5th Feb Galatians: A Call To Freedom- No Other Gospel
Key text: Gal 1:1-12
Let’s read together the passage we are focusing on tonight.
1 Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2 and all the brothers[a] who are with me,
To the churches of Galatia:
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
No Other Gospel
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[b] of Christ.
Paul Called by God
11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel.[c] 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
We are starting a rather lengthy new series as we go through the entire book of Galatians. Now, why go through an entire book. Well I think it is good for us as an exercise.
For, If we believe that the Bible is from God then; it is important what it says in its entirety. So we are doing a lengthy series through the entire book of Galatians.
Now why Galatians? Well it together with Romans has been involved in a number of great revival movement throughout history.
If fact, it is stated that during the 18 century where a great revival moment under people like John Wesley, George Whitfield and others. In short this was a great move of God that changed large areas of England and America for good.
One of the great stories of the start of this revival was that of William Holland, who is said to have had impact on the conversion of Wesley. However, the story goes that it was William and Wesley had both started reading through Martin Luther’s commentaries on both Romans and Galatians. Holland recalls that reading though this commentary his heart was suddenly warmed by the love of God and he began going from house to house reading this commentary to anyone who would listen. Wesley was said to have been in one of those readings.
Wesley however, was changed during a reading through Luther’s preface to the book of Romans and recalls the same experience; in his own words; “I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation…”
Both books have at their complete focus the gospel of Jesus Christ; where Romans establishes the reasonable defence of the gospel, Galatians is a book about thinking you know God and the gospel but missing it! But also finding the freedom of the gospel.
In our passage, we have just read, Paul makes the argument that there is only one gospel! Which is the title of the message tonight; no other gospel. This is somewhat contradictory to the message of the world.
The world says that as long as you don’t force your beliefs on others; believe whatever, they are all really just the same thing. You mustn’t be so exclusive; you are being a bigot.
It is like the illustration of the Elephant. Where people will say if 3 blind men come to an elephant will they all communicate the same thing; no; the one who is at the tail will say an elephant is small and thin; the one on the side will say no an elephant is big and flat; the one on the front will say no it has two sharp things (tusks) and a is also long but thick.
However, we know that they are all right but ultimately wrong. People say this about religion; that each religion has a view of God so they are all right.
The problem is that this view assumes that you have more insight than all those religions. In the illustration; we know that the elephant is more than what the 3 blind men say it is because we have the greater insight: the gift of sight to enable us to see it clearly.
So, the worlds claim that we must not be exclusive with our claim is an exclusive claim. They are saying that they exclusively can see more than all the religions combined and that everyone must simply accept their perspective. However, they don’t have a more inclusive; more advanced claim. They have a very narrow and exclusive claim that everyone must be like them because they have greater insight, however, they are just being dishonest with their exclusivity. How can they say they have seen all sides of every religion; no one can claim that. Except maybe one man that I know of who did a deliberate study of all world religions (C. S. Lewis); and he concluded that the true faith was in fact Christianity.
We are being very honest with our exclusive claim, because our God; states, not us, that his claims are exclusive.
So, if there is only one gospel how do I know that I know it? Essentially; how do I know that I am saved. Well, Paul gives us the answer in this passage:
1. I Know Him
I know that I know the gospel because I know Him (being Jesus)
In verse 6 it says;
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you
In most translations, it will say you are deserting Him who called you. The original Greek implies the one who called you. Meaning Jesus Christ.
You see the gospel is not about a set of rules or principles it is about a person. When the Galatian Church had embraced this new truth; which essentially was saying that you must believe in Jesus but you must also follow the law, the Mosaic Law of the Jews.
And Paul is saying here; you knew Him; why are you abandoning Him! Not a principle not rules; but Christ.
What makes Christianity and the gospel unique is that it is about a person!
Go to Buddhism; Buddha never said that he was salvation; he said practice my principles for salvation.
Islam; Mohammed never asked anyone to believe in Him; rather to believe in what he taught; you must build your life on the 5 pillars of Islam.
Jesus is unlike any religion; a man saying come to me! Believe in me; I am the way, the truth and the light!
And then goes as far to say in Matthew 7:23:
Get away from me… I never knew you…
So we know the gospel when we know Him; we have a relationship with Him and there is intimacy.
2. I Know His Power
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you
Paul uses the word kaleō - from which we actually get our English word for call. However, it is not simply a call.
We call for something and it can be hit or miss. Especially when it comes to children and more so when there is TV involved.
However, with God this reality of call is effective. When God speaks, there is action. Jesus didn’t call for there to be light and then there was a negotiation. No; action and call were intrinsically linked.
When we know the gospel when it has impact on us; there is power. This is something we experience! If you have not had an experience of the power of God; a change of some sort. You might not know the gospel. In the words of Wesley; my heart was strangely warmed and I felt I trusted in Christ alone for my salvation.
So I know Him, I know His power and..
3. I Know His Gift
In verse 6 Paul states;
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
Grace here means gift. Undeserved favour; or a favour done without the expectation of return.
We know the gospel because we have received it; we have woken up to its reality. Paul uses an interesting statement in justifying this in verse 7; he says that there are some who are distorting the gospel. The world there translates best as perverse the gospel.
It means to make the opposite. Without an understanding of the gospel we have this idea; I must do right in order to be right. I must act righteous in order to be righteous. Or I must be good so that God accepts me.
When we know the gospel; we know his gift; that while we were in our sin; when we were still sinner; as we were we were gifted with grace through Jesus so that we were loved. And now that we are loved we cannot help but live lives that honour God.
When we have understood the real gospel; we understand that we are saved by grace alone; therefore we can stop shaming ourselves and accept that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ. And that absolute acceptance enables us to follow God through desire rather than obligation.
When I fell in love with my wife; I did not have to learn rules on not to cheat or do things that honour her. I delighted to do this. And because I am a punk of a husband, and then ask what do you want me to do; she will reply I don’t want you to do anything because you have to; just love me!
This is a picture of grace; when we perceive that we are loved eternally and wonderfully by God we no longer obey because we are urged to; we delight to because we love the one who did so much for us who deserved so little.
So I understand the true gospel when I know Him, I Know His power, I know His gift and finally;
4.I Know It Matters
. 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.
Paul makes a great declaration here! Even if angels (or heavenly beings say something other than the message of the Gospel that he brought that angel would be eternally cursed.
That sounds quite strong hey. But when we get the gospel we have the same passion; because we understand the incredible weight of what is being messed around with when people mess around with the gospel.
It is the only power for salvation! I remember the one day Nats and I were chatting about this; and she said you know in my previous church; which she had been a part of for about 12 years; she had never once heard anyone preach the gospel clearly. And she said she became so angry that people had sat under preaching for so many years and had never once been engaged with the truth of the gospel.
And church this is the reality; if we get the gospel we get that it is everything!
So, how do I know that I know the gospel? I know Him intimately; I know His power; I have felt the affect of the power of the gospel in my life, I know His gift; I realise that I am free by the gift of God and finally I know that it matters.
I pray that you would you would know the gospel and it would set you free!