Summary: God's grace isn't a relic from our past, it is our daily manna.
Did you hear about the joke about the Baptist pastor who snuck out to the horse race track? He’d never bet on the horses before, so he wasn’t sure where to put his money. Before one of the races he watched as a Catholic priest pronounced a blessing on a particular horse. So he bet all his money on that horse. That horse was leading down the stretch when it suddenly dropped dead on the track. The Baptist preacher was upset and found the Catholic priest. He said, “I bet all my money on that horse because you blessed it.” The priest said, “That’s the problem with you Baptists. You can’t tell the difference between a blessing and last rites.”
For sure, we don’t understand some of the rituals of other churches, and if you’re from another church, you may be confused about why we do or don’t do certain things. You may feel more comfortable genuflecting or kneeling, or having the Lord’s Supper every Sunday. There’s nothing wrong with those things, but when you simply go through the motions of religious rituals you miss the point of the Bible. God isn’t interested in religion. He wants to have a personal relationship with you.
Paul wrote this letter to the churches in Galatia, which is the area of Southern Turkey today. He had started these churches by preaching salvation is by grace alone. But after he left, false teachers came in and started teaching that the cross was not enough. In order to go to heaven, Christians had to obey all the Jewish law as well. You can imagine Paul’s frustration and consternation when he hears about this heresy. He wrote this letter to challenge the believers to reject these false teachers and to stay on the grace-way.
Liberty is a value that is precious to us as Americans. The date was March 23, 1775, and the place was St. John’s church in Richmond, Virginia. The occasion was the Virginia Convention, and the issue was whether or not Virginia should join the other colonies in rebellion against England. The general mood of the delegates was to find a pathway of peace with England. Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were delegates in attendance.
However, eyewitnesses reported when 39-year old lawyer Patrick Henry rose to speak, his speech turned the tide. The entire speech reads like a sermon. At one point, Henry said, “suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss.” But his final words brought the delegates to their feet in support. He said: “If we wish to be free...we must fight! An appeal to arms, and to the God of hosts, is all that is left us... Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God. I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”
Those passionate words caused the delegates to shout in unison, “Give me liberty or give me death!” Paul is just as passionate in his letter to the brothers and sisters in Galatia. However, the choice he points out is between Christian liberty or religious legalism.