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May it be complete

Paul, a disciple of Christ, born out of the ranks of the Jews - a former persecutor of the believers in Jesus. Would you begin a conversation with these "credentials"? Whenever we are establishing new "relationship" with people, isn't this similar to what we do? We discuss what we do for a living, if we are married or single, how many kids we have, where we went to school, what our hobbies might be, or where we stand on a particular topic of interest. Each of these "facts" somehow give us some "credibility" in the group we are associating with, don't they? If I had to start a conversation with my 'former' credentials (those things that defined me in my past), I am not sure many of you would ever want to associate with me!

I, Paul, and my companions in faith here, send greetings to the Galatian churches. My authority for writing to you does not come from any popular vote of the people, nor does it come through the appointment of some human higher-up. It comes directly from Jesus the Messiah and God the Father, who raised him from the dead. I'm God-commissioned. So I greet you with the great words, grace and peace! We know the meaning of those words because Jesus Christ rescued us from this evil world we're in by offering himself as a sacrifice for our sins. God's plan is that we all experience that rescue. Glory to God forever! Oh, yes! (Galatians 1:1-5)

Paul begins with his appointment - his authority to be writing this message. In some respects, I guess this is important to get out there right up front so there are no questions about why he should be trusted to direct the actions of the church. He is not "people-appointed" - there was no board of elders "voting" him into his role as apostle. He was God-sent - therefore, his message would be God-approved. As such, his authority is to be accepted and the help he would give the believers was to be embraced openly. Maybe he set out this at the beginning because he had such a negative 'past' set of credential!

Two words will define his message to the believers:  Grace and Peace. Grace because it describes the process by which we are brought into the Kingdom of God and the very thing that holds us in that position. Peace because it becomes the outflow of our position in Christ. Paul is going to have to deal with a lot of important things for us to understand as believers in Christ. Things like how a Christian can live an imperfect life and still experience the grace and peace of God! He sets the stage for us to understand God's love expressed through his immense grace.

It all begins with Christ's rescue - freeing us from our confinement to live sinful lives, bound by the very thing we so desperately desire to be free of. He accomplished our rescue by the Cross. He was offered as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. This is a tough thing to grasp if we have no knowledge of the Old Testament Law of Moses. The Law was a system of rules and regulations God established with Israel in order to point them to the plan of redemption in Christ. The Law contained multiple "sacrificial" offerings - everything from the choicest grain of your harvest to the pure and spotless lamb offered as an atonement sacrifice. Each carried a meaning unique in describing provision and grace. Each pointed to Christ - to the hope of deliverance.

Rescue is often a misunderstood process. The term means to bring into liberty. It is the setting free of our mind, will and emotions from all which seeks to control, or interfere, with our living according to the will of God. It involves removing us from the obligation to continually "pay for" our sins - because Christ's sacrifice was once and for all - setting us right with God regardless of our sin. It is both the power and the authority to bring change beyond our capability. Think about it. Does a prisoner of war play any part in his rescue? No! It is the work of the Special Ops personnel sent on the mission to free the one who has been bound. Those Special Ops troops plan, prepare, and then execute the plan. In turn, the one bound is set free. Think of Christ as the ultimate Special Ops soldier! He and his Father planned, prepared, and he executed the plan perfectly. Nothing we do adds to the plan! His rescue is perfect because the plan was perfect!

God's plan: For us all to experience this rescue! If you are struggling to be rescued, it is time to step back and allow the one who has the plan for your rescue to step in. If you have been rescued, but still struggle with the feelings of bondage, it is your divine rescuer who wants to help you enjoy total and complete liberty in him. My hoe is that we all come to appreciate the complete rescue of Christ! Just sayin!

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