1 Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2 and all the brothers who are with me,
To the churches of Galatia:
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Jesus gave Himself for your sins to deliver you from the present evil age, according to the will of your God and Father. Did you hear that? Jesus gave Himself, all of Himself, to the point of death on the cross, suffering the eternal wrath of God. Jesus gave Himself up to death for this reason – your sins. Why did Jesus do this? He did it to deliver you from the present evil age. All of this was in harmony with the will of God your Father. In other words, God is pleased with this arrangement. Because of that, “to [Him] be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”
That right there could be the whole sermon. And on a beautiful Memorial Day weekend, you might prefer that nothing more be said. Start up the closing hymn, pray the Lord’s Prayer, and head out of here. Well, sorry, there is more.
Jesus gave Himself for your sins to deliver you from the present evil age, according to the will of your God and Father. The question is, do you believe this? This is the Gospel. More could be said about it, but nothing more needs to be added to it. The Gospel says apart from your good works, apart from your worthiness, apart from your piety, apart from your deserving, God has saved you. Jesus has delivered you.
This is the message that Paul had preached to the churches addressed in this letter, but the people there were abandoning this message. Instead of living in the complete freedom that comes from the Gospel, the people in the churches were listening to false preachers who were saying, “Sure this Jesus stuff is great, but now more needs to happen. Paul didn’t give you the whole story. Now that you are saved, now that you have heard about Jesus, you have go farther. Now, you need to keep the Law.”
This, dear saints, is the voice and message of Satan, but you and I listen to it. Satan likes nothing more than to get you to doubt that what Jesus has done is enough. And this is a constant battle. The devil simply points you to any number of things – the fact that you are still living in this present evil age, the fact that you still sin, or whatever he finds works on you – and he chips away at your faith to create any cracks of doubt. Then, he worms his way in to widen those cracks. His ultimate goal is to completely shatter your faith and get you to utterly reject God’s Word.
But the devil is content with being patient so long as he can simply get you to doubt, at least a little, what God promises. This was the devil’s work in the beginning, in the Garden of Eden. The first words we hear from Satan are, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And you know the rest of that story. Adam and Eve believed Satan’s lie that there was more, that God had held some good thing back from them.
This lie is what Paul deals with in the whole letter to Galatians. And it is serious, eternally serious. It is so serious that Paul dives right in to combat this satanic teaching.
In all of Paul’s other letters, he will open basically the same way he does here in v. 1-5. He identifies himself (v. 1-2a). He identifies who the letter is addressed to (v. 2b). He gives a blessing (v. 3-5). But in every one of Paul’s other letters, he will give thanks for the believers there. In Philippians, he writes, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you…” (Php. 1:3), and he goes on to say why he is thankful for them. In Romans, Paul says, “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world” (Rom 1:8).
Even when Paul writes to the church in Corinth, which was a messed up congregation – where men were sleeping with their mothers-in-law – to Corinth Paul writes, “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given to you in Christ Jesus” (1 Cor. 1:4).
But Paul doesn’t do that in this letter to the Galatians. Look at v. 6. Paul says, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different Gospel.”
In other words, Paul says, “You idiots! Have you lost your minds? These false teachers are sending you on a wild goose chase to find another way of salvation, and there isn’t another one. You won’t find it.” And Paul goes on to say that if an angel from heaven or even if he, Paul, preaches something different than what he first preached, let him be accursed.
In other words, don’t be duped. Don’t believe that there is anything you contribute or add to your salvation. Your salvation has been totally, completely, eternally accomplished by Jesus who has given Himself for your sins. This is the one Gospel. There is no other.
Bet all your chips on Jesus and what He has done for you. This one Gospel message is not man’s gospel. It is given by Jesus.
Beginning today, our Epistle readings take us through the book of Galatians. This little book of the Bible gets to the heart of the Gospel and what it means for us. So, these next six weeks, the sermons are going to focus on the richness of the Gospel – the fact that you are saved solely and exclusively through the work and merit of Christ and that you do not and cannot add anything to it.
Jesus – and Jesus alone – is the atonement for your sins. Believe in Him. Trust Him alone. Jesus’ work saves you and nothing else. This is the one and only Gospel. Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.