The Gospel of Grace is the Way to Life and the Way to Live

The true gospel of Jesus Christ – good news – informs us what God has done for us.  Good advice informs us what we must do to get right with God.  The difference means all the world.  The gospel that the Apostle Paul preached to the Galatians was that God sent His one and only Son into the world to die for the sins of mankind giving new life to people and inaugurating the unfolding Kingdom of God on earth.  With the resurrection of Jesus and the announcement of His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven – the powers of this world took notice. 

This Kingdom comes to bear in the new lives of her citizens – you and I.  Those who believe and receive the love of God in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins experience new life – Paul will remind the believers in Corinth that something incredible and glorious has happened to them.  They are different, never to be the same again, transformed into full image bearers of the Holy God in Jesus.  They are no longer mere men and women – they are children of God – redeemed.  They join God in the world changing work of declaring freedom to all mankind. This is the fascinating work of God among them and us this morning.

No longer mere men and women identified by class, ethnicity, gender but by Jesus.  Paul will teach them they were no longer to see themselves and fellow Christians as Jews or Gentiles, free or slave, rich or poor or even men or women but children of God – joint heirs to the promises given to the patriarch Abraham way back when in the book of Genesis!  Something long awaited for… something we dream about… something we strive to make happen in our own efforts has been accomplished in Jesus. 

No more divisions, no more second class citizens, no more marginalized people (groups) – we all share our citizenship together in heaven, our true home for which we long.  In this world we are to carry ourselves by a different standard of living – a reflection of Holiness that is a by-product of the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit in us.  Changing and shaping us – opening our eyes to the reality that we’re different – love guides us and we desire with new hearts to please God with thankfulness.  Thankful for life, freedom from sin’s painful grip and shame.

The gospel of Jesus redeems, restores, reconciles and a person – in a very real sense, the gospel sets a person on the course of becoming what it really means to be human and live freely with purpose.

The gospel of grace is the way to life and the way of life.

The letter to the church in Galatia (modern day Turkey) is to address a threat to this good news.  The threat Paul will address in no uncertain terms in this strongly worded letter come from 2 sources.

1.     The Outside Threat – others who came into the church and taught a false gospel (not really another gospel).  Adding to the grace of God with additional religious ceremonies and requirements that in actuality nullify what biblical grace is.  In short – it was Jesus plus ___________.  We’ll investigate this more in weeks ahead.

2.     The Inside Threat – the Galatians themselves would have to learn how to handle their freedom.  If not understood properly, grace that is earned is grace that is owned and the freedom is not a gift but a purchase and thus can be used any way the owner wants.  This type of freedom leads to a lawlessness that has no regard for God.  Do what I like and like what I do. 

Do you believe you own your salvation – that you have earned it, achieved it or in some way deserved it?

If you think about it for a moment – it’s easy to understand how the Galatian people could be swayed by a teaching that lead them to believe they needed to do something in addition to believing in Jesus for their salvation alone. 

Intuitively – especially in America where we work hard to earn what’s ours, where we believe in the power and sovereignty of the individual – there is no such thing as a free lunch.  Maybe I do need to do something (be good etc) in addition to believing.  That’s not grace.

Galatians 1: 1-5, Grace leads to life and leads us how to live.

Vs. 1 – Paul an Apostle (Sent One) by the risen Christ (road to Damascus, Acts 9) and God the Father.  This is my ID.  Not like apostles today (sent or commissioned by churches).

Vs. 3-5 – Greeted with the Gospel = Jesus, Who gave Himself (substitutionary atonement) for our sins so that He might rescue (helpless) us from this present evil age according to the expressed will of God the Father to Whom be glory forevermore. Amen = that’s the way it is.  So be it!

This is the gospel – good news of what God has accomplished; it is finished.  Anything else is good advice – what to do in order to please God.  The Gospel is done – complete in Christ – all glory belongs to Him.

1.     Take time to reflect on the grace of God today.  Talk about it over your meals.  According to the Apostle Paul – by grace you are saved, transformed and made new.  God is at work in you.  Have you really surrendered your pride, your life and will to God and accepted His love for you?

2.     The grace of God leads to life but also leads to us to live – truly reflecting the image of God in our thoughts and actions = think sermon on the mount.  Imagine how this will change your home, work place and community?  Are you living free from fear of not measuring up to a legal standard to attain or keep your salvation?  Know anyone that is?

When we get the Gospel wrong things get ugly in the church and through the church.  Quickly 4 ways things get ugly:  When these things are tied to salvation and attached to grace.

1.     Performance based religion takes over.  Am I checking off the right boxes to stay in God’s good stead. 

2.     Barriers go up between people who are not doing it like us.  Us against them – divisions arise.  Not like us – not saved.

3.     Judgmental attitudes replace mercy and grace – looking down on others who don’t work as hard as us.

4.     Twisting the truth and using it to club one another/others – a good thing gone too far.

All 4 of these go against the heart that God wants to flourish within us!  This is not the family of God that is free and beautiful.  These 4 and others like them enslave us again.

Living under the burden of a grace-but or works-based relationship with God sucks the joy out of life.  This is what keeps us from affecting change and being a light in the world as a church.

God intended life to be different for His people – He intends for us to dance, sing and revel in His love – sharing it freely and bonding together around His grace, mercy and love for us.

Come back as we unpack the things Paul has for us in his letter to the Galatia