Note from Jesus
Dear Faithful Friend,
I told My disciples in the last few hours before My crucifixion, “I don’t call you servants any longer; servants don’t know what the master is doing, but I have told you everything the Father has said to Me. I call you friends” (John 15:15). To some of My friends, I revealed deeper things in special revelation to give them the authority to teach the good news about Me in all of its simple truth. The apostle Paul was one of these special people. The Father revealed Me to Paul so that he could proclaim My story, share My grace, and bring My salvation to “outsider nations.”
Paul didn’t learn this message from any mortal (Galatians 1:11-17; Galatians 2:1-10). He didn’t get the details of the gospel from the apostles or any other witnesses. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul was battling to preserve this authoritative message about the Father’s grace. The Galatians were trying to add Jewish practices to the gospel — practices established in the law given to Moses and other practices added by tradition. Paul was right in adamantly declaring that any gospel that added requirements to the gospel of grace received through faith is really no gospel at all (Galatians 1:6-9).
Finding new life in Me and becoming a “new creation” come only from being “in” Me. Paul told the Corinthians:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
(2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)
Paul made it clear to the Galatians that this “new creation” happened through faith and was experienced in baptism. This new life could not come through any form of law-keeping or doings works of the law of Moses:
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
(Galatians 3:26-29 NIV)
During our continuing journey through the New Testament over the next few months, you will see time and again that people will try to add some additional requirement to My simple gospel. Thankfully, Paul never abandoned what the Father had revealed in him (Galatians 1:15-16): I AM the good news the world needs. I AM “the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 NLT). So Paul reminded his Galatian brothers and sisters at both the beginning and the end of his letter that there is only one gospel, the one delivered to him from God about Me. Paul also reminded the Galatians that there is only one thing that ultimately matters: “God’s new creation is what counts, and it counts for everything.”
Verses to Live
As you read these seemingly unconnected passages from the beginning and the end of Galatians, remember what I said about one, simple, and transformational message. There is only one. That message finds its focus in Me. When I come into a person’s life, I make everything new. This change is what matters!
Surely you are familiar with my personal history, with my dedication to the teachings and traditions of Judaism. I persecuted the church of God — in fact, I meant to destroy it. I excelled in the teachings of Judaism far above other Jewish leaders, and I was zealous to practice the ways of our ancestors. But God — Who set me apart even before birth and called me by His grace — chose, to His great delight, to reveal His Son in me so I could tell His story among the outsider nations. I didn’t confer with anyone right away, nor did I go to those who were already emissaries in Jerusalem. I went straight to Arabia and later returned to Damascus.
After living this adventurous mission for three years, I made my way to Jerusalem and spent 15 days with Cephas, whom you know as Peter. But I didn’t see any emissary other than James, our Lord’s brother. (You can be certain that what I am offering you is an authentic account. Before God, it’s the whole truth — I wouldn’t lie.) Later I journeyed to Syria and Cilicia; and since I had spent so little time in Judea among the churches of the Anointed One, no one there could pick me out of a crowd. But stories of my call and mission preceded me: “The very man who wanted to kill us all is now preaching the faith he once labored to destroy.” And so they praised God for the miracle He did in my life.
The troublemakers who are putting pressure on you to be circumcised are trying to impress the flesh. They want to avoid the persecution that comes from preaching the cross of the Anointed One, the Liberating King. But even those who receive circumcision can’t keep the law — although they think they can — and they hope to influence which way you go with your own skin so they can have bragging rights over your flesh.
May I never put anything above the cross of our Lord Jesus the Anointed. Through Him, the world has been crucified to me and I to this world. Let me be clear: circumcision won’t save you — uncircumcision won’t either for that matter — for both amount to nothing. God’s new creation is what counts, and it counts for everything. May peace and mercy come to all of you who live by this rule and to the Israel of God.
Response in Prayer
Father, forgive me for the times I’ve added requirements to the simple, pure, and powerful gospel about Jesus. Thank You that Your gospel is so simple, clear, and focused. Thank You for Jesus Who makes this message Your powerful and simple truth that brings new life. I thank You in Jesus’ name. Amen.
‘A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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