Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Don't add to the Gospel.

6I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!
10Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:6-10)

Paul is saying that the very gospel itself is at stake and that there are some people who have thrown the church into confusion by trying to pervert the gospel. Paul says they have been called by the grace of Christ. This means that it all began with God. God calls us first, and that the reason he called is because of his grace, which means that we are accepted into his favor right away, right off the bat. This is different from how
many people think a relationship with God develops. Most people think it begins with our calling upon God and then there are things we need to do to enter into a relationship with him. But Paul says no, the order is God calls you and accepts you and that is how things commence.
So, to reverse the order means to teach and believe that there is something you need to do before grace comes to you. This is why elsewhere in Galatians Paul says that these same people are trying to add to the Gospel. Whether you add a step (“do this and then God will love you”) or reverse the order amounts to the same thing, you end up with a gospel (good news) that is really no gospel at all. Of course Christians are to lead holy lives, but grace comes first, reverse this and you destroy the Gospel.
The gospel gives us courage, and should set us free from living for the approval of others. Paul says that living to try to please men is incompatible with being a servant of Christ. Wow. That is sobering, and even depressing if we are trying to measure our performance against the Apostle Paul.
But what is it that gives him such freedom? It is the gospel! The confidence that comes from knowing that you are fully accepted in God’s embrace because Jesus did everything necessary for you to earn God’s love. He kept the law perfectly from the heart, and took everything that would cause God to cast you out from his presence at the cross, allows you to face the world and say “I don’t need your approval today.” When you are tempted to live for the approval of others, recognize that you have reversed the gospel, you have said in your heart “I need Jesus plus the approval of others for life” and that is a complete reversal of the gospel!
But then, remember who Jesus is and what he did and that his love for you is not based on how well you trust Him (the strength of your faith) but upon his free grace and sense his love on your heart in a way that sets you free.

Peace and love,


"Then Jesus said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me". (Luke 9:23)

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