Truth Taught-The true Gospel of Christ must be proclaimed and maintained if God is to be glorified and people are to be saved.
Today we are looking at the section of the Book of Galatians where Paul usually expresses his thanksgiving for the recipients of the letter.
Romans 1:8 (ESV)
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.
1 Thessalonians 1:2 (ESV)
2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers,
Even to the Corinthian Church who had so much wrong and so many trials within the Church, Paul gave thanks for them…
1 Corinthians 1:4 (ESV)
4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus,
Paul does not give thanks for the Galatian Churches. Why does he thank God for the Corinthians but not for the Galatians? The Corinthians were struggling with sin, that’s for sure. The Corinthians had immorality within the Church, they had court cases among Christians, they were misusing their gifts, they were picking sides and favorites, and there was disunity within the Church…but they had a rock-solid foundation that they could build upon and would not crumble under them…they had the true Gospel. They knew and believed the Gospel. All the other stuff could be fixed because they were trusting Christ alone. Not so with the Galatians. They were turning away from the Gospel of grace to a works religion that cannot save. What good is it if a church is in unity if its union is the wrong Gospel?
The devil wishes to lure the Church into sin and into error. In many ways error can do more damage than even sin can. This is why Paul could address the Corinthians with thanksgiving but not the Galatians. Turning from the true Gospel is the unpardonable sin. It is willfully saying the truth is not the truth even though it has been made evident by the Spirit. The consequence of this willful rejection of what one knows to be true is a hardening of the heart. It forfeits all possibilities of salvation and seeks to get God’s glory.
Let’s look together to the glorious Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ together and see all the wonders it accomplishes within the believer.
Colossians 1:3–8 (ESV)
3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, 6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, 7 just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf 8 and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.
I pray, this same Gospel, the Word of Truth is producing these same things in your life. Once the Colossians heard the truth and believed it, they were forever changed. They began being fruitful and showing love to other saints and their ministry was growing. Is the Holy Spirit producing these things…love, hope, and fruit of righteousness within your life?
Jesus came to this world to save sinners from the punishment and wrath of God because of their sin. Do you see the love of God here? He would send Jesus to be our Savior so that He, God would not have to pour out His wrath on us. Jesus voluntarily came to save all who would believe.
Jesus lived a sinless life before God and qualified to be our substitute, to die in our place because He had no sin of His own to pay for. He shed His blood, died on the cross, was buried in the tomb and on the third day rose from the grave. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father making intercession for the saints as our High Priest.
This is God’s Gospel. It is perfect. It’s the message of salvation for sinners and glory to God. He is praised and we are saved.
Sinful, fallen man stands ready to try and change the Gospel so that we would be saved our way and receive glory for ourselves.
Please stand for the reading of God’s Word…
Galatians 1:6–10 (ESV)
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
1. The Galatians and Their Golden-Calf-Gospel (1:6-7)
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.
The Apostle Paul uses some very pointed words. He does not offer his thanksgiving or he doesn’t say how he prays for them all the time, what he does is goes straight to the issue.
Paul is astonished that they are so quickly turning away from God to a different gospel. This is like reverse repentance. This is, according to Paul, a repeat of the Golden Calf incident with Israel. He uses very similar words so that they would and we too would make the connection between the Galatians fabricating another Gospel and the Israelites fabricating another god.
In Blake White’s Theological Interpretation of Galatians, he writes, here, Paul uses the words so quickly (takeos) to allude to the Golden Calf Incident and idolatrous Israel. Before Moses had even come down the mountain, Israel was building its own god!
Exodus 32:7–9 (ESV)
7 And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. 8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’ ” 9 And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people.
Like Moses, Paul is amazed at not only did the Galatians turn to away from God to a different gospel but that they did it so quickly. He is addressing them with a similar attitude and similar emotions that God had with the Israelites at this point.
The Israelites had been led out of Egypt by a very strong hand. God had taken them out of slavery, God had shown them many wonders, God had protected them from enemies and provided for their needs and the first chance they had, they were making their own god. They worshipped this idol they had made. They said this is the god who brought us out of Egypt.
Paul compared this to what the Galatians were doing. God has delivered them from their sins and now they are being led astray by another gospel and it happened so quickly.
Why were the Israelites so quick to turn away from God to the Golden Calf? Why were the Galatians so quick to turn from God’s Gospel to another gospel which included works?
Mankind desires all God’s blessings and all God’s glory. If we can make our own plan of salvation and our own god then we have promoted ourselves to the role of God. This is what fallen man does. This is what Satan tried to do…be like the Most High. Mankind seeks to make his own rules which means he devises the plan or he nullifies his sin so that no plan of salvation is needed or he promotes his work ethic to far exceed any shortcomings (which is a better sounding word than sin). He then fashions his own god, either an idol or himself and fallen man receives all the blessings and all the glory in his make-believe world. Then he dies and discovers too late that all his lofty ideas and all his phycological affirmations were all lies and created mental pretend truths.
Here’s the strange part. All along when a lost person is fabricating these illusions of piety and authority, they know down deep in their inner person they are sinners with no hope and they still go headlong into judgement anyway. The god of this world has blinded their minds.
Romans 1:18–23 (ESV)
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
You can make all the idols you want. You can pretend you are not a sinner all you want. You can fabricate any story you want to in order to make youself feel better. You can seek to find loopholes or approach the Bible as a sceptic acting like you are smarter than God. You can seek to point your finger at God and act like you’re more moral than God is. You can line up your idols and religion or no religion or a million other things you rely on but at the end of your life it will be you and God and He will say to you…What did you do with My Son who died for your sin?
God will not commend you for your good works or pat you on the back for anything you think is good. The issue is what of Jesus? Do you trust Christ alone for your salvation? The more you are set on Christ alone the more assurance you have that your salvation is real. The more you rely on Christ the more you are pleasing to God. God would rather have one sinner struggling with his sin who truly loves Jesus than 1000 people seeking to approach Him with their good deeds.
The Galatians’ Golden-Calf-gospel was a distortion of the real Gospel. There are some, Paul writes who are agitating and distorting or corrupting the pure Gospel. These agitators were out for their own glory seeking to make disciples for themselves as Paul warned.
God views this as defection. They were being willingly deceived by another alluring and bewitching gospel, one that included many aspects of the real Gospel but, remember, it also included human additions and human works. Whatever man adds only works to contaminate God’s Gospel.
William Perkins (1558–1602) the Puritan Cambridge theologian writes, If Christ has a partner in the work of justification and salvation, he is no perfect Christ.
2. God’s Gospel is the Only Gospel (1:8-9)
8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
The problem is the world has always been pluralistic. The world has always said that there are multiple ways to God. The problem with Christianity in a pluralistic society is that we are not on board with the world’s take on how one gets to God. Our world claims all roads lead to God and one way is a solid as the next. Where Christianity becomes problematic to our society is when we claim that coming to God is not subjective (any way you want) but objective (only one way).
It was the same in the Roman world of Paul. Rome would allow Jesus to be brought into the mix along with their other deities. The problem was when Christians said no. Jesus Christ is the only way; salvation is by Grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone and all other ways are in error and all other gods are merely idols and dead deities. That was a problem for Rome and that’s a problem for a pluralistic society like ours.
In today’s world, with its cry to celebrate diversity, we who are Christians born again and saved by Christ must stand up and say all other religions are wrong. All other beliefs are in fact demonic. We are not celebrating diversity because the Bible does not celebrate diversity. The bumper sticker that says Coexist is from hell. We can coexist but we cannot accept other religions as viable options and just as good as any other because they are not.
How important is this? Notice what Paul tells us. His language could not be any stronger…
8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.
See how the Gospel is central here in this verse and the preacher is secondary. It does not matter who the preacher is, whether Paul, his missionary team or even an angel, but what is important is that the message preached is accurate. Paul says twice for emphasis that even if it was an angel from heaven that preached a different gospel, this angel should be accursed…literally cursed by God and sent to hell. It doesn’t matter who the preacher is or how well he speaks or how charismatic he is or how famous, what matters is the Gospel message is accurate and true. I once heard a not so famous preacher speaking about more gifted preachers say, they may be able to preach the Gospel better than him but they cannot preach a better Gospel.
I pray we see how important this Gospel of God is. We must all proclaim it and protect it from heresy and from being distorted. There are many churches that distort the Gospel of free grace. We must be very discerning in our society of diversity we can be brainwashed into thinking it’s a bad thing to critique someone else or some other theology but we must protect the truth from being distorted. The sad reality is it is being distorted by others who call themselves preachers and it’s being distorted by groups who call themselves Churches.
Joseph Smith said that the Bible was important but just as important is the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith was adding to the Gospel. May Joseph Smith be accursed. Muhammad claims that the Quran is the word of God may Muhammad be accursed. Charles Taze Russell the founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses tells us his version of the Bible is the only Bible, it differs greatly from the true Bible, may he be accursed. Confucius, His philosophical vision was very simple: human beings were innately good, ‘good’ being defined as understanding the difference between right and wrong, and inclined naturally to choose what is right. This is exactly the opposite of what God teaches us in the Bible. May he be accursed.
What about modern church leaders that preach a different Gospel?
Joel Osteen preaches a false Gospel- He is very affirming but does not preach that people are sinners in need of a Savior. We just need to work harder at being the best we can be.
Joel Osteen should be accursed.
Mother Teresa taught the Gospel was faith plus works. She promoted kindness to others and helping others and these are good things but these things can’t save us. She promoted the works-based antichrist religion of Roman Catholicism her whole life. Mother Teresa should be accursed.
TD Jakes denies the Trinity and teaches modalism. TD Jakes should be accursed.
Andy Stanley denies the authority of the Scriptures. Andy Stanley should be accursed.
Paul may as well have said…if we or Mother Teresa preaches a different Gospel may she be accursed. Do you see how sneaky Satan is? I mean come on; Mother Teresa accursed?
Beloved, there is only one Gospel.
3. Man Pleasers or God Pleasers (1:10)
10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Here is a very good way to diagnose false teachers. Why are they teaching heresy? Why are they speaking contrary to the Bible? Why are they trying to put their twist on God’s truth? They want to please others rather than God.
They want a following. They are making disciples after themselves. They want fame and fortune.
False teachers of a false Gospel in false Churches with false Christians will be very successful. They have the exact right setting for success. They themselves are lost and teach a man centered message that gives people the glory which is what the congregation wants. The false teachers have a level of fame which is what they want. Church grows adding more lost people which is how success is measured today everyone gets what they want, except God is left out.
Here’s what Paul told Timothy. He told him to preach the Word of God at all times and never distort it or change the message even though there is coming a time when a distorted Gospel is more popular than the real Gospel…
2 Timothy 4:1–5 (ESV)
4 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
One of the sins of the Pharisees that Jesus highlighted was that they love the praise of men. Paul loved pleasing God.
I pray that you are not concerned what people think of you but what God thinks. Fear God not man. Seek to learn the true Gospel inside and out from the Bible. Tell others about the one God with one Gospel.
The true Gospel of Christ must be proclaimed and maintained if God is to be glorified and people are to be saved.
Galatians by Peter Barnes
Galatians: A Theological Interpretation by Black White
Ephesians 3:16–19 (ESV)
16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.