Gal 1:1,2 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;) 2 And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:
We spoke last week about the Apostle Paul’s miraculous conversion and the changing of his name from Saul to Paul. We should all be reminded on a daily basis that God wants to change us so drastically in Christ that it would make sense to change our names also because we are not the same person we once were. And so Paul not only greets the Galatian church with his new name, which may not mean much to us but to him it represents his conversion. However, the Apostle Paul was not only converted, he was also called.
Paul, an apostle, … the word apostle describes Paul’s calling. Actually, the official definition of the word apostle from the Greek apostolos - simply means- a messenger, ambassador: one that is sent.
What is interesting is that immediately Paul begins to explain to the Galatian churches that his calling has not been given by man. Instead, God Himself has called the Apostle to represent Him as an ambassador/ messenger of the Gospel message. It is important for us to understand that it is God, through the Holy Spirit, who calls the man into ministry. Unfortunately, religious man is always attempting to operate in the place of God. Please do not misunderstand me there are many times when people think they are called, however, they are not spiritually mature to be in a position of leadership. On the other hand, religious man oftentimes creates an ecclesiastical ladder upon which others have to climb in order to prove their calling.
Obviously, there is some of this taking place in the situation Paul is encountering with the Galatians. We spoke last week about the Judaizers. It appears from this statement and others that Paul will make in the future that these Judaizers were not only bringing in false doctrine, but they were also attempting to belittle or make Paul look less than capable in the eyes of the Galatian Christians.
Paul’s response is that his calling is (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;). Paul is making it clear that he was called by God Himself. Man operates in the natural, and he is limited by his physical surroundings. However, God is supernatural… He is the God of resurrection. He makes dead things live. And this is who called Paul into ministry. Let it be known that God calls the man. However, spiritual men that are not concerned about building their own ministry will recognize the anointing placed by God upon an individual’s life.
Maybe I am speaking to you right now. There is a good possibility that someone within the sound of my voice feels as though some leader somewhere has looked them over. God knows how to find a place for your gift. But if you allow the enemy to put bitterness in your heart when people pass you by, then you will become ineffective for God. A root of bitterness is one of the fastest ways for the enemy to sideline a Christian who is willing to work for God. Listen Christian…we must ask ourselves this question, “Who are we planning to please or serve?” In other words, a leader may not be willing to put you in the spot of ministry that you think you should be in. However, real ministry takes place outside the walls of the church. No leader can prevent you from serving people on the outside. No one can prevent you from feeding the hungry, clothing the naked or finding shelter for the homeless. And if you as a Christian cannot find a Pastor to get behind you and encourage you in that endeavor then do it on your own. You don’t need someone’s permission to serve people in the public and tell them about Jesus. In addition, it doesn’t mean that you should not still find a church where the truth of the Gospel is being preached and be faithful to the gathering of the body. If the Pastor is preaching the Gospel, but does not see what you are doing for the Kingdom as something worth supporting, that is between him and God. Do you honestly believe that Pastor’s do not miss God? Please, they are humans. They miss God just like the rest of us. The question is whether or not we will allow rejection to breed bitterness in us. Often, God allows these trials to work things out in us. Sometimes people have a submission problem. And most of us have control issues. When we learn how to submit to God, it is easy to submit to man. Furthermore, God knows how to put us in the right spot. As we move forward, we will see that Paul will continue to defend his position of authority that was given to him by God.
Gal 1:3-5 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, 4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:5 To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
In every epistle Paul writes, he places in the greeting this statement Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus, or something similar. It is easy to have the tendency to just look over this statement as though he is just greeting the church. But this statement contains within it a very important truth for the Christian. Grace produces peace! All people- on every inch of this globe are looking for peace. However, they continue to look in all the wrong places. True peace is a by- product of a proper relationship with the creator of the universe.
It is important that we understand what Grace really means. I have shared this many times with the bible study group, but this truth had a profound effect on my life, therefore, I am compelled to continue to define the word time and again.
Grace= a divine influence on the heart with its reflection in the life.
What does that mean? It means that grace is an inside job. In other words, the definition says that it is divine…meaning it is from God.
Influence= The capacity or power of people or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions of others.
Essentially, what the definition of grace is telling us is that God is the powerful source that is working on the inside of a person causing a change to take place. Furthermore, the result is that the change is manifested outwardly through the person. Oftentimes, when people struggle with certain issues, mankind wants to clean them up from the outside. We will run them through a program and get them to work some steps. However, God operates through grace. Where does the grace come from? Yes, we have already established that it comes from God, but more specifically, grace is dispensed into the life of the believer through the person of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the hands that God has chosen to use upon this earth. He is the comforter who has been called alongside to help (John 16:7). This is an important concept to consider because grace is essential to victory in the life of the believer. Where are you right now in your life? What are you going through? Whatever it is…grace is sufficient.
So grace is supplied through the person of the Holy Spirit, but it was purchased through the shed blood of Jesus. This truth is seen in the next portion of this verse: Who gave himself for our sins. Without a connection to God, there is no access to grace. Yet, Jesus, through His sacrifice on Calvary, purchased a position of right standing for us with God. And in the midst of this position, grace is freely flowing:
Rom 5:1,2 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
The concept of justification, at least according to the gospel, means that a person has been declared legally innocent based off their faith in what God has provided in payment for man's guilt.
Romans 4:2-3 2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. 3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
When we get to Galatians chapter 3, we will explain, in detail the object of Abraham’s faith. But for now I want to give you this thought: the scripture says that Abraham was accounted as righteous because of faith. Unfortunately, many have been taught that the faith of Abraham was based on his belief that God would be able to produce a son for him through Sarah. While his offspring was certainly part of the plan that was not what Abraham ultimately believed God about. Furthermore, some have even gone as far as to say that Abraham believed God regarding wealth. However, it is important for us to understand that faith in only one thing produces righteousness. The plan I speak of is faith in God's plan of salvation, which is Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I want to leave you with this thought because we must move on...Abraham's faith was in Jesus Christ and Him crucified. And faith in that put righteousness in his heavenly account.
So what we have been talking about is the supply of grace, which is given to a believer through the person of the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, what makes a person an eligible recipient of this grace is the fact that they have placed their faith in the sacrifice of Jesus as the proper payment for their guilt and sin. Once a person does this, they are now in a new position. In this new position, they are in right standing with God. Unfortunately, too many Christians think they have received their “get out of Hell free card” and then sit on the pew in church...never growing or maturing in Christ. There is kingdom business to be taken care of today!
Galatians 1:4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God our Father:
It is the will of the Father that you and I are delivered from this present evil world and this is only done through the sacrifice of Jesus. Look at the verse: this is the exact reason that He gave Himself for our sins so that we could be delivered from this present evil age.
Now I want to make something clear...there is a future day coming when the human race will be delivered and set free from evil for all eternity. However, that day has not arrived yet. And this passage is speaking about where we are presently.
In the Greek the word for world is actually aion where we get our word eon. This word actually describes an age or time-frame. We are in the midst of a specific time-frame of God's salvation history. This time-frame is known as the church age. We have discussed this in detail throughout the bible study, but it is important that I remind you. During the church age, the kingdoms of darkness and light are co- existing. The scriptures are clear that Satan is the God of this world. Adam, through the fall, relinquished his position of leadership and dominion to the evil one. Ultimately, God is in control, however, in this age He has chosen to accomplish His will through a mortal creation by empowering them with grace through His Spirit. However, without the cross, there is no access. And without the cross, there is no grace. And without grace, there is no victory.
What I need you to understand is that within this "present evil age" humanity is enslaved under the power of evil, but not you child of God. The Gospel of Jesus Christ has come to liberate you from the bondage of evil. God's grace is power to change the inside so drastically and radically that the outside will line up with the inside if we let grace have its way. Yes, humanity is enslaved under this present age of evil, but the Gospel is the true Emancipation Proclamation. It proclaims that Jesus has purchased your freedom over the power of sin.
With this in mind, where there is grace, there is peace. However, for the believer who does not understand what the proper object of faith is, or the unbeliever who is completely disconnected from God, there is no peace. There is only turmoil and frustration around every corner. Now, let me be clear. I am not saying that there are no trials in the life of the believer who understands how to access God's grace through proper faith. Instead, I am saying there is peace in the midst of those circumstances because God's grace is flowing.
Galatians 1:6 I marvel [disturbing surprise]that ye are so soon removed [to transfer or change sides]from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
This verse explains the whole problem that the Galatians were experiencing. Sadly, this verse explains the whole problem that most Christians today are experiencing. What is the problem...you ask?
The problem is a different gospel. Satan has always attempted to corrupt the liberating Gospel of Jesus Christ. He has not changed his tactics. He twisted God's words in the garden; he was twisting the Gospel through the mouths of the Judaizers; and he continues to contort and confuse the scriptures through preachers today.
Sometimes the twisting is obvious. They deny his virgin birth. They deny His Deity [Jehovah’s witnesses]. They say an angel told them "this or that [Mormonism, Islam]." They say, “It wasn't the real Jesus that died on the cross but another one [Islam].” They say, ”You need to follow another prophet and Jesus” [Mormonism]. They say don't be so close minded.
But then there are the ones that are more slithery. They fly under the radar. They do not deny anything obvious but they let people come into their church and talk about non- biblical meditation. They teach "contemplative prayer", which is a form of meditation. They avoid words like blood, sin, and cross because they are offensive. They teach a system of works that says, “When you struggle this is what you need to do." But the thing they tell their people to do is not, “Keep trusting in the finished work of Christ for that alone is what gives access to the grace of God." Instead, they preach another gospel.
Galatians 1:7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
In verse 7, there are 3 very important words that stick out:
(1) Another- in the Greek, this word literally means [different]
So Paul is saying that he is amazed or bewildered. In other words he is full of surprise at how quickly the Galatians have embraced false doctrine.
(2) Trouble- to agitate or move the inward parts to and fro causing internal commotion and lack of peace.
(3) Pervert- corrupt
The Galatians have found themselves in the midst of a mess. They have put their faith in a perverted gospel and the result is not peace, but internal commotion. Where are you right now in your walk with God? Have you experienced multiple years of frustration as a Christian? Has your walk not been lining up with the Word of God? Is there internal commotion and a tossing to and fro? If you answer yes to any of these questions, there is a good possibility that you have been taught to place your faith in the wrong gospel.
Galatians 1:8-9 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
Listen, Paul warned the Galatians and every human being willing to listen from that point forward that even if an angel was to preach gospel, if it is different than this gospel, it is a perverted gospel and that both angels and men that would do such a thing need to be accursed.
Sadly, we have seen men refuse to listen to Paul. As we said in the intro, Galatians was written in AD 48-50. Mohammed did not receive his "revelation" from "Gabriel" until approximately AD 600.
Joseph Smith received his "revelation" about Mormonism in the 1800's from the "Angel Maroni". Both men refused to listen to the words of Paul.
2 Corinthians 11:14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
Fallen angels are in the business of preaching a perverted gospel. Furthermore, they have ministers that work with them in this endeavor.
2 Corinthians 11:3-4 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
Listen carefully. Paul warned that Satan operates with subtlety. This word means with trickery and craft. In other words, what you see is not reality. In this passage, Paul tells us that there are people preaching messages that have the name of Jesus in them. And there is a spirit associated with their "gospel". But it is not the same Jesus that he preached, and it is not the Holy Spirit. Ultimately, it is a completely different gospel.
Gal 1:10 For do I now persuade [win over] men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
Obviously, the Apostle Paul was being accused by the Judaizers of attempting to win men over by preaching what they thought was an “easy” message. Remember, the whole thrust of the Judaizers was that circumcision must be added to faith in Christ. In their minds, the people were being given an easy way out. Paul’s question explains that his purpose is not to please men, but God.
Religion did not like it then, and religion does not like it now that Jesus did it all. You mean to tell me that I don’t have to go be circumcised to be saved?...absolutely not! Do I have to go to church three times per week in order to be right with God? Absolutely not…however, for the person who is truly saved there will be a desire to fellowship within the body of Christ. You mean I don’t have to pray four times per day to go to Heaven? No! Jesus died on the cross and paid the penalty for your sin. Your faith in that makes you innocent in the eyes of God and that alone makes you eligible for Heaven. However, true believers will be moved upon by the Holy Spirit and encouraged to pray.
Who are you attempting to please child of God? Submit yourself to God by learning and obeying the true Gospel, and He will direct your steps in the right direction.