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"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources
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"The Truth of the Gospel" -- Galatians 1:10-2:14

The Second in A Series of Sermons on the Book of Galatians

Paul’s personal calling from the Risen and Ascended Jesus was to preach the same gospel which Jesus revealed to him.  As Paul now understands, he was set apart by Jesus and called by God’s grace for this very task.  In fulfilling that call the Apostle founded a number of churches in Galatia, preaching the gospel of Christ crucified throughout the region.  But soon after his departure from the area, the gospel was under full assault, prompting Paul to write his epistle to the Galatians, one of the most direct and confrontational letters in the New Testament.

Last time, we worked our way through the opening verses of the Book of Galatians (vv. 1-9) which is, as we saw, Paul’s response to a serious situation developing in Galatia.  Paul will describe how he had preached the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Galatians previously, publicly placarding Jesus Christ before their very eyes (3:1).  But shortly after he departed the area, a group of false teachers, known as Judaizers, gained a foothold in these same churches.  Teaching that in order to be justified (regarded as “right” before God), that in addition to placing one’s faith in Jesus, Gentile converts also must submit to circumcision and keep certain elements of the ceremonial law just as the Judaizers were doing.  In other words, Gentile believers must believe in Jesus, but live as Jews.  Paul’s gospel of Christ crucified was very disconcerting to these false teachers since it removes all place for human merit and good works as a ground of being declared “righteous” before God (“justified”).  This “different gospel” which the Judaizers were teaching was in reality “no gospel.”  Paul opposed them with everything in him.

In responding to the false teaching and accusations of the Judaizers, Paul sets out four points for the Galatians to consider in Galatians 1:10-2:14.  First, Paul speaks of the origin of the Gospel he preaches.  Second, he describes the nature of his call as apostle to the Gentiles.  Third, Paul recounts his life as a Jew and explains his zeal for the religion of his fathers.  Finally, he describes his two prior visits to Jerusalem and his dealings with the apostles, Peter, James and John, along with the rise of the Judaizing heresy, culminating in Paul confronting Peter about the latter’s apparent acceptance of this heresy.  

We begin with verses 10-12, and Paul’s first point of defense.  The gospel of Christ crucified is not a figment of his imagination.  The gospel which Paul preached was personally revealed to him by Jesus.  Amazed at the speed at which the Galatians had been taken in by these false teachers, Paul offers a lament of sorts, asking “am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man?  If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.  For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel.  For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”

The gospel is centered in the objective and historical work of Jesus Christ for us; his life, death, burial, and resurrection according to the Scriptures as in 1 Corinthians 15:1-9.  In Romans 1:16-17, the gospel is defined in terms of the revelation of the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ.  If preaching the gospel is recounting the facts of redemption, the charge of novelty made against Paul collapses since the facts surrounding Christ’s death and resurrection were common knowledge.  Given the offence of the gospel and its character as a stumbling block to the Jew and foolishness to the Gentile (cf. I Corinthians 1:23), Paul could hardly be preaching this message in order to gain favor with men.  He himself at one time had opposed the new sect of “Christians” with great zeal.

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