Galatians 1: No Other Gospel
May 17, 2019
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
The church of Galatia was experiencing false teaching that had come to them under the guise of the authority of Jerusalem – men claiming to be sent “from James” – and were disturbing the faith of these Galatians. They were saying that you had to be circumcised, and thereby obey all the law of Moses. Paul will have nothing of this. And in this, his most passionate of letters, he vigorously denounces the false teaching of the Galatians. This first chapter is a master class is clarifying the truth of the gospel in the face of false teaching. There is much false teaching today – in our culture, in churches that have abandoned the gospel, ideologies and ideas that are wrong, and dangerously wrong. How do we counter false teaching and defend the truth of the gospel?
First, Paul establishes his own intrinsic authority as being sent by God. Oftentimes, if not always, the root cause of false teaching is a matter of authority. Here Paul establishes by bold assertion at the start of his letter that his authority is from God. We need stand firm on the apostolic authority of Scripture, and not move from it one iota.
Second, while Paul (uniquely) does not offer thanks to God for the Galatians – perhaps because he cannot feel that he can genuinely do so at this point – he does begin by blessing them. It is important when we confront something wrong, or an individual that is going wrong, that we assert our concern for them and desire for their best and highest good being blessed by Christ.
Third, Paul calls it as it is. He doesn’t blur the issue, beat around the bush, or make it seem less bad than it truly is. This that the Galatians are being taught is a “different gospel.” We have many different gospels around in the world today. There is the gospel of self-fulfillment. There is the gospel of self-righteousness, a neo-Pharisaism that asserts that the only unforgiveable sin is intolerance of any other ideology. There is the gospel of human authority, denying the authority of Scripture and putting its faith in the advancement of human knowledge. And many other false gospels – relativism being prominent. There is a time when we simply need to say: wrong. Badly wrong. Dangerously wrong. That does not mean we throw around anathemas with apostolic certainty. But when a so-called theology or ideology counters the clear teaching of the gospel in the Bible, we need to be sure that such false teaching does not lead someone to not be saved. And that needs to be said clearly and unforgettably, as Paul does here.
Fourth, Paul then tells the biography of a certain stage of his life to establish that he did indeed receive the gospel firsthand from Christ himself. It is important today to tell the story of the gospel in a coherent way so that people can see how the different pieces fit together into a whole and the gospel is the clear teaching of Scripture.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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