Lesson 55: "I Marvel That Ye Are So Soon Removed. . .Unto Another Gospel" (Galatians 1:6)
Paul's Missionary Journey Epistles. Welcome again! This is lesson # 55. At the end of our last lesson, we said: there is only one gospel that will save, the gospel of Jesus Christ. In I Cor. ch. 15, the gospel is defined as a series of facts: Jesus Christ was a sin offering for us, it includes his death, burial and resurrection. Pacts can be preached; but facts cannot be obeyed. Can one obey the gospel? Flip back to II Thess. 1:8! Do you remember this same Paul said: "to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ..." So, if that gospel cannot be obeyed; then all will be lost. The gospel CAN BE obeyed! The gospel is more than a set of facts. "The gospel of Christ-is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth" (Rom. 1:16). That's why Jesus said to the apostles in Mark 16:15, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Why preach it? The next verse says: "He that believeth (i.e. the gospel) and is baptized (i.e. obeys the gospel) shall be saved..." Thus, those who obey the gospel will be saved (Mark 16:16). Those who "obey not the gospel" (II Thess. 1:8) will be lost. That makes the gospel very important. It is the power of God unto salvation. Now, which gospel is that? There's only one! The gospel is the truth of God. That's the way it is! Thy word is truth. Truth can be obeyed! Peter said to the people he wrote to in I Pet. 1:22, that "ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth..." Obeying the gospel can save. Obeying the truth can purify your soul. Now, the word "gospel" and the word "truth" and "the faith" andjust simply the "word" are used synonymously many times in the New Testament meaning the gospel of Jesus Christ.
But, I've got a question for you! When does truth cease to be truth? When does the gospel cease to be the gospel ? I heard the story through some source or another that Abraham Lincoln, when he was president of the United States, once called in a cabinet member and asked his recommendation of some other man that Lincoln was considering for a high office. Lincoln asked the cabinet member: "Is this man an honest man?" The other man answered: "He is essentially honest." Abraham Lincoln replied: "A man is either honest or he is dishonest and I want to know which!" I think you get the point! A little bit of honesty in a man's life does not make him an honest man. A whole lot of honesty in one's life does not make them an honest person. How much dishonesty does it take to make one a dishonest person? Obviously, any intentional deception, regardless of how small, eliminates one from the sphere of being an honest person. As a matter of fact; the most evil people you can find try and try hard to limit the amount of dishonesty they exhibit. Suppose for a minute: a person robbing a bank through embezzlement. They get it down to one or two dishonest entries in the bookkeeping system. Everything else is honest and upright. Now that is extortion or perversion. Error is not necessarily the same. They could have honestly miscounted the money for that bank and it would be in error; but not extortion. The bank might wind up losing just as much money and the error may be just as big a loss quantitatively; but it would not be extortion or perversion. Perversion carries with it the idea of intent; i.e. with intentions to distort or to twist the facts. When one twists the facts and perverts the gospel; it ceases to be the gospel. Oh! 98% of the facts may still be there; but, a perverted gospel will not save. The pure gospel of Jesus Christ will save. Only the pure gospel of Jesus Christ will save. Errors can be corrected. Those who honestly error are usually very quick to correct errors when their error is discovered. But, I know of nothing in the New Testament that is dealt with more harshly or more severely than perversion. For example, Heb. 10:26-27 says: "if we sin willfully..." - - What is that? - - If we sin willfully; isn't that pretty close to perversion? That verse says: "If we sin willfully (are you listening, If we sin willfully) after that we have received a knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation..." Now, that said: "after that we have received a knowledge of the truth..." What is truth? The gospel of Jesus Christ! You got it! Alright, now before we read; please notice the word Paul used in v.7 here in Gal. ch. one. The word is "pervert." Paul said, 'some., .would pervert the gospel of Christ." So, please get this! We're not talking about misunderstanding or lack of understanding or misinterpretation. We're talking about perversion. Perversion is very close kin to willful sin; even if you want to argue they are not one and the same. Now, before we read about the perversion of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the churches of Galatia; please realize, not everyone with a doctrinal problem in Galatia that Paul was writing to were perverting the gospel. Remember! Some were leaders and some were followers. Some were perverters and some were simply persuaded into error, not knowing any better. But, Paul said plainly, "some., .would pervert the gospel of Christ." Today we have leaders and we have followers. You mean, Bro. Horsley, that some would pervert the gospel today? Well, it's not hard to find a place where the truth of the gospel is not being taught; so, you make the decision. Is it error or is it perversion? Well, like I said: you decide. But, don't forget THIS! Both conditions lead to the same quantitative result. To put it bluntly, being lost. Paul was concerned about the brethren in Galatia. The Holy Spirit being concerned about us; has preserved and made available to us the writings of Paul. So, pry the lid off and dip it out for yourself. Let's read! We're going to read v.6-10. Are you ready? "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet please men, I should not be the servant of Christ. O.K., what does it mean to "marvel?" What if you were to see an ant eat a bail of hay? I don't believe that can be done! I don't believe any ant can eat a bale of hay at one meal. It would have to be an awfully large ant. If I should see that I would marvel. I would wonder how in the world that could be done. Paul said, "I marvel" at you Galatians; he was simply saying I'm shocked. I can't believe my ears, so-to-speak. To these Galatian people, Paul and his associates had taught (brethren the way to heaven; the way of salvation. Then to bear that they had simply tossed that aside and espoused another doctrine that would not take them to heaven would be an amazing thing. Paul couldn't believe his ears. He marveled at such a thing. "I marvel that ye are so soon removed...unto another gospel." So soon?Now, I don't know exactly how soon that was. For
something to be soon, you have to count time from a starting point to an ending point and those points have to be relatively close together. If you're considering a million years; 40 years is soon. If you consider Acts 18:23 and Acts 20:31 in the context of that book, it would seem that it has been at least three years since Paul was in Galatia. Some think three years is too long for Paul to describe as soon. Well, the question is: compared to what? Now, it could be that Paul was not talking about being there in person. Maybe he was talking about some report or other intelligence he had received since he was there, I don't know. But, to see brethren simply toss aside the gospel of Jesus of Christ; the gospel of salvation and espouse something else that will not save even once in a lifetime would be enough to cause one to marvel. Notice that Paul here accommodatively refers to the Judiazing doctrine as ANOTHER GOSPEL (at the end of v.6). But, then Paul hastens in v.7 to explain; it is not really another gospel: it is simply a perverted gospel, you see. There is only one gospel that will save; the gospel of Christ. That word "gospel" simply means "good news." A doctrine that cannot save is NOT good news, and therefore is NOT a gospel at all. Because someone calls it a gospel; doesn't make it a gospel. Because someone calls a body of people a church; does not make it a church in the bible sense of that word. A little boy said: "Dad, if you call a dog's tail a leg; how many legs does that dog have?" The man said: "five." The little boy said: "Dad, I'm ashamed of you, calling a dog's tail a leg doesn't make it one." Someone told me only recently that there are a thousand churches in the United States; meaning there are a thousand different denominational variations within the United States. Well, I don't doubt their numbers; but, those are not all churches in the biblical sense. They are perverted churches. There is only one church discussed in the bible. There are congregations of that biblical church scattered in many places; but only one church. Calling some manmade organization a church doesn't make it one. The gospel of Jesus Christ is taught many places; but there is only one gospel. You know! That's pretty simple! Isn't it? Why is it that we can't learn that? The very simplest of Bible teaching. Jesus prayed to the heavenly father right at the end of his life when everything was turning topsy-turvy, with reference to the apostles, he said: "neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; [why Jesus?) that I they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: [why Jesus?] that the world may believe that thou hast sent me." Does that sound like a thousand churches to you? Does that sound like many gospels to you? That same Jesus is the author of the gospel. Paul I said: "I marvel [I am amazed] that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ." If Paul was amazed at the Galatians; what would he say today? If he thought the Judiazers were amazing; what would the apostle think today? As the old boy says; MAN! YOU HAVEN'T SEEN NUTTIN YET! Try to tell the doctors of divinity today that there is one gospel. You can see that little scrawl of a smile come across their face and you can just see it in their eyes: "Bigoted!, Pigheaded! Narrow minded!" They don't believe that! They say: one is as good as another. What would Paul have said? If he used the word "marvel" at Galatia; what word would he use in America? Give that some thought. What would Paul say? Got any ideas? Paul though there was only one gospel! Look at it! In v.8, Paul said that if an angel should come to you and teach you another gospel., .what should you do? Curse him? No, it didn't say that, now! It said, "let him be accursed." The Greek word is "anathema" which means to ban or to excommunicate. Joseph Smith, the beginner of the Mormon religion said: an angel came to him and gave him instruction, etc. What do you think the apostle Paul would say about that? Even if that angel, Moroni, came to Joseph Smith as Smith claimed; even if we accept Mr. Smith as an honest man which is all I can do on the surface; but even if Mr. Smith was not hallucinating and he saw a real angel; Paul said: Mr. Smith, let that angel be accursed or anathema. Look at the book! There is no other gospel. Is that hard to understand? Look at Paul's statement in v.8. Paul said: "But though we, or an angel from heaven [from where, from heaven) preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." If an angel? Now, if anyone should have a right to change the Bible or to bring you some message contrary to the gospel; one would think possibly an angel, especially an angel from heaven, might come nearer fitting into that category. But, Paul said not even an angel has that right and further; if even an angel FROM HEAVEN should come to you - - imagine now, an angel in bright clothing (Acts 10:30) comes and stands there in mid air with his feet about two foot above the ground and tells you about another gospel - - Paul said: don't you buy it. There is ONE gospel. That gospel was given once and for all time. The Hebrew writer said (9:26), "but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away, sin by the sacrifice of himself." Jude (in v.3) said: "the faith., .was once delivered to the saints." It doesn't change. That, in a nutshell, is the message of the Galatian letter. Paul said that if he told us anything else; he would not be the servant of Christ. That s at the end of v.10. Boy, isn't the Bible bard to understand. Complicated! I really believe a third grader could understand that. If he can read; surely, he would understand there is one gospel. Now, why was Paul saying all this to the Galatians? The Judiazing teachers were teaching another gospel. At Antioch, they said: "Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved." To the Galatian brethren; they taught another gospel, also. Oh, they may have done some teaching on Jesus too. But, some had perverted the gospel of Christ. They were troubling the Galatians. That's what Paul said! It's in the record; right here in v.7. A perverted gospel will not save. The amazing thing is, the thing that made Paul really MARVEL was: the Galatian brethren, the very ones Paul had taught the true gospel and people Paul and his associates had baptized some time in the past; were buying into that new fangled religion of the Judiazers. You see, these brethren were subverting their souls (Acts 15:24). Bro. Horsley, don't be so hard on the denominations and don't go around calling names, preaching hell fire and brimstone. Don't you know you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar! My friends, take your honey and your vinegar and go on home! I'm not in the fly catching business! But, if you want to be fishers of men and give them what it takes to save their souls; you better use the pure gospel. Paul asked the question in v. 10, "Do I seek to please men?" Now, if you want to please men; that honey stuff may work. But, if you want to save their soul; take'em the truth of the gospel. Jesus Christ died for our sins! (I Cor. 15:3). He was buried, he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. Do you believe that? If you believe that and if you love Jesus, then, you'll do the rest of it! Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commandments." (John 14:15). "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." (Mark 16tl6) "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." (Rev. 2:10). That is gospel. "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples." (John 15:8). Are you Jesus's disciple? Have a good day.