I’ve written previously that we were walking through the book of Galatians in Sunday School at my church (Missouri Valley Baptist). I’ve obviously missed getting into this Scripture here since my introduction. Better late than never.
Again, some background on the audience of Paul’s letter.
The church at Galatia is in turmoil. Big-time church conflict between Jewish believers and Gentile believers over adherence to the Law. The Jewish believers are pressuring Gentile believers to undergo circumcision. It’s a big deal for Gentile believers (after all, it’s not a pleasant procedure!), and they’re resisting. The rift is causing major issues.
So they receive Paul’s letter.
He introduces himself to the church once again, lest they have forgotten who he was (not likely):
1Paul, an apostle — sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead — 2and all the brothers with me,
To the churches in Galatia:
3Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
It’s quite an introduction, isn’t it? Would you introduce yourself that way?
Probably not. I know I wouldn’t.
But it sets up what is yet to come.
6I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel — 7which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!
10Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.
There’s conflict in the church… Paul addresses it HEAD ON.
He’s ASTONISHED that people are deserting what they know and turning to a false gospel. He writes that those who are preaching a false gospel should be eternally condemened… they’re fit only for the fires of hell.
And Paul doesn’t care if his message of truth offends. “If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Loads of truth there for us to consider. False gospels. False teachers. Unhealthy doctrine. Messed up priorities.
Here’s the context of the church of Galatia.
People of Jewish decent, now followers of Christ, pressuring Gentile believers to enact every bit of the law. A false gospel. False teachers. Leading people astray.
It’s the ongoing conflict between law and grace. How should believers live their lives?
Sin is a BIG deal. We should avoid it at all costs.
But what saves us?
Faith. Not perfect obedience to the law. Not physical acts. Certainly not circumcision (as was being taught at the time).
Faith. Salvation is by grace alone through faith in Christ.
So how does this apply today?
Well, think about it. Legalism versus grace. Church conflicts. False gospels taught by false prophets.
Christians being lead astray.
I think Paul would write a similar opening to churches today.
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel — which is really no gospel at all.
We’ve got to keep a watchful eye. We’ve got to be faithful to the gospel of Christ.
Simply put… it’s EASY to stray, losing focus on the truth we know. Even as a result of good things.
Caring for the poor. Creation care. Social justice. Being “seeker-sensitive”. Caring about our “witness”.
All of these are good.
But they’re not the entirety of the gospel.
The gospel is the good news of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. It’s a cause worthy of everything we can give.
When we let anything other than truth be our primary focus as believers, we’re treading dangerous ground.
Any other gospel is simply no gospel at all.
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