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Jesus Christ . . . gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age.
Charles Spurgeon, the famous nineteenth-century British preacher, said, “The more you read the Bible, and the more you meditate on it, the more you will be astonished with it.” This month we’ll be reading and meditating on the apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians. This letter was written to churches in the southern part of the Roman province of Galatia (in modern- day Turkey). Paul intended this letter to be circulated among the churches in cities he had visited on his first missionary journey, including Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe (vv. 1–2; see Acts 13–14). This epistle, which scholars date to about A.D. 48, is Paul’s earliest letter we have.
One key theme of this letter is the good news of freedom in Christ. As Paul summarizes in these opening verses, the gospel proclaims the wonderful truth of Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice to rescue us from sin and death, all by the will of God the Father and for His glory (vv. 3–5). The phrase “the present evil age” means all human history since the Fall (see 2 Cor. 4:4).
This gospel, the good news of freedom through the work of Jesus, rejects the message of legalism, which is the idea that if we follow certain rules we’ll be in a relationship with God. We can do nothing to merit or earn salvation. In fact, legalism cheapens or demeans Christ’s work on our behalf. The gospel is instead all about God’s grace given to us in Christ.
This month we’ll focus on three themes in Galatians. First, faith—we are justified by faith alone in Christ alone. Second, freedom—we have been delivered from bondage to sin to freedom in Christ. And third, fruit—followers of Christ live in and by the Holy Spirit, bearing fruit for God’s glory.
Apply the Word
If you’ve never started a spiritual journal, start this month! You can include notes on Galatians, keep track of prayer requests and answers, and write things you’re learning about God to remind yourself later or to share as a testimony with others. Even a few short notes each day can help you focus on what God is teaching you through His Word.