In Galatians, Paul provides a defense to false teaching by establishing the sole power of grace.
Galatians 1:1-5: Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— and all the brothers who are with me,
To the churches of Galatia:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Do you know why there is power in the name of Jesus? Because there is no salvation in any other name than the name of Jesus.
Besides Christianity, all other religions prescribe sets of rules and practices one must follow to avoid eternal punishment. But one can never know how good he or she must be in order to have the assurance of salvation.
Then and now, the message of the book of Galatians is that there is only one gospel—the gospel of grace where God bestowed His unmerited favor on us in the name of Jesus and saves us without our own efforts or works (Ephesians 2:8-9). The power of grace saves irrespective of who we are or what we do or have done.
In Galatia, false teachers and prophets were telling new converts to Christianity that they needed to follow the Jewish law to be fully saved. Paul responds by providing a defense against a gospel that offers hope without the assurance of salvation.
I believe every believer in every generation is responsible to defend and preserve the gospel of grace, but you cannot do that unless you are confident that His grace is enough. In the first verses of Galatians, Paul offers three bases on which we can build our confidence in grace.
Our Divine Calling
Paul starts out with a defensive tone. He is upset and hurt over the fact that the churches he planted and prayed for in Galatia are falling into the false teaching of another gospel: the gospel in which you earn your way to God, which really is no gospel.
Back in 2003, I planted a church in Greece among immigrants. By 2012 there was a division in the church. New leadership replaced the old leadership. The prosperity gospel from famous preachers in the East corrupted the church, so I was asked to come back and meet with the leadership.
I was both heartbroken and angry. They had given themselves over to the prosperity Gospel. Some sided with me, others didn’t. Still, I understand why Paul is upset. And, if that was not enough, his apostleship was challenged by those who sought to dilute the gospel of grace.
The only way they could discredit the gospel that Paul was preaching was by discrediting Paul. We are too familiar with that pattern around election season. In political ads, right before the person says, I am so and so and I approve this message, the ad demonizes the opposing candidate. It is a dirty politics where you attack the other person and even make up stories to defame and discredit the person. They hope that, if we lose confidence in the person, we lose confidence in their policies as well.
Here we have a similar situation. The false teachers want to discredit Paul to discredit the gospel of grace. Paul defends his calling so that he can defend the gospel of grace. Church, the only way we are going to defend the gospel of grace is if we are able to establish our credibility. Therefore, as I preached last Sunday, our conduct must match our message.
Notice the genesis of Paul’s confidence in grace, its depth, and its scope. Paul points to the source of his calling. He says the source of his calling is divine. It is not of men, so no man can disqualify him. It is not through a human agency, so he doesn’t need to please men, and he cannot be disqualified based on any human reasoning. God chose Him, and Christ appointed him through the power of the gospel.
The Reason for Our Calling
Our confidence in grace is also based on the reason for our calling. God the Father raised Jesus from the dead to extend grace—His unmerited favor—toward us regardless of our sins and to make peace between God the Father and us through the Lord Jesus Christ.
The greatest sin in the church—then and now—is not that we are sinners, and we sin; that we struggle to live a sinless life; and that we fail to be good. No! That is precisely why Christ died for us, because He knows we cannot do good, and that we cannot save ourselves from this present age of evil.
The greatest sin is to put our meager, next-to-nothing good works in the place of God’s grace through the complete work of His Son Jesus on the cross for our salvation.
The churches in Galatia were infested with false teachers and brothers who were telling them to do good works and follow the law. Church, to add to grace is to add to Jesus and his complete work on the cross. Jesus is God, and God is perfect. You cannot add or remove to make Him better because there is nothing better than Him. His plan to rescue us to redeem us through His Son Jesus is the plan of love, grace, and selflessness. Only Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross saves, and no other sacrifice can make it better.Church, to add to grace is to add to Jesus and his complete work on the cross. Jesus is God, and God is perfect. You cannot add or remove to make Him better because there is nothing better than Him. Click To Tweet
The Purpose of Our Calling
Finally, our confidence in grace is based on the purpose of our calling. God’s purpose is always for His own glory. Since the power of grace defuses any power of human work in the process of salvation, this makes our calling to be saved all about God. The will of God is for everyone to be saved through his grace and that no one should perish. The purpose of God’s calling of us is that not only will we be saved, but that we will share the gospel of grace so it will be known to everyone.
Our confidence in grace comes from knowing that the source of our calling is divine. The reason for our calling is to deliver us from Satan’s domain to freedom in Christ, and the purpose of our calling is to save us so that God may receive all the glory.
If we can be good, and do good on our own, then the name of Jesus is merely empty noise. Our claim in the power of His name would be foolishness. Jesus said that no one can go to the father except through me, and no one comes to me unless the Father draws them near to me.If we can be good, and do good on our own, then the name of Jesus is merely empty noise. Our claim in the power of His name would be foolishness. Click To Tweet
Jesus did not point us to someone else. He points us to himself. He did not give us a new set of rules and practices to live by. He gave Himself for us and to us and said if you abide in me and I in you, you will be my disciples.
Have you experienced the power of grace? If you have not, it is just a matter of time until doubts that you are not good enough or you are not worthy enough will devour you. Shadows of depression will chase you down in dark alleys until they leave you empty of any hope in the Lord. The power of darkness has a strong pull, and it will make you live in shame and guilt.
I beg you, do not let the power of sin and darkness reign over your life anymore. I invite you to experience the power of grace. The truth of grace is this: we are more loved than we could ever imagine, and we are more forgiven than we could ever hope for.
Philemon 1:24-25: Perspective on Grace, Part 2
Listen to the Full Sermon Here