Thursday, September 1, 2022

Galatians Words ~ Word 1: Grace

 Galatians Words ~ Word 1: Grace

Welcome to Galatians Words! Over the next month we will use 15 words that are significant to the book of Galatians to walk us through the entire book. These words will help us understand Paul’s message to the Galatian churches. They will open our hearts and minds to Paul’s theology of the gospel and to Christ-centered living. Paul will continually shows that the gospel applies to all areas of our lives and to any situation we find ourselves in. For the apostle Paul, theology is not something simply to be learned, but is meant to be applied to life.

Our first word is Grace. 

This is a very significant word for Paul. In fact, the book of Galatians has often been referred to as the Gospel of Grace, because grace is so key to the theme of the whole letter. Let’s dive in and see why grace is so important to Paul.

In every one of his letters Paul begins with a greeting:

 “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ…” Galatians 1:3

But we can’t let this simple greeting slip by us as simply a meaningless greeting. Paul does not often use words without a great deal of significance and meaning behind them. He is very intentional this way. When Paul greets his readers with grace and peace, he is greeting them with the gospel.

Let me quote John Stott who explains it so well:

“Although ‘grace’ and ‘peace’ are common monosyllables, they are pregnant with theological substance. In fact, they summarize Paul’s gospel of salvation. The nature of salvation is peace, or reconciliation - peace with God, peace with men, peace within. The source of salvation is grace, God’s free favor, irrespective of any human merit or works, His loving-kindness to the undeserving. And grace and peace flow from the Father and the Son together.”

    “His loving-kindness to the undeserving…”

Paul’s intent with greeting his readers with grace and peace is to remind them of the great gift of God’s grace and the peace that results from receiving that gift.

In Galatians Paul follows this greeting with the event that displays and grants us that grace and peace:

From... the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age…” Galatians 1:4

God gives us His grace through His Son, and the Son’s sacrifice on our behalf grants us peace with God.

This is the Good News of the gospel!

So, imagine Paul’s surprise when he hears that the churches he founded in Galatia with the message of grace, are now being swayed by false teachers away from grace. And herein lies the problem that Paul will address in this letter.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— “Galatians 1:6

Let’s quickly break down this verse.

He reminds them that they were called. When we see the word ‘called’ in the New Testament it most often refers to God making the initiative to woo us to himself through the Holy Spirit.

And how were they called? By the grace of Christ. God’s grace to us is extended through Christ’s finished work on the cross. In grace God gave us His Son, and in grace He calls us to himself.

In most of Paul’s letters he follows his greeting with a prayer of thanksgiving for the church he is writing to. Here in Galatians Paul instead jumped right into the problem there, sharing his astonishment – amazement, shock – that they could so quickly and easily be led astray and abandon the grace of God.

We will explore how this came about and what they are being led astray to throughout the rest of this letter. For now, let it sink in how significant the grace of God is – “His loving-kindness to the undeserving…”. Grace freely given to us by God through His Son resulting in our peace with God. We did not have to do anything to earn it. It is unmerited and freely given.

This is what the Galatians are turning away from, and when they turn away from the gospel of grace, they turn away from the person of Christ – the One who gave His life for us.

Sola gratia, sola fide, solus Christus - by grace alone through faith in Christ alone do we receive salvation and are reconciled to God.

Take some time to reflect on the grace of God. Respond in whatever creative practice you are drawn to. That may be through art or poetry or photography or simply writing in a journal. Taking the time to reflect draws God's word deeper into our hearts and minds. Taking time to respond plants that word within us and involving our hands makes it tangible and memorable.

Word number two will be posted on Saturday.

Share how you respond in the Words Challenge Facebook group. You can also share on social media using #galatianswords.

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