Galatians: What's Wrong With Changing the Gospel?

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.

As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

Galatians 1:6-9, ESV

 

You may have heard the saying, "We are all going to the same place, just by different paths". The implication is that any way you want to come to Christ is just alright. After all, God's grace is sufficient, right?

 

Now please don't get me wrong. I know that there are a lot of well meaning people who just want to get along and sincerely want to please God. Having said that, well meaning or not, the Word of God is very specific when it comes to changes: It is forbidden!

 

That may seem harsh at first, but consider what God has done for us. He has given us a plan that will not change. Many conmen within the ranks of preachers have claimed to have a "secret message" from God. Many of these false teachers have even said that the message they received was given to them by an angel. Cautious people then have to ask themselves, "What if they really did talk to an angel?"

 

The beauty of God is that he anticipated such evil in advance. He had the Apostle Paul write not once, but twice, that if someone preached a new Gospel - even if it was an angel - they were accursed. Accursed is a specific word that indicates an eternal condemnation. In other words, such an accursed being - whether man or angel - will be lost should they preach any other Gospel than the one found in the Scriptures.

 

Again, some men will say this is too severe, but it is exactly the opposite. There are no changes needed to the perfection of the Good News of Jesus Christ, therefore, no changes will be made. Since this is the case, we can go to the Word and be confident that we are getting the exact, unchanging truths that we need for salvation.

 

God didn't take any chance with His Word... will we?

 

The readings for this next week are from Galatians. This inspired letter contains powerful truths that all men need to properly serve both the Father and the Son. 

II Corinthians 9-13: His Grace Is Enough

And to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me;

but he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

II Corinthians 12:7-10, RSV

 

Even the Apostle Paul had things that he wished he did not have to go through.

 

I think one of the hardest things for us to understand is why good people have to experience hardships. I was visiting with a man the other day whose grandson had been born with a crippling birth defect. His parents have spent thousands of dollars and traveled many miles to try and help their child. And while the child is getting a bit better, at the age of five he still cannot walk. He faces a life tat will be hard, indeed, a life that has been very hard already. Why would God permit such a thing?

 

The answer of course is that we cannot know. What we can know is that God loves this child and that He wants him to be with Him whole, someday, in Heaven. But until then the life of the child and the parents and grandparents will be filled with challenges that will sometimes seem unbearable.

 

But, the fact remains, God's grace is sufficient.

 

And that will make all the difference, if we will let it, and that makes the seemingly unbearable, bearable.

 

One of the reasons that we read the Word is that it helps us to understand a little better the tests that we are going through here on earth. This understanding will not make the difficulties of life easy, but it will make it bearable. And then, for the faithful, there will be Heaven.

 

Then we will see plainly that His grace has always been enough.

 

The readings for the next few days are from II Corinthians 9-13. They tell us how to rely on God that we might serve Him best.

II Corinthians 5-8: Do Not Lose Heart

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

II Cor. 4:16-5:1, ESV

 

At 60, I can more and more understand Paul's inspired writings concerning the "wasting away" that we all eventually will experience should we be blessed to live long enough. And while I do not consider myself to be quite that old yet, I do see signs that my body is physically beginning to slow down a bit. Indeed, that "slowing" seems to be gaining speed as each day goes by.

 

There are other "light and momentary afflictions" that I have observed. Perhaps it is my age, but this world seems to be getting more and more out of control. I see evil men and women struggling for power, and committing some of the worst crimes against humanity that have been seen for many a year in order to gain that power. I see people from one side of the world doing mischief on the other side, just to gain money. I see our youth becoming less and less respectful of those around them, perhaps as a direct result of the previously mentioned power and money hungry. All in all, it has led to a less safe and far less pleasant life than men could enjoy if they would just seek to help others, rather than try to get what they can.

 

So, whether from personal struggles or those difficulties being commonly shared by all men everywhere, there does seem to be a fair amount of "light and momentary afflictions" going on today that Paul experienced during his time some 2,000 years in the past. If one is not careful, he can get caught up in all of these trials and become discouraged.

 

That is precisely where Paul's encouragement to not lose heart comes in. We are here only for a brief moment, and then we are gone. Whether we are blessed to live many years, or whether we are blessed with a time of fewer struggles, there is an expiration date for us all. The wise man will realize that we were not made, at least not primarily, for this brief time of testing here on earth.

 

For we are created by God to live eternally.

 

That being the case, wouldn't it behoove us all if we spent a little less time focusing on our light and momentary troubles, and a little more time contemplating those things that are eternal? For it is true that one day, maybe a day much sooner than we expect, that we will be called to our eternal home, complete with a body that will not wear out. And then we can get on with the life that God has called us to... if we can only take our eyes off of the temporary, and place our eyes and our hopes on the eternal. It is for truths such as we read from the passage above that we can gain this hope and this confidence.

 

The reading for the next few days is from II Corinthians 5-8. They will help us all to realize that our troubles, no matter how seemingly big at this time, really are light and momentary, and will pass away before we know it.

II Corinthians 1-4: He Has Delivered Us Before and Will Do it Again

For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death.

But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.

II Corinthians 1:8-10

 

Does it ever seem that things just go from bad to worse? Think about this past year and a half where we experienced an event that changed everything from the way that we work, educate our children and worship,  to the way that we even leave our homes. Now we are being warned by some that the economy is in such a degraded state that we may have to have some kind of a worldwide "reset". And this "reset", they warn us, will be a very tumultuous one indeed.

 

So, what's a Christian to do?

 

In the passage above, Paul reminds the church at Corinth of an affliction that he and his fellow workers had recently been through that had the effect of utterly burdening them beyond their strength. He said that it had actually made them despair of even life itself. Then he shared with the church a secret that not only had helped them get through this life shaking event, but would also get them through any other perils that might be coming up in the future. What was that "secret"?

 

It was the fact that God Himself had delivered them. God, who raises the dead as Paul pointed out, had not only the power to deliver them before, but He would deliver them again!

 

When you realize this powerful truth, there is really nothing that can stop you. Paul, through inspiration, revealed to us that these difficult times, in part, are to help us not to rely upon ourselves but upon God who raises the dead.  

 

And, if the One who raises the dead is on our side, what can possibly keep us from doing the things that He wants us to do? For it is a fact that He has delivered us before and He will deliver us again. That fact will not only keep us from despairing over the difficult times of life, it will give us the hope that we so desperately need to not merely survive these trails, but to successfully meet in an overwhelming fashion any difficulty that life may bring our way.

 

The reading for these next four days is from II Corinthians 1-4. They contain the secrets to successfully deal with all of life's travails. 

I Corinthians 15-16: Holding to the Agreement

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received,

in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

I Corinthians 15:1-2, ESV

 

I was a real estate appraiser for over a dozen years prior to preaching full time. And while I have had the privilege of preaching for over 25 years since that time, there are several lessons I learned from my appraising years that have always stayed with me. One of those lessons is that a contract, if written well, is there to protect and benefit both parties. But in order to receive these benefits, both sides must hold to the agreement.

 

This is one of the things I love about serving God. We never have to worry about Him keeping His part of the agreement (covenant) for His Word is written to both benefit and protect us because He loves us.

 

At the close of his first letter to the church at Corinth, Paul reminds all Christians of the Gospel (the Good News of Jesus) that he has preached. He reminds us that those who accept the Gospel are to remain steadfast in it, for it is by this Gospel that we are saved. Otherwise, he assures us through the inspiration of God, we have believed in vain.

 

In plain language, we need to hold to our side of the agreement.

 

Are you? If so you know what peace and joy can be had for those who love the Lord.

 

The reading for the next two days is from the final two chapters of I Corinthians. They not only remind us of the agreement, but provide encouragement and promise to those who will remain true to the end.