Warren Wiersbe, in his Galatians commentary Be Free writes: “Galatians is a dangerous book. It exposes the most popular substitute for spiritual living that we have in our churches today – legalism.” Notice he didn’t say in the world or in the cults or false religions – he said in the churches! So many Christian churches have substituted legalism for God’s grace.
If you know anything about the history of the church, you know that after Jesus started His church in the first century, over a thousand years later, the church had become institutionalized. The church had become so traditional and wandered far from the truth of the Bible. But in the early 1500’s, a German monk named Martin Luther did something really radical: He started reading the Bible! As he opened up God’s Word, he discovered that the church was doing many things that the Bible said not to do. After nailing his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg church in 1517, he began calling the church leaders to return to the Bible and its overarching theme of grace. However, these religious Pharisees would have nothing to do with it, and so the Protestant Reformation was sparked. Warren Wiersbe aptly declared: “Galatians was Martin Luther’s charter of liberty during the Protestant Reformation.” Through the teachings of grace as found in Galatians, Martin Luther and the other great reformers revolutionized the church.
As we study the Book of Galatians verse by verse and chapter by chapter, my hope is that we would have a radical revolution with a new and fresh understanding of the unconditional love and acceptance that the Lord has for every one of us. Get ready to be rocked by the Bible!
THE BIG IDEA: God saves us by his grace (undeserved favor) when we believe in Jesus. Our salvation is a gift from God, not a reward for the good things we have done.
God didn’t wait until we got our acts all cleaned up and put our best suits on and confessed all of our sins and got rid of all our bad habits and presented ourselves to him before loving us. No, it was, as the old hymns declared, “Just as I am – without one plea, but that Thy blood was shed for me” and “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling.” We have nothing to offer God, but He has us anyway, all because of Jesus and His death on the Cross.
Too many people don’t understand grace in our world today. We’re living in a society where there are no free lunches. “If you want something, you have to earn it!” We can’t handle the idea of getting something for nothing. “I’ve got to work real hard for it!” No, you can’t work for your salvation. If you want to earn your way to Heaven, you have to fulfill the law perfectly from the day you’re born until the day you die – if you want to get in based on your good works. How’s that working out for you? We can’t do that! But if you recognize that this is impossible then you’ll be motivated to go to the Cross. There you will see Jesus who lived a perfect life, died a death He didn’t deserve, and took our punishment through His death on the Cross. The substitution that happened on the Cross is amazing: He took all of our sins on Him (that’s why the wrath of God was poured out on Him) and then He took His righteousness and credited it to our account. That’s grace, and that’s something worth shouting about! It’s not about what we do, but it’s all about what Jesus has already done for us. When Jesus died on the Cross, He said, “It is finished.”
Pastor Chris Jordan