Summary: "Good person theology" is swamping Christianity. There is only one Gospel - lets stick to it.
GALATIANS 1:1-10 – GOD’S ONE AND ONLY GOSPEL
Something very big has been going on over the last week or so. When you watch the news, or the television at other times during the day, when you read the newspapers, you can see that something big is going on. Of course, as you know, one of our former presidents, Ronald Reagan, has recently died. And whenever a former president dies in the United States, it is a big deal. Whether you agree or disagree with his policies, most people take a moment to remember and honor their former presidents. There are many ceremonies, many historical moments are highlighted, and there is a great deal of emotion. Something big, something important is going on.
In Christianity, something big is also going on. But, unlike the funeral of a president, it receives no publicity. There are no TV specials, no special reports. In Christianity, something very big is going on, and if you’re not paying attention, you may not even realize it. What is it, in Christianity, that is such a big deal, that is going on?
There are a group of people based out of California, that do research to determine the religious beliefs of Americans throughout the country. Now remember, America is called a quote-unquote “Christian” country, where 90 percent of people claim to be Christians. In one of this research group’s most recent surveys, this is what they found: Out of all the Americans they surveyed, over half, 58%, believed that if you do good things, if you try to be a good person, then you will get to heaven. Out of all Americans surveyed, 31% strongly, very strongly, agreed that salvation is something you earn by your good works. I thought America was a “Christian” country. Do you see what is going on in our quote-unquote “Christian” nation?
This research group also surveyed “born-again Christians.” Now, while it is true that all Christians really are born-again, this is the name of that group that is supposedly REALLY Christian, really gung-ho about believing in Jesus as their Savior. Out of that group, 33% said that you can get to heaven by earning it, by being a good person. In fact, 40% of people who believe in Jesus, really don’t believe that he is the Savior - you must trust in your good works, and be a good person, in order to be saved. (Barna.org)
What is this big thing that is going on in Christianity today? Can you see it? There is a false teaching out there that is sweeping through churches all over the country, and even right here in our own small community, and that false teaching is what I will call “good person theology.” In other words, “I believe in Jesus as my Savior, yes. But that’s not enough. I also need to earn my salvation by being a good person.” That’s “good person theology,” and that is the big thing that is ruining Christianity in our country today.
“Good person theology” is nothing new. “Good person theology” has been a problem for the Christian church ever since the days of the Bible. Today, we’re going to look at a portion of Paul’s letter to the Christians in the province of Galatia. We’re going to look at the problem back then, and see how it is still a problem today. And as we focus this morning on God’s Word, we’re going to grow in our sense of contentment with and commitment to God’s one and only Gospel, which is the ONLY way one can be forgiven and saved for eternity.
Paul wrote this letter to a group of churches that he had started some time ago. When he had left them, they were filled with joy and comfort. They had repented of their sins and had put their faith in Christ alone as their Savior. Paul reviews the Gospel he had shared with them in verses 3-5 of our text. The people of Galatia had put their faith in Christ, and had been filled with peace and joy and hope.
Normally, at the very beginning of his letters, Paul would say something good about the people he was writing to. Sometimes he’d thank God for them, or he’d rejoice about them. But not in this letter. Something big was happening to the Christians in Galatia. They were beginning to fall for “good person theology.” Look at verse 6: “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel, which is really no gospel at all.”
People were coming to the Galatians and telling them, “No, trusting in Christ as your Savior is not enough. You also need to earn God’s love by being a good person.” These teachers were telling the Christians that they needed to follow the Old Testament ceremonial law – circumcision, special festival days, special customs, special sacrifices. “If you want to go to heaven, you need to be a good person, and do these things, along with believing in Jesus. Then you will be saved” That’s “good person theology.”