Verse for the Day – Galatians 1:3-5

As we continue in our study of Galatians, the verses for the day are from Galatians 1:3-5:

“Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (NKJV)

The benefit of Bible study is that you can take time to linger on a short section. You can use commentaries or Bible dictionaries, read the verses in other versions of the Bible, use the cross references in your Bible, read your Bible notes, etc. to learn more about that passage.

One of the things that jumps out to me in reading these two verses today is that they sound very familiar. Paul gave similar greetings when he wrote his other letters, and we start to see his pattern and style of writing that make his letters identifiable as being his. (Of course, he says at the start he wrote this letter, and the authorship is not debated, but it is interesting to see the structure of his writing.)

Look at these passages below that are greetings to some of his other books of the Bible, and see the familiar greeting giving author, recipient, and the language of grace and peace:

Ephesians 1:1-2:”Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Philippians 1:1-2: “Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Colossians 1:1-2: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 Thessalonians 1:1: “Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

2 Thessalonians 1:1-2: “Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, to the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

We could keep going with 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Romans, and Philemon, and find much the same thing.Paul’s greetings were very similar in each epistle.

Paul writes of the grace and peace that come from God – the grace of God that saves us and the peace with God and from God that this salvation brings.

In Galatians, Paul lengthens that greeting of “grace and peace” with the following:

“Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

That is a summary of the gospel. Jesus gave Himself for our sins to deliver us from evil, according to His Father’s will, to whom be all glory be given forever. This is grace – nothing in ourselves we bring – and this gives peace.

We went to my husband’s grandfather’s funeral this week. While we were there, I was looking at his well-worn Bible with handwritten notes, evidence of much Bible study. I looked up the beginning of Galatians to get a small nugget from what Grandpa had gleaned when he studied Galatians. By this verse Grandpa had written “Titus 2:14” which says, “who [Jesus] gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”  It’s the same idea of Jesus giving Himself for us to deliver us, to redeem us, to purify us for Himself.

This is what Bible study can do. It can connect verses and books and thoughts and teach us wonderful truths as we make observations that lead to application in our lives.

That makes my heart feel so full this morning to remember that Jesus gave Himself for you and me, a gift of grace, such that a result can be expected and hoped for! That is, that I am delivered from evil, redeemed from lawless deeds for purification, for good works, for peace. Out of evil and sin, into purity and good works. All by grace, resulting in peace. Jesus gives us what the world cannot – grace, peace, forgiveness of sins, redemption, deliverance, purity. He makes us His own.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, how can we find words to praise You rightly and fully for all that You have done for us and given us in Christ. He gave Himself for our sins so that we might live abundantly now and eternally forever with You. Your grace and peace upon us humbles us. We did not earn or deserve this, but You did this for us while we were sinners to deliver us. Thank you for this deliverance, this redemption. Please guard and keep us from evil, purify our hearts as You are pure, and let us rest in the grace and peace that you give and offer us today. Thank you, Lord, for Grandpa’s life, for the legacy he leaves, for his example of love for You and Your Word. May we also study it faithfully, live it joyfully, and may our lives show others You and Your salvation and the treasure that You are. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Peace

Last summer Tim Keller came to my home church in Memphis. I was in town, but getting over being sick and did not go. I ended up getting the tape of it, and he preached on Philippians 4:4-13. It was a message that at that time was very timely for me to hear. I ran across my notes from it the other day and thought I’d share some of the things he shared:

“There’s a difference between a morally restrained heart, a heart that has its impulses and its emotions tamped down, controlled from the outside by will power, and a supernaturally, gospel-changed heart, a heart that’s got its dispositions, feelings, orientations and attitudes changed from inside, long-term, permanently by the gospel.”

Keller said that there are 9 traits of a supernaturally-changed, gospel-changed heart; those are the fruit of the Spirit that are found in Galatians 5:22-23.

His quote resonated with me because it’s easy to have a life managed by will power and think then that everything is right in life, but when a supernatural change comes that is fueled by the gospel and the Spirit, even if things look similar to the outside world, the change is absolutely incredible. And to those who really know you, the difference will be obvious.

I know this from experience – trying so hard to live well, perfectly, yet so unhappy, and not realizing I was missing something called the Spirit-filled life and joy. Not that I now have things perfectly in order (I hardly have anything in order these days!), but there has been a fundamental change that only the Spirit could produce. Reminds me of Paul’s words in Philippians 3:12-14.

Keller went on then to talk about peace from Phil. 4:4-13 and what we are to think about. He described the character of peace–what it is. It is a deep, inner equilibrium, deep contentment in all circumstances, a tranquility, a lack of anxiety. The apostle Paul’s life was an example of one of peace in spite of torture, imprisonment, death.

Keller said there are many books on stress that talk about emptying the mind of negative thoughts – “just stop those thoughts” and “just don’t think about it” – and how calm in our culture means emptiness.

But the peace that Scripture teaches is not the absence of thoughts, but the presence of a Living Power. You can lay down and sleep knowing you have soldiers encamped about you. You have something greater than what’s wrong.

There was much more to his sermon (disciplines to develop peace, how the gospel produces peace, etc.), but these particular thoughts above really ministered to me, so I thought I would capture them here.