This morning, I had the opportunity to teach in “The Avenue” . . . Wildwood’s high school ministry. Below is a summary of some thoughts I shared with them from Galatians 1 . . .
I recently purchased an airline ticket to go see a friend in Atlanta. The ticket cost me something to purchase and secured transit to a place I wanted to go . . . but until the day of my travel, the ticket is of little use to me. I don’t wake up every morning thinking about that airline ticket. I simply live my normal life, knowing that the ticket is there when it is my time to travel.
In some ways, we view the Gospel like this airline ticket. We see the Gospel as our ticket to salvation. Sure it was costly (Jesus died on the cross for our sins) — and absolutely, it secures the way for us to get where we want to go (heaven). In this respect we are thankful for the Good News of Jesus Christ, but all too often, we only consider the FUTURE benefits of the Gospel, and forget its application to our PRESENT situation.
The Gospel does not just change some things, it changes all things. Let me say that even more clearly – the Gospel changes ALL THINGS: our past, our present, and our future.
By the time Paul picked up a pen to write a letter to his friends in Galatia, the Christians in that area had already begun to minimize the impact of the gospel. As Paul says in Galatians 1:6 –
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel”
What was this different gospel? It was “man’s gospel” according to Paul as Galatians 1:11 indicates –
“For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel.”
What is man’s gospel? While it is not fully spelled out in the text, it appears to have been some expression of the gospel that affirmed how Jesus changes our FUTURES, while minimizing His work in our PRESENT. To say it another way, man’s gospel may allow Jesus to save us in the end, but our progress in the Christian life is only a result of our own good works, not Gospel power.
This picture summarizes some of the differences between man’s gospel and Jesus’s gospel:
Man’s gospel (which is really no gospel at all), sees our ultimate salvation as Christ’s work, but the Christian life as our work. This version of the Christian life sees our day to day lives as some kind of a tribute to Jesus, but not a supernatural/dependent relationship with Him. In a sense, man’s gospel makes much of us, but little of Christ. It focuses on our performance, not His provision. It is something we do to impress others, not something that He does through us to serve others. Man’s Gospel is all about us. Many people describe the Christian life in these terms. We know Jesus saves our souls tomorrow, but today is lived out by our grit and determination. Paul writes the letter of Galatians to let all of us know that the Christian life is NOT man’s gospel . . . it is Jesus’ Gospel, and has a radical impact on our past, present, and future.
Paul tells us His personal life story to help us see the impact that the Gospel had on his everyday life in 1:13-24.
- Jesus’s Gospel impacted Paul’s past, enabling him to be forgiven for the sinful deeds he had done (1:13-14).
- Jesus’s Gospel impacted Paul’s present, equipping him to be faithful to His calling to share Christ with a lost world (1:16-24).
- Jesus’s Gospel impacted Paul’s future, establishing him as a recipient of salvation (1:4-5).
The rest of the book of Galatians goes on to explain how you and I can tap into the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our present. The fact that the Gospel changes everything is GOOD NEWS, because there are many things each of us want to see change in our own lives. We want to love others more, sin less, and live a life of more eternal consequence. Jesus offers GOOD NEWS and lasting change in these areas through His provision in our lives.
The Gospel truly changes everything. Take a few moments this week and read the book of Galatians (the entire book is only 5 pages in my Bible . . . you could read it every day this week with less than a 15 minute investment of your time each day!) Together we will see how the Good News of Jesus changes not only our tomorrow, but today as well.