No Other Gospel (Galatians 1:6-10)
When I was preaching for one congregation, we had to withdraw from a young man over some things that he was teaching. This young man had attended a denominational K-12 school, and by the time he graduated, he had no doctrinal bearing whatsoever. His father was teaching a young adult class at the congregation, but his father was going to be out of town on this Sunday, so this young man filled in. His lesson that morning was how that baptism made absolutely no difference whatsoever–baptism is not, he said, essential to salvation. One of the elders talked with him on a couple of occasions, but this young man refused to repent. The elders announced that we were withdrawing ourselves from him. He went on to attend a denominational seminary and he is now, as far as I know, he is a preacher in a denominational group.
I have no doubt that you have likely experienced something quite similar. You’ve known people who were strong in the faith who left. No, they didn’t get caught up in some immorality. Instead, they abandoned Jesus by abandoning truth. You’ve likely all known congregations that had once been vibrant and faithful, but they abandoned Jesus by abandoning His teachings. It really shouldn’t surprise us that people and churches fall away–Scripture warns us of that very real possibility. 2 Timothy 4:3-4. “There were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you” (2 Pet 2:1).
The Galatian Christians had some false teachers among them. As you read Galatians, it becomes quite clear that the heretics were Judaizers. The Judaizers wanted to bind circumcision and the keeping of the Old Testament Law upon Gentile converts. Thus, the Gentile converts in Galatia are being troubled, and the Jewish brethren are more than likely being caught up in the heresy themselves.
Paul, therefore, needs to write the Galatians and remind them: “There is but one Gospel.” If you learn nothing else this morning, learn “There is but one Gospel.” Let’s take a look at what Paul writes and the implications of his lesson.
Scripture (Galatians 1:6-10)
Paul marvels that the Galatians so quickly turn from the truth of the gospel. We sometimes think of apostasy as something that takes a long, long time to take place. In all likelihood, it has just been a few months since the Galatians became Christians. If the Galatians could apostatize in just a few short months, why do we think we can’t do the same? It took Eve only a few minutes to go from Paradise to sin. It only took Peter a few hours to go from standing with Jesus to denying Jesus. Because we can apostatize so quickly, we need to be constantly on guard.
The Galatians were turning away from Him who had called them. In other words, they were turning away from God. Too often we view doctrine as a list of do’s and don’ts in the church. We don’t use instrumental music, we don’t use women as leaders, we do take the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week, and so on. When we view doctrine simply as a bunch of rules, we become just like the Pharisees. Doctrine is not about keeping a bunch of rules and regulations. Doctrine is about doing what is pleasing to God. It’s about our relationship with Him. “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (Jn 14:15).
The Galatians were turning to a different gospel, which is not another gospel. Paul uses two different Greek words here. The New International Version does a good job getting the meaning here: You “are turning to a different gospel–which is really no gospel at all.” “There is but one Gospel.”
Some were troubling the Galatians and perverting the gospel of Christ. It seems to me that the Judaizers troubling the Galatians were purposefully twisting the truth–perverting the gospel seems to suggest that. Whether they do so intentionally or not, many today pervert the gospel. How many preachers will boldly proclaim that baptism has nothing whatsoever to do with salvation? How many will say that it doesn’t really matter how you worship–with or without a mechanical instrument? How many will say that it doesn’t really matter if you believe in Jesus–everyone is going to go to heaven?
Anyone who preaches a different gospel is to be accursed. Notice that Paul lumps himself with every other teacher here–doesn’t matter who he or she is. Notice that Paul even mentions angels here. Therefore, it’s quite likely that the Judaizers claimed the highest authority for what they were saying. “An angel told me what to say. . . .”
The one who teaches a different gospel is to be accursed. The Greek term here is “anathema” and refers to something dedicated to destruction. What Paul is saying is: “If anyone preaches a different gospel, let him be cast into hell, let him be eternally condemned.” That says preaching is nothing to play with–Heaven and hell, the most serious of all things, hang in the balance. God will judge those who preach by a higher standard: “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment” (Js 3:1).
Paul reiterates what he has already said. It is that important.
Paul isn’t trying to please men. Otherwise, he would not be the servant of Christ.
Preaching can be a very lonely occupation. Ask Elijah when he believes he’s the only one who hasn’t bowed before Baal. Ask John the Baptist when he loses his head. Ask Peter as he’s crucified upside down.
Yet, preaching isn’t about pleasing people–God has given His message that is to be proclaimed. Micaiah is brought before Ahab and told to make his prophesy pleasant to Ahab’s ears. Micaiah says, “As the LORD lives, whatever the LORD says to me, that I will speak” (1 Ki 22:14). “Preach the word!” (2 Tim 4:2)–The subject matter of preaching has been settled long ago.
“There is but one Gospel.” Believing anything but that one gospel can cost you your soul. 2 Timothy 2:17-18: Notice that by teaching error Hymenaeus and Philetus overthrew the faith of some. “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God” (2 Jn 1:9). How do you, therefore, respond?
One: You need to check behind the preacher.
You should never apologize for making sure a preacher is preaching truth. Your soul’s salvation depends on making sure the preacher is preaching truth. Scripture commends checking behind preachers: The Bereans “were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).
If you’re going to check behind the preacher: You need to bring your Bible. It’s a little hard to check what I’m saying if you don’t bring your Bible; and You need to pay attention. It’s easy to hear an idea and begin accepting it as truth. We’ve got to stay on top of what we hear.
Two: You need to check yourself.
You need to check your Bible to make sure what you believe is true. The Bible was given for that purpose: 2 Timothy 3:16-17. “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” (2 Pet 1:3)–If I can’t find it in Scripture, that means it doesn’t pertain to life and godliness.
We don’t need to spend all of our time studying books about the Bible–we need to study the Bible! There’s nothing wrong in reading commentaries or handbooks or any other book. But, we must always remember that those books were written by fallible men–Only Scripture can be completely trustworthy! You must be a Bible-studying people–Your eternal destiny depends upon it!
Three: You must teach your children.
God wants parents to teach their children His truths. Deuteronomy 6:6-7. “Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph 6:4).
We cannot neglect to teach our children the truths of God’s Word. This world doesn’t care about the truths of God’s Word–the world will not teach our children in the way they should go. If our children are to know truth from error, we must teach them.
Four: You must teach truth to others.
So many of our friends and loved ones want to do God’s will, but they are caught up in error.
We have a responsibility to teach. “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mk 16:15). We’re to teach the one Gospel to all. Do you know the gospel well enough to teach? Do you need to be spending time in the Book so you can teach others? Do you need to come and obey that one gospel this morning?