Summary: A message from an expository series on the book of Galatians.
“The Original and Only Gospel”
In this letter Paul goes against the standards for letter writing of His day by skipping the typical complimentary word. Proper letter writing form dictated that you say something good about the recipients. But Paul jumps from the greeting immediately to a chewing out. He is in a hurry, his loved ones are gambling with their eternity. Despite the fact that God has designed us for freedom, there are still those who prefer imprisonment. These were the type of people that seemed to be the most susceptible to the deceptions of the Judaizers. The Judaizers did not see themselves as deceivers or distorters of the Gospel. In fact I believe that they probably meant well. Still Paul answers their challenges with a very straight forward response: “I have preached to the Galatians the gospel that the Lord has revealed to me. He has revealed nothing else. There is only one Gospel of freedom. Your add-ons do nothing to enhance the Gospel; in fact, they do nothing but distort it. The good news of Jesus Christ is unique and unchangeable. Therefore, when you turn your back on it in favor of the confusion and legalism you escaped when you accepted Christ; you are in reality abandoning the grace of God. There is only one Gospel.”
I. When you turn your back on the Gospel you turn your back on God.
A. Paul stood amazed at how quickly the Galatian Christians had abandoned the good news of Christ.
1. Like a grieving parent to a wayward child Paul can only blurt out his shock and dismay.
2. In describing the Galatians’ lapse, the apostle uses the language of military desertion and political strife; some people are throwing you into confusion.
3. Paul shows his shock over what his Galatian converts have done. It has been no more than perhaps a matter of months since Paul has been with them in Galatia.
4. An important principle has been either overlooked or abandoned here by the Galatians. God can call people by law or by grace, but not both at the same time. The two are mutually exclusive.
5. Salvation can be either a gift of grace or a payment rendered for services received.
B. This desertion from the faith held dire consequences and Paul wanted to stop this immediately.
1. There is a tragic personal element in the way Paul describes their condition. It is not merely that they have deserted an idea or a movement; rather, they have deserted the very one who had called them to faith.
2. The Galatians are in the process of abandoning the gospel’s teaching of grace. He does not mean by that, however, a merely intellectual change. Their action is intensely personal: they are in fact abandoning the one who graciously called them to himself.
3. Paul wanted them to realize that the God who called them out of pagan idolatry to salvation and new life in Jesus Christ did so on no other basis than his own good pleasure and gratuitous favor.
4. To forget this is worse than betraying an army or a country; it is to betray the true and living God.
5. Embracing legalism means rejecting God, according to Paul’s reasoning, because it means substituting man for God in one’s life.
6. Paul could not reason how the Galatians could turn their back on such freedom.
II. There is only one Gospel of freedom.
A. The question is: “How the Galatians could be deceived so easily?”
1. This tiny group of Christians was surrounded by a host of Jews and Gentiles who thought they were crazy for their faith in this prophet who was crucified in Jerusalem.
2. The arguments of the Judaizers seemed legitimate, besides they were so confident, they were Christians like the Galatians but they seemed to have something more.
3. The Judaizers probably argued that all religions really need rules and ceremonies and human authorities to be obeyed.
4. The Judaizers made perfect sense because the Galatians were not mature enough in their faith to handle this new freedom.
5. As far as they were concerned, there seemed to be something missing from Christianity, there were not enough rules.
B. The message that was drawing the Galatians away contradicted all that Paul had taught them.
1. By embracing legalism the Galatians have actually turned their back on the gospel in order to embrace "a different gospel," which, however, does not even deserve to be called by that name.
2. These false teachers, Judaizers, taught that to be saved Gentile believers had to follow the Jewish rites and customs, especially circumcision.
3. In essence they were saying that faith in Christ was not enough.
4. This message, “faith plus” really set Paul off because it undermined the truth of the good news that salvation was a gift, not a reward for certain works.