By Beverly Conover
WHAT IS GRACE
- How would you define it or describe it?
- One definition: Favor given to the undeserving
- Unearned (free gift)
- Often costs the giver something
- Motivated by grace:
Ephesians 1:7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.
1 John 1:9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
Titus 3:4-5 But—When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.
Philippians 2:6 Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God something to cling to. Instead he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
Those are just a few things connected to God’s grace.
Everything God the Father does (planning salvation, sacrificing his Beloved Son, running to meet us when we turn to him); everything Jesus does (healing, forgiving, teaching—the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, healing the Centurion’s servant, freeing the demoniac, even reaching out to the Pharisees who hated him: John 5:14 I say these things that you might be saved.; everything the Holy Spirit does (convicting us of sin, drawing us to Christ, empowering us to do God’s will and become more like Jesus, lives in us, gives us hope). Everything God does is filled and interwoven and driven and motivated by GRACE!
PAUL’S AUTHORITY (QUALITIFICATIONS)
Galatians 1:1-2 Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead—and all the brothers and sisters with me, to the churches in Galatia
o An apostle – one who is sent from God with a specific commission. (vs. Disciple= learner, follower)
o Qualifications: When appointing someone to replace Judas the Betrayer: Acts 1:21-22 “…from the men who were with us the entire time we were travelling with the Lord Jesus—from the time He was baptized by John until He was taken from us. Whoever is chosen will join us as a witness of Jesus’ resurrection.”
o Paul did not meet these criteria so some opponents questioned his authority as an apostle—BUT he had seen the risen Lord on the road to Damascus and been commissioned by Jesus: In Acts 9:15 God says to Ananias who he is sending to heal Paul from the blindness caused by his encounter with Jesus: But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel.”
o All the brothers and sisters who are with me (Ephesus?)
o Churches in Galatia (now Turkey)- was a province under Roman rule—so an area with more than one church planted by Paul
Galatians 1:3 May God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live. All Glory to God forever and ever. Amen
o No grace=no peace: if we don’t accept God’s amazing gift of grace, we keep trying and striving to please God by our own efforts. We don’t rest in what he has done, appreciate the HUGENESS of his grace, pour out thanks to him every day!
o More than a greeting: the Good News in a nutshell
PAUL’S CONCERN (The Problem)
Galatians 1: 6-9 I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from the God who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News, but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ.
o These beloved believers (spiritual “children”) of Paul are turning away from God’s grace
o Fake “Good News” is Bad News!
o Fooled by “Truth Twisters”
o Jesus + add-ons: circumcision, following the Law of Moses
Galatians 1: 8-9 Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed.
o Why such a strong statement?
--Saying that Christ’s finished sacrifice for us on the cross was not enough, his work not complete without our effort --Paul cared deeply for the souls of people, their lives, their destiny
o “angel from heaven”
-Mormonism: Moroni appeared to Jos. Smith
-Islam: the angel Gabriel appeared to Mohammed
Both are works, works, works religions
Galatians 1:10 Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.
Galatians 1:11-12 Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning. I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ.
o Revisit the proclamation in Galatians 1:1
Galatians 1:13-14 You know what I was like when I followed the Jewish religion—how I violently persecuted God’s church. I did my best to destroy it. I was far ahead of my fellow Jews in my zeal for the traditions of my ancestors.
o So Saul/Paul was an aggressive, brutal, terrorizer of Christians
o He though he was following God
Galatians 1:15-16A But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him to reveal his Son to me so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles.
o Paul was chosen for God’s purpose before he was born! To preach the Good News to the Gentiles
o Every believer is chosen by God: John 15:16 “You didn’t choose me, I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit…
o We are chosen for a purpose: To spread His Good News by our words and by our lives
Galatians 1:16B-20 When this happened, I did not rush out to consult with any human being. Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to consult with those who were apostles before I was. Instead, I went away into Arabia, and later I returned to the city of Damascus. Then three years later I went to Jerusalem to get to know Peter, and stayed with hm for fifteen days. The only other apostle I met at that time was James, the Lord’s brother. I declare before God that what I am writing to you is not a lie.
After that visit I went north into the provinces of Syria and Cilicia.
o More details of Paul’s life that support the fact that he received his message directly from Jesus, not even from respected church leaders
o What other things supported his claim?
--God’s message to Ananias (Acts 9:10-17
--Paul immediately began preaching the Good News (Acts 9:20)
--He remained true to Jesus’ message even in the face of hardship and persecution (2 Cor. 1:24-29 and Gal. 6:17
Galatians 1:22-24 And still the churches in Christ that are in Judea didn’t know me personally. All they knew was that people were saying, “The one who used to persecute us is now preaching the very faith he tried to destroy!” And they praised God because of me.
o What an “about face”!!!
---What are your “add-ons” to Jesus finished work?
---What/who do you follow: God’s Word? Other people? Certain preachers?
---How does God’s grace impact your daily life?
Your view of God
Your attitudes and actions toward yourself and others?
CALLED BY HIS GRACCE (Gal. 1:15)
SAVED BY HIS GRACE (Eph. 1:7)
STAND IN HIS GRACE (Rom. 5:1-2)
STRENGTHENED TO BE VICTORIOUS IN OUR DAILY LIVES BY HIS GRACE (2 Tim. 2:1-4)
And much, much more!
All Bible references from New Living Translation