Loving Father, calm me in Your presence, keep me in the knowledge of the Spirit’s direction, strengthen me in my struggles.
Read Galatians 1:11-24
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
Thank God that “saving is all his idea, and all his work … its God’s gift from start to finish!” (Eph. 2:8, The Message).
Galatians is a passionate letter, probably written a few months after Paul’s visit on his first missionary journey in order to counter what he saw as a major threat. Some were arguing that followers of Jesus had to observe all the Old Testament law. For Paul, salvation is only through the grace of God received by faith, but these teachers claimed to have the support of Scripture, and were undermining Paul and questioning his authority. So Paul has to outline the source of his message.
The Gospel is not a collection of human ideas, but comes directly from God and has his full authority. Prior to his conversion, Paul thought in exactly the same way as his opponents. Only the dramatic events of his conversion, the years of reflection and prayer, and the firm conviction that this was from God could have changed him. His teaching had, however, been checked out with the apostles and therefore comes with both divine authority and apostolic approval. Elsewhere in Galatians he points out that his emphasis on faith as opposed to the observance of the law comes straight out of the Old Testament (3:1-14).
We can have confidence in the Gospel that we proclaim. It comes from God, being rooted in his revelation of himself in Jesus and in Scripture; it has stood the test of time within the church. Like Paul, however, we may have to make a reasoned (and perhaps passionate) defense of it. We need to look for creative ways of answering the questions of today: the alienation, the confusion, the loss of moorings, the lack of moral boundaries, the fixation with the material, and the interest in alternative spiritualities.
Think of some of the people you know. What are their objections to the Gospel? Think and pray about how you might answer them.
Lord, thank You that the Gospel is good news, not good advice. Equip me to understand the Gospel’s meaning, so I can share it clearly and passionately.
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