Summary: God’s power to save is pure and perfect. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Nothing more, nothing less.
What is it that really gets you going? What gets your emotions stirred and fills you with a fight or flight mode so that you MUST do something?
If you saw someone you love about to be injured or killed would you not warn them?
Would you not take immediate action or cry out to them to help them?
And what if they didn’t listen to your warning… what if they were under the charms of a deadly enemy who had caused them to doubt your sincerity and your love for them, or disregard your authority and wisdom? Would you not fight for their attention and defend your loyalty? Does this happen? In Churches, in marriages, in families, in communities… Yes!
In Shakespeare’s tragedy, Othello, The villain, Iago, uses deception and cleverly devised lies to destroy Othello’s trust in his loving wife, Desdemonia. Iago also turns Othello against his own best friend by cunningly planting false evidence to convince Othello that his best friend is having an affair with his wife. In the end Othello, filled with jealousy and rage kills his innocent wife only to discover that he has been deceived by Iago, so he also kills himself.
As the play develops, the audience watches the terrible and tragic deception build to a horrible climactic and miserable end. You just want to grab Othello and point out how foolish he is to turn away from his loyal friend and innocent, loving wife and instead of listening to them, to listen to a lying enemy who hates him, and has dressed up falsehoods and disguised them as convincing truths.
In much the same way there is an enemy of the gospel of Jesus Christ. One who is cunning and determined to undermine our faith. He is the mastermind behind such popular books as, The Da Vinci Code, a book that cleverly presents false evidences against the faithfulness of the Gospel accounts of the life, teachings, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Also, such so called science that explains our very existence by an explosion that happened eons ago and somehow cooled off and organized itself into us here today! People actually believe this! It’s popular, and it is cleverly disguised as factual and convincingly presented and defended as truth! Who is behind this? This enemy of God has an entire arsenal of weapons that he uses against our faith but all his things have this in common: they are all contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in scripture. They either add to or take from the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ as fully sufficient for our salvation.
When we turn in our Bibles to the letter of Galatians, we find there one of the most intensely emotional defenses of the gospel in all the New Testament. The liar is doing his work. The truth of the gospel is being distorted, made different, but dangerously believable. By the writing of this little letter, many churches have been infected by a false gospel and are deserting Him who called them by the grace of Christ. We are not told precisely what this false teaching is. We are only told that it has deadly consequences and that it is not the gospel of Jesus Christ that was preached to them by Paul and received by them when they heard it. But there are plenty of hints.
Let’s just look at the first chapter of Galatians now and listen as Paul responds to this situation. Hear his concerns. Consider his appeal to them. Ask yourself this question, “How seriously do I take my faith in the true gospel of Jesus Christ, that his sacrifice for me is God’s power to save me completely, and the blessing of his grace?”
Notice first verses 1-2
Who made Paul an apostle?
Notice now verses 11-12
Where did Paul get his gospel message?
Notice that these are Paul’s claims! “Jesus Christ is my source of authority and the source of my message.” What would you say if I told you that God spoke with me this morning and told me I had authority and was to tell you how to live your life? Some of you would think I was kidding, or using an illustration. Others of you would know that I had finally gone over the edge. Claiming the things Paul does is also quite incredible. How does he back those claims up? Here in Galatians, he backs it up by telling his story. Exhibit “A” for evidence is Paul’s own course of life.
This is not a letter that centers around moral issues or marriage problems or church matters like what we read about in most of 1 Corinthians. Although at the beginning of 1 Corinthians and specifically in chapter 15 Paul reminds them of the gospel.