Many of you have probably noticed that we are studying the book of Galatians on this blog, and quite a few of you are studying along with us. If you don’t know where to find it, just go to the menu bar and you will find it under Digging Deeper/Galatians. I originally chose the Epistle to the Galatians, because it is packed with wonderful insight into the grace of God. No one could read, let alone study, the book without coming away with a deeper appreciation and joy over the extent of God’s love for us. Practically over every verse I want to raise my hands in praise and shout out with joy!
However, since I’ve spent time reading the Epistle, I have developed a new respect for Paul. I had always thought of him as a crusty, hard-nosed, no nonsense man who intellectually crushed his opponents without mercy. I know that is unfair to say about the greatest evangelist who ever lived, but that’s how he came across to me. His writings might drip grace, but I thought the man himself could make little girls cry.
Reading Galatians time and time again I have come away with a different read on Paul. He is a man who has sold out to the gospel, and nothing else matters. What I once thought was arrogance, is simply his deep, deep, never changing commitment to Jesus. We live in an age where politicians are bought and sold, and ministers preach whatever it is that they think the people want to hear. When we run up against men like Paul we don’t always know how to understand him, because he is a man without a personal agenda. He is honestly not interested in wealth, fame and a life of leisure; instead, his focus is on the proclamation of the Gospel. He writes, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1: 10
Paul has no interest in pleasing people, as the false teachers accused him of doing, but his only desire is to bring honor to God. He tells the Galatians, “even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned.” Galatians 1: 8 It is the message of salvation through the grace of God that motivates and drives Paul, and he would even see himself eternally damned if he was to change one iota of that gospel.
So what is the message that caused Paul to leave his family, and under go hardships and abuse without compromising the essence of his faith? “We who are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners’ know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified. ”Galatians 2:15, 16 Reading Galatians I have come to the conclusion Paul is a man like no other, he lived his life totally dedicated to Christ. Through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, God has taught us the truth of what Paul wrote and taught throughout his ministry. Paul was surprised by the joy of the gospel that he was saved by the sacrifice of Christ at Calvary’s cross, on the Damascus road. He was set free from a life of works and striving for perfection to find peace and security in the finished work of Christ, and he would spend the rest of his life sharing that good news with everyone who would listen. I had Paul all wrong, he wasn’t a combative convert to Christianity, he was a man saved by the grace of God, an Apostle of the heart set free.