Gal 1:6-10 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. ONLY ONE GOSPEL! 10 For do I now persuade men or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.
In our last lesson from Galatians 1:6-10, we established a battle to turn believers away from the “true” gospel of Christ. Paul emphatically states that the gospel he preached and that these Galatian believers received was the only gospel. He speaks of a curse on anyone that preaches a different so-called gospel.
After two thousand years of church history, Paul’s statement in verse 9 raises many questions regarding all the variations of the gospel found in the Lord’s church. “As we have said before, so now I say again if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. THERE IS ONLY ONE GOSPEL!
Let me site my book “Mandated,” Promise of Greater Works fulfilled. In Mandated, my purpose is to understand how other “so-called gospels” have affected the church’s understanding of God’s intended purpose through the Gospel of Christ.
As we will discover in Galatians, the Holy Spirit is the “essence” of the gospel. In other words, we receive by faith the promise of the Holy Spirit, that is, “the life of Jesus” dwelling in the believer. It is the Holy Spirit who convicts of sin, righteousness, and judgment (see John 16:8). It is the Holy Spirit that brings regeneration to the spirit of an individual (see Titus 3:5). You can only be born again by the work of the Holy Spirit.
It is the Holy Spirit who opens our minds to the truth of God’s word, the keys of the kingdom, and the mysteries of God revealed. It is the Holy Spirit that produces the “fruit of the Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that releases the “gifts of the Spirit” to an individual.
What changed, as history reveals, is that by the third century, the gospel that the New Testament writers wrote about is no longer preached. What has been taught is that the church is in the office of the bishop. Cyprian of Carthage, a Bishop in the third century, put it this way: “the church is the people united in the Bishop. The flock clinging to its Shephard for this you should know the church is in the Bishop and the Bishop in the Church.” (Found in the writings of Cyprian, Letter 66 Section 8). Many believe and practice this definition today.
This is not the same as “Where the believers are, there I am” (see Matthew 18:20). Remember what Paul told the elders of Ephesus, who at that time are the bishops or overseers of the Ephesus’ church (Acts 20:25-31). Many of God’s people have followed after men who represented themselves and their message to be something other than what the Bible declares. Everything must be examined in the light of the writings of those first apostles.
What further happened in history is that the church’s doctrine became “Creedal,” rather than the actual writing of Scripture. It also became “sacramental,” focused on the sacraments rather than the person and work of the Holy Spirit who is the very Life of Christ dwelling in the believer. The sacrament became the sign of spiritual reality, not the indwelling Holy Spirit. Baptism, the Lord’s Table, and for some, foot washing is the sign or symbol of Christ in the midst. What is called sacraments is very important, but do not replace the “presence of the Holy Spirit.” His presence is real and manifested in many ways, such as the “fruit of the Spirit and the “gifts of the Spirit.” He is at the center of the power of a “Spirit led Life.”
For Paul and the other apostles, the Spirit as an experienced and living reality was the absolutely crucial matter to the Christian life. The Spirit, in the past, has been largely marginalized and made a side issue. My question is, why has He been so neglected, and how did this happen?
Let me say here, that I am aware of more Holy Spirit activity in the world today than in any other period of Church history since the first century. For centuries there has not been the kind of encounters and experiences, at least to the same degree as recorded in Scripture. We don’t have time here to go into details, but I spend a lot of time on this subject in Mandated. God is reviving His work throughout the world today. The work of the Holy Spirit and the gospel that Paul preached is returning to the Lord’s Church in spite of resistance from some within the organized church and persecution from the world.
Paul warns, in verse 7, “which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.” True revival is not just souls being saved, but on a deeper level, it is the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ being “revived” in the work of God through the power of the Holy Spirit, “the promise of the Father” (Acts 1:8). We are not called to religious life, but to a “Spirit-filled life” and the power of that life through the resurrection of Christ!
Let us turn our attention to verse 10: “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.” This says it all. This verse focuses on what Paul has said and what he will be writing in this letter to the Galatians.
Each of us needs to ask ourselves the same question. “Do I now persuade men?” Every time I speak of the gospel, I have to reckon with this issue. I am asked by some church leaders; don’t you know that not everyone will agree with what you are saying? The answer is Yes, I am fully aware. But again, is my purpose to get people to agree with me and be popular or is it to be persuaded to believe God’s eternal Word and be saved, healed, delivered, and set free?
What does it mean to “persuade God?” Listen to this verse in NASB “For am I now seeking the favor of people, or of God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.” The words persuade here means “seeking the favor.” Our great desire and motive should be to please our heavenly Father. Every person has a viewpoint of some sort. You can never please everyone, nor should you be trying to. There is only One we should be pressing hard to please, and that is our Heavenly Father. If you only seek to please Him, He will give you favor with many.
Paul identifies himself as a “bondservant of Christ.” On a human level, it is Paul that sets the standard in relationship to Christ. Paul is, the redeemed, converted, and fully surrendered to Christ, example for every believer. It is not a church denomination; it is not a pastor or bishop, or some modern-day apostle. It is Christ seen in Paul as an example of full surrender. Paul writes in 1 Corinthian 11:1; imitate me as I imitate Christ (NKJV). “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (ESV). Again Paul writes, “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us” (Philippians 3:17). The apostle John writes: “Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God” (3 John 1:11 ESV).
As we close today, listen to King David as He writes in Psalm 110 regarding God’s promise to David of his Greater Son who would rule from the right hand of God, Ps 110:1-4
“The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.’ The Lord shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of Your enemies! Your people shall be volunteers In the day of Your power; In the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning, You have the dew of Your youth. The Lord has sworn And will not relent, ‘You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.'” NKJV
Note, we are volunteers in the “day of His power,” it is in the beauties of holiness.” That day is today. Saints, let us be and act like the sons and daughters of God. Let us be imitators of Christ and His example on earth, Paul. Let us ask the Lord to help you be His bondslave so that all we do is to His glory and not to man’s pleasures.