Title: No other Gospel
Text: Galatians 1:6-10
FCF: We are prone to be poor guardians of the gospel.
Prop: There is only one true gospel, so we must keep it pure
[Slide 1] Turn in your bible to Galatians chapter 1. Perhaps last week you felt as though you were drinking from a fire hose as we covered the entirety of the book of Galatians. By comparison, this week will be noticeably lighter on content and may even seem like a sermonette. However, what this sermon lacks in scope it will make up for in priority. Today we will get our first real glimmer into the exact nature of what was going on at the churches in Galatia and really all across the early church as a whole. This little section of scripture we will cover today will resonate well with our study of Jude – proving Paul to be just as zealous for the purity of the gospel as Jude was – if not more so. Jude of course defended the gospel against those who would use the freedom of grace to fulfill their own carnal desires, Paul as we noted last week, is fighting the same battle on a different front. Instead of abusing the grace of God – the judaisers were instead – making it void. Their teachings were to add the mosaic law to Christ in order to be saved. Last week we addressed this quite directly in pointing out that our performance has never and will never please God for the simple fact that we are unable to please Him with our performance. That is why Christ came. He lived under the law, fulfilled the entirety of the law even to the very spirit of it, and then traded that holy life for our wickedness. Faith in this finished work of Christ leaves us free to do anything we wish behind the curtain of Christ’s blood, because no longer are we bound to perform perfectly lest we be destroyed. Now we changed from the inside out by the power of the Holy Spirit to both obey and to do so with the proper motives. So today – Paul leaves the pleasantries of the letter and jumps right to the reason for the letter. Expressing his utter bewilderment at the ease of which the Galatians believers have abandoned their faith. Read with me in verse 6 through 10. I will be reading in the NET today so follow along in your preferred version.
A few weeks ago I had the honor of being a groomsman in a wedding for two former youth groupers of mine. I have to say that it was pretty cool to see two people that I had had the honor of discipling tying the knot. Of course the obligatory responsibilities of being a groomsman in a wedding all fell on my shoulders. The tux rental. The pictures that never seemed to end. And of course… the bachelor party. I have come to learn something as a 31 year old husband and father. Bachelor parties are lame. This will probably be the last one that I am invited to. I’d guess. But the who idea of going to a bachelor and staying up late, eating bad food and playing games until your feet bleed was just not appealing to me at all. I remember liking them once. Now it is just one more thing keeping me from sleeping. Anyway, at this party the opening event was us playing hockey in the parking lot. We had quite the hockey ministry there at Wadhams at one time and it was partly because of the groom and his friends that we had passion for it. So we decided to play a little roller hockey. [slide 2] Now I’ll tell you, back in the day I used to be a pretty decent goalie. Like 4 years ago. As a 31 year old man, strapping those pads on and beginning my stretches, I suddenly realized that my body was not near as limber as I remember it being. As if that wasn’t bad enough, As we began warming up and people were taking shots at the net, I observed that there were some shots going in that I could have prevented… but it would have meant that I would have to try really hard to do so. I mean I would have had to exert some real energy. For the first time in my life as a goalie, well as an athlete I guess, I made the conscious decision to not perform to my best because after all, it was only pick up hockey. I remember wondering if this was what the beginning of old age was. If so… I thought… I am ok with it. Needless to say, I did not do a good job guarding that net. Especially compared to the way I used to. [slide 3 (blank)] Today we will see that the Galatian churches did not do a good job at guarding the gospel. Giving in to ease and insecurity they allowed the gospel to be polluted. We too are prone to being poor guardians of the gospel. I recently heard a song by a Christian hip hop artist and in the lyrics he said “today the only heresy is saying that there’s heresy” and I think he is right. We hesitate to call the pollution of the gospel what it is and in so doing, we pollute the gospel ourselves. The fact of the matter is that there is only 1 true gospel. God has only given us 1 true gospel, and since there is only one – we must fight to keep it pure.
Paul expected the Galatians to do 3 things to keep the gospel pure, all of which they failed at. Today we will look at those three things and see if we are failing too. First, and most obviously, [slide 4] Paul expected them to keep on believing what they had learned. [Slide 5 (verse)]
I.) There is only one real gospel, so keep on believing what you have learned (6)
a. Missing portion? – There is no prayer, no commendation, no slow entry into the meat of the letter. In fact this is Paul’s only letter that such an item is not included. He is anxious to get to what is happening.
b. Turning away so quickly – If we take the dating guess we made last week at around AD 48 then this is probably at most a year - probably mere months after Paul left them for home. In that short window, they were in the process of deserting the truth in favor of legalism.
c. I am shocked – That is why he is shocked. That it took so little time for them to be influenced by these Jewish Christians or Fake Jewish Christians.
d. From the one who called you – God the Father. Their belief in legalism was not a rejection of the grace of Christ, but of the One who called them to that grace. Legalism is about men and what they can do to earn or deserve salvation. However, our Salvation is about God, for God, and by God.
e. By the grace of Christ – The favor God offers by the means or through the vehicle of Faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ.
f. Following a different gospel –It is clear that Paul is saying now that they have abandoned what he had revealed to them as the truth and gone to something polluted. Paul says a different gospel. A different good news. [slide 6] He will elaborate on that in a moment but first let us answer the question why. Why did they abandon the truth?
The Galatians abandoned the truth because it was easy. They wanted to avoid persecution and insure that their gospel was complete. Which is exactly what the Judaizers offered them. How do we see to it that we do not do the same? By understanding and believing the gospel. That, however, is no easy task. Let me illustrate what I am trying to say.
[slide 7] Take the color blue for instance. Many this morning have blue shirts on. Perhaps you have a blue car or saw one on your way here this morning. Perhaps you looked at the sky this morning and noticed the blue color. Maybe you have gone to the lake or river recently and can recall the wonder of the blue water. Observing the color blue is quite simple, is it not? One must simply open their eyes and look.
However, science tells us that it is much more complex than that. We perceive only reflected colors. Thus, blue is not the color of a blueberry. The surface of the blueberry is reflecting the wavelengths that we see as blue and absorbing all the rest. So really the color we see is not the color of the object but instead the color wavelength that the object reflects. So a blueberry is all colors but blue…. in a certain way of thinking.
So when I ask my daughter what color the sky is – and she answers blue – is she right?
Similarly the gospel is both simple and complex. Its simplicity prevents us from adding things to it, and its complexity prevents us from omitting things from it.
[slide 8 (blank)] The gospel is simple:
Christ died for your sin and rose again so you could live a life that pleases God. So then, declare and turn from your wickedness, Believe and depend on Christ’s sinless life and substitutionary death, Agree with God that He is the ruler of your life and you will be made into a new creation.
In this simplicity there is no room for addition. There is no room for completing it – it is complete in an of itself.
The gospel is complex:
Regeneration, Glorification, Justification, sanctification, propitiation, redemption, election, unlimited vicarious atonement, Adoption, Reconciliation, Forgiveness – All these are woven to the doctrine of salvation. Not to mention the Doctrine of Sin and of Man.
The Galatians abandoned the gospel because they felt it was incomplete. They were lacking something. If they had devoted themselves to understanding and believing the gospel, simply and in complexity– perhaps this would not have been the case. They would have known all the gospel entails and by extension all that it does not entail.
They also abandoned the gospel because they felt pressure all around them to conform to a standard that was directly opposed to the gospel. If they understood and believed the gospel, simple and in complexity – perhaps they would have kept on believing regardless of the cost. Because Truth is worth a little pain.
So what will prevent us from abandoning the gospel? Know it in its simplicity and complexity and believe. We have an entire book that from Genesis to Revelation speaks about the unfolding of God’s redemptive action toward man. Right now, in Foundations, we are studying the Mosaic Covenant – a Covenant designed by God to conclusively prove, once and for all, that man is depraved and wicked and has no hope of ever being made right with God – but laced into that Covenant are images and promises pointing toward one who will come and finally free us from this hopelessness and break the power of sin and death and give us life.
The first step to keeping ourselves from abandoning the gospel is to know it backward and forward. And we must know it backward and forward and believe it because if we don’t we will be so easily duped to believe a lie.
And friends this is just the beginning. There is so much more in the revelation of God besides the elementary principles of the gospel, but if you don’t know and believe all there is to know and believe about the gospel, then you can’t move on to anything else.
But simply continuing to believe this revealed truth is not all Paul was expecting of the Galatians. As we saw in Jude, so we will also see here, that there must also be an eradication of all that is not this truth. There is only one true gospel, so as we continue to believe it, [slide 9] we must actively oppose all other fake gospels and their teachers. [slide 10-14 (verses) as they are explained]
II.) There is only one true gospel, so we must actively oppose teachers who twist the gospel (7-9)
a. [slide 10] Not that there is a different gospel – Paul is not indicating that there are several options for good news, which he clarifies in the statement in verses 7. He is saying that the twist these men made was slight enough to appear to still present good news – even though it would lead to their destruction.
b. Accomplished by some who distort the true gospel – Although many commentators and study bible writers seem to balk at declaring the culpability of the people leading the Galatians astray – it seems clear enough that these men were not believers at all but were in fact apostates. They believed what they preached – meaning they could not have been saved. Indeed later in Galatians we will discover clues that indicate that these Judaizers felt as though their gospel was the fuller or more complete gospel than Paul was preaching.
c. [Slide 11] Preach a gospel contrary to the one you have received – The gospel is to be kept pure. All the Judaizers were saying is that you needed to add to your faith works for salvation. It sounds extremely close. Peter in II Peter 1 says something similar – add to your faith - however in Peter’s letter he is not saying to do this to be saved, but to give evidence that you are being saved. The minor distortion for the Judaizer was that you would need faith in Christ, plus something else to be saved.
d. Even if we – Paul and by extension the rest of the witnesses of the sending of this letter. This would encompass many pillars of the early church. His point is that even if I come back to you and want to change something about what I told you was the gospel – DON’T BELIEVE ME! Do you think Paul is passionate about the truth being preserved?
e. [slide 12] Or an Angel from heaven – This is quite interesting of course because one cult of our day, Mormonism or the Church of Latter Day Saints, says that their leader – Joseph Smith – received a vision from an Angel and that angel showed him a book of gold plates that became the Book of Mormon. Paul says that even if you legitimately do have a vision and it isn’t made up. An angel appears to you and tells you a gospel that is different than you have already heard. DON’T BELIEVE IT!
f. [slide 13] Let him be condemned to hell – It is not enough that you do not believe it, but Paul declares that God’s curse is upon any who would do this. In fact, the translation that I read from today says , let them be condemned to hell – which is of course the final result of the curse of God.
g. [Slide 14] As we have said before, we say again – Paul cannot say it enough apparently
h. If anyone is preaching a gospel contrary to the one you have received – Anyone at all – even if they claim to be Christ. DON’T BELIEVE THEM
i. Let him be condemned to hell – They are hellbound.
j. [slide 15] Implied here is the tuning of our heart to God’s. If God will curse these people to hell because they attempt to pollute the gospel – then we ought to be in active agreement with that. Other passages of scripture talk about opposing them and not even bidding them God’s blessing. Again, this is not done to shame or to hurt them. It is done as a necessary step to prevent the pollution of the truth.
So what exactly is our role in all of this. It is clear that God is the one putting a curse on these people. What do we do?
[Slide 16} Kadie just recently found out that she may be on jury duty soon. She has to call every day for the next couple weeks to see if she will be taken in. She is definitely looking forward to it J In honor of that let me illustrate the part we play in the process of dealing with false teachers by turning to the court room.
In a court room there are several groups of people. Well you have the judge, who presides over the proceedings. You have the jury who are responsible to render a verdict. You have the defendant who is being accused of something. You have the defense attorney who is trying to convince the jury that the defendant is innocent. You have the prosecutor who is trying to convince the jury that the defendant is guilty. You have the people in the courtroom observing. You have the clerk who is taking notes, and finally you have the bailiff who is responsible to handle the defendant while the trial is proceeding.
Each person has their own abilities, rights, privileges and limitations in the court of law.
[slide 17 (blank)] Now imagine that these apostates are on trial. The question then is – what role do we play? Well lets walk through that courtroom and see if any of these roles sound like us.
We are not the judge – That is God. We are not the jury, because in God’s courtroom there is no trial by peers. God’s law is judged by God who has no peer. We are not the defendant, that is the apostates. We are not the defense attorney, because in God’s courtroom that would be Christ – but in the case of the apostates, they do not trust in Him alone for their salvation, so He is absent at this trial. We are not the prosecutor, that would be God’s job as well. We are not simple observers to the trial because observers do nothing and it is clearly implied here that we must do something. Obviously we are not the clerk taking notes.
Friends we are the bailiff. We are the one’s delivering over the apostates to the judgment of God.
[Slide 18] We deliver up and devote these apostates to the judicial wrath of God.
How do we do that? Let me first describe what we don’t do. [Slide 19 a-e]
1.) We do not defend them – Anyone – no matter who it is. Your father, daughter, pastor, someone who claims to be Jesus or an actual angel from heaven. Regardless of who it is – if they support a different gospel than that of the bible and believe it and are leading others astray – they must not be excused or defended because we know them or that we love them. That isn’t love for them or anyone else. They are polluting the life changing truth and in so doing are under the wrath of God. The way to authenticate that someone is from God is not who they are, but what they teach.
2.) We do not vote on whether or not to Harbor them – This isn’t a democratic proceeding. We don’t meet to vote on whether or not we should keep them as a member or not. This is far beyond that of membership.
3.) We do not love them as we would another believer – As we learned in Jude, we should not speak softly to them or show them mercy with multiple chances for obedience.
4.) We do not burn them at the stake – The Catholic church got into this habit and although Paul does tell us that hellfire is in their future – we are not the jury or judge remember
So what do we do? [slide 20 a-d]
1.) We do rebuke them – love them as we would an unbeliever – We are to rebuke their teaching and declare to them the true nature of the gospel. In no uncertain terms we are to label them as an apostate and declare that their gospel is heresy.
2.) We do publically reveal who they are – This is not something that is kept secret or hidden, where people wonder why so and so hasn’t attended our church recently. They are publically declared to be an apostate and all believers are advised to not even bid them God’s blessing on their lives.
3.) We do pray for them – We pray that one of two things will happen. Either God will break them of their heresy and that they will turn back to the true gospel, or that God will hinder their heresy rendering their effect on the church of Christ minimal and usher them to judgment quickly.
[slide 21 (blank)] Paul expected the Galatians to adhere to the truths of their faith and deliver false teachers to the judgment of God and finally, [slide 22] he expects them to teach this gospel to others, seeking the approval of God and not man. [slide 23 (verse)]
III.) There is only one true gospel, so we must teach the gospel seeking God’s approval (10)
a. We can infer from this question that the Judaizers accused Paul of attempting to be a politician. They accused him of having one gospel for the Jews – to please the Jews – and one gospel for the Gentiles to please the Gentiles. To the Jews his message was grace plus law and to the Gentiles it was only grace and no law.
b. Paul is asking, based on his VERY strong words in verses 8-9 – Do you think it is true now that this is the case? Do you think that I am just trying to please people or do you think that I am trying to please God?
c. I just told you that the only thing that matters is the gospel message that I presented to you – and anyone who teaches anything else should be cursed and thrown into hell. Do you think I will win favor with man in saying this?
d. If I were still trying to please people – Paul admits that he once was a people pleaser. That he was very zealous once – namely when he was a Pharisee –he fought hard to suppress Christianity and in so doing was attempting to bring glory to himself. We talked about this last week. All man-made religion makes much of human effort. All man-made religion gives glory to man. Paul admits to seeking personal glory for his zealousness in Judaism.
e. However, that is now not the case. Why? He is a slave of Christ’s. Slaves don’t get glory – their masters do. An interesting description here, in a letter to talk about freedom from the law – he now gives this message of slavery. We are never free in the sense that we get to make our own choices. We are either a slave to our flesh – which feels like freedom but really it is slavery to passions we can’t control. Or we are a slave to Christ, which is the only true freedom in that we are changed from the inside out to live the way God designed us to, and we no longer are slaves to our passions.
f. Paul is saying – that preaching this message is anything but people pleasing. In fact, it is quite the opposite.
[slide 24 (blank)] As a slave of Christ, our lives are an expression of worship to Him. We live to bring Him glory. So the message we present must line up with that. We preach this message because we desire God’s approval, not mans. When we do that, it is going to get uncomfortable for us – why? Because men don’t want to hear our message.
I would encourage you to analyze the messages of our modern gospel and see that they have become quite man centric.
God has a plan for your life. God wants what is best for you. God loves you and thinks you are special. God is what is missing in your life.
Now don’t get me wrong – all of this is true. But, it is all also pleasing to man is it not. God has a plan for my life, he loves me, he thinks I am special, and wants to make my life complete – well wonderful – I want all those things too.
The gospel must include the bad news too. We are depraved. Sinners. Under the wrath of God. Unworthy of God’s affection or attention. Wretches condemned to die eternally as the just God pours out his burning anger on us – and is completely just to do so. God may have a plan for you – but that may mean you are shipwrecked, beaten, hunted and killed for your faith. HE wants what is best for you, but that will certainly mean what He thinks is best for you not what you think is best for you. That may mean that you will have to stop listening to the music you listen to and stop watching the movies you watch. It may mean that you will have to stop seeking approval of God from obeying man made laws and traditions. God loves you – but not because you are special – but because He is special. God is what is missing in your life, but you’d never want Him without Him drawing you to Himself.
Now that is a little bit of a bleaker picture isn’t it. Doesn’t quite conform to the touchy feely thing we have made it. God’s love gets better when we understand that we could never earn it. God’s glory is brighter when we see how dark our hearts are. God’s grace is sweeter when we know how wretched and filthy we actually are, and God’s mercy is all the more amazing when we know how different we are from God.
Let us make sure that we do not promote a gospel that is pleasing to man – but pleasing to God.
If we do these things then we will preserve the gospel of Christ – pure and undiluted. Because it is only in this form that it is actually the gospel. All other forms are heresy.
Conclusion: [Slide 25]
1.) Continue to believe what you have learned
a. Discuss the layers of the gospel often with saved and unsaved alike.
b. Know it in its simplest form
c. Know it in its most complex form
d. Depend completely on its full truth
e. In so doing, you will not abandon it – for it is complete and is worth any pain it may cause to believe it.
2.) Purge what is not the gospel
a. Purge it out of your heart first – be sure that you are preaching and teaching truth – and be quick to correct what you teach if you find yourself against a guardrail
b. Purge it from the church - remove and deliver those who oppose the true gospel to the judgment of God.
c. Do so for the sake of the gospel and for the sake of the apostate. Their only hope is being confronted with the possibility that they may be wrong.
3.) Please God - not men
a. [slide 26]The gospel is not pleasing to men. It is a stumbling block to the religious and foolishness to the godless.
i. To the religious the gospel is too broad. It is too easy. It is lacking some extra human effort.
ii. To the godless it is too restrictive and narrow. It forces man to comply to a narrow path that they do not wish to tread.
b. [slide 27] Therefore to please men with our gospel we must do one of two things
i. Build laws in addition to grace – making grace meaningless – legalism
ii. Expand grace’s vehicle of faith to include faith in anything – syncretism – all on one mountain heading toward God – doesn’t matter how you go there.
c. When we change our message to please men – we pollute our message but when we preach God’s message for His glory – we please Him and hearts can truly be made right with God.
[slide 28 (blank) (End)] There is only one true gospel, and the power of that gospel is knit to its purity. When things are added or removed it becomes something else entirely. Let us fight then to keep it pure by believing it, opposing false teaching, and endeavoring to please God alone.