Summary: The first in a series on Galatians

Galatians 1

Galatians 1: 1 – 10

How many people here watch the ‘psychological illusionist’ Derren Brown? Did you see ‘The Heist’ during this week? He took a group of people, middle management level jobs and in 3 weeks, without their knowledge, turned them into bank robbers. He was able to make normal every day people cross the line to criminals.

Use Get down illustration if feeling brave enough.

It was all deception, he enabled them, without them even knowing, to change their way of thinking; make them believe that they could do anything, and the really worrying thing is that advertisers use the same techniques on TV and billboards to reinforce the emotions that they want us to feel. The next time you see the adverts on TV take a note of how they make you feel; no company leaves the viewers emotions to chance whether they are promoting the Red Cross or Audi cars.

But the biggest deceiver is…human kind. To explain what I mean, I’d like to turn to the book of Galatians; we are going to go through this book together over the next few weeks. This letter of Paul’s was written to the churches in Southern Galatia, the central part of Turkey, and was circulated around them and it talks about the freedom that we can find in Christ. It also deals with one of the biggest controversy that the early church had to deal with, and that was you and me – non Jews. How could Gentiles be acceptable to God? There were also those who were questioning Paul’s right to be called an apostle. If you have your Bible with you, turn with me to Galatians chapter 1.

Annette to read

The strength of feeling that Paul has when this letter was written is shown by the first verse

Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead

The message says

I, Paul, and my companions in faith here, send greetings to the Galatian churches. My authority for writing to you does not come from any popular vote of the people, nor does it come through the appointment of some human higher-up. It comes directly from Jesus the Messiah and God the Father, who raised him from the dead. I’m God-commissioned.

‘And don’t you forget it!’ could easily be added here. There is nothing ambiguous about what Paul is saying here, it is a direct answer to the challenge that had been made to his authority.

After this short, sharp answer, we are given a blessing in the name of Jesus and a reminder that he gave himself to rescue us from the sin of this world, with the full knowledge of God the Father and that for this sacrifice we honour Jesus and God.

Then, without any preamble, any beating around the bush we get right to the problem, right to the heart of the issue. These Galatians, so new in the faith, so recently come into the kingdom, are in danger of turning away from God’s grace. The problem was the Judaisers; a group of Jewish Christians who insisted that the Gentiles had to become Jewish in order to become Christian. The only way to please God was to follow the Jewish traditions and customs, the laws of Moses, especially circumcision. The Judaisers were following Paul around the area saying Paul was too liberal, the cross of Christ was not enough to get you to heaven. You had to meet the criteria that had been set for hundreds of years. They said that Paul was watering down God’s message to make it appeal to more people, to make himself more popular. Paul’s answer?

Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8But 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! 9As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!

There’s a word for today! People trying to pervert the gospel of Christ? I firmly believe in the phrase ‘love the sinner, not the sin.’ Unfortunately today it seems to be ‘love the sinner and the sin must be OK.’ Not true. One of the most angering things that I have seen recently is an ordained priest performing a ‘civil partnership’ ceremony. Some things ARE wrong, yet the church seems to be giving the impression that they are not. Jesus said

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matt 9:12,13

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