All posts for the month February, 2015

Date: March 1, 2015

Text: Galatians 1: 6-24

Galatians 1: 6-12 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!
10 Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. 11 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

1. We have received the invitation of the Spirit; we have been “called … to live in the grace of Christ” V.1
2. There are many who would pervert the Gospel of Christ, making it a different gospel, and bringing in confusion both to the world and among God’s people.

I. What is this “mixed” Gospel?
A) The gospel of mixing Judaism with Grace; the ceremonial elements of the law and the freedom of Grace.
1. While we are not free from the moral, ethical demands of the law, we can eat shrimp at the restaurant today if we so desire.
2. None of the Jewish ritual, holy-days, feasts, or celebrations are obligatory for Christians.
B) The gospel of legalism; moving beyond ceremonial Judaism, this might include specific elements which are not of the pure Gospel Jesus preached.
1. Legalism often erects barriers to full fellowship to all believers based on whether they are observing all the humanly-induced rules and regulations of the fellowship.
2. Once, the COTN had a section in its MANUAL named “Special Rules.” These rules were often manipulated in ways that created unintended results. Today, we refer to guidelines rather that special rules.
C) The gospel of exaggerating certain passages over others for the sake of creating an exclusive hierarchy; the development of a ‘class’ system that identifies people with certain accomplishments or achievements.
1. Novitiates were inexperienced believers in the Catholic Church.
2. Postulants were believers who were on probation.
3. Catechumenates were those who are in the process of being instructed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In the early church, they would have to conform to the standards of the church before being accepted for instruction. They would have to have sponsors and the instructional period often lasted up to three years.
D) A gospel built on careless exegesis that mingles such things as:
1. The offices of Christ, e.g,. Prophet, Priest, and King, with a socio-political message that quickly politicizes the Gospel, and seeks to implement the Kingdom of God right now through human manipulation.
2. That fails to distinguish between Jewish matters unique to them and God’s choice and revelation to them. There are passages of the Scripture that still related to and anticipate matters specifically for the Jews as God’s chosen people.
3. That misapplies certain passages of Scripture to create the ‘prosperity’ gospel or the gospel of self-improvement. We see this in false claims that equate human prosperity with divine approval and blessing.
II. What are the origins of these “other” gospels?
A) The Apostle suggests these gospels come from those who seek to please people rather than God. They want to win the approval of people.
B) Some may originate in the perversion of the human mind that is not under the lordship and direction of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit.
C) Tragic consequences have resulted from those in cults that enticed people to their webs of deceit and destruction.
1. Jim Jones – Guyana
2. David Koresh – Waco
3. Warren Jeffs – Colorado City
4. It is easy to see both the exasperation as well as the concern of the Apostle as he writes: I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel.

Galatians 1:13-24
13 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14 I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. 17 I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus.
18 Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days. 19 I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. 20 I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie.
21 Then I went to Syria and Cilicia. 22 I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they praised God because of me.

1. The Apostle Paul was at the forefront of a radical new movement that was in direct contrast with the traditions of normative Judaism.
A) This was the “new wine” that would not fit in the old wine skins of which Jesus spoke in Luke 5:37 [And no one pours new wine into old wine skins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wine skins will be ruined.]
B) Paul will develop even further the message of God’s grace in this letter to the Galatians, showing the radical difference between it and the traditions of the fathers.
2. Paul offers two compelling arguments that establish his authority, and offers a compelling reason why the Galatian converts should respond:
A) Paul says, “God…set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace.” V.15
1. What other figure comes to mind when we read that God initialized His purpose even before that individual was born? [When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Luke 1:41]
2. Other passages make similar notations: Ps. 22:10, Isa. 49:1, Isa. 49:5, and Jer. 1:5
3. Commentary: Who separated me … – That is, who destined me; or who purposed from my very birth that I should be a preacher and an apostle. The meaning is, that God had in his secret purposes set him apart to be an apostle. It does not mean that he had actually called him in his infancy to the work, for this was not so, but that he designed him to be an important instrument in his hands in spreading the true religion. Jeremiah Jer 1:5 was thus set apart, and John the Baptist was thus early designated for the work which they afterward performed. – Barnes Notes
4. Commentary: We must not assume a reference to Jeremiah 1:5 for in that passage there is an essentially different definition of time in the original Greek. We may add, that this designation of God completely corresponds with Paul’s representation of his apostolic independence of men. What it was, to which God had separated him from his birth and had called him (at Damascus), is of course evident in itself and from Galatians 1:1; but it also results from the sequel (Galatians 1:16). It was the apostleship, which he recognised as a special proof of free and undeserved divine grace. – Meyer’s NT Commentary
B) The “grace” Paul refers to is the ministry of his apostleship that reflected both his transformed life as well as the scope of his life’s calling which was indeed founded in the purposes of God. (One should not read this verse as a proof text of the decree of predestination.)
C) John Wesley’s commentary on Gal. 1:15: But when it pleased God – He ascribes nothing to his own merits, endeavours, or sincerity. Who separated me from my mother’s womb – Set me apart for an apostle, as he did Jeremiah for a prophet. Jer 1:5. Such an unconditional predestination as this may consist, both with God’s justice and mercy. And called me by his grace – By his free and almighty love, to be both a Christian and an apostle.

There are four objectives in the lesson:
1. We are to know that faith in God through Christ is enough for salvation.
2. We are to understand there is no other gospel than the good news of faith in Jesus Christ.
3. We should evaluate our own lives in the light of the gospel.
4. We are to acknowledge that the gospel radically transforms those who believe.

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