Most Disruptive Book: From Genesis to Revelation, there are 66 books, all of which have caused their share of controversies over the centuries. The account of creation, the law, the prophets
But the one book that caused the most upheaval and the book that caused the Christian world to get turned upside-down, was Paul’s letter to the Galatians. It’s only six chapters long, hardly the likely suspect for creating so much impact. But here’s the backstory on this remarkable document.
Luther studied Galatians and changed everything
The Roman Catholic Church made the decision to take Martin Luther, a monk, and make him into a teacher. Luther, had struggled with his faith, the church thought teaching would keep him occupied. Did it ever! Luther took his assignment seriously.
Wrestled with Romans 1:17
For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” (Romans 1:17)
Most Disruptive Book: Luther struggled with how we are saved
Martin Luther struggled with this particular verse because it went against the teachings of the Roman Catholic church. Theologians at the lime held to the idea of a “formal, active righteousness,” which centered on God being righteous and would punish sinners.
Even though God imparted righteousness on Abraham for his faith, the idea of righteousness by faith was foreign. When the idea of righteousness by faith hit him, Luther’s life changed. He could no longer work his way into God’s favor, it was only by faith that he could be given such a privilege.
Luther, previous to studying Galatians, viewed the Gospel as part of the law, something to be earned. He then realized that actually the Gospel’s purpose is to give sinners freedom from the curse of the law. He learned, by the power of the Holy Spirit, that salvation was indeed by the grace of God through faith in the risen Messiah.
Freedom at last. Luther’s tortured mind was set free to focus on the fullness of God’s grace. Interestingly, Luther learned this while reading Galatians, even though the Apostle Paul clearly expressed this in Romans and other letters.
Luther’s writings caused an earthquake known as the reformation. A split from the Catholic church that we are still living with today.
Luther then wrote a lot about Galatians
Luther would go on to write extensively on the letter to the Galatians. But first he wrote about the misinformation the Catholic Church was teaching. Luther’s “95 Theses” pushed back against Catholics teaching and focused on two major points.
- The bible is the authority on all matters of the faith.
- We can only be given salvation through faith and not by our works. This was a huge departure from church practice. To raise money, the church would sell “indulgences” to people, who could buy time off from purgatory, a mythical waiting place before people could go to heaven.
We are saved by God’s grace!
Salvation by faith is still debated, even among some protestant believers. Many still believes his must do something for make himself worthy of going to heaven. But the letter to the Galatians can’t be more clear. We are saved by the grace of God.