Summary: Edited sermon borrowed from several sources. Paul's concern about the Galatians departing from the one true Gospel ought to be a concern for Christians in America today. This nation was once respectful of the Gospel. Today the Gospel is being distorted
Galatians 1:1-12 “It’s time to do something about a serious problem here in America” (Note: This is a sermon borrowed from several sources with editing on my part—not an original creation on my part—hope you will take this edition in the spirit it is offered—and I thank those whose work is incorporated into this sermon)
One night a few years ago at the Lodge, the Chef suddenly ran down the stairs and pounded on my office door. Byron, can you help me. We’re in trouble. We’re out of quarters and customers are waiting. Could you jump in the car and get some. Here’s $40. So, I jumped into the car, sped out of the parking lot and headed to the nearest convenience store, but the cashier said she didn’t have enough quarters on hand to give out that many. In fact she didn’t even have one roll of quarters to spare. I went on to the next convenience store and was told the same thing. The bank was closed but the grocery store remained open until 7 p.m. so I decided to try there. They had pity on me and gave me two rolls of quarters—not what I had set out to get but better than nothing. Twenty minutes after the Chef had sent out his panic call I arrived back at the Lodge. Where are the quarters? The chef asked. I proudly presented him with the two rolls of quarters that I had managed to obtain. His face sank. "I meant chicken quarters."
Well, no, this isn’t exactly what happened. Being an honest preacher I must confess that I have embellished the story a bit, but something like this sort of happened, and it does make a good story that illustrates a very important point. Misunderstandings of this nature prove we need to check and recheck the message to be sure that we understand correctly. In this case, the chef’s message was misunderstood. But for many people the misunderstanding is far more serious. We may think we know the message of the Bible, but in today’s Epistle lesson, Galations 1:1-12, Paul asks us to check our understanding against what was actually said.
One of the most frequently used phrases in Christian circles is "the gospel." Amazingly few adults know what this term means. It could either refer to its literal translation, "good news;" or to the perspective that salvation is available only through the sacrificial death and subsequent resurrection of Jesus Christ and a person’s acceptance of Christ as their savior. According to Barna Research Online, less than four out of ten adults know this, and 34% have other, inaccurate perceptions of the meaning of the term. When surveyed, three out of ten adults did not even offer a guess.
This puts the Apostle Paul’s statements in perspective. Let’s read them once again:
“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.”
It would seem today that there are an awful lot of “new gospels” even here in the United States, a nation that has historically been Christian. The message is being misconstrued. It is being corrupted. It is being changed. Some of these corruptions are rooted in eastern mysticism. Some churches build contemplation mazes and encourage yoga as if these things were part of the Gospel. Other corruptions are more pop-psychology than gospel. And still others think the long and the short of the Gospel is charitable work—no need for theology as all truth is relative, based on one’s own opinion—the “unifying principle” of the church organization is being nice and caring toward fellow humanity, and, of course, caring about the ecology of the earth. Whatever the origin and nature of these corruptions of the Gospel, they are misdirecting men and women away from the only truth that can save them, and from an understanding of the consequences of sin. They are sending people looking for change when they should be seeking something else.
Paul’s letter to the people of Galatia was written on account of the people there having been turned away from the one true Gospel, the life-changing truth of God’s Word. Paul says in verse six, “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel.” Paul’s astonishment is not that false teachers exist, but that the church was following them. He had expected false teachers and in fact had warned that false teachers would come. What he is so surprised about is that the church is so easily mislead. And if you think about it today, isn’t it also astonishing that America which has been so richly blessed by the Lord, has been so easily and thoroughly turned from the Bible to corrupted distortions of the Gospel. If Paul were with us today, I’m quite sure that he would be no less astonished than he was with the Galatians.