Sunday, June 25, 2017

[Matt's Messages] "The People On Your Fridge"

“The People On Your Fridge”
Gospel Roots (1892-2017)
June 25, 2017 :: Acts 1:8

This is our 6th monthly message in our ongoing Gospel Roots sermon series.

We are looking back over the foundational values and practices and principles that undergird and nourish who we are today.

What is the root system that our church has grown up out of?

The first and most foundational gospel root was the gospel itself: Jesus Christ and Him Crucified.

The second was about singing the gospel together. Worship.

The third was about sharing the gospel with lost people. Evangelism.

The fourth was about being a praying church. Devoting ourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

And the fifth message was about building our church on the word of God. Remember the Swedish phrase, “Var står det skrivet?” “Where stands it written?

Well, today, I want to talk about the people on your fridge.

Now, if your family is anything like our family, you have pictures of your family on your refrigerator.

Maybe a sports picture (or 20!) of kids with a baseball bat on their shoulder or in a football or wrestling uniform.

And maybe a picture of everybody in your family at the beach. The cousins.

But you also probably have pictures on your fridge of people who aren’t in your biological family. It’s their family all standing or sitting together and smiling for the camera, and there are words on the picture. They say, “ReachGlobal” or “Miracle Mountain Ranch” or “Word of Life” or “TEAM.”

They are missionaries.

For every one of these Gospel Roots messages, I’ve had some historical artifact in this box. Today it’s the prayer cards that often go up on our fridges.

These are too small for you to see, but there’s a whole bunch of them.

You know why?

Because this church has been incredibly dedicated to world missions for a very very long time.

If they had had fridges back then, this fellow would have been on the fridge of the church family back in 1897.

I took this picture at EFCA One. They had a great big board of historical photos. And I took a picture of his picture. He wasn’t actually there!

Does anybody know who this debonair dude is? He’s got an epic beard that would go great in today’s beard culture.

And it’s not Buffalo Bill Cody.

Anybody know who it is?

This is Frederick Franson.

Born June 1852 and died in August 1908, Frederick Franson was an associate of D.L. Moody and an early leader among the Free Churches and other ethnically Scandinavian denominations.

He founded six missionary agencies including the Scandinavian Alliance Mission.

And in 1897, Frederick Franson visited a little church in Lanse, Pennyslvania.

That was 120 years ago. Our church was only 5 years old.

This is what Bea Johnson wrote in our history book, “In the winter of 1897, there was a spirit of revival in the church, and as a result, many people came to know the Lord as their personal Savior. During that time of revival, a young man by the name of Frederick Franson came to visit the fellowship. Rev. Franson was the founder of TEAM, then known as the Scandinavian Alliance Mission. He was a firm believer that time was short and that the Lord’s return was very near–this conviction spurred him to go to Scandinavian churches to try to recruit men and women for missionary service. No one in this newly organized congregation volunteered for full time missionary work, but the leaders of the church promised Rev. Franson that they would support the Scandinavian Alliance Mission financially until the Lord would return” (“Lanse Evangelical Free Church 1892-1992: A Centennial Celebration).

And we are keeping that promise still today.

Down through the years, we have supported many missionaries with two missions that could claim some descendancy from Franson, TEAM and ReachGlobal.

Bea writes that in three years later in 1900, “contributions to missions totaled $494.29. This was considerable more than the cost of the new church building that had been erected during that year” (Ibid)! I love that!

In 1905, “the church had the privilege of seeing one of its members, Carl Nelson, answer the ‘call’ to become a missionary in China.”

That’s decades before anybody in this building was even born.

If you read the history, missions appears again and again all throughout the decades.

For example, in 1949, the pastor of Lanse Free was a man named Harold Swanson. And Pastor Swanson challenged the church family give at least ten percent of the church budget to missions.

Right now, amazingly, the percentage has grown closer to 25%! Every time you give a dollar, a quarter of that goes out from here to somewhere else to mission support.

And when you throw in things like special offerings to missions projects like Family Bible Week missions project? The percentage is probably more like 30%!

And there have been so many individual missionaries that we have supported.

Some of you are old enough to remember names like David and Gwen Greene and Earl and Angie Miller and David Tader.

I didn’t know them, but I did know these people:

Bob and Joyce Dignan.

The Dignans were with TEAM in Korea. We partnered with them for over 40 years!

Or this sweet lady. Elizabeth Anderson.

Or does anybody know these people?

Tim and Debbie. We began supporting them in 1981 at $100 a month. That’s 36 years! If we had never increased our giving to them, that’s $43,200.

Kim and Jan. Through the years.

They are the same people, but they change, don’t they?!

Here’s some from 1988. Our own home grown missionaries.

John and Becky.

Years later, we would send out some more from our church.

Bruce and Donna.

Here’s some more from the 80's era:

Jim and Kay. They are still ours.

Henoc and his family. They are still ours.

Sent out in the 80's, still serving today.

There are many more than I can list.

And more than I have fridge cards for!

All because this church has been dedicated to world missions for a very very long time.

There have been a LOT of people on our fridges!

Why is that?

It’s because of Acts chapter 1, verse 8. Isn’t it?

Our Lord Jesus was eating with his disciples, after His resurrection[!], and they asked him when He was going to return and set up His kingdom.

And Jesus told them that wasn’t something for them to know.

We don’t know when Jesus will return. We know that He will return! But we aren’t told the times or dates.

And while we wait expectantly, just like Frederick Franson, we are supposed to be busy reaching our world for Jesus Christ.

Jesus calls it “being his witnesses.” Look at verse 8.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Now, there is a lot of things we could say about that verse.

Some people have made it into a strategy for local church outreach. First, you reach your Jerusalem (Lanse), then you reach your Judea (Central Pennsylvania), then you reach your Samaria, the people who are not like you but are right here next to you, and then you reach out to the ends of the earth.

That’s not a bad idea, to think about who is in those categories for us.

But that’s not why Jesus said what’s in Acts 1:8.

He said it because that’s what they were going to do.

This is a promise and a prophecy.

Acts 1:8 is the table of contents for the book of Acts.

Acts 1:8 is exactly what happened!

Chapters 1-7 of Acts are about the gospel in Jerusalem.

In chapter 8, the gospel makes it to Judea and Samaria.

And by chapter 13, there are missionaries named Paul and Barnabas who start taking the gospel to the ends of the earth.

Paul and Barnabas were the guys on the fridge cards of the church at Antioch and the churches in Galatia.

And now the gospel has reached all the way to Central Pennsylvania!

And it’s still going out to the “ends of the earth.”

That’s why we do missions.

Because Jesus told us to!

He said this would happen, and He wants us to be involved.

Because it’s not just a promise, it’s a command.

When he says, “You will be my witnesses...” that means He wants us to do it.

Like when Mom says to clean your room, “You will clean your room.” That’s a prophecy, and it’s also a command.

“You WILL BE my witnesses.”

Being witnesses is not a option for the followers of Jesus Christ.

A witness is someone who gives testimony. A witness is someone who has seen something or experienced something and can tell others about it.

These men in Acts chapter 1 were eye-witnesses of the resurrected Christ!

And you and I are ear-witnesses. We have heard the good news that Jesus is alive, and we need to tell others.

And we’ve all experienced Him at work in our lives.

And we need to tell others.

“You WILL BE my witnesses.”

Jesus also said, “go and make disciples of all nations...” (Matthew 28:19).

He gave the church a Great Commission, marching orders.

And they can’t be fulfilled by our just sitting around.

“You will be my witnesses.”

How are you doing at that?

How are we doing as a church on the whole of sharing the gospel with others?

How are we doing as a church of taking the gospel to those who don’t have it yet?

I don’t know about you, but I need constant encouragement to keep doing it.

I see three big motivators in this passage.

First off, Jesus is alive.

That will make you want to be a witness!

Verse 3 says that “After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive.”

This isn’t a fairy tale. This is history.

A man died and three days later came back from the dead!

That should motivate us to be a witness.

The second motivation is the gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised this gift in verse 4 and told them not to try witnessing until the gift had arrived in Jerusalem.

And then in verse 8, Jesus said the gift of Holy Spirit would empower them.

“[Y]ou will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you...” And that’s exactly what happened on the day of Pentecost.

And that’s how they had the power to go from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria and then to the ends of the earth.

We don’t do this witness thing on our own. We do it in the power of the Holy Spirit of God.

And the third motivator is the return of Christ.

In verse 9, Jesus ascends into heaven. He gives the marching orders and then returns to the Father.

But that’s not the end of the story. Two angels appear and say, “Don’t just stand there. Get busy. Because (v.11) “[t]his same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.'

And you don’t want to be wasting your time while you wait for Him!

The EFCA has always emphasized the return of Christ and how that should motivate us to be busy evangelizing the world.

The resurrection, the Spirit, and the return of Christ empower and motivate us to be Jesus’ witnesses in all the earth.

“You will be my witnesses.”

Three simple points of application today.

#1. GO.

“You will be my witnesses,” and He is Lord, so we better do it.

Now, we already had a message about local evangelism in our community.

Bus ministry, Wild West Day, Wild Game Dinner and all that.

But it’s important to think about how we are doing it today. Who are you inviting to Family Bible Week, for example?

Who are you inviting to the Good News Cruise?

And more importantly, who are you sharing your testimony with these days?

Go to them with the gospel.

But somebody’s got to take that gospel to the ends of the earth!

Not just around here but around the globe.

Go!

I love it that this church has seen it’s members go off into world missions, the Carl Nelsons, the John & Beckys, the Bruce & Donna’s, the Steve & Tirzah’s.

They weren’t with us back then but the Judy Carlsons and the Nancy Wertz’s.

And now Abraham and Jordyn!

I love that. Do you guys have a fridge card yet?

Who else wants to go?

It might be just a short-term trip.

Nesta Kephart went to Haiti back in the day. So did Tom Fisch. Schenley’s been in short term trips.

Our youth group went into the inner city of Brooklyn in 2000 for a week.

We sent Tom to Thailand for 9 months and Katie to China short term.

And in very recent years, we sent whole teams on short term trips:

Serbia in 2012

Mexico in 2014

Pittsburgh in 2015

And Denham Springs in 2017! [They didn’t get their picture taken together!]

I wonder what’s next?!

I also wonder who is the next career missionary we have among us?

Are you called to go?

It could be a young person. It could be an older person.

God calls all kinds of people into missionary service.

Single people. Like Tobi.

Married people. Like Phil and Ruthann.

Families.

Is the Lord calling you to serve Him in missions?

I’ve been praying for 19 years that the Lord would regularly raise up people from within our own church family and launch them into intercultural, international ministry.

Of course, not everybody can go far away. But everybody can....

#2. SEND.

I remember what a missionary speaker once said that made a great impression on me. He said that you only have 3 choice when it came to missions, “Go, Send, or Disobey.”

Because Jesus said, “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” And it takes a TEAM to get them there.

We all work together to make it happen.

Our most recent new missionaries are:

Zeke & Meagan
Darko & Elizabeth
Donnie & Tonya

And Rich and Anne.

You know, we haven’t even met them in person yet.

John and Becky knew them and we skyped with them to interview them.

But you know why we began to be a part of their sending team?

Because of the promise our forefathers made to Frederick Franson!

These folks are members of TEAM.

And we hope to meet them for the first time this Fall.

Thank you for sending them.

When you give your regular gift in the offering, you are automatically involved in sending and supporting these servants of God.

And together, we are taking the gospel to the ends of the earth.

Of course, you don’t have to just send our LEFC missionaries! We’ve got missionaries on our fridge that aren’t a part of the missions ministry here at Lanse Free Church. You’ve met some of them over the years.

You’ve probably got missionaries on your fridge that we don’t have on ours.

That’s how this task gets accomplished!

By everybody not only going to the extent they are called but everybody helping to send missionaries where God is calling them.

What are you doing to be involved in sending?

Maybe you need to talk with Abe and Jordyn about joining their support team?

Last one. I changed it from disobey. Go, Send, and...

#3. PRAY.

Why are these folks on our fridges?

Why are they hung on the wall in the back of the auditorium?

Why are they on the map out in the foyer?

To remind us to pray for them!

This week at EFCA One, I ran into a missionary couple who had been here on our campus for the district conference in 2013.

They are now missionaries in Panama.  John and Bianca.

They had another couple with them that I met this as well, Frank and Silvia.

Wonderful servants of the Lord with ReachGlobal.

You know what they did? They invited me to come to Panama and bring a group if we felt so called.

But they also reached out and handed me these cards to put on my fridge or my filing cabinet and said, “Please pray for us.”

They are on the front lines of missions ministry.

They are being Jesus’ witnesses to the ends of the earth.

And what do they want most from us?  Prayer.

It’s the least we can do. What is your commitment to praying for missionaries?

How do you do it?

What do you need to do more of?

Jesus said, “[Y]ou will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

So we better go, send, and pray.

Let’s do it right now!


***

Previous Messages in This Series:

01. Jesus Christ and Him Crucified
02. Sing!
03. Lost and Found
04. The Church That Prays Together


Saturday, June 24, 2017

Sunday, June 18, 2017

[Matt's Messages] “So the Truth of the Gospel Might Remain With You”

“So the Truth of the Gospel Might Remain With You”
Galatians: The Truth of the Gospel
June 18, 2017 :: Galatians 2:1-10

Our sermon series is called “The Truth of the Gospel” because that is the very thing that was at stake.

So far, we’ve made it through three messages on chapter 1, and what have we seen?

We’ve seen a group of churches who were in extreme danger of losing the truth of the gospel of grace.

And we’ve seen an apostle who has pulled out his strongest words to try to rescue them from this perilous outcome.

Some bad guys have infiltrated the churches in the region of Galatia and have spread  a false teaching that threatens to undo all of the good work of the gospel that Paul and his team had started when they planted those churches.

And these bad guys have apparently been bad-mouthing Paul himself. They have apparently said that Paul gospel was faulty. That it was derived and distorted. Derived from the apostles in Jerusalem and distorted because he was leaving out some important bits about the Law of Moses.

So Paul has been setting the record straight.

We saw last week that he is insisting that his gospel did not come from men. From other humans or even from himself. Look back at chapter 1 verse 11.

“I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ” (vv.11-12).

That’s the main point of this section. Last week, Paul told his story. How he used to try to destroy the church and miraculously, now he was preaching the gospel he once tried to destroy. That’s because Jesus Christ met him on the road to Damascus and changed his direction 180 degrees.

He didn’t get his gospel from some mere mortal. He got his gospel straight from Jesus Christ Himself.

So he didn’t need for his gospel to be confirmed by those who were apostles before him. He didn’t go to Jerusalem. In fact, he went out to Arabia for 3 years.

He did visit Jerusalem once. But only for 15 days and he only met with Peter and James during that time.

He is not dependent and his gospel is not dependent on Jerusalem.

That’s what he is trying to show to the Galatians.

Don’t listen to whatever story these troublemakers are telling you. That’s (in today’s words) “fake news.”

Paul says, “My gospel is straight from Jesus and not dependent on the apostles in Jerusalem.”

Now in today’s text (verses 1-10), he is still making the same point.

But now he’s going to tell us about another visit he made to Jerusalem and this time he really did lay out his gospel and have it compared to the gospel being preached by the apostles in Jerusalem (James, Peter, John).

This was not to submit his gospel to a test to see if it was, in fact, true but to avoid any division between the various apostles on the gospel itself. And while they were having this meeting, there arose an important test-case that confirmed Paul’s gospel and confirmed that Paul’s gospel was the exact same gospel of Peter, James, and John.

And that was the exact same gospel that he had preached to the Galatians and the exact same gospel which he wanted them to stick to.

And it’s the exact same gospel that we believe here today.

The title of our message is taken right out of verse 5 and it’s where we get the title for our series, as well. “So That the Truth of the Gospel Might Remain with You.”

That’s the whole point right there.

That’s the whole shooting match.

Did anybody wake up this morning thankful that a guy who lived in the first century named Titus was never circumcised?

I didn’t think so.

But in a few moments, I hope you are very thankful for that very thing.

That a guy named Titus who lived in the first century, a Gentile guy perhaps of Greek ethnicity, was never circumcised to mark his identification with the God of Jews.

I hope that in a few moments you are very thankful for that very thing.

Because it has a bearing on your life today.

In Galatians chapter 2, Paul tells us about the next time he went to Jerusalem.

The first time, he only stayed 15 days, and a long time had passed.

But now, God sent Paul back to Jerusalem to have another talk with the other apostles about the gospel. Chapter 2, verse 1.

“Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. I went in response to a revelation and set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. But I did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders, for fear that I was running or had run my race in vain.”

Fourteen years later (probably fourteen years later than his conversion on the Damascus Road), Paul is headed back to Jerusalem for another conference with the other apostles. Who goes with him?

Titus (that’s going to be really important) and Barnabas.

Barnabas was his friend and co-missionary. They churches in Galatia know him as Paul’s partner in the gospel. He was a Jew like Paul.

But this other guy Titus was a Greek, that is to say that he was a Gentile, a non-Jew.

And these guys were summoned to Jerusalem by whom?

By the apostles?

Did Peter and James and the home office call Paul in to give an account?

No. Verse 2 says that he went because God told him to.

“I went in response to a revelation...”

Now, it’s we’re not quite certain how this fits in with the chronology of the book of Acts. Many scholars believe that this is another description of the Jerusalem council that we learned about back in Acts chapter 15. And that’s definitely possible.

But I tend to think with many other scholars that this is another account of Paul’s visit to Jerusalem in Acts chapter 11. I think it fits better with all of the details we know.

It could actually be yet another visit that isn’t in Acts. That’s possible, too.

Regardless of how it fits with Acts, Paul, Barnabas and Titus head to Jerusalem, on orders from God to lay out their gospel of grace to those in Jerusalem to make sure that Paul had not been (v.2), “running or had run [his] race in vain."

That does not mean that Paul was worried about his gospel.

He was worried that the there was going to be a split between the good news preached by Peter and the good news he preached which would have meant a divided church, a divided mission, a split right down the middle of the early church.

A contradictory message being promulgated by two different sides. One right and another wrong, and conflict on every side.

That’s the goal of Satan, right there.

And Paul did not want Satan to win.

So, they have a little talk.

And while they’re meeting, there is a disruption. There is an interruption.

And it threatens to divide them for good.

Here’s what happened. Some people wanted Titus to get circumcised.

Shocking, I know.

It’s hard for us to care because we don’t realize what is at stake.

Do you think that Titus should have gotten circumcised or not?  Or did it not matter?

Circumcision, for those of you who don’t know, is not easy to talk about. It is “the act of removing the foreskin of the male genital” and among the Jewish people it “originated in the special covenant God made with Abraham” in the book of Genesis “whereby every male child, whether freeborn Israelite or household slave, would be circumcise don the eighth day after birth as a sign of participation in the chosen people of God” (Timothy George, “Galatians,” pg. 142-143).

It was incredibly important to the Jews.

Titus was not a Jew. Should Titus get circumcised?

Some said “No.” Some said, “Yes.”

And you could see why they’d say, “Yes,” right?

In the Old Testament, if a man were going to identify with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, he should undergo circumcision.

Jesus is the Messiah, promised by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
So if you are going to identify with Him, shouldn’t you go all the way?

Do you see what’s going on?

Paul says, “No way does Titus get circumcised.”

“No way. That would be antithetical to the gospel that I preach.”

This is a big deal.

The gospel Paul preaches is a gospel of grace.

And circumcision added to that gospel becomes a different gospel.

Is circumcision bad? No way.

But added to the finished work of Jesus as a requirement, it becomes bad. Look at verse 3.

“Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. [Titus said, “No way.” And nobody convinced him otherwise.] This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you.”

That was a very important moment in history!

Some false brothers (Wow. What a category that is! Some false brothers) had infiltrated their ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves.

Paul is going to say a lot more about this in chapters 3 and 4.

Freedom in Christ is the theme of Galatians.

And these false brothers were trying to take it away from the church.

They didn’t see it that way. But Paul saw it very clearly.

Here’s the point.

The gospel of grace is Jesus plus nothing.

Faith in Jesus plus nothing that we do. Nothing that we add to it.

The only thing we bring to the table is the sin that needs saving from.

Jesus brings all of the saving work.

And we trust in Him.

But these guys, these false brothers, wanted it to be Jesus (yes) but Jesus PLUS circumcision. Jesus plus the Law. Jesus plus works of the Law.

And that is another gospel!

That’s what it would have meant if they had MADE Titus get circumcised.

If Titus wanted to get circumcised, that’s fine. He can do that.

Timothy, Paul’s other co-worker was half-Greek, half-Jew and he got circumcised to not be a stumbling block to other Jews. But he wanted to.

If Titus was MADE to get circumcised, it would have amounted to another gospel.

Are you glad now that they didn’t back down?

Here’s application point number one of two this morning:

#1. DON’T GIVE IN TO FALSE BROTHERS AND A FALSE GOSPEL.

That’s the whole point of the book of Galatians.

There will be pressure from others to believe a false gospel.

Don’t give in. I love verse 5.

“We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you.”

Oh, isn’t that last part interesting?

They didn’t give in back in Jerusalem so that the gospel might remain with the brothers in Galatia!

And that means that it remains with the brothers in Central Pennsylvania.

Because Paul and Titus did not give in for a moment!

Isn’t that interesting.

What we do with the gospel matters to others.

If we give in on the gospel it will affect others around us.

If I give in on the gospel, it will affect the rest of this church.

If you give in on the gospel, it will affect other people, too.

Don’t give in. Not even for a moment.

To false brothers and false gospel.

Do you have a category for false brothers?

People who call themselves Christians but really are not?

These people may have a great following.

They may be popular.

They may be people you love.

They may be people who have good things to say in other areas of life.

But they have the gospel WRONG. And they are preaching it wrong.

And it affects others.

Don’t allow yourself to be duped by them.

False teaching is real, and it must be countered. It must be defended against.

Our freedom is at stake!  Our freedom from our sins! Our freedom from Satan. Our freedom in Christ.

Now, don’t be hasty to call someone a false brother. But don’t pretend that they don’t exist, either.

There is only one true gospel, and it must be defended at any cost.

Even from people who say, “Jesus is the Messiah.”

Because if they say, “Jesus is the Messiah, but you also have to do this. You also have to add to the basis of your justification.” It’s “‘Jesus Christ and the mass, or Jesus Christ and water baptism, or Jesus Christ and good works, or Jesus Christ and a charismatic experience. [No!] Paul’s argument is that nothing, absolutely nothing, can be mingled with Christ as a ground of our acceptance with God. Our hope is built on nothing less–and nothing more–than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” (Timothy George, “Galatians” pg. 153).

Don't give in to false brothers and a false gospel.

Not even for a moment.

That’s my prayer for Emerysn, Grayson, and Brigan.

That they would grow up knowing this gospel and not turning away from it. Not even for a moment.

“So that the truth of the gospel might remain with you.”

So we know what Paul thought. We know what Barnabas thought. We know what Titus thought.

He thought, “Whew. That was a close one.”

But what did Peter think? What did John think? What did James think?  V.6

“As for those who seemed to be important [the recognized leaders in Jerusalem]–whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance–those men added nothing to my message.”

Literally, “they added nothing to me.”

We had the exact same gospel.

Peter, James, and John agreed that Titus should not be circumcised.

They agreed that the gospel was a gospel of grace from first to last.

They agreed that there was no difference between what Paul preached and what they preached.

They had the exact same gospel.

Notice again how Paul is adamant that his gospel does not depend upon them. He just about says that he doesn’t care about them all!

I don’t think he means that he doesn’t care about them as people. Of course he does. And he wants them to agree.

But he doesn’t care what position they have in the eyes other others. If they have the gospel wrong, they are wrong.

He does not need their approval.

I want to live like that.

I have a hard time living like that.  That’s hard for me.

I like to be liked.
I love to be loved.

I want people to approve of me and my ministry.

Paul wants that and respects these men if they share his gospel.

But he definitely does not live for their approval. And he doesn’t just give his because of their position.

What he cares about is the gospel.

And, the good news is that they totally agreed on the good news! V.7

“On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews. For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles. James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews. All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.”

The good news is that they totally agreed on the good news.

There would be no division in their fellowship. Only a division of labor.

The Jerusalem apostles could clearly see that Paul was called primarily to the Gentiles (literally, to the uncircumcised).  And they could see that Peter was called primarily to the Jews (to those who were circumcised).

But they could also see that they were going to take the exact same gospel to both groups!

The exact same gospel that Paul had preached to the Galatians.

And the exact same gospel that we preach here at Lanse Free Church.

The exact same gospel Paul is urging the Galatians not to abandon.

The exact same gospel that we should protect and defend and cling to today.

Here’s point number two and our last for today.

#2. WORK IN TANDEM WITH TRUE BROTHERS IN THE TRUE GOSPEL.

What a great example there is here!

These men did the careful work of making sure they believed the exact same things about the essentials of the gospel and then they shook hands on it and divided up the work.

You see how there is no competition here?

There is no, Peter versus Paul.

No Wendy’s versus McDonalds.

No our team versus their team.

One gospel team.

“You go after those guys.

We’ll go after these guys.

And if you need anything, holler.”

Now, it doesn’t always work that way.

In fact, we’re going to see how Peter and Paul actually clashed later next time we’re in Galatians together.

But on this day, they were together.

One gospel team.

That’s one of the things I love about being a part of the EFCA.

Tomorrow, I’m going to hop a plane to Austin and represent you at EFCA One.

It’s ONE because there is ONE gospel that we preach in the EFCA.

The exact same gospel.

We are not divided on the gospel. We are together.

But we divide up the work. Some work in missions. Some work in cities.

We do our gospel work here in Central PA.

But we are together.

We work in tandem with truth brothers in the truth gospel.

And of course that goes way beyond the EFCA, as well.

Anyone who believes and is living in accord with true gospel is a true brother, and we are called to work in tandem (not in competition) with them.

And that includes in our ministries of mercy.

I love how Paul ends by saying that after they were sure they preached the same gospel, they also made sure that they were both committed to ministry to the poor.

The gospel of grace when believed, always issues into good works.

It is not based on good works but it always produces good works.

The gospel of grace creates love for others, especially those who need it the most.

“All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.”

Brothers and sisters, let us not give in to false brothers and false gospels, not even for a moment, but where there is the true gospel we have true brothers with whom we form true partnerships to share the exact same gospel with those need it most and serve needy people with the love the true gospel creates in us.

“So that the truth of the gospel might remain with you.”

Messages in this Series

01. To the Churches in Galatia
02. Turning to a Different Gospel
03. Preaching the Faith He Once Tried to Destroy

23 Years



All other things to their destruction draw,

  Only our love hath no decay;

This, no to-morrow hath, nor yesterday;

Running it never runs from us away,

But truly keeps his first, last, everlasting day.

- John Donne, The Anniversary

Saturday, June 17, 2017

"Resisting Gossip" Now Available in Russian! Противостоять сплетням.

Rejoice with me!

The good folks from CLC Belarus have translated our little book into the Russian language and made it available to the Russian-speaking world.

It's so exciting to see it in yet another script and yet another language. I can't hardly wait to hold a copy in my own hands.

May the Lord use Противостоять сплетням to further His kingdom and help followers of Christ to win the war of the wagging tongue.

And here's yet another "first." CLC Belarus has dubbed and subtitled the original trailer into Russian, as well. Thanks to Third Brother Films for creating the short film in the first place and giving CLC permission to translate it across the globe.


Sunday, June 11, 2017

[Matt's Messages] "Preaching the Faith He Once Tried to Destroy”

“Preaching the Faith He Once Tried to Destroy”
Galatians: The Truth of the Gospel
June 11, 2017 :: Galatians 1:11-24

The name of our series is “The Truth of the Gospel” because that was the very thing at stake.

The truth of the gospel.

What was the good news?

Paul had started these churches based on his own understanding of the gospel and some troublemakers had infiltrated the churches in this region and begun to lead the Christians astray.

They were teaching them a different gospel, one which was no gospel at all.

And is that a big deal or a small deal?

It’s a very big deal!

Paul pulls out some of his strongest words to try to stop the spread of this false teaching.

He breaks the glass and pulls the alarm.

He goes so far as to say (v.8), “[If even he Paul] or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one [they had] preached to [them], let him be eternally condemned!”

There is only one true unchanging gospel, good news, that can save sinners.

And we must get it right.

Did you ever hear a message and get it wrong?

“I thought you said, ‘Turn right.’”
“I thought you said, ‘Delete the file.’”
“I thought you said, ‘I love you.’”

“You’re saying that I didn’t get it right?”

“That I believed the wrong thing?”

And that’s just a misunderstanding.

Has anyone ever given you the wrong information on purpose?

And led you astray?

These agitators, these troublemakers, were teaching the churches in Galatia the wrong things about the gospel. And it threatened to destroy them.

That’s why Paul is writing this letter.

The truth of the gospel is at stake.

Paul hasn’t even told us what the false teaching is yet. But he’s already torn into them for swallowing it.

And he’s still not going to directly tackle the false teaching yet in chapter one. Instead, he establishes here, more fully, his credentials to speak to this issue.

Now, it’s easy to get lost in this part of Galatians.

Because Paul is very personal here, and he’s telling his personal story.

Paul loves to tell his story of coming to faith in Jesus Christ.

It shows up first in Acts chapter 9. Do you remember that? When he gets knocked off of his horse in a blinding light and there is the risen Jesus talking to him?

That’s when Luke tells the story. But Paul tells it again in Acts 22 and Acts 26, and he refers to it again and again throughout his letters.

Paul tells his story again here. And it’s really wonderful. Paul has had a major turnaround. He is now “Preaching the Faith He Once Tried to Destroy.”

But...don’t miss the main point that Paul is trying to make here.

Paul is trying to make the point that his gospel, the good news that he is preaching and contending for, is the right one, and it is not man-made.

Look at verse 11.

“I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.”

That’s the main point.

And he’s going to be making that point far into chapter 2. Next week will be part two of Paul making that same point. That his gospel is not something he received from any mere mortal. It’s not something of human origin.

It’s not even something true that he got from the other apostles.

Paul got his gospel straight from Jesus.

I almost titled this sermon, “The Inhuman Gospel.”

But I don’t mean that it’s brutal or cruel. I mean that it’s un-human.

It is divine.

Paul has been making that point ever since verse 1, hasn’t he?

Remember how he started his letter? “Paul, an apostle–sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead.”

Why is Paul making such a big deal out of this?

Well, I think that his opponents were probably attacking him on this point.

They were probably saying something like, “Oh, well, Paul got his gospel in Jerusalem from the other apostles, and he’s, frankly, gotten it wrong. He’s mistaken, and he’s probably made up some of the bits. And he’s missing some key elements of the Law for Christians today. He’s just not quite trustworthy. Nice guy, but his gospel is a little lacking.”

I think that’s why Paul is so strong on this point.

He says (v.12), “I did not receive [the gospel] from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.”

That’s obviously important.

Now, he’s not saying that he never learned anything from any other Christian. Paul tells us in other places that he certainly did learn aspects of the truth from other believers.

But he wasn’t dependent upon them for the gospel of grace.

He got the gospel of grace straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

He got it directly from Jesus Himself.

And for the next several paragraphs, he intends to prove it.

And he starts way back before he was a Christian. V.13

“For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it.”

Funny way to start, isn’t it?

To prove that you have the true gospel, most of us wouldn’t think to start with how much we persecuted the church of God.

But that’s exactly where Paul starts.

Here’s why: It must have been God.

God is the only satisfying explanation for the conversion of Paul.

Because Paul didn’t have any doubts!

Paul wasn’t searching for something to believe in.

He already had something to believe in. And he was believing in it with his whole heart. V.14

“I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers.”

Saul of Tarsus was an up and coming leader in Judaism. He was a zealous Pharisee.

If you looked up “Pharisee” in the dictionary, they had a picture there of Paul. [Not really, but you know what I mean.]

This is what he says about his former way of life in Philippians chapter 3.

“...circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.”

He had no doubts that what he was doing was right.

And what was he doing?

He was trying to destroy the church of Jesus Christ.

He stood there and held the cloaks of those who killed Stephen. And he said, “Yeah. That’s right. That’s good.” He did.

And then he began to throw Christians in jail.

And then he threatened to kill them.

The Bible says that he “was breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples.”

He’s the person they were praying would not find them when they were worshiping.

You know how we pray for the persecuted church?

In your prayer guide, top of page 7.  “Pray for Christians throughout the world that are experiencing persecution for their faith, especially those who are under the threat of militant and extremist [toss in Judaism there]. Pray for faithfulness in their witness, protection from attack, and for God to be glorified.”

Saul of Tarsus was the guy they were praying against when they prayed like that.

“Lord, please stop Saul! Protect us from Saul! If we get caught by Saul please keep us faithful. Don’t let us be killed by Saul, Lord.”

“...how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it...”

But God.

But God had other plans.

God had a plan to change Paul’s direction 180 degrees.

The most unlikely convert would become the greatest missionary. V.15

“But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles...” Stop there in the middle of his thought.

Paul is going to make his point again, but he’s making it by pointing out that it is all God. It’s all God that Paul is a Christian in the first place. And all God that Paul is an apostle, as well.

Look what he says about his conversion. Up till now, it was all what he had done. He had persecuted the church, he had advanced in Judaism, he was zealous for the traditions.

But now it’s all about what God has done. V.15

God set him apart from birth. Ha! Even before Paul knew anything, God had a plan.

And He called him by his grace. ... There’s that word again. Remember what Paul prayed for them in verse 3?  “Grace and peace.”

It’s not what we do. It’s what God has done in Jesus.

It’s FREE!

God set him apart. God called him by His grace. And He also (v.16), “was pleased to reveal His Son in [Paul].”

Now the Greek there could mean, “reveal His Son TO Paul” which He certainly did.

The Risen Jesus appeared to Him!

Or it could mean “reveal His Son THROUGH Paul” which the next phrase totally teaches. “So that I might preach him among the Gentiles.”

But I think it’s translated “in” here because it’s most likely.

And what it means is that God did a work INSIDE of Paul to believe.

God turned on tall of the lights in Paul so that he might see Jesus as the Son of God and God the Son and His own Savior giving Him the gift of salvation through grace and not from anything Paul did on his own.

“God was pleased to reveal his Son in me....”

You see there is no other explanation for Paul’s conversion.

He was going one direction one day and the next day he was going in a completely opposite direction.

And that’s proof that his gospel is not from men!

And Paul says, not only that, but he didn’t, after his conversion, make his way to Jerusalem to get his gospel confirmed and go to the apostolic seminary of Peter, James, and John. V.16

“[But when God had saved me through Jesus] so that I might preaching him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man!”

“...nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus.”

Do you see what he’s saying?

He didn’t get any marching orders from Peter or James or anybody, except Jesus.

He headed out into Arabia, the next door kingdom.

We don’t know anything about that time in his life. It’s not in the book of Acts.

Maybe he studied his Bible for 3 years. Probably he did that and he preached the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles in Arabia.

We don’t know what he did.

But we know what he didn’t do.

He didn’t go to Jerusalem.

He was independent. And his gospel was from God. V.18

“Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days [one day over two weeks]. I saw none of the other apostles–only James, the Lord's brother. I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie.”

Do you see how serious this is?

“Before God,” he says.

Yes, he did go to meet Peter and the apostles. He only met with 2 apostles this time, Peter and James. And they only spent two weeks and a day together. And it was after he had believed in Jesus for three years.

Do you see what he’s saying?

He’s saying that he did not get the gospel from Jerusalem. Not even from these apostles who had the gospel, too!

He got his gospel from Jesus.

I think this time that he’s talk about was the time in Acts 9 when the folks in Jerusalem were afraid to meet with Paul.

They thought it was all just an act.

“He’s just doing that to find out where we are and then he’ll kill us.”

So Barnabas goes with him and makes the introductions.

“No, see, He’s seen Jesus. He’s met Jesus personally. And he’s changed!”

Paul says, “I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie.”

Do you believe him?

Do you think Paul was a liar?

Do you think Paul was crazy?

Or do you think that Paul had met the risen Jesus?

I know that it’s not the resurrection itself, but get into the mind of this man, and you will see copies evidence for Christianity.

Because only God can truly explain what happened to Paul. V.21

“Later I went to Syria and Cilicia. [But I still didn’t hang around Jerusalem and Judea.] I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. [I just wasn’t down there.] They only heard the report: ‘The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.’ And they praised God because of me.”

That’s as far as we’re going to go this week.

Let me draw out some applications from this passage.  I’ve got two major points for our lives today.

#1. BELIEVE IN PAUL’S GOSPEL.

That’s what Paul wants you to do.

That’s Paul’s main point.

He’s telling you his story including all of his various movements those first several years to give you confidence in his telling of the good news of Jesus Christ, in the gospel of grace.

You can trust him.

He didn’t make this stuff up.

And that other stuff? That stuff that those troublemakers are trying to teach you?

That’s not the gospel!

Same message as last week.

Don’t believe another gospel.
Don’t abandon the gospel that you have been taught in Paul’s letters.

This is the right stuff.

It comes from God.

Do you believe that?

Paul is laying this all out for the Galatians to establish his credentials, to establish his bona fides, not to puff himself up, but to just lay out the bare facts.

“I assure you before God that what I am writing to you is no lie.”

Believe Paul’s gospel.

Remember what he said the gospel was in verse 4?

“[Jesus] gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age.”

It’s a gift! Salvation is free. It’s a gift. It is by grace and not by works.

Because Jesus gave Himself for our sins to rescue us.

We don’t have to rescue ourselves!

“I assure you before God that what I am writing to you is no lie.”

Believe Paul’s gospel, and you will be saved.
And don’t depart from Paul’s gospel. Because it’s the only way to be saved.

#2. REJOICE IN PAUL’S TRANSFORMATION.

Here’s why.

Because it means that the gospel came to you and me!

Imagine if verse 16 never happened.

What if God had not revealed His Son in Paul so that Paul might preach Jesus among the Gentiles?

What if the gospel had not come to the Gentiles?

Do you know any Gentiles?

Raise your hand if you are a Gentile!

Praise God for Paul’s transformation.

That “the man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy!”

Where would we be without it?

But even deeper, we rejoice in Paul’s transformation because it shows that Christianity is real and that God is in the business of changing people.

Including the worst people that we know.

Think about this. The next Billy Graham may right now be a member of ISIS.

The next Greg Laurie right now may be a member of Boko Haram.

God is in the business of changing lives!

The person you know who is the most anti-Christian may soon be your brother in Christ and in a short amount of time a pastor or a missionary or an elder or a Sunday School teacher or a Family Bible Week leader.

The gospel changes people.
Grace changes people.
Jesus Christ changes people.

And including you and me.

I mean if God can change Saul of Tarsus to be the apostle Paul of Jesus Christ, then I think he can do something with little old me.

Take heart! Rejoice in the transformation of the apostle Paul.

Because it says that there is hope for the transformation of you and me.

By God’s amazing grace.

“‘The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.’ [Wow!] And they praised God because of [what He’d done in] me.”


***

Messages in this Series

01. To the Churches in Galatia
02. Turning to a Different Gospel

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Sunday, June 04, 2017

[Matt's Messages] "Turning to a Different Gospel"

“Turning to a Different Gospel”
Galatians: The Truth of the Gospel
June 4, 2017 :: Galatians 1:6-10

Our brand new series is called “The Truth of the Gospel” because the Galatians were in danger of losing the truth of the gospel.

The apostle Paul wrote this letter, the oldest letter we have from Paul, to the churches in the region of Galatia out of concern that they were departing from the truth of gospel of grace, the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Last week, we said that Galatians is a tornado warning. Something was going dreadfully wrong in these churches, and Paul broken the glass and set off the alarm system.

We only made it five verses in last week, but we were already confronted with Paul’s credentials as a divinely authorized representative of God Himself, his prayer that these Christians would experience grace and peace, and a reminder of what the gospel is–the good news that Jesus Christ gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age–and an exclamation of unending worship.

That’s just the first five verses.

And, we said this last week, Paul doesn’t take a breath and he doesn’t do what he does in all of his other letters–give thanks for the recipients. He just goes right to work and sounds the warning bell.

Paul uses some of his strongest words in the book of Galatians. These are near the top.

But they are not “over the top.”

Paul uses strong language because the situation warrants it.

These people were in danger of losing the truth of the gospel, and Paul wanted to do whatever it took to show the danger they were in.

When is it appropriate to yell at your kids?

When they can’t see the edge of the cliff they are quickly backing towards, right?

“Stop! 

Stop right now!”

Paul is afraid that these Galatians were headed over the edge.

Look at verse 6. He is just shocked.

“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.”

Paul is amazed. He is shocked. He is scandalized.

He almost can’t believe what has happened.

That is not just rhetoric. That’s how he feels.

He can’t believe that these folks are so quickly deserting God and the gospel.

I mean, he was just there! Paul has very recently planted these churches. He had given them the gospel, got them started and headed back home.

But already, false teachers had crept in and lured them into [title] leaving God and “turning to a different gospel.”

Do you see how serious this is?

Paul is just 6 verses into his letter and he is in full rebuke mode.

Paul sees that these churches are abandoning God (v.6) “deserting the one who called you,” (That’s not Paul, that’s God!) and defecting from the truth of the gospel.

Specifically, the gospel of grace. Did you catch that word in verse 6?

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by [or in] the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel...”

Remember, last week, what Paul wanted for them? What was his prayer and is our prayer for each other every day of this series, “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Grace!

Grace is so good!

Unmerited favor. Blessings that you have not earned.

A gift from God. That’s grace.

And these Galatians are deserting (they are turncoats, they are defecting) from the one who called [them] into “the grace of Christ.”

They are leaving “Graceland” and turning to a different land, a different gospel.

Shocking!

Are you shocked by that?

Why would any one want to leave the grace of Christ?

I have just two points of application this morning. One big major one which you can already tell is the main point of this passage and this entire book, and another smaller point to end on.

And it struck me as I was preparing that both points of application are especially appropriate for our graduates on Graduation Sunday.

They are for all of us, but I can see how they are particularly for them.

So, Johnathan, Jordan, Roye, Jessica, and Noah, listen up.

Here’s point #1.

#1. DON’T TURN TO A DIFFERENT GOSPEL. STICK TO THE ONE TRUE GOSPEL.

If you have hung around this church for any length of time, you know that we are all about the gospel.

Gospel, gospel, gospel.

I hope you’ve heard it week in and week out.

That’s what we are about.

That’s what we’ve been trying to pass on to you for however long you’ve been a part of us.

The gospel.

Gospel means “good news.”

The good news of Jesus Christ and the salvation He won for us through his death and resurrection. The salvation He gives to us as a gift of His grace.

A gift.

Not something we have earned. Not something we have worked for and is due to us.

Not something that is owed to us because of any of our good works or achievements.

Just a gift of God’s grace.

That’s the gospel we’ve been preaching, and it’s the gospel that Paul was preaching.

But these folks were turning away from it to a different gospel.

Now, it doesn’t say here very much about what that different gospel was. We’re going to see more about that in the next few weeks and months. But we’ll learn pretty quickly that it involved adding in our human works to the basis of our justification. This different gospel included the works of the law especially the act of circumcision as a necessary component of the gospel (see 2:3-5, 5:2-6, 6:12-13).

Not just grace. Not just Jesus. Not Christ alone. But something else added in. Something we do.

That’s a different gospel. And it’s totally dangerous. It’s the edge of the cliff.

That’s why Paul starts yelling.

Stop! Don’t turn to a different gospel! Stick to the one true gospel!

Why?

Well, for one (v.7) any other gospel is not really a gospel at all.

That’s not good news!

It’s not good news to say that Jesus’ death was not enough.

That we have to do our bit to help things along.

That we have to take up and take on the Law of Moses upon our backs, as well.

That’s not good news!

That’s “really no gospel at all.”

You see, we’re not talking about mere difference of opinion.

This is not just a debate on some minor issues.

When it’s a minor issue, Paul hardly cares at all.

Remember in the book of Philippians there are some other Christians who are preaching the gospel in competition with Paul’s preaching?

Like they set up a church across town and want to compete for market share. See how many people come to our church instead of yours.

What does Paul say about that. Well, he calls a spade a spade. He doesn’t like it because their motives are bad. But what’s he say?  “Oh well. No big whup! At least they are preaching the gospel. And if they’re doing that, I don’t care.”

How different between Philippians chapter 1 and Galatians chapter 1!!!!

And it’s not because Paul is schizophrenic. It’s because of the gospel.

This is a big deal because it’s a different gospel. V.7

“Evidently some people are throwing you [Galatians] into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.”

That’s what’s going on.

Some folks have moved into the territory and are selling a distorted gospel.

It’s close, but it’s altered. They’ve changed it so that it’s not the same as what Paul preached.

And it’s throwing the Galatians for a loop.

Throwing them into confusion. Troubling them. Disturbing their...peace.

Who are these people?

This paragraph doesn’t say, but we’ll learn more soon. It looks like they are Jews who teach faith in Jesus as Messiah but also teach works of the law as our necessary contribution to our justification.

Whatever they are teaching, it’s a perversion. It’s a perversion of the gospel.

There will be any number of people in the world who will fall into the “some people” category of verse 7 in your life.

Some people.

Friends. Teachers. Professors. People on social media.

Who are trying to sell you a different gospel.

It happens every single day.

People you like. People you trust. People you think should know. Authorities in your life.

Peddling a false gospel. Throwing people into confusion and trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.

And some of the worst are the religious leaders.

The pastors. The elders. The church leaders who have a distorted gospel that they are pushing.

The prosperity preachers on the television.

Johnathan, Jordan, Roye, Jessica, and Noah, be careful whom you listen to.

Because these “some people” are still out there.

They are crafty.

You know false teachers don’t always look like false teachers.

They are friendly. They have big smiles. They are popular with others.

They have smooth words. Their teaching has a veneer of plausibility.

Most of them don’t say, “Hey, I’m from Satan. Believe my false gospel!”

What they say makes sense.

The question is, is it true?

Because this is really important.

Eternal life is on the line.

Look how Paul ups the ante in verse 8.

“But 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!”

Yes, that’s what he said.

He says that if someone preaches a different gospel, let them go to hell.

Let them be anathema. Let them be accursed. Let them be destroyed.

If you are peddling a gospel that is not the one about grace, then what you deserve is eternal condemnation.

And that goes for Paul, too.

Did you catch that? Look at verse 8 again.

“But even if we [Paul and his team] or an angel from heaven [Gabriel, Michael, anybody] should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!”

The point is not who is doing the preaching. The point is what is being preached.

Paul preached the good stuff when he was with them.

If he changes now and preaches something distorted, then he should be damned.

Yes, those are strong words.

But that just shows how important this whole thing is.

Here’s how important Paul thinks it is.

He repeats himself. V.9

“As 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!”

There is only one true gospel.

There is only one way to be saved.

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Peter said, “Salvation is found in no one else [than Jesus], for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Paul said in Ephesians, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

There is only one true gospel, and it is a gospel of grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

And may no one try to change it!

Friends, this is love.

We don’t like it when people talk like this.

But Paul loves the Galatians, and he wants them to understand how important the gospel is.

So he pulls out the strongest words in his toolbox and goes to work.

Don’t turn to a different gospel. It won’t save you.

Don’t graduate from the gospel!

Stick to the one true gospel of grace in Jesus Christ.

What does this mean in practical terms?

Well, it means you’ve got to know the gospel.
And it means that you’ve got to believe the gospel.
And it means you’ve got preserve the gospel.
And it means you’ve got to preach the gospel and share it with others.

Do you know the gospel?

Could you explain the good news about Jesus Christ to someone else?

And get it right?

Have you come to believe the gospel yourself?

Do you have questions about it?

I would love to talk with anyone here about your questions about the gospel.

That’s why I’m here!

You’ve got doubts. You’ve got questions. You’ve got things you’re wondering about.

I am so encouraged by what I’m hearing from our young adults link group.

Johnathan, Jordan, Roye, Jessica, and Noah, you guys ought to be going to that group.

They are studying, Know WHY You Believe.

Last week, the question was, “Is Christianity Rational?”

So many people think at the gospel means kissing your brains goodbye.

No way.

Christianity is for rational people, thinking people.

This week, the discussion is “Is There a God?”

Gotta wrap your mind around that.

The gospel starts with God.

And the point of the gospel is reconciling us back to God!

Through what Jesus did for us on the Cross.

Have you put your faith in Christ and Christ alone?

Stick to the one true gospel.

Don’t let people distort it for you.

Not even Pastor Matt Mitchell.

If I start to get this wrong, don’t listen to me.

Next week will be 19 years that I’ve been the main preacher here at Lanse Free Church. We’re going to begin our 20th year next week. Finishing our second decade.

But if I preach a gospel other than what Paul preached to the Galatians, let me be eternally condemned!

Believe me. I don’t want to be accursed.

And neither do you. Don’t turn to a different gospel. Stick to the one true one.

#2. DON’T TRY TO PLEASE OTHER PEOPLE. STRIVE TO PLEASE THE ONE TRUE GOD.

This is a minor point. It’s not about salvation. But it’s important, nonetheless.

See what Paul says in verse 10?

“Am 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.”

Do you follow his logic?

He doesn’t sound like he’s trying please men with all of his talk of eternal condemnation.

But some people were probably accusing him of playing both sides. Just telling people what they wanted to hear.

When he was with Jews, he talked Jewish and even had his friend Timothy circumcised.

When he was with Gentiles, he didn’t talk that way. He only talked about grace. That’s what they wanted to hear.

But Paul says, “No. I’m the same both places. I don’t tell people what they want to hear. I tell them what they need to hear.

I used to try to please men. You know how? I worked so hard at being a good Jew. I progressed in Judaism like no one’s business.

But I’m not on that merry-go-round any longer. I am not a servant of what other people want. I’m a servant of Christ and Christ alone.”

Do you see his point?

He’s going to say more about that in the next section, but the point is clear.

Paul is a not people pleaser.

He is God-pleaser. At least, he wants to be.

And the same should be true of us today.

Pleasing other people and living for their approval is a dead-end street.

It’s a treadmill with no end.

It’s a big black hole to get sucked into.

It’s slavery.

And it’s so easy to get trapped by it.

How much of our behavior every day is motivated by what people will think about us? How much of what we say and do on social media is?

Johnathan, Jordan, Roye, Jessica, Noah, this is big.

Listen to this.

Don’t live to please other people.

That doesn’t mean ignore them and their preferences, but you can’t be ruled by the opinions of your friends (or anybody else). Don’t live to please them.

Live to love them! But don’t live to please them. Don’t let them control you.

But!  Don’t try to please yourself either.

That’s a dead-end, too.

“Don’t follow your heart!”

“Follow your heart” comes from Disney not from the Bible.

Don’t live to please yourself.

Live to please God.

Live your life to hear Jesus say some day to you, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master.”

And what pleases God most?

Our faith!  “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

You will please God the most by placing your faith and trust in Jesus alone.

And then obedience flows right out of that.

Don’t try to please other people. Strive to please the one true God.


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Messages in this Series

01. To the Churches in Galatia