Galatians 1-3

The Gospel

Paul and Barnabas were called by the Holy Spirit to a work that God had planned for them. Paul will become an Apostle to the gentiles. They began their ministry preaching in the synagogues located in the area of Galatia. In that area there were many gentiles who heard the gospel and were saved. After Paul and Barnabas completed this first missionary journey, word came that the Jews were trying to make the gentiles and the Church a part of Judaism.  They wanted the new believers to follow the Law and be circumcised.  They were putting pressure on the gentile believers in the Galatian churches telling the people they could not be saved unless they were circumcised and followed the Law.

We cannot earn salvation by being “good” enough as Paul makes clear in Chapter 3:10&12. Paul taught that salvation is received by faith. To illustrate this he goes back 400 plus years before the Law was given and uses Abraham as an example of salvation by faith.

Before the Law was given man did what he determined was right but his actions were always corrupted by his sin nature. Man often responds to greed, hate, coveting, lust, and so on. Just as God called Paul and Barnabas to proclaim the gospel to the gentiles, God called Abraham to follow Him and told Abraham He would make Him into a great nation. To that nation, God planned to give the Law to show man that he was committing sin based on following his sin nature.

By faith, Abraham believed what God said and the scripture declares that his belief was credited to him as righteousness. Four hundred years later the decedents of Abraham are now a nation. The nation received the Law and they were to bring it to the world by proclaiming it, and living it. Chapter 3:24 gives us the purpose of the law. It was to convict the world of sin. Now, it should be noted that the Law was more than the Ten Commandments and the statutes given to Moses. The Law was also ceremonial in that it contained the means to make atonement for sin by confession and offering sacrifices.

When properly used, one would realize the difference between right and wrong and seek to make atonement for the wrongs they had done. However, over the years, the law had been corrupted by the traditions of man and absolute obedience to the Law became the means to salvation. This is salvation by works. Works depend on man’s ability to save himself. This is not good news. It is a load and a burden we cannot bear by ourselves. The word gospel means good news. Paul gives us the Gospel in a nutshell in Chapter 1:3-5.

The Good News of the Gospel is this. Yes, man is a lawbreaker or sinner as the Law reveals, but Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for man’s sin. Man cannot achieve the righteousness of God. Jesus did and when we put our faith in Him, He becomes our righteousness and our sin is forgiven.

In our case, Jesus paid for our sin before we were even born. Because He paid for our sin He offers us forgiveness for our sin, but, to be forgiven, we must acknowledge we are sinners and receive His sacrifice for our sin. This is called grace. We are saved by grace, not by works.

So, here is the problem. The new believers in Galatia heard the Good News Paul and Barnabas preached. They received it, believed it, and were saved. But, the Judaizers were telling them they could only be saved by following the Law and being circumcised. To abandon what Paul and Barnabas taught was to abandon Christ Jesus and reject salvation. Instead, they were deceived into trying to save themselves by their good works, something God never intended. Jesus makes this clear in Matthew 5:20.

The purpose of the Law was to show us that we are lawbreakers. The Law contained a means by which man’s sins would be atoned for. Jesus came to fulfill the Law as we read in Matthew 5:17. He sent His Holy Spirit to convict us of sin and He is the atoning sacrifice for our sin. Peter had this to say in Acts 4:12, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.” NASB

This is the issue Paul and the early Church is dealing with and it is extremely important because, based on what one believes, (a belief one puts their faith in). It is salvation and where one spends eternity that is at stake!

The same is true today, although we may not be arguing over the purpose of the Law. But, if a person believes there is no God they are putting their faith in that belief. If one believes they are a good person and God will give them a free pass, they are putting their faith in that belief. You see, it is not that we do not have faith to believe in God, it is that one will put their faith in something or someone. All of us have been given, by God, a measure of faith. Romans 12:3

All of us are sinners. All of us are in need of God’s grace, but His grace can only be received by faith.

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved!

Pastor Dave