Father, help me focus on the good news of Christ so that I might not abandon the gospel nor give in to the temptation to alter this glorious message in any way. Give me the grace to believe that my only hope of being acceptable to You is the perfect righteousness You credit me through faith in the finished work of Your crucified and risen Son. Help me rest in the good news that Christ is enough. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Read Galatians 1-2
Galatians 1:1–10 After his opening greeting, Paul expressed astonishment that the Galatians had so quickly turned away from the gospel and the understanding that we’re justified before God through faith in Christ. This is a reminder that even good churches and godly individuals can quickly go astray if we remove our focus on the gospel.
Paul stressed that the other “gospel” they’ve turned to is no gospel at all. What’s more, he commands them that if anyone begins teaching another means of salvation than the one Paul has preached, then it must be ignored and considered to be under God’s judgment. Clearly, altering the gospel is no small matter before the Lord.
Galatians 1:11–2:14 Paul stressed the reason we are not free to tamper with and change the gospel message, even if another message seems more palatable to our culture. The gospel isn’t man’s but God’s. Paul wasn’t preaching some message he came up with but the message given to him by the risen Christ.
Interestingly, Paul had never spoken to any of the disciples. Instead, he received the good news through an appearance of Jesus Himself. But when Paul went to Jerusalem with the other apostles, it became clear that the gospel message he preached was the exact gospel message they themselves preached. Again, this is confirmation that the good news is God’s, and we must never give in to the temptation to alter that message in light of our circumstances or our audience.
Peter acted hypocritically when he left the table where he was eating with Gentiles because he saw men come from Jerusalem. He was worried his suggested the Gentiles were perhaps acceptable before God. But Paul quickly and publicly rebuked Peter so the gospel message might not be misunderstood.
JUSTIFIED BY FAITH!
By John Piper. © Desiring God Foundation. Source: desiringGod.org. Used by permission.
Galatians 2:15–21 Paul’s word to Peter is one of the most precious reminders in all of Holy Scripture. We’re declared righteous before God not on the basis of our good works but through faith in Christ and His redeeming work. In fact, the main purpose of God giving His Law in the old covenant was to show people they needed a righteousness they couldn’t provide for themselves.
The Law pronounces us guilty and applies a death sentence, but through faith in Christ, we indeed have “died to the law,” are “crucified with Christ,” and now live unto God. We now no longer have to stand with a sentence of condemnation but can rest in the glorious truth that we’ve been approved by God, even declared righteous before Him, through faith in the crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ. This is a truth worth celebrating, one that should cause us to abound in praise to our gracious and glorious God.
Again, the gospel is God’s message, not man’s. Therefore, we must not tamper with it but believe and rest in it.
15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners;16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
- Why does Paul emphasize the gospel came from God and not man? Have you ever been tempted to alter the message of the gospel ever so slightly, so that it might sound more acceptable to those you’re attempting to evangelize? The fact that we’re not creators but merely stewards of the gospel reminds us this is not an option for us.
- Why are we so tempted to think God accepts us on the basis of how good we are? What are some truths we might use to fight the temptation to think we’re approved by God on the basis of works?
- What are some things in our day—even good things—that could distract us from our focus on the gospel?
- Are there times, even with our fellow Christians, that we need to take a clear stand if the gospel message is at risk of being compromised?
- Exercise the discipline of reminding yourself daily that your only hope of righteousness before God is faith in the finished work of Christ (Gal. 2:15–16). This is indeed a discipline, and Paul makes it clear that Christ is our only hope, that He is enough (Gal. 2:17–21).
- When introducing yourself to someone, take opportunities to include something that identifies you as a follower of Jesus. Pursue conversation with those who seem open. [Making Disciples]