Sermon notes: Galatians Number 7...
NOTE: This is number 7 in a series on Galatians. If this is your first time reading sermon notes here, please take time to read a helpful explanation at the bottom of this post.
From the Pulpit of Church of the Good Shepherd
This Lord’s Day, we turn to our seventh in a series of sermons on the New Testament book of Galatians. And this week, again, we turn to verses six through ten...
* Galatians 1:6-10 This is the Word of God, eternally true.
6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! 10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. (NASB95)
We have a habit of speech when we want to add an explosive element to the rebuke of a family member, yet to keep the rebuke fairly soft. We say something like, “I can’t believe you did that! What on earth were you thinking?” Or, “It boggles my mind you could have even thought about doing that, let alone actually do it!”
So the Apostle Paul begins the substance of his letter to the Galatians saying, “I can’t believe…,” “It boggles my mind…,” or “I am amazed."
What boggles the Apostle Paul’s mind?
His mind is boggled that they are deserting Jesus Christ for another gospel; and not just deserting Him, but doing it with "so quickly.”
6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel;
Adding to his incredulity is the fact that the One the Galatians are deserting is the One Who had “called them by the grace of Christ.” In other words, part of the surprise the Apostle Paul expresses is the fact that the Galatians were abandoning Jesus Christ so soon after He saved them. No sooner had He drawn them to Himself than they turned away from Him. To Paul, this was too hard to believe.
Note how different, though, is the Apostle Paul’s reproof of the Galatian believers than his condemnation of the false shepherds who were leading them away from the Gospel. To the Galatians, his rebuke is fatherly, whereas the rebuke he is about to unleash against their false shepherds is a flame of white hot intensity:
8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!
Why such a difference?
Because leaders are always judged more severely than those they are to lead.
James 3:1 “1 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.”
And when leaders fail by leading souls astray, leading the sheep under their care away from Jesus, it is not simply this world’s judgement that they come under, but that of the next—the judgement of God. Remember Jesus’ warning:
Matthew 7:22, 23 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’”
It was no small thing that was at stake with the new interpretation of the Gospel taking the Galatian church by storm. Rather, this new interpretation was nothing less than a denial of the Gospel, the true way of salvation.
6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.
Look at what the Apostle Paul writes and it’s clear that the false teachers, false shepherds, are leading the Christians there in Galatia to desert Jesus Christ, to believe another Gospel that was really not another Gospel, but bondage; instead of healing and guarding the Galatians, they were disturbing them and distorting the Gospel of Jesus Christ which is the power of God to save all those who believe.
And part of what saddened Paul about the situation was that it all happened so quickly—he says that he is “amazed (they) are so quickly deserting (Jesus).”
We cannot date this letter precisely, but it’s likely Paul wrote it within just a few years of the time he preached the Gospel in Galatia and saw many souls believe in Jesus Christ.
It’s not hard, then, to imagine why his disappointment is so raw as he writes. Imagine a pastor who labors faithfully within a congregation, establishing them in the Good News of Jesus Christ and teaching the path of Christian discipleship. Seeing them well on their way to Christian maturity, he receives a call to another place and moves on. Then several years later, he hears that the people he loved are now under the sway of another pastor who is not faithful, but is leading them back into bondage to the law.
And noting that one of the things he finds it most difficult to bear is that it’s all happened so quickly—so soon after they first came to Christ—we ought to take warning ourselves concerning the ease with which we too might find ourselves led astray.
1 Corinthians 10:12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.
We must be on guard today against those who seek to lead Christians astray, enticing them to deny the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is no little thing to find a wolf among the sheep, and finding one preying among them, shepherds must be as bloody as the Apostle Paul, not hesitating to enter the fray, risking their lives for the souls God has called them to guard.
Think of the Children of Israel, wandering in the desert; and how quickly their hearts turned back to the bondage, the slavery, of Egypt:
Exodus 16:1-3 “1 Then they set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the sons of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departure from the land of Egypt. [in other words, about forty-five days after they had been freed by God from their bondage] 2 The whole congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. 3 The sons of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the LORD’S hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.””
Just so, the believers in Galatia had been set free by the Son of God, but were now turning back to bondage; they were ready to trade in their freedom in Christ for bondage to the Law and Satan.
Luke 4:16-21 And He (Jesus) came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. 17 And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written, 18 “THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED, 19 TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD.” 20 And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.””
John 8:31-36 “31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. 35 “The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. 36 “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”
Galatians 5:1-4 “1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. 2 Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. 4 You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.”
Note that the false shepherds come, not as demons denying Christ explicitly, but as if they were really as faithful to Jesus Christ as the Apostle Paul, only they had more truth—a more impassioned and faithful Gospel than Paul. Claiming apostolic authority, they aimed to improve upon the Gospel. And this is the way of Satan attacking the Church still today, seeking to subvert souls safely gathered into her bosom, drawing them down the road to perdition under the guise of leading them to Heaven.
2 Corinthians 11:12-15 But what I am doing I will continue to do, so that I may cut off opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the matter about which they are boasting. 13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.
But the center of the truth-question the Apostle Paul addresses in Galatians is not a matter of whose apostolic credentials are true and whose false; rather, the center is the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ—and men and angels demonstrate the legitimacy of their claims of authority by their actions either defending or attacking that Gospel.
You can imagine what the Judaizers were saying about the Apostle Paul:
That man Paul is not a true apostle, but only a Johnny-come-lately to the Jerusalem crowd. You remember that he used to run around persecuting the church—men and women alike? And we all know a leopard can’t change its spots; he’s dangerous and he’ll do anything to get an audience. Always the big statement—the grand gesture—for him. He only barely escaped from Damascus; he was such a troublemaker that he had to be let down over the city wall in a basket in order to escape. And then, remember Lystra? There he was, stoned and dragged out of the city, left for dead. He was beaten in Philippi, and then again, outside the temple in Jerusalem.
No, there’s something not entirely trustworthy about this man, Paul, and you Galatians need to be careful placing all your eggs in his basket.
And another thing; he’s inconsistent. Why does he tell you Galatians not to circumcise yourselves, whereas he has his pet junior preacher, Timothy, circumcised? What’s that about, huh? Which is it, Paul? Make up your mind. Talk about speaking with a forked tongue.
Look, dear Galatian friends, if you want to be safe, you better travel further down the path of faith than where Paul dropped you off. Truth is, he wants to reserve the best stuff for his family and friends—for Timothy, for instance—while holding you at bay, back in the milk stage.
Apostle my foot; what a hypocrite!
Often we place our faith in the man rather than the truth of his message. And down through history, this is a great danger to the Church and her souls.
Paul makes this danger clear in verses 8 and 9:
8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!
No man is to be trusted, but God and His Word alone. To raise a man into the position of infallibility is idolatry. And the Apostle Paul makes this clear by going through a list of those not to be trusted, starting with himself. Who is not to be trusted?
Paul starts with himself, then goes to the angels, and finally to any other man. And he says that none of them—not even himself or the angels from Heaven—are to be listened to or trusted if they turn away from the true Gospel, to a false one.
In fact, he doesn’t say they are not to be trusted, but he says they are to be devoted to the Lord; in other words, to be accursed, or damned.
“Let them be accursed!”
“Let them be damned,” he declares.
- Papal claim of infallibility when speaking ex cathedra.
Then remembering their accusations against him, the Apostle Paul turns from calling down fire from heaven on the false shepherds, back to the sheep. And he pleads with them, on gut level, to stop and consider whether things are, really, as the false preachers claim. Who is it really seeking to please them? Who is it really who’s scratching their ears? Who really ought properly to be acknowledged as the man-pleaser?
10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.
Come, Though Long Expected Jesus
-by Charles Welsey
Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.
* * *
EXPLANATION: Sermons are pastoral, and therefore of only limited value to those who are not present when a pastor feeds the flock God called him to serve. Yet, knowing even notes may be of some value to others, I'm posting past sermon notes here on Baylyblog. Because the notes weren't written for publication, no editor has cleaned them up for reproduction on the web. So, for instance, although the notes I take into the pulpit have formatting that highlights quotes, I haven't taken the time to reproduce that formatting here. Please keep in mind these are only notes and not a transcription of the sermon that was preached.
Bible quotes are from the New American Standard Bible (Updated '95 Edition). This is the best Bible available in the English language, having by far the closest correspondence of any English Bible in common use today between the original Hebrew and Greek and the English translation. Here are the NASB Bibles that will read easily and hold together best for twenty years. Their paper is opaque, their type is clean, their binding is superb, and I have no hesitation saying you would do well to spend one or two hundred dollars on one for yourself, your wife, and each of your children.
If the reader has good eyes, buy the Pitt Minion. It's very small and light and will last for decades. If the reader has fading or poor eyesight, buy the Clarion Reference. It has the larger typeface, and again, will last for decades. If the reader likes writing notes in the margin, buy the Wide-Margin Reference. It's big and heavy and you will be able to write to your heart's content.
May God bless you, dear brother and sister, as you study the Word of God and, only by faith, find it sweeter than honey.