By Mike Gilland
Paul loved the Galatians – he personally spent a lot of time with them. He had spoken into their lives, and into their church. They had received much from him – for God had granted Paul authority to envision the Galatians for their mission. And without a doubt, as with all the churches and groups of people with which Paul worked, he held a deep fondness and appreciation for them, every time they crossed his mind.
But there was a serious issue that had developed involving the Galatians – after he had left them, Paul’s authority had subsequently been questioned and potentially damaged. The challenge to Paul’s apostolic authority came not from the Galatians themselves – but TO the Galatians, from a group who had infiltrated their ranks, a group identifies as the Judaizers.
This group’s message carried a different DNA than did the message of the Gospel that Paul had preached – which was the Gospel of Jesus. If we use the analogy that Jesus commissioned us, and our luggage for the commission was THE GOSPEL of GRACE, then THEIR message (the message of the Judaizers) carried along “additional suitcases”. Baggage that was IN ADDITION to the finished work of Jesus. Baggage that outlined what “I NEED TO DO”, what “I MUST CONTRIBUTE”…
You see…the message of the Gospel – the message that Paul preached, and that which is contained throughout the New Testament – taught that believers are JUSTIFIED BY FAITH, and that it is BY FAITH ALONE. Sola Fide.
You see if you think of it in mathematic terms…
CHRIST + NOTHING = Justification.
Paul was understandably fired up – because he knew that the moment anyone adds ANYTHING to that equation, the result is the muddying up of the water of the Gospel.
That was the battleground of Paul, and later, Martin Luther, and all the Reformers. And truth is, it is still our battleground today.
Mike Gilland is Operations Manager for The Shepherd Radio Network, a group of radio stations in Florida that features the “Christian Teach/Talk” format. Mike hosts a daily talk radio show in the 2 PM hour called “Afternoons with Mike”, talking to local pastors and newsmakers. In Orlando, The Shepherd is heard on WIWA, AM 1270. In addition to his broadcast experience, Mike spent 36 years in full-time ministry as a pastor and worship leader. As a guitarist, Mike performs at concerts, restaurants, private parties, etc. He is married to Cindy, the father of four grown children and grandfather to seven grandchildren.