Tuesday, October 18, 2011

No Other Gospel

A sermon developed by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett based on Galatians 1:1-10.

               Galatians was written by the apostle Paul to churches scattered across what is now central Turkey.
               Paul had started a number of churches in that area that were made up of non-Jewish believers.
               Some Jewish Christians had come into the area after Paul left and told the non-Jewish believers that they had to be circumcised in order to be real Christians.
               As one can imagine, that was a troubling concept to these non-Jewish believers.
               But the difficulty of this teaching was not just the physical discomfort that circumcision might have caused adult males, but more the idea that people had to add some sort of ritual to their faith in order to be saved.
               Though we may not struggle with the connection between circumcision and faith in our modern world, many do struggle to accept Christ by faith alone.

Verse 1 - Paul, an apostle—not from men or by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead
               Paul identifies himself as an apostle.
               According to Acts 1:21-22 the position of apostle could only be fulfilled by someone who was an eye witness of the resurrection.
               Therefore, there can be no people in our modern world that hold the position of the apostle.
               However, the ROLE of an apostle was to take the Gospel to unreached areas and establish Christ-centered churches.
               There are lots of people who are still doing that today.
               In foreign lands we call them missionaries.
               In America we often call them church planters.
               Missionaries and church planters are fulfilling the role of an apostle even if they cannot hold the position of an apostle.
               When we consider the health of the church in North America, we need a whole lot more apostles!
               Could God be calling us to this type of ministry?

Verse 2 - and all the brothers who are with me: To the churches of Galatia.
               Paul was not alone in apostolic ministry.
               Paul was part of a team.
               Throughout the New Testament we see letter after letter that Paul wrote and he almost always had other people with him as partners in his ministry.
               Pastors, missionaries and church planters cannot do it alone. They need a team of people to partner with them in ministry.

Verse 3 - Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ
               As an apostle, Paul prayed for the churches to discover the richness of God’s grace and peace.
               Grace is the undeserved favor or blessing from God.
               Do any of us really deserve anything good from God? NO!!!
               Therefore, we should be thankful for God’s grace and let it overflow in our relationships with others.
               Peace is a sense of inner calmness no matter what is going on around us.
               Mature believers can experience peace in the midst of difficulties.
               We should be praying for our fellow believers to have peace.

Verse 4 - who gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father
               Christ GAVE Himself for our sins.
               No one took Christ’s life. He offered it freely.
               Christ could have walked away from the crucifixion at any time. (Matthew 26:47-56).
               But instead Christ chose to endure the cross because it was the only way to pay for our sins.
               Jesus gave Himself to RESCUE us.
               The Greek word for rescue is “exaireo” and refers to being rescued from an angry mob.
Jesus is the bridge that connects sinful people to a Holy God. Have we allowed Jesus to connect us to the Father yet?
               Jesus rescues us from the evil of our modern world.
               The Greek word for evil is “poneros” and refers to something that is actively and viciously evil in its actions and influence.
               If we were honest we would have to admit that sometimes even Christians participate in evil activities.
               If we are not careful, we may find ourselves on the wrong team helping the Evil One instead of helping the apostles.
               If Jesus is the center of our lives, we will be rescued from participating in the evil around us.

Verse 6 - I am amazed that you are so quickly turning away from Him who called you by the grace of Christ, and are turning to a different gospel
               Paul was amazed that the Galatians were ready to abandon their faith after such a short time as believers.
               The Greek word for amazed is “thaumazo” and refers to being surprised at something that is unthinkable.
               The Galatians were turning from their new found faith and instead trying to embrace the Jewish religious laws of the Old Testament.
               This would never work because the Galatians were not Jews.
               But to be honest, it never worked very well for the Jews either. (Galatians 3:23-25)
               We spend way too much time worrying about things that do not really matter.
               Too many people are trying to work their way to heaven but never feel closer to God.
               If we want to experience the fullness of God’s grace and peace we have no choice but to trust in Christ.
               The Galatians were trying to turn to a Gospel of works, ritual, and tradition, which was no Gospel at all.
               The word Gospel means “good news.”
               The fact that Jesus came to rescue us from sin and free us from the power of evil is good news.
               The fact that Jesus gives us peace in the midst of chaos is good news.
               The promise of eternity in heaven with Christ and with our loved ones is good news.
               But if we change the Gospel and turn it into just a list of rules, it is no longer good news.
               It becomes a false Gospel producing false hope.
               False hope always leads to bad results.
               Therefore, we must cling to the true Gospel even if everyone else abandons it.
               Verse 7 goes on to say that those who try to push a false Gospel are trouble.
               We have enough trouble in our lives without having false teachers leading us astray.

Verse 8 - But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel other than what we have preached to you, a curse be on him!
               Paul went on to say that even if he came back and preached a different Gospel, the Galatians should not listen to him.
               Paul also said that if an angel came and preached a false Gospel, do not listen.
               Many people get sidetracked spiritually because they become wrapped up in angelic visitations, or visions of Mary or other saints.
               If any of those visitations were really from God, the message they would give would be “Stop praying to Mary and the saints and start focusing on Jesus.”
               Any other message is a false Gospel.
               Those who would preach a false Gospel are cursed by God.
               The Greek word for curse is “anathema” and means so abominable in God’s sight that it requires total destruction to remove it.
               God is serious about the true Gospel!

Verse 9 - As we have said before, I now say again: if anyone preaches to you a gospel contrary to what you received, a curse be on him!
               Paul then repeats the curse again.
               When the Bible repeats something twice, it is to make a clear point so that readers will not miss it. In this case, it was eternal damnation for those who pervert the Gospel.
               Damnation is not popular preaching, but a good dose of it every so often helps us remember what is important.

Verse 10 - For am I now trying to win the favor of people, or God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ.
               This kind of preaching is not popular.
               But the true Gospel is so important that it is worth the risk of offending someone.
               If we are going to offend someone, let it be with the Gospel instead of with our personal preferences.
               Christians get offended by a lot of things, most of which are not really that important.
               Instead, we must keep our eyes focused on Jesus because there is a lost world that needs us to join with the apostles in proclaiming the grace and peace of the real Gospel of Christ.

               Apostles share the Gospel in places that have not yet been reached and we need to be on their team helping them.
               Christ died to save us from sin and to keep us from participating in evil. We must let Him do this in our lives because there is no other hope that is real.
               We must not abandon the true Gospel no matter what happens to us or who the Gospel offends.