All of Paul's letters, Galatians particularly, were written to deal with the Jewish false teachers, called Judaizers. These men followed Paul, and the other gospel preachers, around, intent on undermining the gospel.
They undermined the gospel by telling the new converts that though they had trusted Christ, they still had to obey the old Jewish ceremonial laws that pointed to Christ. The argument was not over the moral laws of Moses, for all agreed that they were still binding even under Christ. The argument primarily centered around circumcision. If you were going to be a true child of God, you had to go through the ceremony that made you a Jew, primarily circumcision.
After 70 AD, that argument over the old Jewish ceremonial laws lost its force, for there was no longer a Jewish nation. However, the enemy is no dummy, so he has offered many other ways to God other than through the work of Christ.
Though Galatians was written to deal with the Jewish ceremonial law issue, it is quite applicable for us today, as we see an abundance of gospel plans, which are no gospel, offered, all in the name of Christ and Christianity.
Paul sums up the gospel at the start of the book in just one short verse, 1:4. He gives the two reasons why Christ gave himself:
First, for our sins - He paid our sin debt in our place.
Second, to deliver us from this present evil world. He gave Himself that we might have the power not to walk after the lusts of the flesh as listed in Galatians chapter five. (See also, 1 Pet. 1:17-19, 2:24.)
We will deal much more with v. 4 when we get there.
The False Messages
The false message was basically that the new Christian converts had to continue in the Jewish religious rites if they hoped to be right with God and heir to Abraham's promise. The logical conclusion of that false message was that there remained a Jew/Gentile distinction after Christ.
Paul clearly states that is not the case. The Jew/Gentile distinction is gone. The distinction today is the Saved/Unsaved distinction.
Paul called the addition of any kind of works to faith another gospel, which is not another gospel, that is, a false gospel. He even implied that demonic influence caused the people to depart from the gospel of grace alone. Along with the false gospel came a false distinction between Jews/Israelites and the Gentiles after Christ.
Galatians is probably the strongest book of the 66 in the Bible against false teachers, and their false gospels. The only other passage that might be considered as strong is Deuteronomy 13, where the false teachers were commanded to be put to death, showing what God thinks of them. Galatians shows that any who present a perverted gospel must be removed from any Christian teaching positions.
In our day, however, people don't much care what is preached from the pulpit as long as he draws a crowd, they have an active teen department, and child care is available.
The false teachers showed up wherever Paul had been. Paul preached the gospel that simple faith in Christ made one an heir to God's promises to Abraham; Paul then established public assemblies where the Word of God was to be taught, and then he moved on.
Then the corrupters would soon appear to mix Judaism with Christianity, saying that to be saved and heir to Abraham's promise, one had to follow the old Israelite religions cermonies. Galatians 5:9, 10, sounds like there was only one false teacher, yet he had a great influence.
The false teachers added the Jewish work of circumcision to the grace of God for salvation, 6:13. The teachers were very sincere and convincing, and were able to sway the new converts to their way of thinking.
All they had at the time was the Old Testament, which Paul used very effectively to confront the corrupted gospel.
Paul points out that neither Abraham nor any other person can be saved by anything except the grace of God through faith. Paul points out that though the false teachers appeared as very sincere and zealous ministers of Christ, they were messengers of Satan because they perverted the gospel of Christ.
2 Corinthians 11:13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
No matter how sincere a preacher is, how nice a preacher sounds, and how reasonable his words, if he corrupts the gospel, Paul tells us that he, or she, is a messenger of Satan. There are multitudes of people sitting under Satan's messengers today, believing they are hearing form God. But if the gospel is corrupted, they are hearing from Satan.
Any supposed gospel message that does not clearly present faith alone in Christ alone is not the Jesus Christ as prophesied in the Old Testament.
Paul's was amazed that the people among whom he had worked so hard departed so quickly from the truth of the gospel. He rebuked them 5 times:
1:6, 3:1, 4:10, 11, 4:20, 5:7.
I have certainly found Paul's statement of v. 6 to be true.
First. I spoke with a young lady, and made the gospel as clear as I possibly could, and she made a profession. My wife then asked her what she did. Rather than answering that she had trusted in Christ, she gave one of the standard answers that is all to familiar today: "I asked the Lord into my heart."
Now, she certainly did not hear that from me, for I made it abundantly clear that salvation was only by faith in Christ.
The gospel has been corrupted so badly today, that it seems that people can only hear those messages of Satan, for that is just what they are.
Second. A few weeks ago, Juelwin asked for a little salvation booklet to take to school with him. It seems that he saw one of his track members, a young man, reading his Bible during a study hall. He asked the young man if he was saved.
The young man said, Yes. He had recently asked Jesus to come into his heart at the Oldfields Baptist Church. Juelwin tried to explain the truth to him, and gave him the salvation booklet and asked him to read it.
Preachers who offer no gospel or offer a corrupted gospel are not God's messengers, no matter how pleasing the message might be, nor how much of a following they might have.
1 Corinthians 15:3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
Anything other than that message of trusting in the substitutionary death of Christ, is a false gospel. First, The sinner must understand he is a sinner, and that the wages of sin is death. Second, He must then understand that Christ died for his sins according to the Old Testament, particularly Isaiah 53. Third, He must then, under the drawing of the Spirit of God, place his trust and faith in the payment of Christ for our sins. (Ephesians 1:7, 12, 3:12, Colossians 1:14.)
However, we also know that our sovereign God can and does use even corrupters of his word for his own glory.
Galatians deals with the problem. The problem was that as soon as the people got out from under Paul's influence, they followed another gospel. No matter how sincere or zealous the preachers were, if the message did not line up with the gospel as recorded in the Old Testament, justification by grace through faith in Christ, Paul prayed for a curse to be upon them, 1:7, 8. (See also, 1 Cor. 16:22, Jos. 7:15 - accursed thing.)
There is certainly a lot of preaching today that Paul prayed a curse upon in vv. 7, 8. My experience has been that those offering the false gospel are lost themselves.
Paul establishes his authority to counter the false teachers. And what he says here confronts a great amount of false teaching of our day.
Paul points out that he did not receive his authority from any man, not even from the original Apostles who were in Jerusalem. In fact, in chapter 2:11, he says that he had the authority from God to rebuke even Peter, the lead Apostle. Thus, he clearly has the authority to establish the correct gospel, and call the corrupters of the true gospel messengers of Satan.
Paul was sent directly by Christ. He had been called by Christ, commissioned by Christ and sent by Christ to do the work of the Gospel. Paul's commission, ordination or authority is from Jesus Christ and from God the Father alone. The Judiazers could not make such a claim, nor can the false teachers of our day.
V. 1, God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ. There is no higher authority.
Isaiah 9:6 identifies Christ as The mighty God and The everlasting Father of the Old Testament. I cannot explain the Tri-Un God (the Trinity), and even if I could, you could not understand it. However, by faith we understand that the Father, the Word and The Holy Ghost ... are one. 1 John 5:7.
Galatians 1:1, Raised from the dead... Christ's resurrection did several things:
1. It set apart the Christian religion from
every other religion.
2. It strengthen Paul's claim of authority the risen Christ commissioned and sent him.
3. It confirmed Christ's message and his claim of all power being given to him. Who or what else has the power over death and hell? Revelation 1:18.
4. It confirmed that Christ is God in the flesh.
5. It confirmed Christ's authority to send his disciples into the world to Christianize the nations.
Moreover, the resurrection motivated Paul to speak very harsh words against those who corrupt the gospel.
Grace be to you.
Again, typical of Paul's greeting. Grace is the desire and power to please God:
Philippians 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
Man can do nothing to deserve God working in him. Ephesians 2:8, 9. See Confession chapter 10.
John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. John 6:65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.
God gives his grace, that is, his power unto salvation to whom he will, when he will, and according to his sovereign will.
Sovereignty: The right of God to do as He wishes with His creation. Psalms 50:1, Isaiah 40:15, 1 Timothy 6:15.
God's sovereignty means that there was and is no external influence upon Him, and that He also has the ability to exercise His power and control everything according to His will. Daniel chapter 4 is the clearest presentation of God's sovereignty:
Daniel 4:35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?
Sovereignty in Salvation:
Romans 9:18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom
he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth
This is Sovereign Grace, or the Doctrines of Grace. Sovereign Grace means that God alone, with the advice of NO ONE, decides who to call, and to whom to give his saving grace.
This doctrine of God's sovereign grace is hated by the natural man, but is in total accord with Scripture. All of Romans chapter 9 is extremely clear on this point.
But sovereign grace does not mean that we sit back and "let the good times roll," and God will work it all out. God's freely given grace motivates us to good works, to love one another, to be faithful in church, to do what we can to spread the gospel, to study, pray and to give to support his work. And the list goes on of how God's grace works out in the lives of his people.
Those who have come to Christ will desire to do good works. See all of 1 John, and the Confession chapter 16.)
1 John 29 If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.
God's word is clear: If there is no evidence of that grace at work, there is no Scriptural salvation, for the true gospel in our lives will be lived out in our actions.
Genuine Christianity will produce growth in desiring and doing what is expected of Christians by God's word:
2 Peter 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
Paul's grace be to you is asking God to give his desire and power to them to do his good pleasure.
Galatians 1:3, and peace... He asks for them to have abundant peace with God through Christ Jesus:
Ephesians 2:14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
Christ is our peace. He made our peace with God the Father through his sacrifice on the cross. We now have free access without having to go through the Old Testament commandments as contained in the ordinances. Those ordinances consisted of the mediation sacrifices. Christ's once for all sacrifice gives the redeemed peace with the Father. Hebrews, especially chapters 9 and 10, deals with this issue of peace with the Father.
Ephesians 2:17, You which were afar off are the Gentiles. To them that were nigh refers to the Jews. Jews and Gentiles have been made one nation by the Spirit of God, which is God's new nation of Israel, the Israel of God, Galatians 6:16.
There is no difference, for both Jew and Gentile have equal access to the Father through Christ. Thus, Paul makes it clear that there was no longer any distinction between Jews and Gentiles in his day, for Christ's sacrifice removed that distinction. That distinction was exemplified by the mediation laws of the Old Jewish religion. That destination was not the Ten Commandments, for the whole world was held accountable to them from Adam to the present.
The word Jew can lead to difficulties in the New Testament. In Paul's time, there was still a Jewish blood line traceable to Abraham. The family records of that bloodline were intentionally burned by Rome in 70 AD. There was also a Jewish religion that was not destroyed in 70 AD, though the worship center of that religion was destroyed, the temple. At times, it is difficult to understand which Jew is being discussed, the blood line Jew or the religious Jew. It is the religious Jew that is making all the noise today, for no one can prove he is a blood line Jew today.
Paul tells us that Christ made the Gentiles just as much part of the household of God as the Jews were in the Old Testament. There are only two kingdoms today.
Colossians 1:13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
Galatians 1:4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
We will discuss v. 4 at another time.
February 17, 2008
Rescuing the true Gospel
Galatians is one of my favorite books in the New Testament. Here, Paul deals with two false doctrines.
As you all know by now, these two lies will stir me up quicker than about anything. Galatians is one of my favorite books because Paul confronts both lies head on. He wastes no words in castigating the Galatians for falling victim to these lies. Both of these lies are very are very prevalent today.
It is not certain who first preached the gospel at Galatia, though the book sounds as though it was Paul. There are those to think Paul wrote this epistle in about the years 57-58, which would be only 30-35 years after Christ's death and resurrection.
Nero was the Emperor from 54-68, so a large portion of the New Testament was written in his reign of terrible persecution.
We know from Scripture that both of the lies were convincingly preached by the Judaizers. From the time of the establishment of the Jew's religion after the flood with Abraham, about 2000 BC, the proper worship of God was through the sacrifices established by God for the decedents of Abraham, particularly at the Mountain with Moses.
So for 1500 years before Christ, the Jewish rights and rituals were to be followed in order to be a proper follower of the Lord God. When Christ came, he fulfilled all of those rites and rituals, so they ceased to be part of worshiping the Father.
However, as the new Gospel preachers traveled the known world of the day, there were men who followed them around. These men were called Judaizers. The new preachers preached the Gospel of Free Grace, that is, salvation by the Grace of God Alone through Faith Alone in the finished work of Christ.
Salvation is, said the Gospel preachers, a total work of God drawing the sinner to himself, and that drawing is not due to any good deeds on the part of the sinner.
But the Judaizers clung to the old ways, saying that Grace is fine, but for one to be a true child of God, he had to go through the Jewish ritual to become a Jew. That ritual basically consisted of circumcision.
Hence, they undermined the Gospel message of Free Grace.
So we see the two serious errors here. First, the corruption of the Gospel of Grace, and second, the total misunderstanding concerning a continuation of the Jewish nation, which is quite prevalent today. It is the old Jewish hope as expressed by the Apostles in Acts 1:6 restored. The church in general has been badly duped into thinking there is a legitimate Jewish nation today. the wrong identification of a Jew since Christ.
Let me mention here: this nation does not have a Judao-Christian heritage. Our nation was founded as a distinctly Christian nation, not a Jewish-Christian nation. The only thing the Gospel Church has in common with the Old Testament Jews is the 10 Commandments, and those commandments were made of none effect by the Jewish tradition and teachings of the elders in Christ's day.
We will deal with that heresy at a later time, when we might get to it in the context.
We saw in vv. 1-3, that Paul establishes his authority to deal with the true Gospel as well as deal with the continuation of a Jewish nation and race after Christ.
We discussed an overview of v. 4; now, let us look at it closer.
In this verse, Paul presents the gospel in a very concise form. Let me give four points. Obviously, each point has an abundance of passages to support them, for these four things are the basis of our salvation, as well as the basis of the New Testament:
First, who gave himself for our sins.
The full intention of the Father in sending Christ was to establish his new Kingdom, that is a new kingdom of Israel, by dying for the sins of his people. Isaiah 53. (Mark this cross reference in your Bibles.)
As we saw on WN in John 10:30-33, the charge that led to Christ's death was that he made himself one with God the Father.
Moreover, according to Acts 2:22-24 and 4:27, 28, Christ was not defeated the first time he came. Salvation was not plan B. He came to do the Father's will, which was to die for the sins of his people.
1 Peter 1:20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. (Also, Revelation 13:8.)
We read in Ephesians 1:19-2:26, that Christ established his kingdom, and is even now on his throne in his place of all power and authority over everything, and the redeemed are even now with him by faith.
In Ephesians 5:2 we are told how Christ Gave himself for our sins...
Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
God through Moses, required of his people offerings and sacrifices for sin. The book of Leviticus gives many details of those offerings.
The Second point from Galatians 1:4: that he might deliver us from this present evil world...
Let me give several purposes of Biblical Conversion. These points are not in any particular order:
First, a purpose is to get out into the world, and build Biblical relationships with the unsaved.
John 17:14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
Biblical salvation is not escapism salvation. Biblical salvation does not hide itself away behind closed doors; Christians are not monks, living apart from the world. Rather, it is power to live a godly life in the world.
My brother and sister in law are going back to Brazil with Wycliffe. They are going to the city where Bettie's sister lives, Anapolis, in the state of Goias. They will be working with the Summer Institute of Linguistics, Wycliffe's sister organization outside the USA.
Bettie sent her a note of encouragement about going to that area, which is probably one of the best areas in Brazil, and maybe one of the best areas in the world. It is dry except during the rainy season, and the temperature very moderate. Lows of maybe 65 and highs maybe 80-85.
Being three hours behind us, Darlene called late last night, excited about going to Brazil. The thing she was excited about was that they would have a chance to work among the unsaved, which they have never had the chance to do since they have been with Wycliffe. My brother has always been an electronics technician, so he has primarily been around the base stations keeping up the electronic gear.
She was excited that now part of her responsibilities would be to interact with the local people. She was looking forward to being able to get out past just Christians.
We cannot expect the world to come to us; we must go out among the world.
Second, conversion makes us new creatures in Christ. It gives us new desires, new goals, new priorities, and new powers to live a different life.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
Note here that is the Spirit of God that makes us the new creature. Genuine salvation is called conversion. It is a change in direction, and the sinner is not the one who does the changing. It is the Holy Spirit who gives us the desire and power to change.
Clearly, if one is not a new creation, he does not have Biblical salvation.
Third, Conversion delivers us from the power of sin in this life. The purpose of that deliverance is so we can live unto Christ:
Titus 2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
We are no longer servants of sin, but servants of righteousness:
Romans 6:17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
It is the Spirit of God that does the work.
Fourth, conversion delivers us from the powers of darkness, and into the kingdom of Christ.
Colossians 1:13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
Thus we are no longer subject to the power of the enemy of our souls. We have been freed from that power, and now have the power to serve Christ.
Fifth, conversion delivers us from our vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
1 Peter 1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. 22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: 23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
Notice here that Christ delivers us from the pain and hurt of the past. It puts the past behind us, and allows us to start over again. It is called, being "born again."
Christ's redemption of his people from the power of the world, flesh and the devil enables us to obey the truth of God's word by the power of the indwelling spirit, despite how were brought up and despite of our past.
Peter's statement makes me doubt a great amount of the conversions being offered in our area. Those who claim to be saved continue on in the false traditions of their fathers women preachers, as well as "I go there because I have always gone there," or "My family was the founders of that church." but the church is apostate, or unfaithful to God's Word now. Folks seems to believe that they are responsible to support an apostate church regardless of its evil departure from God's word.
Sixth, conversion delivers us from the fear of men and of death, including the fear of going against our friends and families who support apostate churches.
Hebrews 2:14 ¶ Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
Hebrews 13:6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
The threat of death that at one time silenced our stand for the Lord Jesus has been removed. Even now, multitudes of Christians are being killed by Muslims because they have no fear of death to hinder their stand for Christ, God and godliness.
Bro Joel is working among pagans who kill Christians, yet he has no fear of death.
World magazine, 3/25/06, had an article, Medium and Message. It told how much influence the right kind of Christian radio broadcasting was having for the gospel in the Mohammedan, Muslim, lands.
A lady raised in Lebanon and Saudi Arabis married and moved to the US. She became a Christian. Mrs. Brooks lives in Washington and produces devotional tapes in Arabic that are broadcast across the Middle East.
Mrs. Books says she knows of many Muslims who have become Christians through radio programs, and although their conversions are typically not made public, they usually find fellowship with quiet groups of believers in otherwise restrictive Muslim-dominated countries.
What would we do in such circumstances? I think the figures say that when a Muslim population becomes 30%, they will start causing problems, and the higher the number, the more problems until they start persecuting Christians. Until then, they are very docile.
The Muslims are in a big push to gain followers in the US, being financed, of course, with petrodollars. They and the Catholics are the two fastest growing groups in the US. Both groups offer a religion with no change toward godliness as defined by the Ten Commandments.
Did not the early church meet in secret for fear of the Jews? John 7:13, 19:38, 20:19. At the rate we are financing the Muslims and helping them prosper, how long before they will start serious persecution of the Church?
How about the early Church under Rome until the AD 313 Edict of Milan? It was issued by Constantine after the Milvian Bridge battle, in which he was given a miraculous victory, which he attributed the Christian God. (In This Sign Conquer.)
The "Edict of Milan" (313) declared that the Roman Empire would be neutral with regard to religious worship, officially ending all government-sanctioned persecution, especially of Christianity. The Edict was issued in the names of Constantine the Great, Western tetrarch, and Licinius, the Eastern tetrarch. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edict_of_Milan)
The Edict decreed that Christians were no longer to be persecuted, that is, not brought before judges, and not tortured or killed because they were Christian. The document went further than that: if their land or houses had been taken away, they were to be restored, without the necessity of going to court to get their property back. If new owners objected they were to receive recompense from the government. (http://www.hist.edu/313milan.html)
At what point does common sense develop into fear of man?
Seventh, conversion delivers us from the prospect of hell:
Revelation 20:6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
The first resurrection is to be quickened that is, to be raised from death in sin to newness of life in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. (Colossians 2:13-15.)
Revelation 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
Very few preachers will even mention the everlasting torment of hell that awaits the unconverted, let alone preach on it.
Let me park her a moment. I do not want anyone to think we ignore the doctrine of hell:
Mark 9:43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut
it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than
having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall
be quenched: 44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not
quenched. 45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better
for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast
into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 46 Where
their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 47 And if
thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to
enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes
to be cast into hell fire: 48 Where their worm dieth not, and
the fire is not quenched.
Matthew 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
Luke 16:19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. 25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. 27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: 28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
There is no worse method of torment than burning. It is not uncommon to hear of a person being burned beyond recognition in a car wreck. But that burn is limited. However, hell is described by God's word as a lake of everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angles. Those who remain in their sin without Christ will also find themselves in this eternal burning torment.
Heaven is described to us as simply more than we can think of or hope for, or even imagine. Hell is also described as torment greater than man can describe or imagine.
Considering what hell is, we need to heed Paul's warning:
Philippians 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
Paul tells us that if we have a problem living out the salvation we claim to have, then we need to examine that salvation closely. Work it out with fear and trembling that we might not be saved. If there is little or no desire to be faithful, then we should fear, and check out if we have true salvation, for salvation brings with it a desire to be faithful and to glorify God in all we say and do.
If that desire is missing or can easily be suppressed, then there is no Biblical salvation.
Eighth, Conversion leads to a desire to Christianize the nations, including our own nation.
The Old Testament tithe went to the Levites, and 10% of that went to the priests. The responsibility of the Levites included education in the word of God.
One of the purposes of the tithe today is to finance the preaching of the gospel, whether at home or on a mission field. I realize that many pastors and missionaries misuse the Lord's money, and the Lord will require that of them.
WHAT AM I TRYING TO SAY?
God saves us for a purpose. That purpose is so we can and will serve him. The purpose is so we can obey Matthew 28:19, 20. The purpose is so we can glorify him in all we say and do IN THIS LIFE. The primary purpose is not heaven, though heaven will be the end result.
C.H. Spurgeon put together a Catechism for his people. A Catechism consists of a series of questions with their Biblical answers.
The first question of this Catechism is "What is the chief end of man?" The answer is "Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever." 1 Corinthians 10:31, Psalms 73:25, 26.
One of my wife and my goals in moving to WV is to try to counter false ideas of Christianity, including the false idea is that Christianity consists simply of going to heaven. However, Christianity is first and foremost the responsibility, and the power to live here in the midst of sinners a life that glorifies God in everything we do.
The third point from Galatians 1:4: According to the will...
Hebrews 10:9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do
thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish
Ephesians 1:10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
Christ's purpose in coming to this earth in the flesh was so he could do the will of the Father in dying for his people.
Then, in Galatians 1:5, Paul gives glory to God for what the Lord did for his people.
In vv. 1-4, Paul had clearly defined the gospel and reminded these people of what they had known, understood and accepted. Now he expresses amazement of their departure from that truth, vv. 6-9.
God does move pastors from one area to another, especially when the pastor sees he has done all he can do in an area. He may have spent many years of his life in that work. One of the saddest things for a pastor is to look back on the work he has invested in, and see the people departing from the truths he had taught them.
Bro Weaver was a pastor for years in a church in Georgia. When he saw he could take the people no further, he resigned the church and went into evangelism. However, he does have a church now that meets when he is home.
I asked him one time about what happened to the church he pastored; particularly, what they did with the incorporation. He said they went back to what they were before he took the church, including reincorporated.
How sad it is for a pastor to hear such a report of a work he had invested so much of his life into.
Linden was an Arminian church when I went there. Through teaching the Word, they basically changed to Calvinism. I must thank the Lord that just before my wife died, the Lord sent us two good, strong families. These families had to leave their church on the other end of the county because the families had moved from Arminianism to Calvinism, and the Lord sent them our way. They both moved closer to the Linden Church.
They were with us about 16 or 18 months before I resigned, and moved to VA with Bettie.
However, their influence was strong enough that it kept the church from going back into Arminianism. In fact, the church was without a good pastor up until just a few months ago. The man they finally got also had to leave his previous church because he departed from Arminianism. The Linden church held to the reformed faith for those 5 years until they could get a good man.
They did have a pastor for a time who was a Calvinist, but he was also a mess. He and his first wife had been close to another couple in his church in TN, and they ended up swapping wives through divorce. I think his wife and the other husband were the ones who motivated the divorce. I left the church debt-free, and possessing a large parsonage. I pointed out to them that they had enough to call a man full time, and provide him with a house, but the man they called for a time as pastor did not need the house, so he encouraged them to sell it.
He had a high standard of living, so he had to work a full time job. He went from managing a lumber yard to working at Lows, because of the pay. That job came down to working Sundays or not working at all. He resigned the church so he could work Sundays. By the time he left, they had sold the parsonage.
Though I was saddened to see them have to go so long without a pastor, I was encouraged that they held out for a Reformed, Calvinistic pastor. It showed that my 19 years' effort there was not wasted.
I can imagine how Paul felt when he wrote back to this church. Here were people he had invested a lot of effort in teaching them the truths of the Gospel. But when he departed, the false teachers moved in, and swayed the people from the truths they had been taught and had accepted.
Vv. 1-5, Paul establishes his authority to "preach" to the Galatians.
Notice how he opens this letter. It is not like he does his other letters. He normally opens with a happy and upbeat greeting "I thank God..." However, this letter opens without thanks, but with a distress. He says, "I marvel..."
Even when Paul wrote to the very carnal church at Corinth, he said, "I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; v. 4. The church at Corinth had adultery and incest among them, and they rejoiced in their toleration of that evil. The book of 1 Corinthians contains a scathing rebuke by Paul of their evil.
However, Paul starts his letter to the Galatians with, "I marvel..." Rather than pronounce a blessing upon the Galatians, he pronounces anathema.
With this great contrast, "I thank God" vs "I marvel," we are shown that false teachers who undermine the Gospel of the free grace of God are more devastating to a church than is immorality, though both were under the death penalty in the Old Testament.
6 ¶ I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. 10 ¶ For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. 11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
With his statement in v. 6, Paul declares open warfare against the enemies of the cross: He sounds the attack, and in doing so, he shows us the seriousness of the Judaic controversy; that is, the open gulf between the idea of a continual Jewish religion and the gospel of Christ.
Really, Paul's Jewish controversy also reveals the seriousness of undermining the gospel of the free grace of God in salvation.
Western Christianity has not stood well against the very controversy that Paul was so against. The modern controversy boarders on what Paul confronted in Galatia. The departure from the Christian faith as condemned by Paul here is seen in the Christian acceptance of the Jews' claim to be the chosen people of God, and to be the legitimate heirs to the land of Palestine. Moreover, Christians have accepted the idea of a Judeo-Christian heritage for this nation.
There is a group promoting the modern false idea of Israel called FLAME, Facts and Logic About the Middle East. This group consistently runs adds in national magazines that are read by conservative Christians. Though they do not use the term, the adds call for support for the modern idea of "Christian Zionism."
Though Christians have rejected the Jewish rite of circumcision in order to be part of the congregation of the Lord, many have replaced it with baptism. The New Testament makes it clear that circumcision has nothing to do with being a child of God, yet many have simply replaced circumcision with baptism, with no scriptural justification.
Paul considers those who corrupt the gospel and those who tolerate Judaism enemies of the Cross. From the opening of the two letters, it appears that the enemies of the cross are a more serious danger to the church than was the immorality in 1 Corinthians.
V. 6. I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
Paul uses mild language to express his surprise and amazement that they have in such a short time been led astray from the truth of the Gospel of Christ.
The church here was 5-7 years old, so the problem was not that they quickly removed from the truth after hearing it. The surprise expressed by Paul implies that these people had been well established in the truth, yet were readily led astray from it by those promoting the Jewish heresies.
The problem was their ready acceptance of the false doctrines of those who came among them to corrupt the gospel. He expresses amazement at their willingness to follow the false gospels, and at the rapid spread of this leaven that was introduced.
This is so like the average Christian of our day. They seem to be so easily taken in by any message that undermines the true message of the cross of Christ. It seems also that the enemy of the Cross has been very effective in blinding them to the truth concerning the true Israel and the true Jew.
Over the years, I have marveled at the ease with which people who profess to be sound and knowledgeable Christians fall into false doctrine, and away from the Lord. Though trust in Christ Jesus' finished work is clear from Scripture, and easily understood and accepted under the influence of God's Spirit of Grace, it is easily, quickly and readily undermined by many false gospels.
What is Paul warring against?
First, circumcision. Circumcision from the time of Abraham, identified one as a child of the covenant. Galatians 5:2,3.
Second, weak (no saving power) and beggarly (no spiritual riches) elements... That is, the rites and ceremonies of the Jewish law, which were really no less severe than the pagan customs. 6:12. These people wanted to be in bondage to them again.
Third, days, months, times and years... That is, they were obeying the old Hebrew calender, which was done away with in Christ. Galatians 4:10.
After I had my heart attack, I was recommended to go to an alternative doctor. He did chelation as well as other things. He had been a medical doctor, and grew weary of "practicing medicine"on others, medicine that did not cure anything. He and his nurse, his wife, were both Christians And I have no doubt of their Christianity.
Though it was about 90 minutes from where we were in Linden, my wife and I went down several times a week.
I was quite surprised with their fascination with the Jewish religion and its rights and rituals. In fact, their son played a violin, and I believe his instructor was a Jew. They went to a recital in the Synagogue where their son was playing. They were quite excited over seeing their son with that "beany" on that the Jews ware, and they attended the Saturday meeting periodically.
Even my brother has been fascinated with the modern Jewish rites and rituals, as well as the Hebrew language.
It seems people are today securable to the same lies Paul dealt with: that is, one can be closer to God by following the Old Testament Jewish practices.
The Galatians were fascinated by the Jewish teachers, and accepted their teaching.
Paul is adamant: Seven times in vv. 6-11, he points out there is only one gospel.
He makes it clear that any compromise of the Gospel as he delivered it according to the Old Testament prophecies makes one guilty of sin against God and crimes against humanity.
(We hear about the "prosecution" of various men for "Crimes against humanity," but the corruption of the gospel is the true crime.)
It is amazing how readily sound Christians accepted and promoted that gospel, which is not a gospel.
People are easily led astray. No matter how pious, or holy, firmly attached to a teacher, nor how much love for the truth people might profess to be, they can be easily led astray by fast talking teachers. It is amazingly simple to undermine the truth. People are amazingly willing to accept false doctrine and lies.
I find it very distressing concerning how tenaciously people will cling to false messages once they have accepted them.
These teachers were not only undermining the true gospel, but replacing it with their teaching.
But Paul is strict in his assessment of any compromise of the gospel, v. 7.
V. 7. Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
Notice the wording here. Trouble you... That is, these unnamed false apostles troubled the churches with their doctrines. They raise disputes and controversies, raising doubts and confusing ideas into the congregations.
Galatians' teachers may not have actually been in the pulpits. They could have been circulating among the people, and telling the people that the gospel message Paul had left with them was not enough They needed the Jewish rites and rituals, the holy days and new moons to be pleasing to God. These ideas troubled the people, and undermined the peace they had through the doctrine of free justification by the righteousness of Christ, pardon by his blood, and the atonement by his sacrifice.
How many times have I seen unhappy men circulate among the congregation, sowing doubts in the people's minds. They trouble the people.
Paul clearly speaks that accepting these ideas makes the Gospel no longer the Gospel. He is clear: Any message that fails to clearly present the work of Christ and trust in him and only him, as found in v. 4, is not a gospel. Any message that adds anything to the free grace of God is not the gospel.
Pervert means to distort; turn around; to completely change from one nature, form, or substance, into another; to transform from one thing to another. The truth of the gospel of Grace is changed into a lie containing no salvation.
There are always those who would pervert not only the gospel, but all of the word of God, and they have plenty of help from the enemy of the gospel. If people are willing and lend a listening ear, there are multitudes of false teachers who will gladly lead them astray.
We have see in America many things offered to God's people that will lead them astray. Basically, the false teachers are interested in money, power and fame.
One of the better known perverters of the gospel is Rick Warren, THE PURPOSE DRIVEN ...
He is presenting New Age theology, centered around man, not God. He is as false of a prophet as one can get.
Rick Warren fits perfectly the description of the false teachers Paul preaches against. I cannot express how evil and false his works are. Men like Rick Warren have turned the church into an entertainment center in order to draw people in. They have perverted and corrupted the gospel in order not to offend, and keep people. They have changed the truth of God's word into a lie in order to sell books.
C.H. Spurgeon called these kind of teachers "Profiting Prophets."
It only takes a very slight change of the meaning of a few words to change the message from a saving message to of false assurance. A corrupted gospel message is useless.
Those who subvert the gospel commit the highest crime possible. They torture Christ to make him say something he did not say.
Peter warns us about those who wrest Paul's words from their proper context and Biblical meaning. 2 Peter 3:15, 16.
Wrest means to torture, put on the rack, twist or pervert. It refers to those who torture the Word of God to make it (HIM) say what they want the Word to say.
Note that though the Galatians had believed and accepted the truth, they had allowed the truth to be corrupted. Now the message they passed on was corrupted with no salvation in it.
The context of Paul's words can be illustrated by what my mother did:
When I returned from the service in 1965, I found her holding back-yard bible club classes for the neighborhood children. If I remember right, it was "Child Evangelism" material. We lived in Greenwood IN at that time, about 30-40 minutes from downtown Indianapolis. There is where the church was located that held the training classes for "Child Evangelism."
The result of "Child Evangelism" has been the reduction of the gospel to the supposed child's level. The gospel was seriously compromised by CE when they reduced it to the level where they said it needed to be, so children could understand it.
That level was "Pray, and ask Jesus into your heart." The excuse was that a child cannot understand the gospel of the subsitutionary death of Christ as payment for his sins, so they replaced that with several different versions of "Ask Jesus..." or "Ask God..."
My experience has been the sameI have confronted people, especially pastors and children's workers, about the corrupt doctrine they pass on in their "soul-winning" efforts. When I question them about their own salvation, they have the proper answers, so one can assume they are saved.
However, they have been influenced by the corrupters to change the doctrine they pass on others, so that the ones they are influencing do not get the truth. They know that only trust in Christ will save, and they have been saved accordingly.
But the message they pass on is "Pray this prayer, and you will be saved", or "Turn your life over to God and you will be saved." Or "Profess with your mouth that you believe in Christ, or that you believe that Christ died and rose again, and you will be saved."
Yet there is very little if any instruction about why Christ died, and what the sinner must do as he professes faith in Christ. The sinner must realize not only that Christ died for him, but he must understand that he is trusting in Christ's payment for his sins. The big churches particularly on TV or on the radio readily offer a compromised and incomplete gospel message. Many of those big preachers are multimillionaires.
Note a particularly serious problem I have found has been in dealing with children, young people, or even with adults. The "preacher" knows, understands and has accepted the true gospel, but when he deals with children (and others), he says, "They cannot understand, so I tell them to simply to ask jesus into their hearts. They can understand that." However, there is no salivation in such a false message. Such a false message gives the hearer a false hope that may be very difficult to overcome with the truth in the future.
However, it is obvious that salvation does not depend upon the words one says. However, it certainly does depend upon understanding the true gospel message of the subsitutionary work of Christ, and placing one's trust in that payment for sin. Romans. 10:9-13 tells us that the mouth simply expresses the heart. (Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh.) The heart trusts Christ for salvation, and the verbal confession simply verbalizes the heart action.
Paul says that these men are attempting to pervert the gospel. These men may not have been doing it intentionally, but the result of what they were saying was undermining the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ. They were perverting of the gospel.
Anything that says that we can do some kind of work to be more accepted by the Father is not the gospel. But progressive sanctification is required of God's people in order to have God's blessings, but there is no added work to Christ for acceptance by the Father.
There is only one gospel, and that is the gospel of Grace. Any departure from that, no matter how slight, is not the gospel of Christ. It only gives false assurance, and leads down the broad road to destruction.
Are those saved who do not believe in salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, and in the Security of the Believer? There are very good men of the past who dogmatically say NO, yet many of these men required infant baptism! There will be folks in heaven we did not expect there, and not folks we expected.
This chapter opens with Paul establishing his authority to preach this hard message to the Galatians.
We discussed the three points Paul was standing against where the gospel was being perverted. The three points had to do with the Jewish influence in the early church.
The false teachers had infiltrated the church and were saying that in order for the Gentile converts to be good Christians, they had to:
First, be circumcised. Second, follow the Jewish rites, rituals and ceremonies. Third, follow the old Jewish calender the Jewish new moons, and holy days.
Abraham received the promised covenant-blessings of God: "Follow Me," said the Lord God, "and I will bless you and your seed." (Gen.12:1-4.) The promise was confirmed twenty five years later with circumcision. (Gen. 17.) The Jews reduced the faith of Abraham to simply keeping certain rituals, particularly circumcision, saying that those who were circumcised inherited the covenant. Let me give a very few points from Charles Hodge's commentary on Romans 2:25. Quoting various writers, he says:
It is obvious that the Jews regarded circumcision as in some way securing their salvation. That they did so regard it, may be proved not only from such passages of the New Testament where the sentiment is implied, but also by the direct assertion of their own writers. Such assertions have been gathered in abundance from their works... "Our Rabbins have said, that no circumcised man will see hell." ... "Circumcision saves from hell." ... "God swore to Abraham, that no one who was circumcised should be sent to hell."... "Abraham sits before the gate of hell, and does not allow that any circumcised Israelite should enter there."...
Paul deals thoroughly with the circumcision issue in Galatians 5, but we will not here.
From the very beginning, circumcision, whether natural born or a proselyte to Israel (Gen. 17:12, &c.), did not make one a member of the Israel of God. Circumcision was a 2,000 year old custom in Judaism, and that custom was very difficult to overcome in the new church.
Paul tells them that to even think about allowing the Jewish influence into the church or to exalt the Jews in any way is to pervert the gospel. Salvation is by grace, not by race. It is by being in the line of Christ by faith, not by being in the line of Abraham by the flesh nor being in the line of Judah. Nor is it through circumcision. Nor is it by religion, Judaism, or even "Christianity." It is by faith.
The Gospel Church is now God's chosen people and nation. Yes, historic Hebrews, the literal seed of Abraham can certainly be saved, but it will be through the Gospel of Christ, and they will be made part of the new nation of God, the Gospel Church. Paul makes this fact abundantly clear in Romans 9 and 11.
The promoters of the Jewish false religion are sinners, and Paul pronounced a curse upon them back almost 2,000 years ago.
The false teachers in Paul's day as well as in ours offered a message so close to the truth that it was particularly difficult to separate the truth from their lies. They were swaying the new converts away from simple faith in the finished work of Christ, and back to the old dead Jewish rites and rituals. The false message said that though the new converts had trusted Christ, in order to be a true Christian, they had to go through the ritual to become a Jew, and accept the Jews' religion.
So Paul clearly tells the Galatians that the gospel is faith alone in Christ alone. He then proceeds to identify the true Jew since Christ.
Being a Jew today has nothing to do with race. It is simply the willingness to follow the Jewish religion. In Romans 11, Paul pointed out that the old Jewish nation had been broken off of the root, and the new Jewish grafted in. That is, the gospel church. The breaking off literally took place in 70 AD.
We also saw that no matter how sincere a preacher is, how nice a preacher sounds, and how reasonable his words, if he corrupts the gospel, Paul tells us that he, or she, is a messenger of Satan. There are multitudes of people sitting under Satan's messengers today, believing they are hearing form God. But if the gospel is corrupted, they are hearing from Satan.
Any supposed gospel message that does not clearly present faith alone in Christ alone is not the Jesus Christ as prophesied in the Old Testament. Furthermore, the teachers who teach that the modern Jew is part of God's chosen people apart from complete faith in Christ, are liars.
Galatians 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
Implied here is that the ones who were undermining the gospel were passing themselves off as true messengers of God. They may have been telling the people that though Paul was right in what he said, he did not go far enough.
Galatians 1 may be dealing with the problem of the false charged made against Paul, that he urged the disrespect of the law of Moses, which we will not discuss at this time.
But we will say that when Paul went to Jerusalem, Acts 21:21-26, the elders at Jerusalem feared that his presence would cause a turmoil among the Jews who still held the Jewish rites and rituals in great esteem. The elders at Jerusalem then urged Paul to participate in a Jewish rite to keep the tumult from getting out of hand, which Paul did.
Barnes' sums up that situation:
The sum of the whole matter is this, that when the observance of the Jewish ceremonial law was urged as necessary to justification and acceptance with God, Paul resisted it; when it was demanded that its observance should be enjoined on the Gentiles, he opposed it; in all other cases he made no opposition to it, and was ready himself to comply with it, and willing that others should also.
The false brethren, or troublers, at Galatia may have known about what Paul did at Jerusalem, and were using those facts to persuade this church of the necessity of the rites, based upon what Paul did.
We need to watch what we say and do. Others are watching, and can easily misapply our actions and words, leading others astray. We do not realize the far reaching effects our actions have on others. They are watching.
Paul seems to place the primary blame on the teachers rather than on the people, though the people were individually responsible to follow the truth.
In Galatians 3:1, he calls the people foolish for allowing themselves to be so easily bewitched, or fascinated and led away by some smooth words:
The Galatians were known for being naturally intelligent. Thus, Paul expresses shock in their foolishness in letting themselves be so easily seduced from the simplicity of the gospel by cunning men. They had accepted the simple gospel message as it had been clearly presented to them. So Paul is shocked at how easily these seducers won them away from the truth.
Observe this warning: The enemy never gives up, and he always has a smoother, deceitful talker around to corrupt the word of God. So no matter how appealing or pleasing a teaching looks or sounds, his every teaching must be compared to Scripture.
With Paul's usage of bewitched in the context of teachers corrupting the truth of the gospel, he implies that false teachers are practicing the evil art of witchcraft. There are many "bewitchers" under the name of Christian today.
Would you believe that a conservative Southern
Baptist pastor wrote the best selling hardback book in the world?
Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life has now sold over 25 million
copies. Would you believe that a Charismatic pastor, with no theological
awareness, is one of the most popular television preachers in
modern history? Millions around the world tune in weekly to hear
young Joel Osteen of Houston, Texas, preach to his 40,000-member
congregation in a converted sports arena. Osteen is no literary
slouch either. His latest book, Become a Better Youa follow-up
to his bestseller Your Best Life Nowhad an initial print
run of 3 million copies.
It's obvious that the world is clamoring for a sense of purpose. They want to know why they are here, and what their life should be about. The modern Christian leader skillful in psychobabble can easily tap into this void by presenting a lucid blend of self-help techniques and modified Bible readings. In such a philosophy, the life of Joseph is a lesson for corporate success; Job's plight reveals keys to overcoming depression; and Solomon is the Donald Trump of the Old Testament. Mankind needs a vision, but Christian leaders are addressing this desperation with a man-centered gospel of deplorable content. The message they bring undermines a central thesis to Biblical revelation. (Faith for All of Life, [Chalcedon Report]. March/April, 2008. P. 7)
Those who knowingly present false doctrine will stand in a far greater judgment than those who present false doctrine in sincerity. But the false teachers see that judgment far off in the future, so now money is the name of the game.
The Lord, however, warns us about what and how we hear the word of God, for we will be judged accordingly. Mark 4:24 Luke 8:18,
Galatians 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
Or an angel from heaven... Paul uses the strongest possible illustration that the true gospel had been preached to them. No matter what the rank, character, talent, eloquence or piety of a preacher, only the word of God can place the approval upon him.
Great talents today are being sold to the highest bidder. God does not offer worldly wealth and acclaim for being true to his word, but the enemy does for compromise, "all of these things I will give to you if you will only fall down and worship me." Many have, and they have all the worldly wealth and acclaim they can desire.
There are several religions today that claim to be "Christian" yet are based in what a supposed angel said: Mormonism for one. I have no doubt that the enemy will appear as an angel if he can get a person to compromise or pervert the gospel.
It is not uncommon to hear teachers say that they saw a vision, and are acting according to that vision.
Paul had the same problem with false teachers in Corinth. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15
13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
Seducing, bewitching teachers do not come as roaring lions, but as meek, purring kittens. The appear and sound just like the real thing, but when we look closely in light of God's word, we see that they are full of dead men's bones. Pastors and teachers must learn to examine everything from God's word, and teach their people to do the same.
This warning is very real. No matter how appealing a message might be, nor how perfect the teacher might be, nor how godly the teacher might appear, everything that is said must be compared with God's word.
Paul told these people to examine even what he said according to the true gospel
V. 9, Let him be accursed...
Accursed here is the opposite of the promised blessings such as,
Galatians 6:16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.
Galatians 1:10 ¶ For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
Implied in 2:4-6 is that the false teachers were claiming that they had been sent from a counsel of important men at Jerusalem, and they had the authority to "further explain the gospel," adding Jewish laws and traditions to simple faith in Christ.
In v. 1, Paul established his authority to expose the false teachers who were making the claim of authority. In v. 10, Paul starts expanding his authority to counter the false doctrines with which the people are being influenced.
V. 10, do I now persuade men, or God?
Persuade here means "to make friends of, to win one's favour, gain one's good will, or to seek to win one, strive to please one."
Acts 9 records Saul's conversion, and his name change to Paul. Before his conversion, his goal was to please men, not God. He was one of those who was persecuting the church under authority of a counsel of important men at Jerusalem. Now he is showing he is under no one's authority except the Lord God's.
The false teachers may have been using Paul's past life, either before he was saved or his actions in Jerusalem, Acts 21, against him in order to support what they were now teaching.
Servant of Christ... Paul points out that NOW his goal in life is to please God. He is quite firm If one will be a servant of Christ, he must work at pleasing Christ over men.
Romans 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
The word of God tells us that those who compromise God's word in order to please men are not servants of Christ:
Luke 16:13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
Rather, they are servants of money.
1 John tells us there are many antichrists gone out into the world. These antichrists pervert the gospel in order to gain wealth and fame. These teachers present a compromised word from God, telling the people what the people want to hear. Men like Rick Warren are good examples they are anit-Christ. That is, they are against the Christ, who claimed to be only truth and life. John 14:6.
2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
Rather than being for the Word of God, they are against it.
V. 11, for I certify... Paul uses the strongest language possible to confirm that his calling is of God, as he strengthens his authority to go against the false teachers. His calling is unique, for he learned what he is presenting from Christ himself. He did not even confer with the Apostles in Jerusalem.
Galatians 2:6, implies that the false brethren, 2:4, were very highly respected because of their education, and they expected others to respect them.
Galatians 2:6 But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me:
They were well education and exalted in men's eyes. They were confident they were special, and had obtained in their knowledge. Their doctrine was false, for it undermined the gospel of Christ.
Paul was not at Galatia nor is he now writing under the authority of any group of men, no matter how important those men might consider themselves. He has been and is now under the soul authority of Christ. Paul documentation for his calling cannot be duplicated. (Place a cross reference here in your Bibles to Philippians 3, where Paul expands even more on his qualifications to identify the false teachers, and to call them what they are.)
V. 12, the false teachers in Galatia were probably saying that since Paul was not one of the original Apostles, he was of secondary character, or maybe that he was a "missionary" from those Apostles. He makes it clear that what he preached to them was learned from Christ Jesus himself. His training was even better than the Apostles'.
Though Paul was very highly educated in the schools of men, his theological training came only from Christ and the word of God. This is not to say that theological schools are to be avoided. But it is to say that the word of God must be our primary teacher. Theology schools cannot replace the school with Christ in God's word.
Vv. 13, 14. Paul points out that he was raised in the Jews' religion, proving that he did not receive the Gospel from man. He was brought up in the most strict manner that was opposed to Christ. It was well known that he was so well trained and committed to the Jews' religion, that his change had to be Christ and conversion.
No man could say he was a secret disciple of Christ before his conversion, for his actions proved he was in total opposition against Christ and the gospel. His change from being fully committed to the Jews' religion to being fully committed to the gospel had to be a supernatural change.
These teachers were using every means possible, including lies, to undermine Paul in the eyes of these believers, and to exalt themselves into the office from which they were trying to remove Paul. We know that it is very common for our enemies to twist facts into their favor. Paul reminds the Glatians that they know the truth of the matter, yet he reminds them of that truth. He recounts his conversion in several places: Acts 22, 26 and especially in Philippians 3.
In times past... Conversion brings change. If no change, no conversion.
Profited... That is, his zeal caused him to advance in the Jews' religion above others of that religion. He persecuted the church because he believed it was the right thing to do.
Traditions... The Jews' religion consisted of a very large body of traditions.
V. 15. By his grace.
Paul speaks of God's everlasting predestination, by which he appointed him to be an apostle.
First, Paul was appointed in the everlasting council of God.
Second, he was appointed from his mother's womb.
Third, he was given a specific calling.
Some teach that God foresees that we will trust Christ, so he calls according to that foresight. There is no such thought here in Paul's call. His call was from eternity past.
Vv. 15-17 show us the necessity of preaching the gospel to every creature, as commanded by the Lord. Paul was a well-known blasphemer and murderer. No believer would have thought of trying to preach to him. In fact, they were probably trying to avoid him.
In Acts 9, Ananias feared Paul, and had to have a special commission to go to him.
V. 16. To reveal... We cannot reveal the Son to others until the Son has been revealed in us.
Paul is defending his Apostleship and authority to correct the false teachers.
Immediately I conferred not... Without conferring with anyone in seeking their advice, he followed the Lord's leading into Arabia.
First, when the Lord Jesus calls us to follow him, we should promptly and without question follow him. He calls us to himself through his word and through the preaching of the gospel.
Second, the Lord's call to salvation should not be delayed by seeking counsel of our friends, nor by wishing to put it off to a more convenient time.
Third, when the Lord calls us to himself, we should at once abandon any plan or ambition that might hinder our coming to him and following him. When the Spirit of God speaks, the lost should immediately abandon self and come to Christ.
Acts 24:24 And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. 25 And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee. 26 He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him.
I have spoken with many people who had obvious signs that the Lord was dealing with their hearts, but they turned away. Where are they today, I know not.
V. 17, Arabia was the opposite direction from Jerusalem. Why did he go there, and how long did he stay? We do know that he spent most of this time after he came back from Arabia in Damascus. He probably went to Arabia to preach the gospel. The point is that he did not go to Jerusalem to seek training nor approval from the Apostles.
After his trip into Arabia, he remained with the brethren at Damascus for three years preaching the gospel. Then he went to Jerusalem. Paul makes it clear that his instruction in the true gospel of Christ came not from men, no matter how important those men were in the public eye, but came from God himself.
He says this because it might have been objected that he was indeed called by Christ, but after he was called, he was instructed by the apostles and others. He is saying that neither his authority nor his message is from man, but from God alone, who called him both to salvation and to preach the gospel.
The gospel he is preaching was received from Christ alone, and was not second-hand from the Apostles.
His specific inspiration is evident in the fact that he immediately started preaching the gospel, a message in which he had not been trained by men. Rather, his training came from Christ himself.
He spent three years probably preaching the gospel in Arabia and in Damascus. Though Acts 9:18-26, does not mention Paul's travels into Arabia, it does speak of remaining in Damascus for certain days, and left after the Jews tried to kill him.
Then he went to Jerusalem to see Peter. We are not told why he wanted to see Peter. But Peter was one of the chief Apostles, so Paul probably wanted to become acquainted with him.
The visit was short, only 15 days. Which means that he was not with Peter long enough to be extensively taught the nature of the Christian religion. Again, a reminder to the Galatians that he was not taught by men, but by God.
V. 19. Paul is again emphasizing that he did not make contact with any Apostle enough to be extensively taught the doctrines of Christianity.
Who is this James The Lord's brother? There were several James mentioned in the New Testament. Brother could mean a close relative, such as a cousin. It is unlikely that this James was the James of Matthew 13:55, named as a brother of our Lord.
Paul gives us no details as to why he met James, nor the identity of this James.
V. 20, so important are the facts Paul has stated in vv. 2-19, and so contrary from the lies being circulated about him by the Judaisers, that he calls God to witness his testimony.
From Paul's argument to this point, it is evident that the Judaisers were saying that Paul was a servant of the authorities of the Church at Jerusalem, and that all he knew of the gospel was what he had learned from the Twelve.
He had shown that it was not possible for him to have been trained by the Apostles at Jerusalem. He can say no more to prove his case. He now tells the Galatians they must believe him or those undermining him, and he closes the matter with before God, I lie not.
Vv. 21-24 Paul omitted the events of Acts 9:26-30, where the disciples at Jerusalem at first fear him, and the controversy with the Grecians. His purpose in this opening of his letter to the Galatians is simply to show that he was not a "missionary" sent out from the central church at Jerusalem, but he was called, commissioned and trained by the Lord God himself.
Paul He has separated himself from the Jerusalem church at this time. I would say that a reason he did this was to identify himself as a second witness to the truth of the Gospel. However, the central church was having serious debates over what place the Jewish laws played in the lives of the new Gentile believers. Was Paul separating himself from those heated debates?
He did report to the central church later in defense of the gospel he preached to the Gentiles, and the question of the Jewish laws and the Gentile believers was settled them.
Let me call our attention to this fact as we close the first chapter:
Galatians 1:15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, 16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
Acts 9:15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: (That is, the lost.)
Acts 9:29 And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him.
Paul's call was quite unlike God's call to pastors, leaders or teachers in the congregation of the Lord. Paul's calling as an evangelist was to preach the gospel to the heathen.
On the other hand, the teachers in the congregations of the Lord are to explain the law-word of God so the people can understand it.
Nehemiah 8:1 And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel. 2 And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month. 3 And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law. 4 And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam. 5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up: 6 And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground. 7 Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place. 8 So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.
John 21:15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. 16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
1 Peter 5:2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
David's plea in the 119th Psalm was that he would understand the law, v. 34, the commandments, v. 73, the testimonies, v. 125, 144, and understanding of God's word, v. 169.
God's desire for his people is that they would understand all of his word. The desire of the Christian should be to understand all of God's word.
The conclusion we must reach here is that the teachers' primary responsibility is to explain all of the word of God to God's people. On the other hand, the evangelists' primary responsibility is to present the gospel to the unsaved.
Actually, the modern idea of a renewed literal Jewish nation that "owns" Palestine was introduced by an Anglican, Church of England, named Lewis Way. The movement he started is called "Protestant Zionism." Way heard of a grove of trees which was not to be cut down until the restoration fo the Jews to Palestine, the "Land of Promise." Now interested in Jewish prophecies, he investigated for ways to help with this restoration. He had inherited a large sum of money (in his words, freeing him form the drudgery of work), and when he found a debt ridden society founded by a converted Jew, he paid the debt, and took it over.
He met and influenced Russian Czar Alexander I to submit a memorandum on the condition of the Jews to the European powers assembled at the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1818. His efforts to evangelize Jews had little success. The only convert he really had was a flamboyant Prussian Jew, named Joseph Wolff (1795-1862). He was the son of a Jewish rabbi, who had converted to Catholicism, who then converted to the Church of England. He could play the role of the missionary hero with such great flair that he was considered an adventurer and imposter.
Millennialism was sweeping accrost England. The same prophetic verses that were said to be fulfilled by the French Revolution (1789-1799), were being used to call for the restoration of the Jews to PalestineZionism, and Christ's second advent. Wolff was baptized into Romanism, 1812, and met Pope Pius VII in 1815. Wolff had passed himself off as a "son of Abraham," "a native Hebrew," and the most learned Eastern scholar in the world. He met Henry Drummond, who invited him to the first prophecy conference in 1826. Wolff alone was allowed to give the proper understanding of the prophetic verses studied at that conference.
Accordingly, both Protestant and Political
Zionism became a major plank in the millennial, thanks to the
imposter, Joseph Wolf. It has taken over the dispensational movement
of our day. And in Paul's words, it has perverted the gospel of