I want to thank those who have emailed me and contributed to the discussion on this blog. Here are some initial thoughts to consider.
I recently read the following statement that has challenged my thinking: “Often there is a vast gap in our grasp of the gospel. It subverts our identity as Christians and our understanding of the present work of God. This gap undermines every relationship in our lives, every decision that we make, and every attempt to minister to others. Yet we live blindly, as if the hole does not exist.” Do you realize how often our feeble understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has no impact on our present existence?
May I give you two painful identifications found in Galatians 1 we must make if we are to leave the chasm between us and God created by “another gospel”:
Identify your slippage.
Would you be willing to ask two questions?
1. “Where am I deserting?” (v. 6)
The verb in this verse removed carries with it the idea of desertion and abandonment. These BELIEVERS where not simply “changing religions or churches;” they were deserting the grace of God! Paul reminds us in Hebrews 4:16, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Never forget that it is only by the grace of God that we can grow closer to God. To make matters worse, the verse goes on to say that they were forsaking the very God of grace. Please remember that you cannot abandon the Gospel without abandoning God!
2. “Where am I perverting?” (v.7)
The word translated pervert means to “to turn about, to change into the opposite character”. In other words, the Judaizers had reversed the Gospel and gone back to the Law. This “version” of the Gospel is legalism-it separates! Did you notice what effect this perversion is having on the Galatian Christians? It was troubling them. Grace always leads to peace (Ga. 1:3); but leaving the grace of God leaves an uneasy void gnawing in our souls. While we understand that the Gospel has past deliverance from the penalty of sin and future escape from the presence of sin, we must realize that NOW we have freedom from the POWER of sin.
Identify your source.
Would you be willing to ask two more questions?
1. “Who has my ear?” (vv.8-9)
Are you willing to acknowledge those influencing you toward compromise? Paul identifies the Judaizers by the false gospel they preached. Listen, the test of a man’s ministry is not popularity, signs, and wonders; it is his faithfulness to the Word of God. Without the Bible, we cannot know, believe, or share the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Paul repeats at the end of these two verses the condemnation that follows these compromisers of the Gospel. The word accursed is the word anathema, which means “dedicated to destruction.” You and I will end up at the same destination as those we are following. Christ leads to glory; compromisers lead to destruction.
2. “Who has my heart?” (vv. 10-12)
The second identification of Christ’s adversaries is the false motives that they practice. Apparently the Judaizers have charged Paul with teaching freedom from the Law in order to garner the Gentiles’ favor. In reality, Paul had left being a Pharisee who promoted the Law; it was these false teachers who were pleasing men more than God. Those who are teaching us should be willing to make us uncomfortable when necessary to be faithful to the Word of God. I heard an evangelist who said, “Thirty-three years ago when I trusted Christ, in the pulpit that Sunday morning was not a comedian, ballet teacher, or life coach, but A PREACHER!” Paul ends this discussion by clarifying that his ultimate motivation is Jesus Christ. Paul was not a politician; he was an ambassador. His task was not to “play politics” but to proclaim a message. See the true Gospel is not ultimately about man; it is all about Jesus Christ-trusting Him, speaking of Him, imitating Him, and submitting to Him!
James declares, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded” (Ja. 4:8). Will you draw closer to God by identifying the divisive slippage in doctrine and sources of influence in your life?
May I ask you why would Paul write to believers in Galatia (vv. 1-5) about the Gospel if it is only about the past and future? Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, knew that Christians need to see that the Gospel belongs in their workplace, their kitchen, their school, their bedroom, their backyard, and their van. As one writer put it, “We need to see the way the Gospel makes a connection between what we are doing and what God is doing.” It is imperative that you understand that your life story is being lived out within God’s larger story. You must learn to live TODAY with a Christ-honoring, Gospel mentality.
Listen to this study preached in the pulpit of North Pointe Baptist Church, “1: The Division”.