Deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel
Galatians 1 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead), 2 and all the brethren 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 so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen.
Perversion of the Gospel
6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing 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 what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!
10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.
11 For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
13 For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it; 14 and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions. 15 But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased 16 to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus.
18 Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him fifteen days. 19 But I did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord’s brother. 20 (Now in what I am writing to you, I assure you before God that I am not lying.) 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea which were in Christ; 23 but only, they kept hearing, “He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they were glorifying God because of me.
In today’s text, Paul makes a statement that many people do not understand or accept today. He says: For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. Prior to that he says: I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! So we see then that preaching the gospel and being a servant of Christ, will not put us in a position of favor with people. If the message; if the gospel we preach is focused on finding favor with people, it is not the gospel of Christ. In Matthew 10:34-36 Jesus says: “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.” The gospel and Christ Himself causes division between people because to follow Him and to serve Him, there needs to be a decision to change; to repent. From the beginning of His ministry, Jesus message was: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 4:17)
Many today, trying to find favor with people, preach a gospel of grace and of love. Indeed grace and love are key elements to the gospel of Christ and the kingdom. Ephesians 2:8-9 says: By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. We could not be saved if it were not for God’s grace toward us. John 3:16 says: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begottenSon, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” God’s love for the world is foundational to the gospel. It is why Jesus came as a man. But the love of God was not demonstrated primarily by the way Jesus lived, as some would say today. Rather, the love of God was demonstrated in that Jesus came to die for our sins. Romans 5:8 says: God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Many today focus on the truth of the gospel that when Jesus was here He associated with sinners and outcasts. They build doctrines and ministries around love and grace, but they forget the other key element of Jesus message. Jesus Himself, when He was questioned about associating with the sinners and outcasts, said: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Luke 5:32) Love and grace were and are God’s motivation, but Jesus death, not His life was His purpose for coming. He came so that people might believe and repent. Love and grace should also be our motivation, they should be foundational elements of the gospel we preach and of the very lives we live. But love and grace without repentance is not the gospel that Jesus Himself preached. It is how He lived, but not why He died.
Jesus purpose was not that He would find favor with people. In John 15:18-25 He tells us: “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’” If we will truly live like Jesus lived, if we will preach the gospel He preached and the gospel Paul spoke of in today’s text, we will not seek the favor or approval of people. Rather, because of love, because of God’s grace, we will call them to repent.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit; May all that I do and all that I say be motivated by love and grace. May my focus be not to find favor with people, but rather to be Your servant and find favor with You. May my love for others be demonstrated in pointing them to the cross, the demonstration of Your love for the world. May I never vary or depart from the gospel of Christ and the kingdom of God. May love be a call to repentance; to believing in the reason Jesus came, not only to live by grace, but for grace to die for our sins. Amen.