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Galatians 1:8-9 contain what are arguably the harshest words to be found in the letters of the Apostle Paul. And one wonders, what could possibly evoke such a strong reaction from him as to say certain others ought to be accursed – utterly cut off from God? What could possibly stir the Holy Spirit so to inspire those words?
The answer may surprise you. But that is our topic today on Through the Word in 2020 – I’m Reid Ferguson.
The thing which Paul says astonished him so much – the word “astonished” meaning it extraordinarily disturbed him – is located in one chief thing: Some in the Church he was writing to had “deserted” Christ. What did he mean by that? The text defines it as simply having distorted the Gospel of Christ.
For Paul, for the Holy Spirit, the Gospel DISTORTED is the Gospel DENIED. And to embrace a DISTORTED Gospel is to DESERT Christ.
The Gospel does not change. And it must be firmly rooted in an understanding of a few key things:
a. The Person of Christ. That he is the God/man.
b. The Purpose of His incarnation and death. To be our righteousness and die in our place.
c. The Power of His atoning work. That He actually atoned for sin in His substitutionary death.
d. The Promises attached to it. That all who believe are justified from their sins and reconciled to God.
e. The Product of it all. That taken out of the Kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of Christ – we now live our lives for Him and His purposes.
Now what might distortions of the Gospel look like?
1. The Gospel of RELIGION: Do religious things and God will accept you.
2. The Gospel of MORALISM: Just be a good person, and God will accept you.
3. The Gospel of PERSONAL FULFILLMENT: God is here so you can realize your own personal desires. Christ has His cross, but there is no call for me to deny myself – He is simply making the way for me to have MY way.
4. The Gospel of ASSOCIATION: Be connected to the right people, group,causes or organization and you will be accepted by God.
5. The Gospel of ALL ACCEPTING LOVE: No matter what, God will accept everyone eventually anyway. There is no call, demand or expectation that I actually have to bow to Christ’s Lordship or live my life for Him.
6. The Gospel of NOTHINGNESS: There is no God. There is no final accountability. don’t sweat it no matter what. When we die, we die, and all is forgotten. There will be no day of judgment. No reckoning. Just nothing. Lights out.
All of these in contrast, in opposition to – the Gospel of grace in Jesus Christ: Mankind, rebelling against God to be our own ultimate authority. Claiming for ourselves the right to determine what is right and what is wrong. Condemned for our sin. Disobeying and trampling God underfoot through direct opposition and the disdain of utterly ignoring our Creator and God. This God, so sinned against, sending His own Son – Jesus Christ, God robed in human flesh to die a substitutionary death on the cross – for our sins, in our place – that we might be reconciled to God the Father and restored to right relationship to Him through faith. And to take up once again the high and holy calling of bearing His image to the cosmos. Loving, serving, delighting in and making Him known as the ultimate good.
This is the REAL Gospel Beloved. Don’t let anyone distort it for you.
Don’t desert Him.
God bless. And God willing, we’ll be back Monday.