The Gospel is From God

Title: The Gospel is From God

Text: Galatians 1:10-24

Time: October 3rd, 2010

I’ve been teaching out of the Book of Galatians for the last few weeks, and I’ll continue in that again this week. Now some of you may be thinking, “Why are we going through the Book of Galatians?” Some of you may not be used to going week after week through a book of the Bible, but let me assure you that it will be well worth your while listening and reflecting on what is being taught out of God’s Word. Like I said last week, quoting Jesus, “Men and women cannot live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” That means, we need the Word of God just as we need our daily bread – which means food and material supplies. I’m sure many or most of you went to the store this week to get some supplies for living. You may have bought food or you may have bought household supplies or you may have bought clothes or you may have bought other kinds of supplies for life. Ok, all of these things are the kinds of things Jesus is referring to when he says, “Man cannot live on bread alone.” Bread represents our material supply for life. Now why do we study the Word of God on Sunday? Because Jesus says that we can’t live on material supplies alone, but we need the spiritual food from the Word of God to really exist the way we were meant to exist. Sure, we could skip or neglect God’s Word, but we’d only exist on the animal level, and that’s not really living at all. So we need God’s Word. By studying the Book of Galatians we are feeding on the Word of God and supplying our souls with spiritual food. Now the Book of Galatians was written by the Apostle Paul for the purpose of clarifying the gospel of salvation. In the case of the Galatians, they were distorting the gospel by mixing in human works or human efforts and thinking that in order to be saved we need to obey God’s law in addition to believing in Christ by faith. They were taught by the Apostle Paul salvation by faith alone, but they had been led astray by other teachers to believe salvation by faith and works, which is a distortion of the true teaching. So Paul writes to them and tries to clarify the gospel as much as possible. Why? Because it’s very important that we understand how we are saved. If we get salvation wrong, we’ve gotten wrong the most important thing in the entire world. What could be more important than knowing how to be saved forever? What could be worse than missing out on eternal salvation forever? We take this all for granted mostly, but we shouldn’t. We should never grow tired of learning and relearning the gospel, because it’s our hope of eternal life. And especially today where there is so much confusion about everything spiritual. You tune in Oprah and you’ll hear a different false gospel, or you attend some church somewhere and you’ll hear another different gospel. Many or even most people today are confused about the gospel, so there is no question that we need to learn and relearn the true and authentic gospel so that we’ll never, ever be led astray or get off track as far as our understanding of the gospel. In addition, how can we ever witness to others if we aren’t sure what is the gospel? Or worse yet, when we do witness, we might tell them the wrong thing, simply because we ourselves are confused. May that never be! I’d hate to explain to someone the gospel and then learn that I didn’t really tell it right, or that I was confused about it to the point I actually told someone wrong. No. We’ve got to know the gospel so we can explain it and even answer people’s questions about it. So let’s hear what Paul has to say in Galatians, and let’s learn about the true gospel. Galatians 1:10-24.

First, we must please God before man. Galatians 1:10, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be as servant of Christ.” The truth of the matter is that the true and authentic gospel isn’t always easy for us humans to hear. Every generation has its problems hearing and believing the gospel, even though the word “gospel” literally means “good news,” it doesn’t always come across to us as good news, from our own sinful perspective. For example, the gospel tells us that we are sinners and bound for eternal separation from God – that’s putting it mildly. Putting it bluntly, the gospel tells us we are sinners bound for hell. Now that’s not something most people like to hear. That’s not something that our age likes to think about. In fact, it’s something that most people reject today – the notion that they are sinners and that they deserve hell for their disobedience and sin. What Paul is saying is that in preaching the gospel, he must please God rather than please men. If he were trying to please men, he wouldn’t preach the biblical gospel, because, like I said before, it contains the notions of human sin and eternal damnation – two things that people don’t want to hear and won’t usually put up with. In fact, many Christians won’t even put up with hearing about sin and hell – they don’t want to hear about these things either. That’s why there are churches that don’t teach these things anymore, because people don’t want to hear them. But Paul says that he’s not trying to please people anymore, but instead he’s obligated to please God. And that’s the same attitude we need to take in respect to the gospel. If you do any kind of witnessing, to friends and family, to neighbors or co-workers, you know that there are parts of the gospel that people don’t like to hear, for example, about sin and hell. It would be so easy to leave out these parts in order to please people – tell them only about the good parts and not the bad parts of the gospel. Yes, there are bad parts, not really bad parts, but they seem bad to us sinners who are selfish and prone to rebellion against God. We don’t like to be told we are sinners. We like to be told the opposite – that we are really good persons all along. We like to be complimented and flattered. But the gospel is brutally honest with us and tells us that we are sinners deserving of hell. Now we must resist the temptation to please people by omitting parts of the gospel. We must please God by telling the whole gospel, all of it, whether it’s popular or not. Paul says that he wants to be a God-pleaser, not a man-pleaser. Are you willing to put God first above man? Are you willing to face rejection of people in order to please God? That’s hard because we all like to be accepted, liked, admired, and honored by people. We like to be liked. But we need to stand with Paul and face opposition and criticism and suffer for the gospel. In Paul’s case, it would have been much easier for him to not try to correct the distortion of the gospel in the Galatian church. It would have been easier to just say, “You people believe a little different than I do about the gospel, but it’s no big deal, we can all live with our differences and still get along.” That’s what we might do today, but that would not be pleasing to God. We need to stand with Paul for the truth of the true gospel, no matter what. We must be a God-please over a man-pleaser. Are you willing to do that?

Second, we must remember the gospel is from God not man. Galatians 1:11, “I want you to know brothers that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.” Now if you don’t remember Paul’s conversion, he was traveling down the Road to Damascus on horseback, in fact, he was going to hunt down and jail more Christians, because at that time he was a persecutor of the church. But he was suddenly struck by a bright light and a voice from heaven saying, “Saul, Saul why do you persecute me?” It was Jesus. He heard the voice from heaven and fell off his horse to the ground. Looking up he responded, “Who are you Lord?” “I am Jesus who you are persecuting.” Jesus communicated to him that he would now serve the Lord instead of opposing Christianity. Paul was radically converted to a believer. He was also shown the truth of the gospel from the Lord Jesus. So Paul wasn’t given the gospel by any human being, but learned it directly from the Lord himself. Now today, most of us hear the gospel from others before we believe it. That’s ok. It’s not so important that we all be like Paul in the sense he received revelation from God directly. The gospel is the gospel because it wasn’t invented from any man. No philosopher came up with the gospel philosophy. No theologian came up with the great idea of the gospel. It wasn’t the product of human culture. The gospel came from God to the apostles through divine revelation. Some people today reject the gospel because it isn’t something that humanity would invent. If the gospel were man-made it would probably be something that flatters us and tells us that we are good just the way we are, for example. But because the gospel is from God not man, it tells us the truth, even if it isn’t always easy to hear. I remember the first time I heard the gospel. It was when I was a teenager, I think around thirteen or fourteen. I was riding on a bus going to or fro from school and this kid who rode the bus named Dennis MacCeever turned around in his seat and told me and this other kid the gospel. He told us that we were sinners and needed a Savior. He told us that we needed to put our faith in Jesus Christ to save us or else we’d die in our sins and go to hell. I had never heard that message before – and I had attended church most of my young life. I came home after school and asked my parents about it. They told me they didn’t know where that kid went to church but not to worry because we were all Christians, our whole family. But I learned later that the kid was right and my parents were wrong! Years later, I realized that our family had never really heard the gospel before, but thank God our whole family later got saved at a Billy Graham crusade, and what that kid said to me really made sense then! But the gospel does seem foreign to our human ears, but that’s ok, because it is foreign – it’s from heaven not earth. We must not let its strangeness discourage us from believing it or witnessing for it.

Third, the gospel can change anyone, nobody is beyond its power to save. Galatians 1:13-24, “For you heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately to Arabia and later returned to Damascus. Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles – only James, the Lord’s brother. I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie. Later I went to Syria and Cilicia. I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only heard the report: ‘The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.’ And they praised God because of me.” Here is the account of a dramatic conversion of a man who once was the arch enemy of Christianity, who then became it’s greatest promoter. It’s truly amazing, but then again, the gospel is powerful, it’s from God and not man. Do you have a gospel testimony? Now it doesn’t have to be as dramatic as Paul’s. Few people have as sudden conversion as he did. Few people have as radical a conversion as Paul. But everybody has a testimony of faith in the gospel. What is your testimony? How did you come to believe, if you truly believe? Was it in a church that the Lord opened your eyes to the light of the gospel? Was it at an evangelism crusade of some type? Or was it while you were alone in your room or quietly praying or reflecting on your life and your relationship to God? Was it at some kind of Christian camp when you were young? Those can be really powerful. Was it while you were listening to a radio or television ministry that you first understood and believed the gospel? Where were you when you first understand that it’s by faith in Christ not your own good works that saves you? We all have a spiritual history, just as Paul had a spiritual history. His story was that he once was opposed the gospel and Christianity, but then the Lord converted him and he because a great promoter of Christianity. What’s your story? Do you have a story? Were you once opposed to the Christian gospel the way many people are today in society? Did you fight God? Did you have a past of sin and disobedience against God and his will? We’re all sinners, but there are always those who seem to live it up in sin. Is that you? What brought you to surrender your will to the will of God through Jesus Christ? Was it a crisis in your life? Did you have an experience with God? Did you get the fear of God in you? What brought you to Christ. Like Paul, we all have a spiritual story.

Like Paul, we all have a spiritual story, but unlike Paul our story is still being written. How will yours end? Will you start out strong in the Christian life only to end weakly? Maybe you had a dramatic conversion years ago, but how is your life with Christ today? Have you backslidden? Have you lost your zeal and enthusiasm and excitement for Christ today? Usually when people convert to Christ, when they surrender their will to God through Jesus Christ, they usually start reading their Bible from cover to cover because they are hungry for God’s Word. Is that you today? Or have you grown bored with God’s Word? Do you still read it? Do you read it often? Or how about prayer. Usually people who meet Jesus and give their lives to him want to pray and learn to pray. What about you today? Do you still pray? Do you pray much? Maybe you need to rededicate yourself anew to Christ today. Maybe you aren’t walking in the will of God today because you’ve gotten off the path. You can come back to God this morning. The amazing thing about the Apostle Paul is that we have no indication that he ever back-slid or ever even lost any of his zeal for Christ after many years. He never fell away like so many do today. The same Paul that we meet after his conversion is the same Paul all throughout the rest of the New Testament. Now does that mean that he never had rough periods? Does that mean that he never grew tired and weary? No. But it does show that it’s possible to live the Christian life and not backslide or lose any spiritual life. Today, I see a lot of Christians who start out strong but then just get sidetracked or lose the way. They stop reading their Bibles or praying, some stop attending church or witnessing for the Lord to others. They just get off the path or led astray by other things in this life. Maybe that’s you this morning. Do you need to return to God today? Do you need to confess some sins you may be involved it today? Do you need to repent of prayerlessness? Your spiritual history doesn’t have to end with your initial conversion. You know the way some people talk, they got converted or saved and then nothing else much happened after that. That’s not right! Like Paul we need to have a spiritual story that gets stronger and stronger not weaker and weaker. Our faith and commitment to Christ can grow, but we need to repent of what’s blocking it and turn to Christ in a new, fresh way. Are you willing to do that this morning? Are you willing to rededicate yourself brand new to God this morning? I hope you will and let’s write a new chapter in our spiritual history starting today.

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