Amazed - A Journey Through Galatians

Introduction


Imagine one of the early Christians, living in the middle of the first century AD. He
lives in the province of Galatia, a sprawling region in ancient Asia Minor. He came to
faith from a non-Jewish background and has been attending one of the local
churches in his area. He’s been growing in his faith in Jesus and it’s been an
exciting journey. Let’s call our imaginary Christian Rufus.


A while ago, a group of Christians from a Jewish background came and joined the
church from where they lived in Jerusalem. Rufus was quite excited at first because
everyone knew that the “Mother Church” was in Jerusalem, so it was counted a
privilege to have an influx of believers from the hallowed precincts of Jerusalem.
These Christians began teaching a message in the church which came with great
authority. They said that you had to become Jewish before you could become a
Christian. They stressed that the requirements of the Jewish law were still binding
upon Gentile converts. The group had picked up a name on their travels: the
Judaisers.


Rufus, along with his fellow believers, have been taken in by the Judaisers. It’s
causing a lot of upheaval in the church. There are factions developing as people
take sides. Still others in the church are advocating a “no-restrictions-lifestyle” that
they claim is a proper expression of Christian freedom. Some of the exchanges
taking place between church members are just plain ugly.
And then, one Sunday, when the church gathers for worship, the pastor stands up
and declares that he has received an important letter from the Apostle Paul for the
whole church. It’s so important that he is going to read the whole letter to the whole
church.


Rufus listens intently as the powerful words of the great Apostle are read out over
the assembled congregation. Now imagine that Rufus is so taken by the letter that
he wants to write back to the Apostle Paul, to share what he has learned from the
letter, to wrestle through his reflections about the great themes of the letter with the
author himself.


What might Rufus write back to Paul? That’s the way this series on Paul’s letter to
the Galatians is structured. For each day of this 13-day series, you will read a
section of Galatians, and then read an imaginary letter which Rufus writes to Paul
about the passage of the day. Although Rufus is an imaginary first century Christian,
his letters are written with a style as if he lives in our present age, just to help us
follow his thoughts more easily. Although imagination is employed in the writing of
these letters, this does not detract from a thorough engagement with the biblical
texts of Galatians. Faithful biblical interpretation is the value system behind all the
Mariners daily Bible reading series. This series employs imaginative writing as a
literary vehicle through which we will gain insights into Paul’s teaching, with ways to
apply that to our everyday lives. Each day’s section ends with a prayer.

Galatians is a powerful letter in which Paul argues forcibly for the grace we find in
Jesus. It’s a letter which acts as a strong denunciation of the teaching of the
Judaisers. This letter says a lot about Jesus and a lot about grace. It makes a very
suitable series to read during Lent, but can also be used at other times of year.
So, pause and prepare yourself to enter, not only the mind of the Apostle Paul, but
also the mind of our imaginary Rufus, as he processes the deep teaching which
Galatians provides. If you have time, you may like to begin this series by spending a
day to read through the whole letter all in one sitting. This would have probably been
how the Galatian Christians would have experienced the letter at its first hearing. In
so doing, you will obtain the grand sweep of Paul’s passionate writing. Once you
have the big picture, we’ll spend the next 13 days reading the letter in short sections.
This series is called Amazed because of a double play on this word. It is first word
that Paul reaches for in his opening main paragraph (Galatians 1:6) when he says he
is amazed that the Galatian Christians have turned away from the good news they
have personally experienced. And there’s also plenty in his letter to show that Paul
is amazed by the undeserving love of God in Christ.


Amazed by the grace of God.

Amazed that anyone who has known this grace would turn away from it.


Through this series may you understand and experience afresh the amazing grace
that is found in Jesus. Grace so sufficient you’ll never want to replace it with
anything else.

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