Monday, April 17, 2006

Galatians 1:6-9

Galatians 1:6-9 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; [7] which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. [8] But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! [9] As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!

To understand these verses we must comprehend the situation that provoked Paul into writing the letter of Galatians. When Paul first preached the gospel in Galatia, a number of people believed and accepted Christ. When they believed the gospel they received the Holy Spirit. The presence of the Spirit was verified by the fact He did miracles among them and led them to worship God.

Shortly after Paul’s missionary activity in Galatia, some Jewish Christians appeared on the scene. They taught these new Gentile converts that faith in Christ was not enough, but they also most become Jews. Therefore these new converts also have to adhere to the requirements of Jewish law and religion which would include; circumcision, Sabbath keeping and food laws (see 2:12-14; 4:10; 5:2-3; 6:12-13).

The message of these legalistic teachers seduced the Galatian believers. They foolishly began trying to earn salvation by observing the law. Bewitched by these Jewish teachers, they began to turn away from Paul’s gospel message of grace. Their focus shifted from faith in Christ and dependence on the Spirit to identification with the Jewish nation and keeping the law.

The book of Galatians was one of the first New Testament books to be written. As you can see, the gospel message has been under attack from its beginnings. Over the centuries many have attempted to add to it, subtract from it or distort it in some way. They will continue to do so until Christ returns. Any revision or addition to the apostolic gospel (the gospel preached by the apostles and recorded in the New Testament) must be rejected. You’ll notice Paul uses very strong language about the destiny of those teachers who would dare pervert or distort the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In our day, there are many so called biblical scholars who are in danger of being accursed! Over the last week, I have heard some of them on the History channel and National Geographic channel seeking to explain away or distort the gospel. For illustration purposes I have attached a story from Baptist Press about the recently rediscovered gospel of Judas. It does a good job of explaining the documents origin and purpose. What Paul says in Galatians applies in this case as well!

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)--“National Geographic’s promotion of their costly manuscript acquisition and television program, ‘The gospel of Judas,’ is one of the most deceptive and brazen attempts to profit from the general public’s unawareness of early church history since, well, ‘The Da Vinci Code,’” seminary professor Fred M. Williams III said in a statement to Baptist Press.

Williams, associate professor of history and languages at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., observed that the promoters of the gospel of Judas and The Da Vinci Code imply that the Gospel writers had something to gain either financially or otherwise in their eyewitness accounts of Jesus Christ.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” Williams responded. “The only expectation that the New Testament Gospel writers -- Matthew, Mark, Luke and John -- and their followers had was exclusion from the polytheistic society of their day, fear of persecution from those misunderstanding the Christian message, or torture and death from the Roman authorities if they were identified.”

Referencing Irenaeus (130-200 A.D.), a disciple of Polycarp who sat at the feet of the Apostle John, Williams said, “Irenaeus was aware of, and described the contents of, the gospel of Judas just as it is being described by the National Geographic Society today. Irenaeus said that it was a product of a cult known as the Cainites who deliberately honored every wicked figure in the Bible so as to promote their own immoral lifestyle. The Cainites considered the God who created the world as evil and Satan as good.

“Obviously, they would especially glorify the traitor Judas,” Williams said. “We have known all this for more than 1,800 years.

“Why is the National Geographic Society promoting this as the most sensational and important archeological find in the last 60 years?” the professor asked. “Obviously, National Geographic has a lot more to gain financially from all this than Matthew, Mark, Luke and John ever did.”

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