Forgiven Therefore Free: Paul’s Life Story

September 23, 2020

Galatians 1:11-2:14

Paul giving the people of Galatia his travel itinerary was more than something akin to going through vacation slides in his living room.  He was establishing who he was, who his message was from, who he was in fellowship with, and defining the message he was given and proclaiming.

The people of Galatia were hearing a “different gospel” just as we do today.  The other message was about the work of people instead of what Christ had already done for them .

The different “gospels” we hear want to convince us to do more and better to gain or not lose our salvation.  The different gospels we are hearing could be pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, voting for the right person to ensure security, being certain your devotions are done in the morning to hem up each day, parenting in a specific way to ensure your children are on the right path, or an infinite amount of things that are thrown in our face as “gospel” truths.

In this book Paul was insuring the Galatians and us that his message was not something he concocted or received secondhand.  His message came directly from Christ.

For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 

Galatians 1:11-12

The point he wants to get across is this gospel message is not a message from men but the gospel of and from Jesus.  He wants all who read his words to understand that the work of Christ is what is central to our faith not our own actions.

The traditions we have can stay or leave, but they should not undermine or take our eyes off of what Christ has done for us.

Paul tells us he was zealous for the traditions of his fathers before Christ met him on the road.  We get settled into routines, lifestyles, and sometimes we are zealously swept up into new things and convince ourselves and others we “must” do these things.  The routines and the new can be good things but sometimes they can get in the way of the gospel message of: the work is finished.  You are forgiven therefore free.

In Paul’s time, eating certain things, not eating things, and circumcision were the routines and traditions of the fathers that some were clinging to and insisting upon.  Paul does not make a judgment on eating or not eating or on circumcision.  He did not take issue with what people were eating or if they were circumcised or not.

The judgment Paul makes is about the work of Christ and our freedom.  He saw how people were clinging to what they were doing or not doing instead of all that Christ had done. What we cling to or are zealous for may be different than the Galatians. What remains the same is that we are distracted by those things. What Paul tells us and the Galatians is that all of those things mean nothing in the light of what Christ has done for us.

All of the other “gospels” Paul and we are confronted with, take eyes off of Christ and direct our focus onto our own actions.

The Bible and the message of Christianity is not “you must do this.”  The Bible and the message of Christianity is, “you screwed up, look what Christ has done for you, isn’t it glorious!”  You are forgiven and free.

What traditions do you find yourself chained to?

What new things do you find yourself overly zealous for?

How does the work of Christ for you shine light on the things you are chained to?

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