Series: Maintaining this hope
Message – To the Galatians – No other Gospel!
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To the Galatians – No other Gospel!
“(1) From Paul, an apostle (not from men, nor by human agency, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father Who raised Him from the dead) (2) and all the brothers with me, to the churches of Galatia.”
You know I was revisiting Jeremiah 3 the other day…
Jer. 3:15, “(15) I will give you leaders who will be faithful and loyal to Me. They will shepherd and feed you with knowledge, skill and insight.”
God goes on to say why He was going to do this. It was because…
“My people are foolish. They do not know Me. They are like children who have no sense. They have no understanding. They are skilled at doing evil. They do not know how to do good.” ~ Jer. 4:22
Here we see the Apostle Paul was given by both Jesus and the Father.
And though not an elder, He WAS a leader faithful to God, whose heart was after God’s heart and who feed God’s people with knowledge, skill and insight.
He himself said, 2Cor. 11:5-6, “(5) For I consider that I am not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles. (6) Even though I am untrained in speech, yet I am not in knowledge. But we have been thoroughly manifested among you in all things.”
Notice that both Jesus and the Father were involved in his call.
According to 1Cor. 12 and Eph. 4 the Father gave Apostles (as well as Prophets, elders, evangelists…etc.) as Gifts to the body, but the Lord Jesus places each of them IN the body as He pleases.
So Paul was called and appointed by the Father but placed in the body by Jesus, the Lord of the Body.
He was called to the gentiles of which these Galatians were part.
This was a circuit letter, which we can tell by the fact that Galatia was a province not a city, which is why the letter was addressed “to the CHURCHES” of Galatia.
There are some today in the body of Christ who when they hear anyone talk about “thier church”, will near come to blows debating them over the idea that there is only ONE church because the church IS the body of Christ – it is people, not a building. While it is true that the church IS the body of Christ, most people who talk about their church are not talking about the building – they are talking about the local body of believers they meet and fellowship with and over which is their Pastors. The New Testament writers used the word church (which is the Greek word ekklēsía) predominantly in three ways.
- To represent ALL of God’s people throughout ALL time
- To represent the body of Christ on the earth
- To represent the localized gatherings of the body of Christ under their Pastors.
It was in this thirds and final usage that Paul addresses the CHURCHES of Galatia.
This letter was to bring a greater amount of God’s influence upon the hearts of these people who were being tempted away from their steadfastness in Christ Jesus – to rely upon things…not so much OTHER than Christ, but in addition TO Christ. A gospel which taught that Christ alone was not enough…and they were buying it!
We see this in these opening words…
“(3) Grace and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ,”
But also at the end of the letter,
Gal. 6:14-16, “(14) But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (15) For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. (16) And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.”
His whole focus was to bring them back from the brink of apostasy by influencing their hearts with the heart of the Father.
NOTICE that is what God wants – He wants His people to KNOW HIM.
He does not want foolish children and Paul is a loyal and faithful leader shepherding God’s people into knowing His heart!
So again, starting in verse 3
“(3) Grace and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, (4) Who gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from this present evil age according to the will of our God and Father, (5) to Whom be glory forever and ever! Amen.”
The nature of salvation and the kingdom – FOR GOD’S GLORY.
- All subject to Christ -> Christ subject to God.
- We live Kingdom focused lives – Christ presents kingdom to God.
Remember when we were in 1 Peter – Noah – Ark – saved from ungodly THROUGH WATER – NOT the ARK and so from destruction.
In Christ saved from this evil age, and so from destruction.
“(6) I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the One Who called you by the grace of Christ and are following a different gospel – (7) not that there really is another gospel, but there are some who are disturbing you and wanting to distort the gospel of Christ. (8) But even if we (or an angel from heaven) should preach a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be condemned to hell!
(9) As we have said before, and now I say again, if any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let him be condemned to hell!
(10) Am I now trying to gain the approval of people, or of God?
Or am I trying to please people?
If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ!”
Lesson – slave of Christ CANNOT be pleasing the world.
- Luke 6:26, “ Woe to you when all men speak well of you, For so did their fathers to the false prophets.”
- 2 Tim. 2:4, “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please Him Who enlisted him as a soldier.”
Paul now begins to make the case for the truths of the gospel he preached and to do this he explains how he came to learn these truths himself and then how he tested them.
“(11) Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin.
(12) For I did not receive it or learn it from any human source; instead I received it by a revelation of Jesus Christ.
(13) For you have heard of my former way of life in Judaism, how I was savagely persecuting the church of God and trying to destroy it.
(14) I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my nation, and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my ancestors. (15) But when the One Who set me apart from birth and called me by His grace was pleased (16) to reveal His Son in me so that I could preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not go to ask advice from any human being,”
As I have recently taught you – YOU ARE the testimony. Christ is revealed THROUGH you…..IN YOU… not BY you!
“(17) nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before me, but right away I departed to Arabia, and then returned to Damascus. (18) Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and get information from him, and I stayed with him fifteen days. (19) But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother.”
“(20) I assure you that, before God, I am not lying about what I am writing to you! (21) Afterward I went to the regions of Syria and Cilicia. (22) But I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. (23) They were only hearing, “The one who once persecuted us is now proclaiming the good news of the faith he once tried to destroy.”
(24) So they glorified God in me.”
“(1) Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me.
- I went up by revelation,
- and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation,
- lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain.”
By this he means that he took the Gospel he received directly by a revelation of Jesus Himself and had been preaching among the Gentiles and preached it to those who were Apostles and elders before him in Jerusalem.
You need to understand that when Paul first started preaching he went first to the Jews. As such, the idea that circumcision was necessary for salvation was a moot point since all Jews were already circumcised.
This did not become and issue until he realized his true ministry which was to the Gentiles. As He preached, he taught them that salvation was in Christ alone as well and not a result of having first been a Jewish proselyte by way of circumcision.
Then, as Acts 15 tells us, certain men came up from Judea and taught the Gentiles in Antioch that salvation was of and to the Jews, so in order to be saved, they first had to become Jews through circumcision.
Paul and Barnabus ardently disagreed and so by the leading of the Spirit and the urging of the Gentile church in Antioch, they went to Jerusalem. This was NOT to confirm if they were right, but to see if such belief in the need for circumcision was taught by the apostles in Jerusalem or if they all believed and taught the same truths.
In other words – IS there one gospel for the Jew and another for the Gentile or is it one gospel for all?
If you remember this was done before the Apostles and Elders ONLY. No teachers or prophets were included nor were the general believers of the church of Jerusalem invited. Only those whose opinions were honored and followed were conferred with that day.
The conclusion was that circumcision was not needed by anyone, but that salvation was found in Christ Jesus alone. This was SO true that even though Titus who was a Gentile who traveled with Paul and was therefore part of his “ministry team” if you will – not even HE was compelled to be circumcised as we are about to read…
“(3) Yet not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. (4) And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage), (5) to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.”
NOTICE how ardent Paul was in the defense of TRUTH. The purity of the gospel which we have today we owe largely to men like Paul who others would have called “anal” about being “overly accurate” regarding the scriptures. This is 100% necessary and is in keeping with God’s prophecy through Jeremiah to Israel that He would send leaders to shepherd after His heart who would “feed you with knowledge, skill and insight into knowing Me”.
“(6) But from those who seemed to be something—whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favoritism to no man—for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me. (7) But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter (8) (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles), (9) and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. (10) They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do.”
“(11) Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; (12) for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. (13) And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.”
The account of this is found in Acts 11:1-7,
“(1) Now the apostles and brethren who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. (2) And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision contended with him, (3) saying, “You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them!” (4) But Peter explained it to them in order from the beginning, saying: (5) “I was in the city of Joppa praying; and in a trance I saw a vision, an object descending like a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came to me. (6) When I observed it intently and considered, I saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. (7) And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’”
continuing on in Gal. 2:13-21,
“(14) But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all,
“If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews? (15) We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, (16) knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
Notice again that the issue was not so much the law itself, but using the law as a means of attaining to righteousness and justification – a point which Paul will make himself when we get to chapter 3.
“(17) “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not!
(18) For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.
(19) For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.
(20) I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me.
(21) I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing!”