BY PASTOR GARETH on September 18, 2017

Yesterday we began our Fall series in the book of Galatians: Walking in the Spirit. Over the next several weeks, we will be “walking” through Paul’s letter to the Galatians and reflecting on the ways in which God’s Holy Spirit works in and through us as God’s children.

Yesterday morning, we reflected on the work of God’s Grace extended towards us through chapter 1:1-10. Paul doesn’t mince any words in his opening of this letter to the churches of Galatia. He has heard the rather disturbing report that some apparent other “apostles” have come through Galatia and “corrected” Paul’s gospel message of Grace that invites those formerly not considered part of God’s family (i.e. the Galatians) into God’s covenant family. These other “apostles” are insisting that the Galatian believers must first become Jews before they can accept the gospel message of God’s redeeming love through Jesus Christ. Paul meets this distortion of the Gospel head on by insisting that this is no gospel (good news) at all! This version of the gospel insists that we as human beings need to do something (i.e. observe certain religious rites like circumcision or Sabbath observance) in order to be accepted by God. The reality is that it is by God’s Grace alone (sola gratia) that we are accepted into His family. He did what we could not do for ourselves.

As human beings, our natural inclination is towards order. Since the beginning of time, we have been trying to find ways to order our existence so that it is predictable and controllable. Religious observance is one such way we have tried (and continue to try) to do that. However, as those who “live by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25), it is not God’s intention for us to live lives of ceremonial religious observance (i.e. trying to make our lives predictable and controllable). This is partly what Jesus did away with in his death and resurrection. Rather, God intends for us to “keep in step the Spirit”, that is, he determines and directs our daily existence. The most fundamental aspect of our existence in the Spirit is that we live by the Grace of God and God’s Grace alone. When we truly understand this, we also understand that there is nothing we need to do in addition to what Jesus has already done in order to be acceptable to God. Since our natural inclination is towards ordering and controlling our existence, this is hard for us to grasp. We are always looking for what it is we need to do in order to feel as though we have value. The beauty of it all is that God says we have value simply because He loves us. That’s it.

As you reflect on your Christian walk, you were asked to relfect on a couple of questions at the end of yesterday morning’s message: 1) Where has the “Jesus +” mentality crept into your life? (i.e. what are some things you do are have been doing in order to feel as though you have value to God?); and 2) How might the Spirit of Grace impact the way you live this week?