Continued from part 1.
This is how Paul’s letter to the Galatians starts. Not with a boast about his own greatness, but an assertion of the greatness of the one who sent him to bring Good News.
Paul made this point directly to oppose other messengers who had been sent by people in Jerusalem.
These came with another message. And that other message was not good news.
These men had a message, too. It was that trusting Jesus was a good thing to do, but you non-Jewish Galatians needed to become Jews as well as trust Jesus.
In this way they added to the Good News of Jesus.
For these men, the Good News was not simply a message of who Jesus Is, and what Jesus had done.
The sinner, according to these people, had to do things too, in order to complete that rescue that Jesus had begun: –
If the sinner was a male, he had to trust Jesus AND be circumcised and keep the law of Moses to be sure of salvation and freedom from judgment.
If the sinner was female, she had to trust Jesus AND keep the law of Moses to be sure that she was right with God.
Paul had no sympathy with these men or their message – their message was wrong.
An apostle – one who is sent to deliver a message for someone else.
Both Paul and these men were, in one sense at least, apostles – they had both been sent by someone else.
These men had been sent by people in Jerusalem who wanted the non-Jewish Christians to become Jews as well as Christians, so they could become ‘proper’ Christians. Paul himself had once been sent by men in Jerusalem to arrest Christians and hand them over to be condemned. But Paul’s trip was cut short. The risen Lord Jesus gave him a completely different mission. Jesus sent him out with Good News of how he, Jesus, rescues bad people like us. His news was not bad news of how bad people must somehow rescue themselves.
So Paul was no longer proud; rather he was profoundly and happily humbled. The Lord Jesus had rescued him from sin and the death he deserved, and his job was to tell others that they too can enjoy the benefits of this same rescue, which comes simply and only by trusting Jesus Christ.
But, if Paul was now so humble, why did he insist on his being sent by Jesus, and not by mere men, or by means of men, but by the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Jesus from the dead?
Well, it wasn’t to impress the Galatians with his own importance, but to impress upon the Galatians that the authority for his message did not came from impressive people in Jerusalem.
His authority to speak came from the eternal God whom we all have offended.
God’s message is about Jesus Christ, about what God has done in order for people to be saved from their sin and death we deserve.
God’s message is not at all about what we must do to save ourselves.
So Paul puts this reality right up front in his letters.
Grace (which is the love of God) and peace (which replaces our continuing war against God and creator) comes by Jesus Christ. How? Jesus Christ acted for us. He gave himself for our sins – that is, he took our place in the judgment of the cross. He became our sin bearer.
We deserved to die, but the eternal Son of God became a human being, and as God and Man became our substitute – the condemnation of Jesus and his death on the cross for our sins is regarded by God as the final condemnation and death of all those who trust him.
The death and curse that all people deserve was removed at the cross for God’s people – for those who come to trust Jesus Christ.
This is God’s will for our salvation.
There is no other way to be safe from God’s judgment except the way God has provided. Because God has acted in Jesus, there is nothing more to be done. Jesus Christ did it all for his people.
So, there is no more judgment for those who trust Jesus, nothing more to achieve.
All glory goes to our God for his mercy to us.
Continued in part 3.