Once upon a time, British scholar C.S. Lewis walked into the faculty lounge of Oxford, where some of his colleagues were arguing about religion. They asked him what he thought was the major, distinctive principle of Christianity. Love, perhaps? "That's simple," he replied. "Grace."
It was by the grace of God that Paul was a messenger of Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:1-2). Paul had been an angry, violent man. He was eager to climb to the top of the power-systems of his people. He raged against the simple, poor Christians. He hounded and persecuted them without mercy. He had the zeal of an ayatollah, combined with the brains of a professor and the brutality of the Taliban.
What changed him? Paul wasn't even seeking salvation, but Jesus Christ found and saved him anyway! Christ once told a parable about a woman who swept her house until she found one lost coin. It symbolized the Lord diligently seeking lost people. Paul was one of those human lost coins that Christ swept up by his grace.
Not only that, Christ made Paul the 13th apostle! This was a man who at best, for his insolence and violence, only deserved to be a street-sweeper in the city of God. Instead, Christ anointed Paul with healing powers, and sent him forth into the world to preach the good news.
Paul's message was a message of grace. He opened every one of his letters with a wish for God and Christ to show even more grace to the people he was mentoring (Galatians 1:3). Paul was very clear that Christ's death was for our sins. Christ didn't die as an accident, or the result of some tragic political misunderstanding. God sent him to pay the price of our sins, we who do not deserve any special favors from God.
What was God's goal in sending Christ? He wants to save us from the sinking ship of ruined humanity (Galatians 1:3-5). Just look at the black record of mankind. As a race, we have a rap sheet ten million miles long. The U.S.S. Humanity is on fire, and billions have already died. God sent his lifeboat to rescue as many as will climb in. God's lifeboat is the Lord Jesus Christ. And everyone saved by God's kindness will passionately sing God's praises forever (Galatians 1:5).
Ironworks Pike Community Church exists in order to lift up Gods grace, and teach it to others. The heart of Christianity isn't about baptism or the Lord's Supper, and it isn't about rules. The central core of Christianity isn't the Ten Commandments, or what Bible translation we read, or whether we sing praise-choruses or hymns, or whether we wear a suit or blue-jeans and a T to church. Christianity is about the love and mercy of the holy God extended to each person without exception, in the person of His eternal son Jesus, who died voluntarily to atone our sins, and rose bodily from the dead to justify us freely forever.
Jack is the teaching elder of Ironworks Pike Community Church. He is a graduate of Columbia Biblical Seminary http://www.ciu.edu.