Thursday, September 16, 2010

Please God, not humanity.

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)

The apostle loved these young Galatian Christians. He was so concerned about their being sucked into the dead-end religion of behavioral performance that he could not remain silent, but felt compelled to confront the intolerable situation. His grieving soul was full of emotional intensity that would criticize their credulity and denounce their defection, but it was the infiltrating false-teachers that most roused his seething consternation and indignant invectives. New Christians are so fragile, vulnerable and susceptible to the introduction of distortions and perversions. They so want to believe that religious teachers have their highest good and intent in mind, and will lead them on in their walk with God. They often lack the discernment to recognize that diabolically inspired religious peddlers (II Cor. 2:17) will inevitably misrepresent the gospel of God's grace in Jesus Christ for their own selfish benefit and ends. This is not to imply that the neophyte Galatian Christians were not to be held responsible for their backsliding, for Paul certainly holds them accountable. They should have been able to recognize that when the peripatetic outsiders began to criticize Paul and the gospel he shared, there was "a skunk in the woodpile." Apparently some of them did realize the perversion, and they were probably the ones who initiated or participated in the delegation who traveled to give a full report of the tragic situation to Paul.
Paul was so convinced that the gospel of grace in Jesus Christ alone, that he received and was commissioned to share on the road to Damascus, was the exclusive good news of the singular divine reality for the restoration of mankind, that no matter who advocated anything else, be they men or angels, were dead-wrong and damnably in jeopardy. That, of course, included, and was specifically aimed at, the Judaizers who were seeking to add legalistic observances as necessary accretions to Christianity. Any addition to Christ necessarily implies the insufficiency of the all-sufficiency of Christ, and is therefore at variance with and antithetical to the gospel.

The consequence for those who would thus cut the heart out of the gospel by reducing Jesus Christ to an adjunct redundancy is that they should receive the curse of God's condemnation. Paul's reasoning is based on the fact that God's curse is the opposite of His blessing, and if "God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 1:3), then the only alternative to accepting the blessings of the "finished work" of Jesus Christ is to experience God's anger for thinking that we can finish off God's work and be blessed.

What an indictment on so much of Christian religion that sells the gospel short by demanding ethical duties in addition to the grace of God in Christ. These moralistic additions are not innocuous diversions and contingencies, but are diabolic misrepresentations worthy of the indictment of God's anger for the damnableness of religion. Who could better issue the pronouncement of "Religion be damned!," than the former Pharisee who knew the bankruptcy (cf. Phil. 3:2-9) of Judaic religion, and would under no circumstances allow its encroachment upon the Christian gospel? Blessed be Paul.

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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