A few weeks ago, our young adult group started studying the book of Galatians. As we studied the introduction of Paul’s letter, I was reminded of my desperate need for Christ.
Paul’s letter to the Galatian churches differs from the letters that he penned to the other churches he planted. He doesn’t open the letter with words of commendation. That is because the issue that has plagued the Galatians is a serious one. They had allowed themselves to be persuaded by false teachers to put aside the gospel that Paul had preached to them for another message. One that emphasized their own works.
Paul responds to this false teaching with the letter to the Galatians. And his response is rather stern. If we were to simplify his message in as few words as possible it might look something like this: “Christ alone plus nothing more”. As Paul opens his letter, he wastes no time reminding the Galatians of Christ’s all-sufficient death on the cross.
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.
In these first few verses, the word “rescue” stands out. A rescue implies that there is something dangerous which someone needs to be delivered away from. That danger exists whether or not that person acknowledges their need to be rescued. The need is real.
A rescue is also much more than just a helping hand to assist someone from a sticky situation. This is not some sort of 50/50 deal that stipulates the need for someone to go a certain distance so that they can be carried the remainder of the way. The need is wholly and completely met by Christ.
According to the scriptures, we are the ones in need of rescue. He gave Himself for our sins (Gal. 1:4). Our sins which lead us to pride, lust, selfish ambition, idolatry, hate, and envy. Yet while we were still sinners God sent His son to die for us (Rom. 5:8). This rescue was not some sort of distant effort coordinated from afar. It was by God’s will and His plan that Christ came to live, to die, and to rise again for our sins. We are the object of this rescue.
However even though I may have been rescued from sin, something inside me always gets caught in a cycle of trying to do things which at their roots are really just seeking to earn favor in the sight of others. If I have been rescued, I am no longer enslaved by the need for approval from others. The approval of man is of temporary value. Being rescued from sin I have the approval of God because of my faith in Christ and what He did for me. I need to stop relying on myself. I need to stop thinking that I need to do something. I desperately need Christ. Jesus Christ came to rescue you and I.
Realize the need, receive His grace through faith in Christ, remember that it is a rescue, and rely on Christ plus nothing more.
Though my sins once separated me from God, they have been paid for by the finished work of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. Through faith in Christ I have been rescued from being enslaved to the destructive nature of sin; this present evil age. That is good news. That is the gospel.
20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. -Eph. 3:20-21