PASTOR DON'S CHRISTIAN ED NOTES
When Angels Don't Bring Good Tidings
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Sunday, September 27, 2009 -

Galatians 1:6-10 - “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— [7] not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. [8] 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. [9] 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. [10] 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.”

1) THE FOUNDATIONAL PRINCIPLE IN THESE VERSES IS THERE IS ONLY ONE GOSPEL

Galatians 1:6-7 - “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— [7] not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.”

You can see how verse 7 is really added to correct what could be a misconception from verse 6. In verse 6 Paul shares his amazement that the people have so quickly turned from Christ to a “different gospel.” Then, as though he realizes he may have given the false impression that there were actually other options to turn to, he says in verse 7 that what they are turning to is, in fact, “not another one.”

This is Paul’s assessment of religious pluralism. There are no other gospels to turn to. There are other religions. There are other leaders. There are other sacred books and texts that can be studied. But there is no other gospel to save.

Then Paul takes it a step further. He refuses to allow for the possibility of any other revelation of hope and salvation outside of the gospel of Jesus Christ. No other revelations (no matter how supernatural in origin - ie. angelic beings) are to be admitted:

Galatians 1:8-9 - “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. [9] 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.”

2) BECAUSE OF THE INTERNAL NATURE OF THE FALSE TEACHING, THE CHURCH MUST CARE AS DEEPLY ABOUT THE CONTENT OF THE GOSPEL AS THE EFFECT OF THE GOSPEL

The particular danger these Christians faced wasn’t the conquest of some outside competing religion. The danger to their faith arose from within their own ranks, right inside the church itself. These “distorters” of the faith knew the leadership of the local churches, including James himself. They knew the names to drop and the phrases to use to gain a hearing among careless Christians (see Galatians 1:7, 2:12). For more detail about this kind of false teaching see Paul’s last words to the church at Ephesus (Acts 20:25-31).

What this means for the church - for our church is this: If the danger of false teaching is that great inside the church itself, then surely doctrinal maturity and stability is not a luxury for us at Cedarview, but a necessity. The church must be the sharpest where the danger is the greatest. The closer the imitation is to the original, the more care is needed to detect it.

1 Corinthians 14:20 - “Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.”

Mature thinking is never easy to do. There is a false, pretentious spirituality that considers sound doctrine mechanical and Spirit-quenching. Then, on top of this, our dull, entertainment driven age wars against sound, mature thinking as well.

3) WHENEVER SOUND DOCTRINE IS REJECTED, GOD HIMSELF IS REJECTED

Galatians 1:6 - “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....”

Notice, when these people turn from sound doctrine, Paul doesn’t say they are deserting “it” (the gospel). He says they are deserting “him” (God Himself). The rejection of doctrine is never an impersonal, intellectual rejection. It is always a personal, relational rejection.

4) IF THE GOSPEL IS A WONDERFUL THING TO RECEIVE, IT IS A HORRIBLE THING TO REJECT

Galatlians 1:8-9 - “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. [9] 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.”

In these verses Paul uses the word “anathema” (accursed) to describe the fate of those who teach a false message. In other passages, however, Paul uses the very same word to describe the fate of those who refuse the gospel of life and grace in Jesus Christ alone - 1 Corinthians 16:22 - “If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come!”