Another Gospel: Galatians 1 Sermon

 

INTRODUCTION

[TAKEN FROM SERMON CENTRAL] The times that we live in are full of people that have departed from the truth and are actively deceptive with truth. More than ever do we need truth detectors that expose the deceivers and distorters for who they are – liars and antichrists!  Attempts to demolish the Christian message are nothing new.  The newest vehicle that these theological heretics and theological lunatics are traveling in is what I call – “Gospel Replacement”. The traditional gospels in their view can no longer be trusted. So let’s throw out 2000 years of trusted scholarship and depend on the “new gospels” for our understanding of Jesus Christ the Son of God.  This is now being done on a regular basis on college campuses and seminaries across this nation.

     A group in the United States called “The Jesus Seminar” calling for the four gospels we have to be thrown out.

According to the Jesus Seminar and Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code”, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John can no longer be trusted as the historical records of Jesus, instead “The Gospel of Thomas” and others now present authentic scholarship for Christianity!

A lot of people have doubts because of this, and because of the influence of the media.  What millions of Christians believe today is the result of having been fed religious garbage in the name of Jesus!  So let’s get to the real truth right now, the Bible:

Galatians 1:1-4 (NLT) 1 This letter is from Paul, an apostle. I was not appointed by any group of people or any human authority, but by Jesus Christ himself and by God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead.  2 All the brothers and sisters here join me in sending this letter to the churches of Galatia.3 May God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. 4 Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live. 5 All glory to God forever and ever! Amen.

OBSERVATION

The apostle Paul first gives us his direct appointment as an apostle from Christ Jesus.  He then acknowledges the Christian community that is with him in sending out his letter.  He then prays for all the readers of his letter, that they would receive grace and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Then Paul reminds us of the gospel, which is that Jesus gave his life for our sins according to the Father’s plans, in order to rescue us from this evil world we live in.  Because of this, God deserves all the glory.

INTERPRETATION

The opening verses of Galatians establish the authority behind the person and writings of Paul.  He had been sent by Christ to be His agent, representative and ambassador.  This is a point that we accept today.  When you read Galatians this morning, you are hearing Christ’s appointed representative.

You are hearing Christ.  Paul, though, is making the point for a reason.

He was made an apostle by a personal encounter with Jesus.  A group of supposed believers had come to the churches of Galatia, after Paul had been there, and challenged his apostolic authority. To say the least, Paul was greatly disturbed by this news.  He knew exactly who he was and as you read this letter you will notice how moved and agitated he is.

And as we mentioned the Da Vinci Code earlier, we’re going to talk today about how it’s important to really know what you believe, and to let the Bible be your foundation for truth. In other words, we must be careful to filter teachings and books that come into our lives that claim to be spiritual.   These new gnostic gospels are an example of this; the Gospel of Mary, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Judas, and there are several others. We will get into these so-called gospels and why they are dangerous here in a bit.      However, the problem is that these gospels actually add to the Bible because they teach that only the “in” crowd can really understand Jesus, and only the super-sophisticated people can get to heaven.  But that’s not the gospel! Jesus preached a message of grace and that his salvation was available to all people through his blood.

APPLICATION

[1] The gospel we preach is for everybody —- Plainly and simply, the Gospel is Jesus Christ and him crucified. Plain put, the Gospel is that Christ, an innocent man, died a criminal’s death on a Roman cross, for my crimes against God, and yours.  The Gospel is all about Christ, both his active and his passive obedience to the will of God.  In other words, he took care of the guilt of sin and perfectly fulfilled the demands of righteousness. Christ took care of any sins we will ever commit, and then he took care of living a life of sinlessness that no human being could ever live after Adam and Eve ate the fruit.  AND! On top of all this, Christ promises to physically resurrect us and allow us to live, forever.  So the Bible talks about a lot of topics as you have heard, but the point is that all of them are accessible….[NLT Translation, Word on the Street, $20 Life App Commentaries, Life Application Study Bibles]. There are enough Bible study resources out there that everybody can get it.   Again, the Gospel we preach is for everybody, not like the “Gnostic Gospels,” written so that only people with special knowledge can really understand God.

TRANSITION

Ok let’s summarize what we’ve learned before we move on.  We see that Paul introduced himself as an apostle in these first few verses, and then he gave a shout out to the community of believers who were sending their love and endorsement along with this letter.  So even though he got his calling and assignment straight from the Lord, he was still in community, communication and accountability with other believers.  lk[pojiugHe then reminds us of the kind of message he is preaching in verses 3-4, and even includes a prayer in verse 3:3 May God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. 4 Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live. 

Now that the formalities are out of the way, Paul then moves on to his apparent shock in that the Galatians are starting to believe another gospel, something that the apostles or the Old Testament never taught!

Galatians 1:6-9 (NLT) 6 I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ.  You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News 7 but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ. 8 Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. 9 I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed.

OBSERVATION

The apostle Paul expressed his concern and shock that the Christians in Galatia were getting away from the gospel of grace and getting into a performance-based or secret knowledge-based gospel.  He said this message is a pretender’s message.  There were people twisting the truth even while Paul was still alive. Paul said that anyone, even himself or an angel, anyone, who preaches a different kind of gospel than that which was first preached is cursed.

INTERPRETATION

The formation of this other Gospel in verse 6 was “soon” = not much time after Paul had preached the gospel of Jesus to these Judaizers, the forsaking of Paul’s teaching.  The Judaizers were a group who were trying to force non-Jewish Christians to be circumcised and follow the law of Moses.  Now some Jews like Paul chose to continue to follow Old Testament laws just for his own personal reasons, but it was not required for him as a Christian, nor was it required for the Galatians, nor for us as Christians today. I’m talking about the dietary laws and the ceremonial laws…HOWEVER, the moral laws like not committing murder still apply today.  So sorry folks, you can’t talk trash about your boss and pray that something bad happens to somebody, it’s not okay! But anyway, this performance-based gospel that the Judaizers were promoting was very distracting.  It was also perverting the message of grace. To pervert something is to literally turn it into it’s opposite.  Some of your translations will say things a bit different…some will say, accursed,” like the ESV.  The NIV will say let him be cursed or something like that.  And older translations might say the word “anathema.” Anathema is the Greek word for cursed.  So back to today’s time….and these so-called Gospels that are popular today….this guy Dan Brown who wrote the DaVinci code…I would not want to be in his shoes come judgment day!  I say all of this to point out that we should not be surprised that there are these so-called “lost gospels” or Gnostic gospels out there!  Ok, so what are these lost gospels and who wrote them? They were written by the Gnostics, who were 2nd and 3rd-century groups of so-called “Christians” that believed that God showed them things about the Bible and about Jesus that he didn’t show anybody else.  Gnostics comes from the greek word ‘gnosis’ like a prognosis, which gnosis simply means knowledge. So if you were a Gnostic you were “in” and all other Christians were “out.” But if you get into the history of the church, people have already destroyed their arguments.

These Gnostic gospels are absolutely crazy! The first thing wrong with these so-called gospels is the issue of simplicity.  The Gnostic Gospels make Christianity very complicated to follow. But didn’t Jesus say,“All you need is the faith of a child…?”

On pages 231-35 The Da Vinci Code argues that Constantine, the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity, “Commissioned and financed a new Bible, which omitted those gospels like the Gospel of Mary Magdalene that spoke of Christ’s human traits and embellished those gospels that made Him godlike. The earlier gospels were outlawed, gathered up and burned.”  And lastly, it claims that “Almost everything our fathers taught us about Christ is false.”

But none of this is accurate! In fact, it was because of the false teaching of the Gnostics that Emperor Constantine summoned a council of Bishops in Nicea (across the straits from modern Istanbul), and there in 325 A.D. the Bishops of the Church, condemned the teachings of a false prophet and heretic named Arius and produced the first draft of what is now called the Nicene Creed.  This creed reaffirmed that the teachings of Christianity are based on the words of Jesus himself and on the teachings of his apostles who lived with him and walked with him every day, and not based on the words of people who lived hundreds of years later, like the Gnostic Christian cult.   Throughout church history you will hear the names of men like Marcion, Ebion, Montanus and Valentinus, and the Christians who have come before us like Irenaeus and Athanasius already shut these guys down thousands of years ago. See here it is…the grace of God to preserve the gospel of grace was around at that time….see the Lord is not leaving us hanging today, 2,000 years after Christ died.  We can rest assured that the Bible we have in our hands is the real and true Word of God and we can directly apply these  sacred scriptures in our lives.

APPLICATION

 

The Word of God doesn’t need any improvements.  There isn’t any hidden knowledge.  This isn’t the Pentagon, there isn’t any “need to know” foolishness in the Bible.  Every Christian who has the Spirit of God living inside them has an above Top Secret Clearance.

VIDEO CLIP….. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZfsBmQJ0yU&list=PLoDDHFQti98399ZgVjNes1LjOKKj0ECx8&index=53 Have the Gospels Lost Credibility? Part 9 with Mike Licona

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Now…I want to make something clear.  Some of us come from a Catholic background.  The Catholic Bible does contain some extra books.  BUT….those are not the same as the Gnostic Gospels.  Those books in the Catholic Bible are okay to read….they are called the books of the Apocrypha. Basically they are history books that tell what happened in the 400 years between Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament, and Matthew, the first book of the New Testament.  You can look at them, it is perfectly ok.  Now if you want more details about this, please come see me after this message, but again you can read those books in the Catholic Bibles, it’s cool.

But back to our video and how John Dickson shut down the Gnostic gospels…I laugh sometimes at all these bogus attempts to debunk Christianity or “expose” Christianity. But Jesus said the gates of Hell would NOT prevail against his church.  He has sent His Spirit to dwell within us.  And because of His Presence we have the mind of Christ.  And because we have the mind of Christ, we don’t need to do fingerprints, or have an access card to know God’s will, which is basically what the Gnostics were going around telling people.

[2] All Christians are on Christ’s need-to-know list — Again, this is what you can celebrate.  The Bible is for all people of all ages, cultures, races, jobs and backgrounds.  We can teach our kids about Jesus and not have to worry about all these so-called books and all this back and forth stuff that celebrities teach us about life.  You want romance advice? Read the Song of Solomon? It covers courtship, dating, engagement, marriage and even the wedding night.  You want financial advice or business advice? Read Proverbs.  You want to know what the meaning of life is? Read Ecclesiastes! If you struggle with why good people suffer? Read Job, and 1-2 Corinthians.  You want advice on raising your children? Ephesians and Colossians can give you that.  You want learn how to love more? 1 Corinthians 13, and 1-3 John and the Gospel of John can teach you that.  Paul communicates in all these letters, just like he is communicating in Galatians, that literally, we are the subjects of a rescue operation.  For the only way any of us can get right with God is through the cross of Christ.

But here’s the thing you need to know….the scriptures are not design so we can get stuff out of it [NAME & CLAIM]. What we are supposed to do is make scripture our standard, and adjust our lives to the Word of God, not adjust the word of God to our lives.  Again, we don’t adjust the Word of God to fit our lives; we adjust our lives to fit the Word of God.  The apostle John had strict instructions for what we should do when we come across such people and their teachings:

 2 John 10-11New Living Translation (NLT)

10 If anyone comes to your meeting and does not teach the truth about Christ, don’t invite that person into your home or give any kind of encouragement. 11 Anyone who encourages such people becomes a partner in their evil work.

You know you’ve heard the saying, “love the sinner, hate the sin? Well, it’s love the false teacher, but hate the false teaching.” Some of us may be wondering…since this message is about believing in the true Gospel and not “another” gospel, how will we know? Maybe some of us may be feeling like we don’t know enough about the Bible to determine if something we hear contradicts it.  Well don’t you worry! The apostle John has that covered as well!

1 John 2:27 (NLT)

But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.

The Apostle Paul and the apostle John constantly reminded us that the Spirit of God lives in us and teaches us the difference between the real gospel and “other gospels.” 1 Corinthians 12 tell us that the Spirit of God gives gifts to His people, and verse 10 tells us that one of those gifts is the ability to know the difference between a message from God and from another spirit.  So if you come across a teaching or a sermon and you’re not sure, just ask the Spirit of God to show you the source of that message, and he will show you how to move forward.

TRANSITION

And speaking of moving forward, let us transition into the last passage for today.  Everything that goes into our thoughts, and everything that we hear or listen that is allegedly or supposedly “spiritual” must be filtered through the Word of God and the guidance of the Spirit of God.  This is going to mean bursting someone’s bubble sometimes.  But ultimately, we must

Galatians 1:10 (NLT) Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.

 

OBSERVATION

The Apostle Paul tells the Galatians that he is not in it to make people feel good.  He is not trying to please people.  He is telling the Galatians and us that we cannot please people and please Christ at the same time.

INTERPRETATION

People pleasers cannot be God pleasers.

APPLICATION

[3] People pleasers cannot be God pleasers —- So again….you as a Christian are a lighthouse.  People are the ships, life is the ocean.  Sin, and life outside of Jesus Christ are the rocks.  If you don’t shine your light as a lighthouse, people are going to crash into the rocks.  Ok now…let’s take a guy like Joel Osteen who teaches “Your Best Life Now.” Ok…I’m not going to bash Joel Osteen…I think he’s shallow, but I’m not going to bash him.  But I do have questions.  Okay I understand how Jesus said he came to give us life and life more abundantly, but what does that mean? Does abundant life always mean a bunch of money and a lavish lifestyle? What about persecuted Christians? They get pressured to convert to Islam or some other religion, or to leave religion alone altogether and be communist.  Many of them pay with their lives when they refuse.   But they’ve reached a point where the truth they hear in the Bible has so profoundly affected them, that these folks would rather die than give up that truth.  God is calling us to be just as radical!

“We must allow the Word of God to confront us, to disturb our security, to undermine our complacency and to overthrow our patterns of thought and behavior.” 

John R.W. Stott

So let’s check out a story about Asia Pacific, shall we? What about Japanese Christians?

There is a very famous Japanese author, poet and novel writer named Ayako Miura.  What some people may not know though is that she was also a very devout Christian.  Prior to becoming a Christian, she wrote this in her famous autobiography, The Wind Is Howling:

“‘Now I am seeking only one thing–a world that is peaceful forever–but there are too many question marks…. ‘What am I really doing here? What does it mean to live? What are we living for?…’

‘I wonder if man can ever lose his loneliness? The wind is howling.’ 

The bio explains Ayako’s pathway to Christ and helps Western readers understand from the inside much of the Japanese attitude to life.

“But more than this, we see Christ himself, patiently leading, prompting, pursuing, revealing himself as Ayako-san as she argues and fights for life. In the deepest and starkest crises of life, of human love and relationships, in serious illness and physical weakness, in suffering and loss: in all of this God reveals himself to her.”

So just like Ayako-San did not worry about how many Japanese didn’t believe in Christ, and she didn’t worry about the fact that she was in the minority as a Japanese Christian, she continue to bring the gospel to the Japanese through her novels.  She shined her light regardless of what people thought, and she didn’t preach any kind of feel-good gospel, she didn’t preach “another gospel,” she spoke the real deal about Jesus to a people who had just been through a horrible World War.  And today her impact is still felt.  In 2013, one of the largest Christian conferences ever held in Japan took place in Kyoto.

More than 3,000 Japanese Christian believers participated in Empowered21, in Kyoto, Japan, for worship, prayer, and teaching. Another historical note for Christians is that Kyoto shares a name with Jerusalem – they both mean ‘city of peace,'”The vision of Empowered21, which is praying for revival in Japan, is that every person on Earth would have an authentic encounter with Jesus Christ through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit by Pentecost 2033.

TRANSITION TO BENEDICTION

So you see, the Apostle Paul and Ayako Miura all live for Jesus, and despite opposition and setbacks, they are still determined to preach the message of the cross and  resurrection of Jesus, which are the heart of Christianity.  There is no other gospel, and there is no way we can live for people pleasing if we are to live for God, especially in a country like Japan where so many people still don’t know Jesus.  So let us follow the example of the Apostle Paul and so many others and tell people the truth about Jesus.  We need the real deal, challenging gospel for our marriages, our children, our own souls and for our jobs.  But the people in the local community and on base also need the real deal, challenging Gospel, so let’s bring them that gospel.  Let’s pray.