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Paul defended the gospel to his earliest Gentile converts

February 22, 2024
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Daily Scripture

Galatians 1:3-4, 2:16, 21-3:2, 26-29

Galatians 1
3 Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 He gave himself for our sins, so he could deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.

Galatians 2-3
16 However, we know that a person isn’t made righteous by the works of the Law but rather through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. We ourselves believed in Christ Jesus so that we could be made righteous by the faithfulness of Christ and not by the works of the Law—because no one will be made righteous by the works of the Law.

21 I don’t ignore the grace of God, because if we become righteous through the Law, then Christ died for no purpose.
3:1 You irrational Galatians! Who put a spell on you? Jesus Christ was put on display as crucified before your eyes! 2 I just want to know this from you: Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the Law or by believing what you heard?

26 You are all God’s children through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 Now if you belong to Christ, then indeed you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to the promise.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

NOTE: The GPS usually offers 5-10 verses of Scripture. If you’d like to dig deeper than that, Pastor Hamilton says, “Join me during Lent, as we focus on Paul’s messages, to read the 13 letters attributed to Paul in the New Testament–the earliest documents of our New Testament.” Click here to download our reading plan that will allow you to read all of Paul’s letters between now and Easter.

In Galatians, “responding to a severe challenge to his gospel and apostleship, Paul defends ‘the truth of the gospel’ (Galatians 2:5, 14): A person is made right before God on the basis of what God has done in the saving death and resurrection of Jesus Christ rather than on the basis of doing the works of Moses’ Law.” * In simple, even blunt, terms, the apostle said the central message he preached was not optional or negotiable. Any version of “trusting Jesus plus something else” was NOT the gospel.

  • When Paul wrote “we know that a person isn’t made righteous by the works of the Law,” he wasn’t speaking hypothetically. He’d once been sure that his religious credentials were good enough to win God’s acceptance (cf. Philippians 3:3-7), but meeting Jesus led him to see he could never be holy enough on his own. What’s your experience? What has awakened in your heart a sense of your need for God’s redeeming love and grace?
  • In Galatians, Paul specifically answered people who said Gentile Christians must follow the Hebrew ritual of circumcision (cf. Galatians 5:2-6). The principle has been the same through the centuries, although the outward rituals to “qualify” with God have varied. What are some external signs of holiness that you might try to rely on today (e.g. church attendance)? How can you live a holy life as an outgrowth of your love relationship with God, not as an effort to earn that love?
Prayer

Lord God, through Paul, you show me that I don’t need to turn guilt (“I made a mistake”) into shame (“I AM a mistake.”) Thank you for freeing me—warm my heart today with your grace. Amen.

GPS Insights

Mikiala Tennie

Mikiala Tennie

Mikiala Tennie serves as the Student Discipleship Program Director with Resurrection Students. She has nearly 20 years of volunteer and professional ministry experience and loves walking alongside and encouraging others in their spiritual journey. Mikiala is blessed to be an adoptive aunt and godmother to many kiddos and lives with her 10-pound Yorkie, KiKi Okoye Tennie.

I was watching TV the other day—I love watching a good story play out. But one of the things I love most about TV is when pop culture or media inadvertently depict the love God has for us. I happened on a show where a mother and her adoptive daughter were having a heart-to-heart. The daughter (the eldest in the family) was expressing her gratitude for being taken in and treated like biological family. She identified that all of her efforts to contribute to the family’s success were out of gratitude for the love shown to her by her mother.

Shocked and a little heartbroken that her daughter had such a misguided view of her love, the mother responded by assuring her that as a daughter, she didn’t owe her a single thing. She explained that having a place in their family couldn’t be earned, and that she deserved all the love in the world.

Watching the daughter realize she didn’t have to work to be perfect or keep her spot in the family brought tears to my eyes because isn’t it the same way in our faith? As children of God, we are adopted into a beautiful family. But sometimes we are misguided and think that in order to keep our spot in this family, we have to be sure to keep all of the laws—be good—do good.

But in Galatians, Paul reminds us that keeping laws, being good, and doing good, don’t earn us anything. Jesus already did that. That’s why we’ll celebrate Easter at the end of this Lenten journey!

Grace can be such a difficult concept for us to grasp because we as humans operate with conditions. We give based on merit; we receive when we feel it’s been earned. But grace is the gospel. Unmerited favor given to us out of love. Our good deeds and efforts to do the right thing can just simply be the byproduct of our relationship with God—they aren’t placeholders.

Wherever you are right now, at whatever time of day you are reading this, my hope is that you will pause. Just for a minute, stop working, stop trying, stop thinking of what’s next, stop making the list, stop adding one more thing. Anything you say or do today, will not earn you any more or any less love and grace from God.

You, being still… producing nothing… as a child of God—grace is yours. The Good News of the Gospel is yours. Soak it in.

Now, as you go and do all the things, do them freely—out of the abundance of grace and love in your life.

“You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ… After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?” Galatians 3:2b-3

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* Frank J. Matera, introduction to Galatians in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 353 NT.