A Call for A Consistent Walk

Ephesians 5:15-17 ESV

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Today’s text is just three verses in Ephesians in which the apostle Paul encourages the believers in Ephesus to take a long and careful look at what kind of life they were living.

A very literal translation of the first few words in the text would read “Look carefully how you are walking.” Those words bring two images to my mind.

First, I see a foolish walk. That’s a walk that pays no attention to the obstacles in the path, and therefore is constantly stumbling,.

Second, the wise walk isstraight, careful, and safe.

Paul told the Ephesian believers that before they came to Christ they “… were spiritually dead because of (their) disobedience and sins. At that time (they) followed the world’s evil way; (they) obeyed the ruler of the spiritual powers in space, the spirit who now controls the people who disobey God” (2:1-2).

Their lives had been characterized by sin, conformity to the world, and lack of self-control, because Satan was in control. The world calls it walking in freedom. God calls it walking in foolishness.

Paul had warned the Ephesians not to walk as the Gentiles did, “in the futility of their minds.”

In other words, the Gentiles were following a path, but not giving any thought to where that path would lead. Their feet were moving, but their minds were not there.

When you do that, the least that can happen is that you get lost. To be lost means more than the fact that you are not yet saved. If you stay lost, something dangerous is likely to happen.

Paul said that unsaved are “darkened in their understanding.” This is true regardless of their academic status: they can be doctors or deadbeats.
Their darkened minds do not show up in an IQ test. What reveals a darkened mind is failure to consider God and his ways. That explains how a person can have a brilliant mind and still live an ungodly life. His mind is not disciplined in the right direction. It’s like a spiritual autism. The mechanics are still there, but the relationship is missing.

Paul said that unbelievers are “alienated from the life of God.” Some important connections are missing, and so the life does not work right.

We were not created to act independent of our creator. Genesis tells us that in the garden of Eden, God made regular visits with Adam and Eve. They received guidance and support from him during those visits. After they sinned, God not only banished them from the garden, he also ceased to regularly visit them. The alienation began there.

This alienation is both the cause and the result of ignorance due to hardened hearts.

Now we come to the other option. Paul was encouraging the Ephesians to walk the wise walk. He said that Christians “are his masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared long ago to be our way of life” (2:10 ISV).

The wise walk is what we were born again for. It is the first stage of our eternal inheritance – the stage we can take advantage of now. Through this walk, the church is now manifesting God’s wisdom to “…the principalities and powers in heavenly places” (3:10 KJV).

The wise walk is also the way to keep peace in the fellowship. If there is one thing that will destroy a church faster than a fire it is disunity in the fellowship. Paul encouraged the Ephesians to adopt attitudes toward each other that would maintain unity amid a diverse body. That is the secret. It is not developing a doctrine that everyone can support. It is making the unity itself the thing that the church is eager to defend.

Paul encouraged the Ephesians to walk in love as Christ loved us. The love walk that Christ walked took him from heaven to a manger in Bethlehem.

It was a walk in which he “made himself nothing” so that we could become something.
We must be willing to humble ourselves so that God can use that witness to reach someone who needs him.

The wise walk is also centered on God’s will. But in the Bible, the concept of God’s will can mean two things:

It can mean God’s divine sovereign plan. This is the will of God that is going to happen in the future. It is sure because God has planned it, and he cannot fail in any of his plans. But we usually do not know this will.

The will of God that we can know is his desire: what he wants to happen. The Bible reveals this will of God, so we can know it. More importantly, it is this will of God that we are to walk according to.

“Look carefully how you are walking” Paul tells the Ephesians. That’s our challenge as well. We need to be walking the wise walk, not the foolish walk.

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Father, give us the courage to walk the wise walk, and KEEP ON walking it consistently – so that the world may know that we are following Christ. May they follow us all the way to Him.

ACST 13. The Immeasurable One

If someone asked you to describe an automobile, it should not be too hard to do. You need merely describe it using common traits of autos, like make, model, chassis type, color, engine type, transmission type, or even the VIN number. We define things based on their similarity or dissimilarity with other things.

We define people the same way. We may say a man is tall, which means that in comparison to other people, his height is greater than the average height. Age, height, hair color, weight, race, regional accent, and general build are often traits that are used to describe or define persons in order to identify them. These categories are useful because people have these differences that make it easy to compare them with other people.

But what if there were a person who was so unique that he could not be compared with any other person on the planet? What if there were a person who could not be described by age, because he always existed, and always will? What if there were a person who had no corporeal expression, so that his height, weight, and appearance could not normally be seen or heard? Such is the case with the God of the Bible. All the normal means of expression and measurement do not apply to Him.

In fact, one of the traditional ways for theologians to describe God has been to use negative statements. In other words, God is described by pointing out who and what he is not. He is immeasurable, immutable, and immortal. Or, to put it in one word: He is infinite. Scientists sometimes speak of space as being infinite, but only because they lack the means of measuring its immensity. The evidence from scripture reveals that God is infinite by nature. Even if it were possible to measure the vastness of space, God’s measurements would still be outside and beyond it.
For explanation purposes, we theologians sometimes convert these negative statements into positive ones. In doing so, we sacrifice accuracy, but we do so in order to express our faith in the One we are trying to define. The positive definitions of God’s being that result from this conversion are that God is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent.

omnipresent

To say that God is omnipresent is to ascribe all the space in the universe to Him. It “means both that God is not a finite object in space and time besides other objects, and that no finite object, space, or time can exclude God.”1 It is, of course, not possible for human beings to verify that statement scientifically. Not only it it impossible for us to verify God’s presence in any particular space, it is also impossible for the human race to be everywhere if we could observe him. We are defined by our limits, and that prevents us from accurately describing one whose presence is unlimited.

We depend, then, on the evidence of God’s creation and the special revelation of the Bible to affirm this faith statement about God. Since God created everything that exists in all space, it is not unreasonable to assume that he also exists in all that space. One of the differences between the Christian faith and that of the animists is that our God is not limited geographically. We see Him as beyond creation, because he brought all creation into being, and providentially rules over it.

The biblical evidence for this faith statement is abundant. Psalm 139 laments that God is inescapable, but eventually concedes the fact, and seeks God’s scrutiny and guidance. In Jeremiah 23:23-24 God asks, “Am I a God at hand, … and not a God afar off? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? … Do I not fill heaven and earth?” Here we find a helpful distinction: while some people are aware of the existence of a lot of places, even if they have never been there, God is actually present everywhere at the same time. His omnipresence is not just an extension of his omniscience.

This can be true about God because he is not limited to a corporeal nature. Jesus made this clear when he told the Samaritan woman that “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). It is not just that God lacks a body, but that he lacks the need for a body, since his essence is not defined as ours is. Human beings have spirits, which need bodies to animate, and without which they cannot function. God’s is spirit, and his “body” is the universe.

The implications of God’s omnipresence are awesome. We can be assured of his conscious presence when we gather in his name regardless of the size of the gathering – even if it’s just two or three people (Matt. 18:20; Luke 24:36). Even if we do not feel that presence, it is there. Even if we do not worship as others expect us to, we have not prevented God’s presence. We cannot. There is no place in the universe that is truly God-forsaken, thus we can be assured that he is always with us (Josh. 1:5; Isaiah 41:10; Matt. 28:20). God listens to the prayers of his people no matter where they are. His “calling zone” is not limited (Jer. 29:12-14; Matt. 6:6) because his presence is not limited.

omniscient

God’s awareness is just as extensive as his presence. He knows all things, even the future, just as well as the past. When Christians, Jews and Muslims affirm that God is omniscient, we are saying that he does not have limits to his capacity and consciousness that his creatures have. The attribute of omniscience “describes God’s infinite mind in terms of the intuitive, simultaneous and perfect knowledge of all that can ever be the object of knowledge. It relates to the eternal cognizance of the actual and to the possible and the contingent.”2

Human beings, for example, are capable of learning and growing in awareness, but are limited by factors such as brain capacity, availability of data, and functionality. God has no such limits. He has a complete grasp of everything that is happening now, and an equally complete memory of everything that happened last year on this date, and next year, and next millennium.

Once again theologians are left with the necessity of using approximate and negative language to describe this attribute of God, because there is no other being equal to God when it comes to knowledge. We do not say that God is omniscient because there is a pool of omniscient beings with which he can be compared. It is just as much a statement of our own limits as it is of God’s lack of limits. So we are forced to prove this assertion the same way we proved the assertion of God’s omnipresence. We appeal to God’s revelation of himself in his word.

The Bible reveals that “the LORD is a God of knowledge” (1 Sam. 2:3). He is “perfect in knowledge” (Job 37:16). “He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. … his understanding is beyond measure.” (Psalm 147:4-5). He announces the hidden things that we have not known (Isaiah 48:6). He “knows what is in the darkness” (Daniel 2:22).

God challenges his rivals to prove their omniscience by revealing the future or explaining the past (Isaiah 41:21-23). He laughs at the absurdity of putting one’s trust in a mute idol who cannot prove that it is even conscious, while God can prove that he is aware of all things. He challenges his people to remember that he has predicted the things that are now, showing that he alone deserves allegiance (Isaiah 48:3-5).

The concept of omniscience is baffling to human beings, and always has been. As the psalmist says, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it” (Psalm 139:6). It is far easier to deal with a lesser deity, who does not know all things, so can be tricked into complying to my will by a well-placed insincere prayer, or a charm or ritual to which he must comply, so that I get what I want. But that is not the way God works. He sees both the deed and the motive. He hears both the words and the thoughts behind them.

Since God’s awareness is unlimited, our approach to him must be an open one. we dare not hide who we are with flowery words, or empty praise, like the Pharisee did in Jesus’ story:

“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:10-14 ESV)

Jesus used this story to teach the kind of attitude we should have as God’s creatures. As we humble ourselves, we assess correctly our position in God’s universe, but when we exalt ourselves (even when we do it with left-handed complements to God as the Pharisee did) we are being dishonest. This dishonesty about ourselves tilts the scale so badly that it reflects upon our view of God. We end up telling God “what a lucky God you are to have me on your side.”

The God of the Bible sees through that hypocrisy and self-delusion. He knows the real score because he knows all things. It is his nature to know the whole truth, while his creatures know only in part (1 Cor. 13:9,12).


omnipotent

Believers are also drawn to extremes when attempting to describe God’s power. His ability is unmeasurable, infinite. He is omnipotent. Since everything that is was created by him, it stands to reason that there are no limits to his power.

‘Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who has made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you (Jeremiah 32:17 ESV).

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy- the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:34-37 ESV).

Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:24-26 ESV).

With God there is nothing that is harder or easier. The only things he cannot do are the things he will not do, that is, things that are against his nature. His “will is never exercised except in perfect harmony with all the other attributes of (his) great and glorious being.”3 He cannot sin, lie, self-destruct, or do anything that would result in his not being who he is. He himself is a constant.

The Name of God

Perhaps this is the reason that he introduced himself to his estranged people in such a peculiar way:

“Moses said to God, “If I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is his name?’–what should I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM that I AM.” And he said, “You must say this to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” God also said to Moses, “You must say this to the Israelites, ‘The LORD–the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob–has sent me to you. This is my name forever, and this is my memorial from generation to generation.’” (Exodus 3:13-15 NET).

With a confusing mix of Egyptian gods as a background, the Israelites who were enslaved in Egypt needed proof that the God who promised to deliver them was different. God’s covenant name – Yahveh4 – accentuates that difference. It screams “I am the One who has always existed and always will. It speaks of One who is not bound to the limits that all other beings are, One who is infinite, unmeasurable.

I believe it was this same name that Jesus referred to when he commanded his disciples to make more disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19). The three persons of the trinity are equally infinite, each part of the same Godhead, thus they all share the same name. It is this unmeasurable nature that makes God unique. All other gods have a beginning (as spirits originally intended to serve Yahveh). All other gods have limited knowledge and power. Our God is the “I AM,” who has no limits, and no peers.

1 Owen C. Thomas, Ellen K. Woodra, Introduction To Theology. (New York: Church Publishing, Inc., 2002), 103.

2 Allan Coppedge, Portraits of God. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 132.

3 Martyn Loyd-Jones, Great Doctrines of the Bible. (Wheaton, IL: Good News Publishers, 2003), 67.

4 The name Yahveh is believed by many to derive from an ancient form (hvh) of the common verb “to be,” (hyh ) although Beitzel argues that the etymological presupposition is not proven, and the name may have been used in Exodus 3 as an example of paronomasia (See Barry J. Beizel, “Exodus 3:14 and the Divine Name: a Case of Biblical Paronomasia,” Trinity Journal 1 NS (1980) 5-20).

A Call for Continuous Action

Colossians 2:1-7 ESV
“For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. 5 For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ. 6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”

Christ saved Paul by grace on the Damascus road also called him to a life of continuous activity.

Paul became one of those early Christians whose constant effort led to overturning the known world.

When we turn to the epistles (letters written by Paul to the churches he planted and coworkers he sent) we find Paul constantly encouraging believers to work just as hard as he did.

The casual reader of an English translation of the New Testament can often miss when Paul is emphasizing this fact. This is due to the fact that English translations do not accurately translate a particular grammatical structure that is found throughout Paul’s writings. It is called a Present Active Imperative, and translates as a call to continuous action.

Walking is a metaphor for how we live your lives. Here Paul is saying that it is not enough just to accept Jesus as our Savior. We have to live our lives according to the reality that we are now saved by Him.
This command was important for the Colossians because false teaching was beginning to spread throughout the churches. That false teaching implied that getting saved was OK, but in order to really impress God with your spirituality, to get on God’s good side, and to open the door for supernatural power, believers needed to add something else besides faith in God’s grace.

Having grown up as a legalist, Paul recognized that these prohibitions were not from God. The gospel is supposed to set us free. Paul is telling them not to get sidetracked by legalism.

The first century Colossians are not the only ones who are tempted to replace the gospel of grace with a law code. Whenever we as Christians today define our Christianity by what we do not do, we are in danger of doing the same thing. I think that the reason much of the modern world has rejected Christianity is that we have fallen into the same trap.

Paul wanted the hearts of the Colossians to be encouraged. One of the first signs of depression is that you stop doing things that you are used to doing. Paul wanted to spur the Colossians on to keep on living the life of children of God. It is easy to give up when you fail to see regular signs that what you are doing is accomplishing something.

Now, here is a key to this whole idea of continuous activity. Keep obeying God, and he will eventually bless what you are doing. Stop obeying God and the power flow will eventually cease. When the power flow ceases, discouragement is the result.

That is where the Colossians were at. They were discouraged because they had rested on the fact that they were saved, and failed to keep on living that salvation.

I cannot help but believe that many in our churches today are in the same place. The solution is to live our lives by faith in the same grace that saved us. People who live those kinds of lives are obedient to Christ. This may sound like a contradiction but it is not. Grace and obedience are not opposites. A life lived by grace is one of continuous activity!

I keep hearing the same complaint from many churches: “we are not united.” Paul gave this command in order that the Colossians might be “drawn together in love” (2).

This tells me that we are not going to be unified if we only try to come together doctrinally. There are always going to be differences in how we understand God’s truth – even if we all agree that that truth comes from the Bible. Unity is going to happen when we all start obeying the same truth.

Notice how Jesus prayed to the Father for the Church’s unity:

John 17:23 “I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”

How are we going to demonstrate that God loves us in the same way as He loves Christ? We will do this when we live the life that Jesus lived. Our unity needs to be one of action, not just words.

How can we be sure that our activity is the right kind of activity?

First, everything we do must be something Christ would do. Our actions must be rooted and built up in him. A good way of insuring that we stay in him is intentionally learning his specific commands.

Second, must must not do anything that contradicts what we profess. Our actions need to be established in the faith. When the Bible talks about “the faith” it is referring to what we believe and teach. That’s why Paul adds the phrase “just as you were taught.”

Third, Paul adds that we should abound in thanksgiving. He didn’t say that we had to be successful in everything we try to do. He didn’t even say that it has to cost a lot of money. He just reminds us that it doesn’t hurt to be grateful, to thank the Lord while we keep on walking.

God has planned for Christ to live his life through us. When we do nothing, we fail to demonstrate Christ’s life.

As we keep on walking in Christ, what God has revealed about him is going to become more and more real to us. Paul likens it to a treasure storehouse. The more we walk through the storehouse, the more treasures we see.

I believe the way this process works is this: God has revealed what he wants us to do by his new covenant commands found in the New Testament. To the extent that we continuously obey those commands, God is going to keep giving us glimpses of his plan for our lives.

Obedience to the commands that we know can guard us against being deceived about those matters in which we do not know.

Satan has a number of weapons that he uses against believers, and one of them is deception. Paul said that he “disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). If he showed up like in the cartoons, with the red pajamas and pitchfork, we would always know it was him. But he enters into our conversations around the dinner table. He inserts himself into a television news broadcast.

How can we keep ourselves from being deceived by Satan’s “false arguments?” First, stay in the word of God. Regular Bible reading can keep you from counterfeit doctrine just like being familiar with real money can keep you from accepting counterfeit cash.

But another way of avoiding deception is staying busy doing what you know for sure is God’s will. When the believer stays continuously active, living the life of Christ, he has no time for doctrines of demons.

What we need in this world today is Christians who dare to live like Christians, and keep on living like Christians until they change their communities, counties, states, and nations.
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LORD, help us to learn how to keep on walking in you, so that you can use us to transform the places where we walk. In Jesus’ name. Amen

Not Man’s Gospel

Galatians 1:11-24 ESV

11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. 14 And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, 16 was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. 18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother. 20 (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God because of me.

Paul and his team of missionaries had made it their mission to spread the message of the Gospel to the region of Galatia.
We saw that Paul had defined that message as the fact that the Lord Jesus gave himself for our sins (1:4).
We also saw that some people (whom Paul called the troublers) had come into the Galatian churches and tried to substitute a different message. That message was a distorted one, and if the Galatians followed it, they would be deserting the true faith.
This week’s section explains why the true Gospel is “not man’s gospel” and why that is so important.

Paul had already said that his missionary calling was not “from men nor through man(1:1). He had also made it clear that no man was his master, because he was not serving man, nor trying to please man (1:10).
Now he is making it clear that his message (the gospel) is not an evolved Judaism. It is not “based on human reasoning” (1:11). He did not follow “a human example” (3:15).
Instead, the message came by direct revelation (1:12). The story of how Christ first revealed himself to Paul is found several times in the book of Acts.

We get a glimpse into the nature of that revelation by studying the theology that Paul presents in his letters to the churches.
Perhaps one of the most revealing texts that show us the content of the revelation that Paul received is Eph. 1:15-23. Here Paul is praying that the Ephesians would receive a revelation as well.
There are two things that Paul prayed for the Ephesians to receive: an awareness of their future destiny (their HOPE); and an awareness of their present possession (God’s POWER available to them).
The gospel message focuses on both of these realities.

Paul also argues in today’s text that the gospel is not man’s gospel because of what motivates people to share it. Paul used himself as an example. He said that when God first revealed Christ to him, he did not immediately consult with anyone (1:16).
Instead, Paul took a break. He went to Arabia, and meditated for a while. He wanted to make sure that his experience was real, so he gave God time to explain it to him.
By the end of that three year experience Paul was confident that he had been set apart to preach Christ to the Gentiles.

He uses language similar to that used by the prophets of old. They were convinced that God exists, and that he has something to say to his people, and that he brought them into existence specifically for the purpose of saying what God wanted to say.
There were plenty of false prophets around during their time who would say what man wanted to hear. But the true prophets had to be true to their calling.
Jesus commands us to “”Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” Mark 16:15. That is our calling.

Paul also argues in today’s text that the gospel is not man’s gospel because what it produces is different. It has a different fruit.
The false gospels of this world revolve around who you are, and how you can be different from everyone else. The true gospel says that God has accepted you just as you are.
Once Paul got over who he was and was willing to let Jesus shine through him, he was then allowed to visit the other apostles, and have true fellowship with them.

Gospel fellowship is defined well by this statement, found in Gal. 2:9.

Gospel Fellowship recognizes that God’s grace has apportioned gifts to every believer, and honors each believer’s distinctive calling.

Gospel Fellowship accepts every believer and encourages each to work together to make disciples for Christ.

The true Gospel is “not man’s gospel.” It didn’t originate with human tradition. It ignites within us a sense of separation and a holy calling. It results in a fellowship based on acceptance and encouragement.
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Heavenly Father,
Help us to escape human traditions long enough to get a clear focus on the gospel message. May our hearts beat to the tune of the good news of what Jesus did for us (that no man could do), the destiny that awaits us (that no man can imagine), and the power that is available to us (that no man can resist).

No Other Gospel

“This letter is from Paul, an apostle. I was not appointed by any
group of people or any human authority, but by Jesus Christ
himself and by God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead.
2 All the brothers and sisters here join me in sending this letter to
the churches of Galatia 3 May God our Father and the Lord
Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. 4 Jesus gave his life
for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue
us from this evil world in which we live. 5 All glory to God
forever and ever! Amen. 6 I am shocked that you are turning
away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the
loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that
pretends to be the Good News 7 but is not the Good News at
all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth
concerning Christ. 8 Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us
or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of
Good News than the one we preached to you. 9 I say again what
we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News
than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed.
10 Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of
God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s
servant.” (NLT)

The book of Galatians presents one of the most profound expressions of the gospel message. Paul says that Jesus gave himself for our sins.

Paul had told the Corinthians that Christ died for our sins, and he wanted the Galatians to know that his death was his willing choice.

Jesus had said that he came to give his life as a ransom for many.

Paul told the Romans that Christ was delivered up because we had sinned and he was raised because his death accomplished our justification.

Galatians also points out that the death of Christ will deliver us not only from a future hell, but also from this present evil age.

He told the Ephesians that they had been delivered from “following the course of this world, the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.”

John had warned that “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” but the good news is that “we are from God” because of what Jesus did on the cross.

Galatians also reminds us that Paul was not alone in the mission that God called him to. He had a team of missionaries and supporters with him. This is why he introduced the book by saying “Paul… and all the brothers who are with me.”

Apparently, sometimes those brothers even assist Paul in writing his letters, like Sosthenes in 1 Corinthians, and Timothy in 2 Corinthians.

But usually the associates are listed without naming them specifically, like here and in Philippians 4, where Paul just says “the brother who are with me greet you.”
The list of men and women who were associates of Paul is quite extensive.

Their goal was to spread the kingdom of God by preaching the gospel and establishing churches throughout the lands of the Gentiles, which included the region of Galatia.
Paul was the leading apostle. This explains why his authority was accepted by the Galatian churches when he directed them to establish an offering to benefit the believers in Jerusalem.

Paul had to endure a great deal of suffering, mistreatment and hardships , but he said it was all worth it for the mission’s sake.

But Galatians reveals a major malfunction that threatened to undo all of the work of Paul and his mission team: some “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (Paul called the troublers) had come into the Galatian churches, and were teaching a distorted gospel.
In 2 Corinthians, Paul had called them false apostles, and said that they disguise themselves as apostle of Christ. They taught that Christians needed to identify themselves the same way the Jews did: circumcision, diet, separation from the Gentiles.

The troublers had come from the Jerusalem Church, but not with the approval of the apostles or elders.

Jesus had warned that there would be false prophets, and he had said that we shall know them by their fruit. The fruit of the troublers was that many were deserting the church.

This is how it took place:

First, the troublers were trying to please men. That is, they were trying to accommodate the Jews. The Jews normally respected Gentiles who respected them, but NOT those who followed Christ. People who followed the teaching of the troublers would clash with the Jewish community.

Second, Paul pronounced a curse upon the troublers. Those who followed their teachings would be effected by the same curse.

Eventually, all those who had accepted the false gospel would desert the faith.

You have probably never thought to yourself, “man, I wish I could be circumcised.” So you might be wondering if the message of Galatians is as important today as it was when Paul and the brothers wrote it.

The problem with the troublers was not that they were trying to make the Christians more Jewish. They were trying to make the Christians non-Christians. They sought to accommodate the church to the world around them.

The message of Galatians is that believers should find our distinctiveness in Christ and the gospel of forgiveness through his sacrifice.