Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Sep 14 2013 - Galatians 1:1-24 – Rescued

Paul’s letter to the Galatians may well be the first or oldest of all the writings in the New Testament. Paul is writing to the churches which he had planted during his first missionary journey. He writes to those who had joyfully received the message he had preached to them; to those who had eagerly placed their faith and hope in the Lord Jesus Christ. Now they were being led astray by other Jewish teachers who had told them that they must be circumcised and obey all manner of Jewish laws and regulations if they were to be accepted as being part of God’s family. They are being drawn away from the simplicity of the gospel.

Paul will have many critical things to say to the churches of Galatia. But his message to them is not a negative one. Paul is intent upon emphasising the blessings which God has freely poured out upon us in Christ, and that is how he begins this letter; “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (Galatians 1:3-5).

Jesus gave himself for our sins. He took upon himself the punishment our sins deserved, setting us free from condemnation and reconciling us to God. But this wonderful message of forgiveness is only part of the story. He came to “rescue us from the present evil age” – from the things that characterise the present age; its obsession with money, sex, power and personal fulfilment. As God rescued Israel from Egypt, so God sent his Son to rescue us from the tyranny of this present evil age and to bring us into the kingdom of his Son. We are called to be kingdom people – to live by a different Spirit and to march to the beat of the heart of God. It is his grace that frees us and enables us to live this new life and it is his peace which gives us joy and delight in following Jesus to glory.

At least, that’s how it should be. But we can all too often be like Israel in the wilderness who looked back with distorted vision to the life from which they had been rescued: “We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost – also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic” (Numbers 11:5). “Surely,” we say to ourselves, “this present age is not really ‘evil’. We know that we will be rescued from this present world when Jesus comes again, but right now we just have to get on living in it as best we can.” With such self-deceptive arguments we allow the values of this present age to shape our own thinking and behaviour rather than being transformed by the gospel. We diminish the work of Christ and make light of the power of the gospel to make a real difference to the way we live.

Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (Romans 12:2 The Message)

There are many ways to be turned away from the simplicity of the gospel and the freedom given us in Christ.

Father God, show me what it means for me today that I have been rescued from this present evil age to live in the freedom, grace and joy of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Peter Misselbrook