Crossroads of the Ages
Holy Spirit of God, I long to abide in the Father’s love and trust in his grace. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for Your help.
Read Galatians 1:1-10
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“He came to pay a debt he didn’t owe because we owed a debt we couldn’t pay” (Dr. Lloyd John Ogilvie). Thanks be to God for his saving work in Christ. We must never forget this central truth of the Gospel.
Galatians could be said to be an edgy, contentious piece of writing. In other letters, Paul starts by thanking God for his friends, for their growth in faith and for the joy they give him (e.g., Phil. 1:3). With the Galatians, by contrast, he is “astonished” to hear of them losing their way in the Christian life (6). He calls down curses (8,9) on anyone who distorts the Good News and disrupts the church. Exactly who was doing this in Galatia we do not know, but it is clear that all was not well in the churches there, that this troubled Paul deeply and that he wanted the Galatians to take the issue seriously.
As you tune into the tension and anger of this letter, listen first to the gentler notes at the start. Paul speaks of grace, peace and Jesus (3). He talks of the cross as Jesus’ act of “self-giving,” as a voluntary, deliberate, generous self-offering (4). Jesus “loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). This gift changes the world. It releases people from “the present evil age” (4) and brings in a new era, where lives and identities are not stained indelibly by “our sins.” The most wretched things we have done are not a label to carry forever.
This message—of the Father’s grace and the Son’s gift, of forgiveness and freedom and of a new world dawning—is the Gospel. He uses the word “gospel” five times in verses 6–9. There is truth in the Gospel, Paul believes, which cannot safely be trimmed or tinkered with and need not be expanded or embroidered. It is a standard, specific and adequate. Paul learned this Good News from God, he will tell us later, so now he tells it as service to Christ—whether people like it or not.
Paul gets his bearings for this letter from the cross of Christ. So what can the cross teach you on today’s journey—something about forgiveness, humility, service, generosity…?
Father God, all thanks and praise to You for Christ’s saving work on the cross. My sins were placed on him and I now know Your grace and peace. Hallelujah!