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Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ…

Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead), and all the brethren who are with me

Galatians 1:1-2

The word Gospel comes from the Greek word, euangelion.  A literal translation reads, good-message; good news-Gospel.  This word is used to mean many things today, but its technical and proper meaning is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, sins forgiven on account of Jesus’ death on the cross.  The Gospel of our Lord means that God’s wrath and condemnation because of your sin is no more towards you—all because of Jesus.

The Gospel is the declaration and pronouncement that your sins, in Christ, are forgiven.  Therefore, Holy Baptism, Absolution, and the Sacrament of the Altar are Gospel, because by these means, God gives you forgiveness.

These very gifts, indeed, the Gospel itself, as defined here, is opposed to the ways of the world, for Gospel is free gift.  We want to earn—we want to do.  But the way of the Gospel, the way of our Lord, is the way of giving, giving to those who don’t deserve, who don’t do, who don’t earn, and who don’t merit.

This is why we have such a tough time with the Gospel.  We’re conditionally oriented.  I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine.  This is not the way of our Lord.  God’s love in Jesus Christ is unconditional.  This is why God’s grace is amazing.  His love for you extends beyond your ‘what-ifs’ and ‘have-dones.’

Those who desire God to be conditional toward them because of how hard they try, what they do, etc. will certainly have that desire fulfilled.  They will get what they deserve—hell and eternal judgment.  But those who seek Christ and believe in Him for their salvation, gladly taking what God freely gives, even His Holy Word, these will find God’s unconditional love to be their salvation, their hope, and their joy.  They will not get what they deserve.  They will inherit eternal life.  Amen.

Luther

The Gospel is a doctrine that teaches something far more sublime than the wisdom, righteousness, and religion of the world.  It leaves these things at their proper level and commends them as good creatures of God.  But the world prefers these creatures to the Creator.  Finally, through them it wants to abolish sin, to be delivered from death, and to merit eternal life.  This the Gospel condemns.  But the world cannot bear the condemnation of that which it regards as best.  Therefore it charges the Gospel with being seditious and erroneous doctrine that subverts commonwealths, principalities, kingdoms, empires, and religions;  it accuses the Gospel of sinning against God and Caesar, of abrogating laws, of subverting morality, and of granting men the license to do with impunity whatever they please.  With righteous zeal, therefore, and with the appearance of high service to God (John 16:2), the world persecutes this doctrine and despises its teachers and followers as the greatest plague there can be on earth. (Luther’s Lectures on Galatians, LW 26, p13)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me not take for granted your unconditional love for a sinner such as I.  I have not kept your word.  I have neglected your commandments and done what is according to my will, not yours.  Forgive me for assuming that your favor towards me is founded on me and not on Christ.  Lead me to a right understanding and faith in the Gospel, Your Gospel, Your Son Jesus Christ.  And help me so to live.  Amen.

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