Today we will begin looking at the book of Galatians. Paul wrote this letter to the churches in Galatia. While the Corinthian letters were written to the church (one) in Corinth, this letter was written to all the churches in the region of Galatia.
“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
Paul, as usual starts with his credentials as an apostle, pointing out that he is not an apostle because he was called by man but because he was called by Jesus. He also sends his greetings to the Galatians, grace and peace from God, our Father and Jesus.
It appears that the churches in Galatia had begun listening to others who were bringing them a different gospel other than Christ.
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.” Galatians 1:6-7
Paul was astonished that they would turn so quickly. The people of Galatia had received the gospel from Paul but because there were others who were distorting the gospel they had begun to believe them. This is why we should always be careful to know the word of truth ourselves and not just what the pastor is telling us. I have sat in churches before where I felt a stirring because the pastor may say something that does not line up with the word. I even sat in a church one time where the pastor told his congregation that he was the authority to them and that they should not question his authority. And I have sat under pastors who told me it was just as much my responsibility to know what was in the word as it was theirs. Give me those pastors anytime. You see the veil was torn for all of us, not just for the pastor that stands in front of us. They are mere humans just like you and me and there are those out there who will distort the gospel. Paul is calling those out that are preaching the gospel contrary to what he is preaching. Paul gives us the key in verse 10.
“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10
Is the pastor in front of you preaching a gospel that is meant to please the congregation or is he preaching the word, whether it “steps on toes” or not? But also bring it home, are you doing your every day life, am I, to seek the approval of man or is it to seek the approval of God? OUCH! God calls us to things that may not always get the approval or the understanding of man. It’s not about the Facebook likes or the affirmations.
In the rest of this chapter, Paul explains his calling to them. He knows that the Galatians have heard about his life before his conversion experience. Paul explains his calling to them.
“But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostle before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.” Galatians 1:15-17
Paul gives them a little insight here into his life immediately following his conversion. I learned something here. I had always thought that Paul set out preaching as soon as he had his experience but apparently he did not. Even though he mentioned that God had set him apart even before his conversion experience, he had the experience and then he spent some time before he actually began preaching. I thought this was very enlightening. Paul spent time building his own relationship with Jesus before he began preaching.
Oh sweet Lord, may we all work on our relationship with You first and foremost. Lord, I pray that You would always make me aware when someone is trying to distort the gospel in any way.
Please keep praying for the educators and students. Everyone is trying to figure out what the new normal is. Please pray and give grace.