A different gospel
Galatians 1 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through human agency, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead), 2 and all the brothers who are with me,
To the churches of Galatia:
3 Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our 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.
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 not just another account; but 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, even now I say again: if anyone 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 people, or of God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.
11 For I would have you know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel which was preached by me is not of human invention. 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 way 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 He 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 for fifteen days. 19 But I did not see another one 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 are in Christ; 23 but they only kept hearing, “The man 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 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 not just another account; but 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, even now I say again: if anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! If there was already a distorted gospel being preached in Paul’s day, such a short time after the life, death and resurrection of Christ, even while there were still eyewitnesses living among them, what would he say of the distortions of the gospel that are being preached today? What of those who say that the gospel needs to be updated to align with the thoughts and whims of our society and culture? What would he say of those who embrace immorality and unrighteousness? Surely he would say that they are accursed. In Isaiah 5:20 God says: Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! In Matthew 5:17-19 Jesus says: “Do not presume that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke of a letter shall pass from the Law, until all is accomplished! Therefore, whoever nullifies one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” In Matthew 7:21-23 He says: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; leave Me, you who practice lawlessness.’” It sounds like God and Christ agree that those who teach a different gospel are accursed.
The text says: Am I now seeking the favor of people, or of God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. This is the question and the truth that must be asked and applied to all who preach the gospel, are they seeking the favor and approval of people or God? It is not possible to try to please people and be a bond-servant to Christ. In John 15:18-25 Jesus says: “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 you as 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 persecute you as well; if they followed My word, they will follow yours also. But all these things they will do to you on account of My name, 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. The one 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 this has happened so that the word that is written in their Law will be fulfilled: ‘They hated Me for no reason.’”
John 3:16 sums up the truth of the gospel message: “God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.” John 17-21 sums up the response people have to the truth: “God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him. The one who believes in Him is not judged; the one who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the Light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light, so that his deeds will not be exposed. But the one who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds will be revealed as having been performed in God.” The truth of the gospel requires that those who hear it make a decision about whether or not they will believe and change. It is said that truth sounds like hate to those who hate the truth. That is certainly true of the gospel. A gospel that does not call people to turn from their sin and darkness is not good news at all. It is a lie. In John 10:10 Jesus says: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came so that they would have life, and have it abundantly.” Those who preach a gospel that embraces the very sin that Jesus died to redeem us from are thieves who seek to steal, kill and destroy. They are liars in partnership with the father of lies.
God has not changed His mind about sin, but Jesus died for our sins so that we could change our minds; so that we could believe and have eternal life with Him in heaven and abundant life here on earth.
Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come.
Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.