“The True Gospel”
Hello and welcome to “Key to the Kingdom.” My name is Bret McCasland. Throughout the writings of the apostle Paul, he emphasizes many things about one's relationship with the Lord. Besides the subject of love, the 2 things he writes about the most often are faith and grace. Those are the 2 things I want us to talk about, in our lesson today. We begin a study of the letter Paul wrote to various churches scattered throughout Galatia, which is modern day Turkey. He is concerned about some Christians who are turning away from the true gospel he had already shared with them, and he writes to get them back on track. Oh, sometimes we too get off track when we listen to and believe some other kind of gospel message. There is only one true message, however, and it revolves around God's grace and our faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. I hope you will join us, as we study Paul's message on the one true gospel, and how it rescues us from the sin in our life. Open your hearts and your Bibles, now, as we study together.
Few people would argue with the statement, “The apostle Paul was the greatest spokesman for the Lord Jesus Christ this world has ever known.” Indeed, Paul was in love with Jesus, and yet that was not always the case. There was a time early on in Paul's life when he was known as Saul, when he persecuted Christians. He sought to put to death those who called upon Jesus Christ, and he did everything he could to stand in the way of the growth and the advancement of Jesus' church. He thought he was doing what was right. One day, as he was making his way to the city of Damascus to persecute even more Christians, a great light from heaven shined down upon him. It knocked him to his knees and he was blinded for several days. He recognized that it was the Lord who was speaking to him. It was the Lord who was calling upon him to change his direction, to change his focus and his ministry. He was then led by the hand into the city of Damascus, where he met a man named Ananias. Ananias shared with him the story of Jesus Christ, and even baptized Saul into Jesus on that occasion. From that moment on, Saul, who later became known as Paul, became a great ambassador for the Lord. He traveled on behalf of Jesus Christ, and he shared that good news story and message everywhere he went. The 1st missionary journey Paul took was to the region of Galatia, located in central Asia, which is today called Turkey. He, along with his friend Barnabas, traveled throughout the area and then south to the island of Cyprus; and ruins of some of these places can still be seen today. They shared the good news about Jesus in cities like Antioch, and Iconium, and Lystra, and Derby, and Perga. Some rejected their message, but many did not. They performed miracles in Lystra, but were persecuted in Iconium. Paul brought a curse upon a magician who opposed their message, in Cyprus. In one place, he and Barnabas were beaten with stones and left for dead. And even though some opposed their efforts, many became followers of Jesus Christ and their mission efforts produced good results. Now the story of the travels of Paul and Barnabas, on this 1st missionary journey, are found in the Book of Acts, in the New Testament part of the Bible, in chapters 13 and 14. In fact, the longest recorded sermon Paul ever preached is found in the 13th chapter, in verses 16 through 41. There he encouraged the people of Antioch with the good news message of Jesus Christ, and the story, the sermon, the message there in that 13th chapter, goes something like this. Beginning with Old Testament history Paul spoke about the God of Israel, who made heaven and earth. He told the stories of Abraham, and Moses, and Samuel, and David, and how through them, and all of the other Old Testament patriarchs and prophets, told about the coming of the Messiah, told about the coming of the One from God, the Anointed One. Then, when Jesus came to this Earth to begin His ministry, and man named John the Baptist introduced Jesus and he prepared the way. John himself said, “I am not even worthy to bend over and untie His sandal.” When Jesus came to this Earth, He began His ministry and many people heard what He had to say. He ministered to and served all kinds of people, and yet there were some who rejected Jesus, His ministry and His message. Some even called for His execution, and finally Jesus was put to death on a cross. He died a very cruel and humiliating death in front of all kinds of people, outside the city of Jerusalem. After being buried in a tomb however, for some 3 days, God raised His Son from the dead and Jesus continued His ministry on the Earth for a short time, until He ascended to His Father's right hand. Now, the apostle Paul told that story over and over again. He announced that through Jesus' death, and burial, and resurrection, one can receive salvation. And, when one puts his or her faith and trust in Jesus Christ, and obeys Jesus, just like Paul himself had done, and is baptized into Him then they can become a part of God's family. Now this was the message Paul shared throughout the region of Galatia, and again, many people responded to it. His message centered on God's love and God's grace for people and how they can receive that when they, by faith, respond to what Jesus Christ, God's Son, did for them upon the cross. After Paul shared this message with the various people of Galatia, however, a great problem arose. After many responded to the message of salvation other people came into their midst and sought to destroy it. They taught something totally different than the message Paul had proclaimed, and that is the reason Paul now writes this letter called Galatians. I want us to study from the 1st chapter of Galatians today, and begin reading with verse 6 through 10 of that 1st chapter. This is what Paul writes. -I 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, which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But 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! As 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! Am 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.- Paul cannot believe these Christians throughout Galatia, who responded to his message, his good news message just a few years earlier, were now quickly turning aside from it and listening to another message, which was really not even a gospel message at all. They had abandoned the truth of the gospel. They were following people who said Paul really was not a true apostle. They were following teaching that said, you need to add something to what Paul has already shared in order to make your salvation more secure. So as we noticed, Paul writes this letter out of complete frustration, and sadness, and just a little bit of anger. He cannot believe what is happening to the people throughout Galatia. Now, the majority of those responding to Paul's message were not Jews, they were non-Jews or Gentiles. These Gentiles were allowing this different kind of gospel salvation story to change their way of thinking and to change their behavior, and it was confusing them, as Paul points out. But the gospel they now believed and were trying to follow was not based upon faith in Jesus Christ. Rather, it was based upon faith in themselves and in their own works, and in their own deeds. They were being taught that certain things needed to be added to what they already had. They needed to become like the Jews that were around them, and to submit to circumcision or perhaps to begin keeping certain other aspects of the law, or the customs or traditions of the day. Paul clearly points out, this is no kind of teaching at all. It doesn't correspond with the message I shared with you earlier. And so, in verses 8 and 9, he repeats the same thing for emphasis sake. He states that if we, or if anybody else, even an angel from heaven, will preach to you a different kind of message then let that person be eternally condemned, or eternally cut off from God. Oh, Paul wants these Christians to remember that salvation can only come through faith in Jesus Christ. That message can not be changed. It can not be altered in any way, and yet that is exactly what these false teachers were trying to do. So, Paul's point is plain, none of that is essential for salvation. None of that is going to work. There is only one authoritative message, and it is the message I shared with you when I was there with you; and it centers on Jesus Christ. There are some 13 letters, in the New Testament part of the Bible, which are attributed to the apostle Paul. And in every one of those letters he commends an individual or a group of people to whom he is writing. He acknowledges their faith, or their love, or their good deeds, and he congratulates them on the things they are doing. And he does that in every letter except for one, and that one letter is the letter of Galatians. He doesn't do that with them because there isn't anything good to commend. These people have strayed away from the truth of the gospel message, and Paul is concerned about them. He wants them to get back on track and to remember the message he had shared. Now, Paul does not just say this off the top of his head. He offers his credentials. He reminds them who he is and where he has come from in the 1st few verses of chapter 1. And so, I want us to go back to that 1st chapter of Galatians and read verses 1 through 5. Paul begins this way. - Paul, an apostle, sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead, and all the brothers with me, to the churches in Galatia: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of God our Father, to Him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.- Paul begins his letter to these churches identifying himself as a true apostle, sent by God, Himself. Not sent by some man or receiving instruction from a group of people, but coming as a representative of the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself. He says this is the message that has come from God. This is the message He would have you to know. Notice verse 4. He then states that Jesus is the One who rescues them from sin. He is the One who delivers them from this present evil age, and His self-giving sacrifice covers both their sin as individuals, and also as a group of people. And so, as their representative, Jesus took their place upon the cross and now they don't have to live in sin any more. Yes, Jesus assumed responsibility, and that was the message Paul proclaimed back in Acts chapter 13 and 14; and he reminds them of that same message again, here in Galatians chapter 1. Evidently, the people had either forgotten what Paul shared or they were easily influenced by these false teachers, and perhaps it was some of both. But Paul reminds them, you don't have to measure up to someone else's expectations. You do not have to keep proving yourselves by doing what other people want you to do, and you do not need to put your trust in anyone, or anything else, besides Jesus Christ. In other words, you can get off that spiritual treadmill. Maybe you are familiar with a treadmill. A treadmill is a machine that is stationary. It sits on the ground and is run by a belt. Often times, people get onto that belt and they set it at a certain speed, to either walk or run. They do that for the purpose of staying in good physical condition. But they never go anywhere because that treadmill is stationary. And so they run or they walk over and over again for long periods of time, but they never get further down the road. And Paul says, that's what you are doing spiritually. You're trying to do all of these things (and keep up with that treadmill) and yet it never gets you anywhere. Oh let us know today that there is only one true and reliable way to receive and to keep our salvation, that comes through the love and the grace of Almighty God, and that is through our faith in Jesus Christ and in Him alone. I encourage you to watch this short video clip. It is entitled “The Only Reliable Way”, and allow it to illustrate our lesson for today.
In the minds of many people, owning an automobile is something very important, and it is essential in many situations. To own an automobile allows a person to go wherever he or she might want, or even need, to go; and they take these automobiles wherever they want to go throughout the country. Now, many people don't have an automobile, but for those who have a drivers license, for the most part, own a car, a pickup, an SUV or something like that, and they depend on those vehicles on a daily basis. But there's something about a vehicle, an automobile, whatever it might be, that causes a little bit of a concern. You never know when it might break down. You never know when one of these automobiles will have problems with its engine, or transmission, perhaps a flat tire or something else that dis-enables it and the person is left stranded. When I think about Jesus Christ, I realize that He does something that an automobile does. He takes us from where we are to where we want and need to go, and that is into a relationship with God the Father. Jesus said, in John 14:6, “I am The Way, The Truth and The Life, and no one comes to the Father except through Me.” But the difference is, Jesus never leaves us stranded on the way. He never runs out of gas. He never has any difficulties or problems but He is able to take us to God the Father and into a relationship with Him, and that is so very important! The next time you get into your automobile and go to a place you want or need to go remember that Jesus is the only and reliable way to get us to where we ultimately want to be, and that is into a daily relationship with the Lord God Almighty.
Yes, what these Christians had was enough. They did not need anything else, and it was the very same thing Paul taught them back in Acts chapter 13. It's the very same message that he reminds them about here in Galatians chapter 1; nothing else was needed. His message was trustworthy and reliable, unlike the message of those false teachers. What Jesus did upon the cross was a direct result of God's love and His grace, and above everything else Paul wants them to remember that; to remember what Jesus did, to remember the salvation they already have and to cling closely to it. Yes, he wants them to know that without a doubt when they put their faith in Jesus they receive salvation from sin. Jesus rescues them and no longer do they have to seek to please men. No longer do they have to measure up to someone else's expectations, but they already have their salvation. And Paul says, if that is not true then I would be seeking to share some other message. I would be seeking to please other people. But not so, because now I am a servant of Jesus Christ. As we think about this message today we might ask our self the question, why is it so important for us to hear? Why is it so important for us to pay close attention to what Paul wrote in Galatians chapter 1? Well I believe it is important for a couple of reasons. Reason number 1 is this; we are all guilty of sin. No matter who we are and no matter where we live, no matter how long we have lived upon this Earth, no matter whether we are female or male, no matter what our past or our present condition might look like, we have the problem of sin in our life. And yet, it seems we don't like to talk much about sin anymore. We try to ignore the sin in our life. Perhaps we try to overlook the sin in the lives of our friends or loved ones. We might even try to dismiss sin, stating that it really doesn't matter how I live in the world today. We might even sweep our sin under the rug and hope that it will just somehow disappear. But yet, none of that will ever work. The only way we can properly deal with the sin in our life is by responding with faith to what Jesus Christ did upon the cross. And when we do that, as we read in verse 4, our sin is taken away and it is removed! And as Paul wrote, God delivers us from this present evil age. And so we don't live in our sin anymore. And there is no other message, and there is no other messenger or person that can do that, except the message and the person of Jesus Christ. And so it is only by God's grace and through our faith in Jesus that we receive that salvation, and we can never allow some kind of false teaching to persuade us otherwise. But then there is a 2nd reason why I believe this story is important for us to hear today. To abandon our faith in Jesus is to abandon God's grace. Now hear very carefully what I am about to say. God loves you more than you will ever know. God's love for you will never run out. God's love for you is beyond our comprehension, and by His grace we receive that love. Yet, when we seek to abandon it, when we seek to add something to God's love for us, when we seek to do something that adds to what God has already done, in the form of giving His Son for us, then we turn our back upon God's grace gift. The greatest gift He could ever give is His Son, Jesus Christ, and when we say, “God, that really isn't good enough, and I want to add something to what you've already done to make it just a little bit more secure,” then we abandon the grace of God. In fact, Paul even warns about that happening to these people in Galatia, later on in chapter 5 verse 4. Yes, we want to create our own set of rules, or standards, or doctrines by which to live we reject the free gift of salvation. We reject the free gift of Jesus Christ. When we do that we try to get back on our own spiritual treadmill, thinking that if we do enough, if we create enough, if we add enough to what we already have, then it will make our salvation just that much more secure. And certainly that is not right. That is what Paul warns us about here in Galatians chapter 1. Now, with those things in mind today, I want to close by offering 2 questions for us to consider. Question number 1 is, do we know whom we have believed? That was the problem with the people in Galatia. They had forgotten that they believed in Jesus Christ. May that never be the case with us. May it always be the case, however, that we believe in Jesus Christ as the one and only Son of God; that He is the only One who can rescue us from our sin and give us the hope and the promise of an eternal home with God the Father. Let us always know in whom we have believed and put our trust and confidence. But then question number 2 is, are we standing firm on the one true gospel of Jesus Christ? So many false doctrines and false teachings are in the world today; that try to lead us astray and to convince us there is something else that needs to be done. But my prayer and my encouragement, for each and every one of us, is that not only will we know whom we have believed but we will stand firm on the one true gospel message of Jesus Christ and trust in Him alone for our salvation; that we will someday see God and live eternally with Him. That is my encouragement for you today. Know whom you have believed and stand firm on the one true gospel message of Jesus Christ.
Thank you for joining us for today's lesson. I hope this message about the one true gospel reminded us of God's amazing grace, and the wonderful sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. It is true, there is no other kind of gospel that can save us; but when we put our faith in Jesus He rescues us from our sin. That is some good news; I hope you have already received and responded to it. If not though, perhaps we can help. If you would like a free Bible study please call the number on the screen and we would be happy to send it to you by mail, or, if you would like to request that same Bible study online please go to keytothekingdom.com. It is free and requires no commitment. I hope you will take advantage of these free offers. There is one other thing I want to mention. Everything I have just identified is available as a free app from your phone's app store, and it is accessible through any smart phone. Once again, let me say thank you for watching today's episode and please join us again next time as we study the Bible on “Key to the Kingdom”.