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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

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