Summary: What is the Good News? Paul is clear that there is no substitute for the real thing: Jesus Christ.
Beginning of a series…
Paul had previous form in Galatia: he had been through Galatia on three separate missionary journeys. In fact, Acts 14:8-18 describes one such journey through Galatia when Paul and Barnabas were mistaken for Gods.
These were people who were eager to receive God’s Good News. But they were confused, just like sometimes we can be. Just What is the Gospel?
Sometimes we just can’t see the wood for the trees. And the treasure here for Paul is that the Gospel is Good News he is reminding the Galatians about it, and that nothing but this Good News is Good Enough!
It is Good News because it comes from God.
It is Good News because we don’t need to add to it.
It is Good News because it reveals God’s grace through Jesus Christ.
Paul seems angry in this letter, and well he may be. Some people had infiltrated the recent converts and were changing God’s Good News.
They were questioning Paul’s authority as an apostle.
They were making the Good News conditional.
They were, whether they knew it or not, denying grace and belittling the glory of God’s revelation through Jesus Christ.
Throughout this talk we need to be asking ourselves the so what question. For now, what situations does this remind you of? Are there times when you get distracted by things that get more coverage than the Gospel of God’s Grace? What about some of the ‘hot button’ issues that seem to plague our headlines both inside and outside the church? Do we ever ask the main question: Where is God’s grace in this?
Firstly: The Good News is from God…and it is the Best News!
The Galatians had started to believe the Judaizers who were saying that Paul was only coming on the authority of other people and therefore didn’t have the same status as the ‘true apostles,’ who had had real contact with Jesus. Paul is at pains to remind them who had sent him and therefore who he was speaking on behalf of.
vv1-2 - Paul an apostle…
When I was training to be a lawyer we were trained to represent the client but not to go beyond the instructions of the client. We could not do anything that our clients had not instructed us to do. Similarly, Paul is saying that, as an apostle, he is there purely to represent what Christ has told him to do. Like the Blues Brothers - he was on a mission from God.
Just like Paul, we have also been commissioned by Christ, our Good News is not from men or commissioned by men, but direct from God through Jesus. We must represent Christ and we need to do so faithfully.
At this very early stage in the letter he makes it clear exactly what message he, and all apostles of Christ have been sent to proclaim. The first words after his greeting are set to remind the Galatians and us of exactly what that message is.
vv3-5 - Grace to you and peace…
The message is good, the message is one of grace - something that is so important throughout this letter - and peace - the shalom or spiritual well-being that comes from right relationship with God. That Jesus gave himself for our sins according to the will of God. This message is a proclamation of God’s magnificent reconciliation of the world by his grace. It is no mere incident that Paul puts Jesus alongside God the Father twice in this passage.
And what has happened? We are taken from this age ruled by evil and we are moved into the age to come — we are now under God’s power and not Satan’s ‘While still living in this world, therefore, he [the Christian] enjoys already that life of the age to come. This is the victory of the cross to Paul.’ And this was according to God’s will - in other words ‘The action of the Son was the very proof of the Father’s love, as John 3:16 makes clear.’ ‘Christ came to fulfil the Father’s will and thus to reveal Him.’
How easy was it for the Galatians to forget this simple message of grace? How easy is it for us to forget the grace and peace that comes from God alone? This is Good News. But perhaps it is such good news that we can hardly believe that we need to do nothing to earn such grace.
The Good News then, is from God alone.
Secondly: We Don’t Need to Add to the Good News
It is this point that Paul is clear the Galatians are so quickly forgetting in their rush to ‘do the right thing’
This is a big chunk, so lets break it down. First, Paul is so astonished and confused that he does away with the pleasantries.