Sermon – October 15, 2017

Galatians Cover

Conversion of St. Paul on the Road to Damascus – Hans Speeckaert (1570)

Galatians 1:6-7 – The Distortion of the Gospel (mp3)

In the book of Galatians, there are three primary actors.  We have already been introduced to Paul and the Galatians.  This week, we are introduced to the Agitators, those who pervert the gospel of Christ, and are leading the Galatians away from his grace.  Before we can understand the perversion of the gospel, however, we need to understand the true gospel.

The true gospel is the proclamation that Jesus’ death alone frees from their sins those who trust in him, and his resurrection has established a perfect kingdom that awaits fulfillment.

Let us take some time to fill in parts of this definition:

Proclamation: The gospel is, at its heart, a proclamation. It is good news for us because someone has reported it to us. It is news so good it must be proclaimed.

Jesus’ death alone: It is not by works, fame, intelligence, wisdom, sincerity, wealth, or coercion that you enter into the good grace of God. Nothing can afford you any kindness from God outside of the death of Jesus Christ.

Frees from their sins: Our sin flows from our lack of our highest love of God. We must love God with all of our being, when we fail to do this, sin naturally flows; and we always fail to love God in this way. Jesus’ death frees from both sin’s penalty and dominion. By stepping inbetween God’s wrath and us, Jesus has satisfied the justice of God, and freed us from the grave penalty we have owed. Further than this, however, he has also freed us from the dominion and power that the present evil age, sin, and Satan have over those who believe.

Trust: We must trust in Jesus’ death as the only way to be made right with God. We forsake all of our works as filthy rags, all of our prayers as trite bribery, and any other claim on God as pure pride. We have Christ and him alone.

Resurrection: Not a myth, not a metaphysical concept, not a metaphor for a rebuilt life, but an honest, true, historical, and physical resurrection.

Perfect Kingdom: Jesus’ kingdom, awarded to him through his resurrection, is perfect in all ways. Not only with himself as a perfect king, but a perfect people, refined by his very own blood. His kingdom will be without blemish, sin, pain, anger, enemies, tears, or death.

Awaits Fulfillment: Yet, we know that this kingdom has not come in its fullness. We indeed have experienced part of the kingdom, and that truly, but we do not yet see the kingdom in its fullness. For that, we await Jesus’ return.

Those who were perverting the gospel were not tearing apart the gospel and in bold ways denying Christ, but were simply distorting it; taking a legitimate form of the gospel and making it mandatory for others.  In this way, the portion of vv. 6 and 7 that concern us should likely read this way:

I am astonished that you are so quickly…turning to a different form of the gospel; not that this is a wholly “other” gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.

The Agitators weren’t denying Christ flatly, but wrongly applying their own cultural context in a way that nullified the cross of Christ.  This is very subtle, very dangerous, and helps us see all the more the importance of knowing the gospel.  Remember:

1. You must know the gospel well

2. You must share the gospel well