Galatians 1:1-5 Salvation comes not to him who knows, but to him who walks in faith

Galatians 1:1-5  Salvation comes not to him who knows, but to him who walks in faith

1 Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead), 2 and all the brethren who are with me,

To the churches of Galatia:

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen.

Background

Paul and Barnabas evangelised the provinces of Galatia by preaching to the Jews and God-fearing Gentiles. But in each city, as they faced fierce oppositions from the Jews, they turned to preach to the Gentiles and planted churches. After they have left the scene, some “Jewish Christians” (who were in fact unbelievers) came and taught that those who embrace Christian salvation must submit to the Jewish law. These “Jewish Christians” endeavoured to plant falsities that salvation comes through circumcision as opposed to sincere repentance and sanctification by the blood of Christ.

This epistle was written by Paul to the churches of Galatia after his first missionary journey (Acts 13-14) and before the Jerusalem council (Acts 15). Today’s devotion teaches: Salvation comes not to him who knows, but to him who walks in faith.

Observation

Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father…)

Paul’s opening draws readers to his apostolic status. This emphasis rings throughout the first and a half chapter of this letter. Apparently, there were some who tried to discredit Paul in a bid to overthrow his teachings. Here, Paul puts himself on par with the twelve apostles whom Jesus personally discipled. In the way the twelve was taught and sent out by Christ in the flesh, Paul was likewise taught and sent out by the resurrected Christ. In the light of Paul’s apostolic calling, he declares his teachings as divinely inspired and true.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age.

Hidden in the greeting is the essence of Paul’s doctrine: The goal of Christ’s work is to deliver (exaireo in Greek) man from the evil of this present age. The NASB version uses the word “rescue”, which is the result of man’s deliverance from evil. Man’s deliverance from evil first entails the destruction of man’s sinful nature that comprises: his evil inclinations and habits. This, Christ did by giving His flesh as an offering on the cross (who gave Himself…). Because Jesus possessed the likeness of sinful flesh (or sinful nature of man, see Romans 8:3), the destruction of His flesh consequently destroyed the power of sin in man. The destruction of the power of sin frees man to resist evil and live according to the Spirit.

Truth

Salvation comes not to him who knows, but to him who walks in faith

Paul’s doctrine is unequivocally expressed in his greeting: The grace and peace of God come by way of man’s deliverance from evil of the present age. One can experience divine blessings to the extent his inclinations and habits are sanctified and delivered from evil. Indeed, it is impossible to experience the heavenly when one is mired in envy, greed, hatred, violence, lust and pride of the world. However, much of Christendom supposed by their cognitive understanding of Christian doctrine they are saved and blessed beyond measure. That also explains why many churchgoers remain in various bondages, unable to experience grace and peace as promised in the word. Paul taught,

For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world. 1 Corinthians 11:30-32

Those who do not read the word, and exercise self-reflection will not be able to apply the truths into their lives. Such are continually disciplined by God until they come to realise the truth. That said, many in today’s churches are used to messages that bear extravagant promises of prosperity… a far cry from the messages that Christ and Paul preached in their days. Their ministers draw hearers after themselves instead of leading the people to read the bible. Their messages are so watered down, members can not see any semblance between the word and what they have heard from the pulpit. The apostle Peter described such ministers as…

Springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption. 2 Peter 2:17-19

Regrettably, many flock to buy their sermon tapes and books that contain nothing but empty and deceptive expectations of divine blessings.

The only way people can experience salvation is when they are delivered from evil inclinations of this world and walk in the truth. Indeed, the more one walks by the truth, the more he experiences divine grace and peace. A correct understanding of doctrine does not lead one to experience divine blessing, but the correct application of doctrine does.

Application

Is your Christian walk focused on fulfilling your personal goals as opposed to understanding God’s will and walk in it? Salvation does not come by understanding or through observance of religious rituals but by walking in obedience to God’s directives. Paul admonished believers to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (see Philippians 2:12) as a testimony of genuine faith. Are you diligent in reading the word, in self-reflection, in doing all things out of sincere love? Are you making personal sacrifices for the sake of the truth and for the greater good? God is showing us our personal deficiencies so that we may repent and experience greater grace and peace.

Dear Lord, I desire to be free from evil inclinations and bondages. I believe that salvation comes when I make my decision to follow Christ and His blood cleanses me from evil to walk in the path of righteousness. As I walk in your will, anoint me with greater grace to do your kingdom’s work. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.


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