We live in a day of false religions, false prophets, false politicians, and even false preachers. The information that was put forth during the pandemic about COVID-19 and the vaccine is now being found to be inaccurate, in many cases. The side effects that many have experienced have been terrible.
The Apostle Paul, in his day, had trouble with a group called Judaizers. They were Jewish men and traveling evangelists who said they followed Jesus, but unlike Paul, they did not believe that faith in Jesus alone was enough to make us right with God. They maintained that people had to obey Jewish Law as set forth in the first five books of the Old Testament.
Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, reminds them that they do not need to be circumcised and follow the Old Testament laws. Rather, they need to remember and rejoice in the freedom secured for them through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. No ritual or commandment and no good deed of any kind can ever qualify us for the salvation offered to us by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. He is our only hope. The new converts in the churches in Galatia were vulnerable and gullible when it came to the false gospel being propagated. So, in this letter to the Galatian Christians, Paul makes a defense of the Gospel and also of his apostleship.
We notice, first of all, that Paul says he didn’t get his call from any group of people or human authority, but by or from Jesus Christ himself and from God the Father, who raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Galatians 1:1) He is defending himself because the Judaizers, in order to make any headway, were seeking to discredit Paul, saying that he wasn’t a legitimate apostle, thereby seeking to undercut his authority and doctrine.
I have had a taste of this myself, recently. One person, whom I do not know, wrote saying that for all of my ministry, I have preached a false gospel. This person maintained that Jesus is not God and the New Testament is not God’s word. The other person, with severe mental problems, said I was a tool of Satan.
I make no apology for taking to heart what Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
Peter was right in Acts 4:12 when he declared “There is salvation in no one else. God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”
Paul, in Galatians 1:3-5, makes it very clear what the true Gospel (Good News) really is.
“May God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. Jesus gave His life for our sins, just as God the Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live. All glory to God forever and ever. Amen!”
The true Gospel is the message of grace and peace. God’s grace is the basis for the Gospel, and peace between God and man is the result of this Divine grace.
Let me suggest several other truths about God’s gospel.
A. It is theocentric. This simply means that God is the focal point of the Good News. False gospels are anthropocentric. This means that man is the focal point.
During the construction of Emerson Hall at Harvard University, President Charles Eliot invited psychologist and philosopher William James to suggest a suitable inscription for the stone lintel over the doors of the new home of the Philosophy Department. After some reflection, James sent Eliot a line from the Greek philosopher Protagoras — “Man is the measure of all things.” James never heard back from Eliot, so his curiosity was piqued when he spotted artisans working on the scaffold hidden by a canvas. One morning the scaffold and canvas were gone. The inscription borrowed from the Psalmist said “What is man that thou art mindful of him?”
Can you see the difference between the line that James put forth and the one chosen by Eliot? One is man-centered and the other is God-centered.
I urge you to read what Paul wrote to the Ephesians in 1:3-14. You will see that salvation first and foremost is all about God. It is about who He is and what He does. It is about His great love with His uncompromising holiness. We are the recipients of His love and grace.
B. The gospel is bad news in that we are sinners under the control of this present evil age. In Galatians 1:4 Paul declared “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.” Folks, that is good news! Surely you are aware by now that we are surrounded by evil on just about every front. I think even if you were blind, deaf, and dumb, you would be aware that the Prince of Darkness, Satan, is relentless in promoting evil.
C. The Good News is that Jesus Christ of His own volition gave His life to atone for our sins and to rescue us from this present evil age. Galatians 1:4a “Jesus gave His life for our sins, just as God the Father planned …”
1. Jesus willingly died for us to pay in full the penalty for our sins. 2 Corinthians 5:21
“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the (atoning) offering for our sin so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”
2. Jesus willingly died for us to set us free from the power (control) of sin. Romans 6:1-4
“Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of His wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ in baptism, we joined Him in death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.” (Isn’t that exciting!)
D. Lastly, the gospel is God’s free gift to all who believe and receive it. It is good news from God. He willed it. He initiated it. It is the outflow of His grace.
Paul, in Romans 3:24, wrote “Yet God, in His grace, freely makes us right in His sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins.”
In Romans 5:15, he wrote “But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. The sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ.”
In Romans 11:6 we read, “And since it is through God’s kindness then it is not by their good works. For, in that case, God’s grace would not be what it is – freely and undeserved.” Paul, in Ephesians 2:8-9, wrote: “God saved you by His grace when you believed, and you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so no one can boast about it.”
Paul, in 1 Timothy gives thanks to God for His mercy. 1 Timothy 1:12-14, “I thank Christ Jesus, our Lord, who has given me strength to do His work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve Him, even though I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted His people. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief. Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus.”
Folks, this was God’s plan from the beginning.
In 1 Peter 1:18-20, we read, “For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid for with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose Him as your ransom long before the world began, but not in the last days He has been revealed for your sake.”
How should we respond to such a great gift?
Paul, in 2 Timothy 1:8-10 wrote – “So, never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me either, even though I am in prison for Him with the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the good news. For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was His plan from the beginning of time — to show His grace through Christ Jesus. And now, He has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good news.”
Folks, there is no lack of false religions, but there is only one true Gospel and that is by trusting in and receiving forgiveness for our sins through Jesus Christ.
Be on guard and do not be deceived by the Prince of Darkness.
In Christ’s victory,