Saturday, April 26, 2008

Another Gospel

Let’s pick up our study this week in Galatians 1:4 where it says, “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:” God allowed His only Son to be killed so that you and I could be delivered out of this present evil age. All around us, the world is going to hell. Murders and massacres, child abuse and drug abuse, witchcraft and Satanism, alcoholism and AIDS. This world that we live in has been, and will continue to become, more and more evil, but God's grace has been offered to deliver us from all of this. Paul reminded us in Colossians 1:13-14 that God “hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:”

Note v.5, “To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Paul writes, "to God be the glory." We can’t take any of the credit. There was nothing that we did to qualify us for salvation.

Note vv.6-7, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.” Here is the heart of the problem that Paul was to address with the Galatian believers. They were being drawn away from the true gospel to another one. We as humans, given enough time, tend to corrupt everything. Nothing can go without a little bit of tweaking. We have a hard time just accepting God’s grace because by definition, it is “unmerited favor.” Unmerited favor means that there is nothing we can do to earn or deserve it. And yet, that is exactly what most set out to do. It just makes us feel better to know that we played a part in it. However, if we could earn it, it wouldn’t be unmerited! God did it simply because He loved us. He loved us when we despised Him, adopted us as His children anyway, sent Jesus to pay the penalty for our sins before we even knew we had sins and gave us everything through His Son when we deserved absolutely nothing (Romans 5:8; Titus 3:5; Romans 5:6).

Another issue with grace is that we tend to abuse it. I’ve heard people say, “If I'm saved by grace, not by my works, then I can sin all I want, because it's all covered by grace!" No, my friend, that is not right. Those are teachings of the ungodly. Jude said in Jude 4 “For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul addressed this issue in Romans 5:20-6:2.

Another issue with grace is that we want to maintain it by good works. We begin to think that we must perform religious rituals and obey rules and regulations in order to be deserving of it. In the New Testament, men who thought this way were called Judaizers and they taught that faith in Christ was not sufficient in itself, but that one must keep the Law of Moses and be circumcised. They believed in salvation through Jesus Christ, but taught that the Law must be kept as well to maintain it.

That attitude is still very common in the church today. I hear things like, "Look at him - he needs a haircut!” “Look at her – she needs to learn how to dress!” Preachers will say, “You need to cut that long hair, throw away that evil music, make yourself respectable and then come to Jesus and be saved!" Hey! I thought that grace was undeserved? It is not that we take the first few steps, and then God jumps in. It is that God is the initiator. Just look in the Garden of Eden at the fall of Adam and Eve. God had to seek reconciliation with Adam. Instead of coming to God and saying, “I’m sorry,” Adam hid himself.

And so the message of the Judaizers was very dangerous. It was not the gospel. It was a different gospel. And today, too many are preaching a similar gospel - which is really no gospel at all.

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