500 years ago, this fall, a Roman Catholic priest, named Martin Luther, produced a list of theological statements that addressed doctrinal concerns facing the church of his day. He reportedly posted the list on the door of a prominent church in Wittenberg, Germany to make its contents available to the public. Translations of Luther’s famous “95 Theses” were soon reprinted and distributed throughout Europe. This act marked the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, a theological movement that changed history and that is still impacting the Christian Church throughout the world, to this day.
A biblical truth emphasized in the Reformation is the idea that salvation is given by grace alone, received through faith alone, and based on the work of Christ alone. In other words, acceptance with God is not something we earn through our moral effort; it is a gift from God.
This fall at ACC, to commemorate these great Reformation truths, we will be studying the New Testament book of Galatians.
Galatians is probably the earliest letter in the Bible written by the Apostle Paul. It was addressed to a group of churches that Paul and Barnabas had planted in Asia Minor (present-day Turkey). Paul wrote this letter in response to a report that false teachers were infiltrating these churches. The message of these false teachers was that Gentile believers needed to be circumcised, adhere to Jewish dietary laws, and follow other Jewish customs if they hoped to be saved. (The presence of similar false teachers in the church at Antioch is described in Acts 15:1.)
Paul wrote the letter to the Galatians because he was greatly alarmed. He wanted to defend the doctrine that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone. In other words, he wanted to defend the gospel. To suggest, as the false teachers were doing, that we need to add our good works to the gospel nullifies its message completely.
Though we are long removed from ancient Galatia and from medieval Germany, the issues addressed in the book of Galatians (and the issues addressed by the Reformers) are still vitally important in our lives today. It is only as we come to understand and embrace the pure message of the gospel that we experience God’s power and joy in our lives.
So, come study Galatians with us this fall. We will be preaching from it on Sundays and discussing it in many of our Community Groups during the week. Come re-discover the power and joy of the gospel – the message of God’s gift of life received through faith alone.