“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 brethren who are with me, To the churches of Galatia.” (Galatians 1:1-2).
In his introduction to the letter of Galatians, Paul tells his readers that he is an apostle – one sent from God. The false teachers in the Galatian churches were saying, “Who does this Paul think that he is? You don’t have to listen to him!” And Paul’s response was, “I’m a messenger sent by God, speaking the Word of God.” They said, “What are your credentials?” He said, “I’ve seen the resurrected Jesus Christ. He saved me, He changed me, and He called me and sent me, so listen to what I have to say.” That’s where his authority came from. And Paul continues writing:
“Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Galatians 1:3-5).
If you read your Bible for any amount of time, it won’t be long before you see the word grace pop up. What is grace? Our English word grace comes from a Greek word, charis, which speaks of the unmerited (undeserved) favor of God; His good will or lovingkindness. God’s favour comes upon us even though we don’t deserve it. Jesus died not only for our sins to be forgiven, but also to deliver us from our sins.
And what is the Gospel? “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9). This is a great Bible verse to memorize – the Gospel (Good News) in a nutshell. This means that if you’re a Christian, it’s not because of anything that you did. But some people would say, “No, I did something. I prayed the sinner’s prayer. I believed in Jesus.” Okay, but this Scripture says that even though you’re saved by faith, that’s not of yourself – it’s a gift from God. If you even believe in Jesus, that itself is a gift from God. The Bible says, “no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:3b). If you even turn to God in faith, that itself was a gift from God, so you can’t take credit for it.
The Gospel says that God loves you – yes, even you – and that He’s not mad at you. He’s made a way for you to be forgiven, have peace with God, and one day live with Him forever in the paradise of Heaven.
The final part of this first paragraph says about God: “to whom be glory forever and ever amen.” God’s highest calling for us as a church isn’t to get people saved – it’s to worship Him – to bring Him honour and glory. That’s the most important thing we are called to do. When our lives are changed and transformed by the grace of God, He gets glory for that. So what do you live for? What’s your purpose? What’s your passion? Are you living to bring God honour and glory in everything you say and do?
Pastor Chris Jordan