Paul has faithfully ministered in Galatia. There he has preached the Law, highlighted the Gospel, made disciples, mentored leaders, and planted several churches. Now, following the leading of the Holy Spirit, he has gone elsewhere to minister. He is always a missionary on the move. There are always more people to reach, boundaries to breach, sermons to preach, and legalists to impeach.
However, even though he is distant from his Galatian congregation in location, his love is not diminished. He remains filled with fatherly compassion for his fellow fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters in the household of faith. They are persistently on his mind and in his prayers.
Therefore, from afar he writes them a letter. However, this particular letter is not all “warm and fuzzy.” With passionate love he goes at them and their errors with great fervency. But before expressing his astonishment and anger, he first gives his fathers, mothers, sisters, and brothers reason to glorify God and say “Amen!” Here are Paul’s opening words:
Paul, an apostle — not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— and all the brothers who are with me, To the churches of Galatia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (Galatians 1:1-5)
What should one see in these opening words from the former ceremonial, legalistic, and sacerdotal, pharisee?
What should one learn from the present-day recipient of grace, child of grace, son of grace, or maybe even “Grace-boy?” Seven truths are apparent:
1. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit operate in perfect unity. They work together in all they proclaim and perform. Never should one see the Father as the Holy Judge and the Son as the Compassionate Savior. Scripture shows judgment belonging to both the Father and the Son. The sacred text also shows both the Father and the Son to be consumed with saving compassion. And throughout the scriptures, the Spirit is always ready and able to make happen all that has been immutably decreed by the triune counsel.
2. God’s law, though incredibly wise and beautiful, is dangerous and damning. True, God’s commandments promise divine blessings that are sure to follow perfect obedience. However, God’s laws also express his horrific curse that follows disobedience to any law, in any way, at any time. Thus says the Lord, “The soul that sins — even a little sin — that soul and body shall spiritually and eternally die.”
3. God’s undeserved compassion is seen in his Gospel. What is the Gospel? It is the account of the person and work of Jesus Christ. It is the story of the Son’s performance.
- He is a spirit who became a human.
- He is the master who became a servant.
- He is the law-giver who became a law-keeper.
- He is the blessed one who became an accursed one.
- He is the author of life who became crucified, dead, and buried.
- He is the slaughtered one who came back to life and lives forevermore.
4. God’s plan is to appoint Apostles to proclaim his story and pen his words. These particular Apostles were not sent from men or through men, but were ordained of the Father, Son, and Spirit. They are eye-witnesses of the risen Christ, and they are inspired-writers of his Gospel and Law. Inspired, infallible, true-truth comes from the Apostles. Through them proceeds the Word of God that transcends time and space. And then, through other apostles or ministers, the inspired words of Apostles are to be preached to all men.
5. God’s grace, peace, and paradise comes to those receiving the Gospel of the Father, Son, Spirit, Apostles, and apostles. Undeserved blessings come to those who earned God’s curse. Positional, progressive, and permanent blessings come from above. Internal, external, and eternal blessings flow to those who know the Gospel and the God of the Gospel. The fantastic benefits of positional reconciliation, progressive peace, and final rescue flow from our compassionate God, Judge, Savior, Lord, Father, and Husband.
6. God’s will is behind this entire salvific scheme. It is behind our personal salvific reception. Our God is the one who orchestrates and officiates; he plans and he performs. It is by his will that:
- A Lamb’s Book of Life was penned before the foundation of the earth
- The earth was founded or created
- Angels were created with wills that could worship or rebel
- Humans were created with will that could worship or rebel
- A dangerous tree and devilish serpent was allowed in God’s garden
- A foreseen fall was allowed to happen
- A promised curse was poured out
- A special son and sacrificial lamb was promised
- A Son came to earth by means of the Holy Spirit and Mother Mary
- A Father accepted the Son’s perfect deeds
- A Father afflicted and sacrificed his holy Son
- The Son of God rose, sent forth his Spirit, and sent for his Apostles and apostles
- He allowed many to hear his Gospel; many were called
- He witnessed man’s unresponsive and dead condition
- He sent his reforming Spirit. “He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in his name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, but of the will God. (John 1:12-13)
Therefore, how should we respond who find ourselves sons and daughters of grace? How should we respond who have been made Grace-boys by the sovereign will of the Holy Father, Son, and Spirit? Listen again to Paul’s final exclamation, “To whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1:5)
Oh friends, let us give him glory.
Let us do so on our knees in prayer.
Let’s perfume him with song as we work at home and drive about.
As we labor, let us do so in a way that gives honor and glory to the one who owns us — body and soul.
Let us glorify God with our walk and our words. Let us live differently and be be ready to answer questions as to why we are different. Let us share visually, practically, charitably, verbally and boldly. Let us glorify Christ by being like Christ as we shower our neighbors with common grace (deeds) and special grace (words of life).
Let us honor and glorify him by opening his Law, entreating his Spirit, and panting to be more consistent in putting off sin and living in our newfound freedom. Let us enjoy being more progressively holy.
Let us glorify Christ by seeing our sin, not denying it, and preaching the free Gospel of Jesus to ourselves each and every day – maybe even several times a day. Let us not listen to the distortion of Satan. Let us not listen to the distortion of false preachers. Let us not allow our own broken minds to distort God’s Gospel. Let’s stand freely in the free Gospel of Christ’s performance for us.
Let us refute all those who would add works to the finished works of Jesus Christ. Let us protect ourselves and our loved ones. (This is a big theme in Galatians.) Let us correct, and then let us separate if necessary.
And then, by all means, let us glorify God by gathering with those found in the household of faith. Fathers, mothers, sisters, and brothers, Sunday is coming, and Jesus will be in the house again. It will be one more fantastic time for us to add our “Amen!” to those of our spiritual family members. Let’s not forsake the assembling of ourselves together this weekend. It is Jesus’ day. It is Jesus’ house. We are Jesus’ people. Let’s get together and “Let the ‘Amen’ sound from his people again.”