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Devotionals    H3'ed 3/19/18

Expositing Galatians -- Chapter One - Curses Upon Those Who Do Not Preach the Real Gospel

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Paul, an apostle--not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead-- and all the brothers who are with me, To the churches of Galatia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. -- Galatians 1: 1-5 (ESV)

Beloved, we write often about the Gospel and about those that pervert it. Such is the nature of discernment ministries. As a minister of the Gospel however it is nice to step back, pick a book from the canon of Scripture and just exposit it. Mine it to find all of the nuggets God wants us to be amazed at. Seems that I have caught heresy during a slow week so let us turn to the province of Galatia and the only letter in which Paul addresses multiple churches as we see from the key verses, which open his letter to the Galatians. These five simple verses set the stage for the discussion of a very serious problem that was infecting Galatia and infects the church today as well. It seems Paul has two points he wants to make from the start. The first is an interesting point for all of the wannabe apostles of today. Paul establishes who he is first and foremost. He is an apostle but not by the declaration of man but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead! Do not fall for these dime store, knock-off apostles with their Facebook following and zero credibility. Anyone today who is so busy telling you they are an apostle probably is not. Paul however must establish and remind the Galatians that he himself has seen Jesus Christ. The matters he is about to discuss are quite serious and need to be expressed with authority if change is to ever come about.

The second point of the key verses is for Paul to remind the Galatians what the Gospel actually is. As we delve deeper into this book we will soon see why this was crucial. Our Lord Jesus Christ gave Himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of God. Whereas in the Old covenant we were justified by deeds, the keeping of the law, we are now justified by faith. Instead of being judged by what we could never do, we will instead be judged by what He has already done! Hallelujah! Why though? Why did Paul feel the need to start this important letter off by reminding them of the centrality of our doctrine?

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-- not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. -- Galatians 1: 6-9 (ESV)

Paul wastes no time in cutting them to the quick. Why are you deserting Christ? Realize the inherent truth being taught here. Following a false gospel is deserting Jesus Christ. He is His word beloved. You cannot have it both ways. You cannot pretend to be a follower of Christ and yet abandon His Word. This is why at different times, Jesus laments and asks, why bother calling me Lord if you refuse to do as I say? Look at the centrality of the Gospel Paul declares here! Today we here all of the sloppy agape preachers declaring God is love above all else and to that I say rubbish! He is His Word above all else! There is no second gospel! There is no prosperity gospel as Mike Murdoch and Creflo Dollar preach. There is no word faith gospel as Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer preach. There is no gospel of grace as Joseph Prince preaches. There are no NAR/Dominionist/Seven Mountains/false signs and lying wonders gospel as Bethel and IHOP teaches. Some however like to trouble you with a distorted gospel, just as they were dong to the Galatians. Let us embrace the seriousness of this topic. So serious Paul lays it out right at the start. If anyone should bring you any other gospel -- let them be accursed! If even an angel from heaven should preach a gospel contrary to the real Gospel -- let them be accursed! The primacy of the Gospel demands its defense against the wolves that would tear it and the sheep apart.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. -- Galatians 1: 10 (ESV)

I want us to drill down on this one verse for a moment. The main reason why many oppose or do not listen to discernment ministries is that they do not like the confrontational aspect of it. We know this because the usual refrain is always to ask if we had reached out to the wolf before exposing him or had we prayed for the wolf. I also know very good pastors who refuse to call out who is false because of the same reason. Titus 1:9 commands ministers of the Gospel to expose those who do not bring the true Gospel. It is not a suggestion. This is the primary problem with someone like Dr. Michael Brown. He can write an entire book (and has) on the heresy of greasy grace and then refuse to call Joseph Prince a heretic. Even if I denounce wolves yet refuse to point them out I am just as complicit in their attacks. Sorry but those who are charged with the ministry of the Gospel will be held to a higher standard.

Do you think these words were easy for the Apostle Paul? No beloved but they are questions we must ask ourselves. Whose approval are we seeking? Are we seeking the approval of our district supervisor? Are we seeking approval from the denomination Superintendent? Are we seeking approval of the peers in our neighborhood? Are we even seeking approval of our congregation? If the answer to any of these is yes then we are not serving Jesus Christ! Think about that for a moment. Some believe in Christianity as a Machiavellian religion where God is infinitely more concerned about the outcome than the journey getting there but the opposite is true! What your motivation is matters! Are we trying to please man? Are we preaching to draw bigger crowds? Are we preaching to feel better about ourselves? Are we preaching to impress people and get a higher gig in the church corporation? If so we are no longer a servant of Jesus Christ. Paul draws the line very starkly. If we are trying to please man then we are not acting as a servant of Christ. Remember that beloved.

For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. -- Galatians 1: 11-14 (ESV)

In the middle of Paul reinforcing his bonafides and credentials, there is this one line I want us to focus in on -- "so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers." I have often heard defense of false teachers centering on zealotry or how much they claim to love Jesus. You don't know their heart! Beloved, I do not need to know their heart; I only need to evaluate their teaching. The Bible assures me that their heart is as wickedly deceitful as mine is. Paul thought he was doing the right thing when he was a Pharisee. He was convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was doing God's will by destroying Christianity. We can be sincere and sincerely wrong. Zeal misguided is still anathema. Mormons truly believe that Jesus and Satan were brothers. They are wrong. Joel Osteen may truly believe that he is doing the work of God but he is wrong. Joseph Prince, Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotton may truly believe they hear directly from God but they are wrong. How can we know? Because their teaching is wrong.

The other takeaway here is that the false gospel is always a gospel of man. That is the distinction Paul is drawing here. An easy tell for discerning Christians is when a teacher says, "I believe" instead of "the Bible says." A second tip is that the teacher uses cute Christianese catch phrases that appear nowhere in Scripture. Things like "activate your faith" or "there is a shift coming" appear nowhere in scripture. The true Gospel are the words of Almighty God. The false gospel are the words of man. The first chapter concludes:

But when he who had set me apart before I was born,and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord's brother. (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only were hearing it said, "He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy." And they glorified God because of me. -- Galatians 1: 15-24 (ESV)

As Paul wraps up his credentials, he emphasizes the fact that Christ Himself commissioned him. He did not need the approval of man. He did not need to go see the twelve Apostles. Instead he let his preaching of the Gospel speak for itself. The Apostles glorified God because they heard that once a bitter enemy now Paul was preaching for Christ but make no mistake about it. They praised because the true Gospel was being preached. At a later point, Paul called out Peter by name when he was being hypocritical. Standing and stature are irrelevant in the face of the cause of the Gospel. Titles do not matter either. Everyone is running around today as a Grand Apostle or a Mega Prophet. Please. Do not bother me with your titles unless you preach the true Gospel.

That is the main point here from Chapter One. Paul wants to make sure they understand who he is so that his hard message to come will be better received. We had some glimpses of that in this chapter. The people at Galatia were in serious error. False teachers had infiltrated the church and were spreading a damnable heresy. One that may have sounded zealous. One that may have felt sincere. So no one questioned it and the leaven started spreading. Paul is about to put an end to that though. Preach the true Gospel or be accursed! There is no third option.

Reverend Anthony Wade -- March 19, 2018

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Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to (more...)
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