The Core Issues of Vital Christianity
Sunday, September 20, 2009 -
Galatians 1:1-5 - “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.”
1) THE CENTRAL ISSUE OF AUTHORITY IN RELIGION
Galatians 1:1-2 - “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....”
This is a very carefully crafted opening paragraph, given the concerns of the letter to follow. Paul is pressing the whole issue of his authority to present the Gospel of Christ to people who are facing the truth claims of other religions. Why should people embrace Christ when they already have their own religion?
Paul’s main point in these words is the Gospel of Christ and His Cross can’t be placed on the buffet of ideas in the market place of world religious systems. This is his reason for stressing he was “not from men, nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father” (1). Notice Paul’s high Christology in separating Jesus Christ from “men” and “man” in these verses.
Paul’s view of the revelation he received can be distinguished from two other views of religious authority that are very common today:
a) The liberal view - This is a view (and this is vastly oversimplified) that would interpret the words of the Apostles as the religious contemplations of men of the first century, just as ours are the religious ideas of the twenty-first century. We are all searchers of truth together, and our interpretations are as valid as theirs.
This clearly won’t fit in with Paul’s words at all. If fact, his whole point is these false teachers must be rejected precisely because their teaching doesn’t line up with Paul’s proclamation. He clearly puts his own commission and message on a different level from theirs.
b) The ecclesiastical view - This view holds that the church is the cradle of the Scriptures. As such, the church’s proclamations and traditions hold equal weight with the text itself. But Paul makes it clear that his message wasn’t bestowed upon him by any man or men. It wasn’t conferred upon him by the church, or any arm of the church (see Galatians 1:1,11,12).
2) THE ESSENTIAL NATURE OF THE GOSPEL
Galatians1:3 - “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ....”
a) Grace - This defines the source of salvation. In the true Gospel, everything has its source in God’s grace, not man’s efforts or accomplishments.
b) Peace - Peace defines the fruit of salvation. But not just peace of mind. Paul has something much bigger to offer. He is talking about peace with God - the actual removal of the guilt and enmity with our Creator - Romans 5:1 - “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
3) THE HISTORIC EVENT FROM WHICH GOD’S GRACE AND PEACE FLOW
Galatians 1:4 - “....who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father....”
a) Christ died for our sins - There is no saving benefit in merely knowing that Christ died. It’s knowing why He died that’s important. His was not the death of a confused prophet or heroic religious martyr. Paul says He “gave Himself for our sins.”
b) Christ died to “deliver us from the present evil age” - Paul saw more than mere forgiveness in the Cross. There was a tremendous power to transfer our hearts, right now, from one age to another. See also Colossians 1:13. Father God’s intent through the Cross is to provide a gateway from one system to another in our thoughts and deeds. The cross must never be used to make us apathetic to the present life of righteousness (see Jeremiah 7:9-10).
c) Christ died “according to the will of our God and Father” - Father God is the author of salvation. We are not hiding from God the Father behind the blood of Jesus. Everything is rooted in God’s love for us - John 3:16 - "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Father God is not a detached spectator in the redemptive process - 2 Corinthians 5:19 - “....in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”