Podcast Episode 24 – Galatians
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Galatians is one of the easier New Tesament letters to understand. That’s why many Bible Study groups study this book early and often. It’s a great option for inexperience Preachers who want to begin preaching directly from the Bible rather than trying to come up with topics on a week by week basis.
Which brings me to my first rabbit trail today. It’s relevant but it really is a side road. This podcast was created to help you study through the Bible and understand it better so that you can make the Bible an integral part of your daily life. That’s why we’re going through the Bible Book by book. I’ve been reading lately, though, that some popular preachers are abandoning a through the Bible approach for a more current event or current issue methodology. One very popular mega church preacher has called this through the Bible teaching, Cheating.
I beg to differ. Yes, he has a huge congregation with many campuses. Yes, this guy has a huge platform and his word carries some weight in the Theological World, especially among younger Evangelicals and Millennials. A large platform, however, doesn’t make one right. If I stick to going through the Bible, I know I’m on safe ground. It’s when I digress from the Holy Spirit inspired scripture and going out on my own that I risk the thin ice of heterodoxy. Heterodoxy, now there’s a good preacher word for you. It just means mixed doctrine. It’s kind of a gentle synonym for heresy.
But I digress. Unlike the other letters Paul wrote to Churches, this one is to a group of Churches rather than to a single congregation. It’s kind of an open letter, or a round robin one. The Primary Churches are Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe, with probably a few smaller congregations in between. None of the towns are huge like Corinth or Athens or Rome, but they are special to Paul because they are among the first churches he planted during his first missionary journey. He cares about them enough that he makes a quick stop back by on his second journey. This is when Timothy joins the team.
Paul writes to these Churches to call them back to the simple truth of the Gospel of Salvation by grace through faith. That theme permeates the Galatian letter. It’s s message that never gets old.
Shortly after Paul leaves Galatia, a group nicknamed, the Judaisers come to town and start telling the Jewish believers to stop associating with gentiles and the tell the gentile converts that they must obey the law of Moses, including circumcision and the special dietary laws. Paul is outraged and, just as he will do with the Corinthians and Philippians he minces no words and takes no prisoners when dealing with these legalists.
In chapter one, he calls it a ‘different gospel’ and ‘no Gospel at all’. He suggests anyone teaching false doctrine should be sent straight to hell. We’ll come back to that in a minute.
In Chapter 3, the Apostle concludes they must be under a spell to believe such garbage. He uses the word, “Bewitched”. Later on, he likens it to slavery instead of freedom.
As you read through Galatians, you’re going to see that the theme of grace being superior to law is the overwhelming theme.
But I want to spend a few minutes in Chapter one because, Paul has some very strong things to say about false teaching that sound incredible contrary in our new world of tolerance.
- He openly rejects this ‘different gospel’ and calls it no gospel at all. No ‘many paths to God’ for Paul.
- If that’s not strong enough language, he says anyone preaching a different Gospel should be ‘cursed, cut off from God’. In the original, that word is ‘anathema’. You’ve probably heard that word and maybe even used it. We kind of think of it as meaning something is a ‘no-no’, but it literally means, cut off from God with no hope of return. Paul could not have chosen a stronger expression of disdain. He says in essence, they can go to hell and rot.’ That kind of language will make you go viral on social media these days, and not in a good way. But, when eternity is at stake, sometimes we have to use strong language. We’re talking about people souls here. Paul is on a rescue mission for some of these Galatian Christians. He has no time to fool around.
The question is begged, How can we determine whether or not someone is preaching ‘a different doctrine’.
I’ve come up with 4 criteria that I use to determine whether or not a gospel, denomination, or even a religion is ‘different’.
Does it have a different:
God: Here Oh Israel, the Lord your God is One. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him, must worship him in Spirit and in Truth. I know, for example, a major religious group, that many Christians are slowly accepting teaches the God is an exalted man and that we may one day be gods and goddesses of our own worlds. Their statement is, As man now is, God once was. As God now is, man may become.
Jesus: Christianity believes Jesus is the Word (God) made flesh, virgin born, perfect, crucified, buried, raised, ascended, seated at the right hand of the Father and is coming again. Some groups teach He did not die on the cross. Others that Jesus was not literally raised from the dead. Some teach he was married, even a polygamist.
Scripture: The Psalmist says, ‘Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” In fact, the whole 119th psalm is about the value of the Bible. In the New Testament, Paul wrote to Timothy that the Bible is ‘God Breathed’, or inspired. But some groups have different scripture in addition to the Bible. Some have changed the Bible because the Bible doesn’t teach their doctrines.
Plan of Salvation: The Bible is very clear that Salvation is by Grace through faith. Some, however, teach we have to practice certain rituals, or perform specific functions, or give a certain amount, or that Jesus blood doesn’t cover all your sins.
There is some really weird stuff going around out there, and its not all OK. I’m not going to pretend that it is. Here’s the bottom line: If a teaching has a different God, Jesus, Scripture, and or Plan of Salvation, it is NOT Christian. I’m not trying to be hateful, I’m trying to be truthful. Some things are ok to have different opinions about, but some things are either right or Anathema.