Scripture Focus: Galatians 1.9, 23-24
If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!

They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they praised God because of me.

Reflection: Defender of Grace
By John Tillman

Paul was an elite member of one of the most powerful factions of Judaism—a “pharisee of Pharisees.” He had studied under Gamaliel, one of the greatest scholars of his day. He was commissioned by the religious authorities to act on their behalf to defend the law.

It is from this charge that he turns to become the defender of grace. Paul converted from being a disciple of law to an apostle of grace. His conversion stands as one of the repeated touchstones of his teaching, his testimony, and his reasoning.

As much as Paul knew and loved the law, he knew that life did not come from the law—death did. Chares Spurgeon, in a sermon on Galatians, said, “…but while the law is glorious, it is never more misapplied than when it is used as a means of salvation.” Spurgeon continues:

“It was written on stone; as if to teach us that it was a hard, cold, stony law—one which would have no mercy upon us, but which, if we break it, would fall upon us, and dash us into a thousand pieces. O ye who trust in the law for your salvation! Ye have erred from the faith; ye do not understand God’s designs; ye are ignorant of every one of God’s truths.” 

Spurgeon concludes that the law was a tool of God to teach us to receive the better offering of God’s grace:

“It was intended by its thunders to crush every hope of self-righteousness, by its lightning to scathe and demolish every tower of our own works, that we might be brought humbly and simply to accept a finished salvation through the one mighty Mediator who has “finished the law, and made it honorable, and brought in an everlasting righteousness,” whereby we stand, complete before our Maker at last, if we be in Christ.”

We make a mistake when we think of “The Bible” as “the Law” that we must keep. The Law is in the Bible but the Bible is not the Law. The Christian Bible only contains the law as a seed. What grows from that seed, through the husbandry of Christ’s sacrifice, is the flower of grace. The Bible is the story of Christ’s flowering, fragrant, and beautiful work of grace.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Morning Psalm
Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. — Psalm 85.10

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
2 Samuel 21 (Listen – 4:34)
Galatians 1 (Listen – 3:05)

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Read more about Overcoming Hatred :: Worldwide Prayer
Because I and my people have been treated so unjustly by fellow human beings it is hard not to hate.

Read more about Paul’s First Sermon
Through his fulfillment of Scripture, his submission to death, and his physical resurrection, Jesus has made manifest God’s promises of forgiveness and salvation.