther’s charter of liberty during the Protestant Reformation.” Through the teachings of grace as found in Galatians, Martin Luther and the other great reformers revolutionized the church.
As we explore the Book of Galatians, my hope is that we would have a radical revolution with a new and fresh understanding of the unconditional love and acceptance that the Lord has for every one of us. Get ready to be rocked by the Bible!
Pastor Chris Jordan