Grace and peace to you Beloved in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Christ is our Fountain of Living Water. (Jer.2:13, Jn.7:37-39, Jn.4:10-14, Jer.17:13, Zech.14:8-9, Rev.7:13-17, Rev.21:6-8)
How we need to be refreshed by Him in Him moment by moment in this dry and weary land in which we are pilgrims! (Isa.46:4, Exod.15:2, Mt.6:33, Isa.40:31, I Cor.16:13-14, Rom.15:13)
Oh, how we long for our heavenly home. (2 Cor.5:2, Isa.26:9, Ps.73:25) Oh, how we long to be free from sin and Satan forever! Oh, how we long to worship our perfect Savior perfectly! Well until that Day God has appointed one whole day out of seven to be a foretaste of that which is to come. Today is that day. The Sabbath. The Lord’s Day.
Beloved, I pray that you are in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day. And that your heart is excited to worship God. And if it is not, I pray the Holy Spirit would revive you today.
Please open up God’s word which is the holy Bible. We are going to read Galatians 1:10-24. A good bit of Scripture. But I am going to treat it rather simply under one head. Hear God’s perfect word, read.
Galatians 1:10. For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. 11 For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it; 14 and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions. 15 But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased 16 to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus. 18 Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him fifteen days. 19 But I did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord’s brother. 20 (Now in what I am writing to you, I assure you before God that I am not lying.) 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea which were in Christ; 23 but only, they kept hearing, “He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they were glorifying God because of me.
Let’s pray and ask God’s help with Paul’s sensitive subject. Pray.
The general thing that we are looking at from Galatians 1:10 all the way to the end of chapter two – 2:21 is Paul explaining his gospel ministry to the Christians in the churches of Galatia.
Actually, it is more of a defense of his ministry. So, there is a bit of explanation but with the eye of vindicating himself. Not vindicating in a self-righteous way. But rather in a proper way. He wants these Christians to know that he is not lying to them. He is giving them the truth of Christ.
Of course, the apostle Paul is a real historical figure. So, his defense is very personal. And we will first look at his ministry directly. But I also want to use him as a model or example of all faithful ministers of Christ. And as well all faithful Christians who present the true gospel.
If you minister Christ rightly you will be required to defend yourself, your words, both the content and the manner. And to professing Christians at that. And as Paul does in V.10, even the motive for your words. Oh beloved, we are not in heaven yet. The field is white for the harvest. But the field is work, even war. In this case, the sheep against the shepherd. How sad.
The ministry of the word is not for the faint hearted as Paul tells Timothy. (2 Tim.2:3-5) How we need the Spirit.
Stop and think about that for just a bit. The apostle Paul, immediately inspired by God the Holy Spirit and directly taught by the Risen Lord Jesus Christ Himself, a man that writes either 13 or 14 of the 27 books of the NT, feels that he must write to these churches that he founded and defend what he taught about the gospel and why he taught it.
Amazing. Of course, this was not just Paul feeling extra sensitive or touchy because he is constitutionally a nervous fellow. No. God the Holy Spirit inspired this. So, God deemed it necessary.
So God inspires Paul to defend his ministry. And this is not ‘beneath’ Paul. It hurt him. No doubt. But nothing is ‘beneath’ a gospel minister serving Christ, except sin. That is the point.
Paul is willing to stoop low out of love. False teachers do not “cotton” to stooping.
I think what we will do because there is so much here and I really do not want to rush through the forest and miss the trees, 1) that we will consider the general truth of defending his gospel ministry. 2) And then we will unpack V.10, the motive for his defense. And then in the coming weeks, if the Lord gives us coming weeks, we will unpack more of the elements of his defense. So today is Why we Preach the True Gospel.
Let’s consider the reason why the apostle Paul defends the gospel as he taught it. Because that is what is in view. Not Paul’s view on baptism or church government or any such thing. Oh no beloved, Paul is defended what he taught as the gospel of salvation.
We know for Paul the essence of his gospel is bound up in the atonement of Christ as the grounds of our justification and faith alone as the singular instrument of our receiving Jesus unto salvation.
The reason for this section of Scripture is connected to what we looked at last week in Galatians 1:6-10. Paul defends His true gospel ministry because he has just begun his correction-slash-criticism-rebuke of a false gospel ministry, if I can even use the word ministry.
In other words, many of the people in these churches had defected to the false gospel of the Judaizers. We are not told how many, but evidently it was no small number. You remember these false teachers taught the people that the (true) gospel of salvation was believe in Christ, believing in His atoning sacrifice for sin “and” get circumcised “and” keep the Law of Moses – either ceremonial and or moral. (Acts 15:1-5, Gal.5:1-12)
Therefore, these false teachers taught the people that the apostle Paul was a false teacher teaching a false gospel!
This means that the man telling the true-truth on Christ, on grace alone, faith alone, Christ alone has to defend himself because these professing Christians now come to believe that the truth is a lie and the lie is the truth! On the gospel! Amazing.
Oh beloved, this is not so strange. It is awful. But not unusual. Remember these are false ministers saying this. Meaning they call evil good and good evil – in the church! (Isa.5:20-21)
Christ said, I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through Me. Christ said, before Abraham was, I AM! (Jn.14:1-11, Jn.8:48-58)
Oh beloved, what did the Pharisee-ministers of the Jewish church say to Jesus? Tool of the devil! You are lying! (Mt.12:27-29) We are telling the truth. We are sons of Abraham. We are disciples of Moses. We sit in the seat of Moses! (Mt.23:1-13)
Well, God’s true servants are experiencing the sufferings of Christ for Christ. For His honor. And for the good of souls. Even to their own detriment.
It has been granted us to believe in Christ. It has been granted to us to suffer for Christ. All those that will preach the truth of Christ will suffer for His name sake. Will. Jesus says it. (Jn.15:18-27)
You see the false gospel is so convincing to the flesh that its adherents once they come under its heart-blinding power they actually believe the Good News of the all sufficient Christ is a lie.
Believe in the sufficient sacrifice of Christ? No. That is too easy. That is wrong. Salvation must be harder than that! What? Jesus paid it all? If you really believe in that then you have a license to live in sin. No. The gospel is much, much harder. Believe yes. But you must, work, and work, and work. And maybe just maybe you will arrive in heaven. If you are good enough.
The regular need.
What is interesting is that this is not the first and last time Paul feels the need to do this.
In Second Corinthians chapter eleven we see there were also false teachers pestering the Corinthian church. These men told the people that Paul was nothing, that his preaching was very unimpressive! Get that. False teachers tell the church people the inspired apostle Paul could not preach his way out a paper bag!
This is why Paul says, if I were trying to please man then I would not be a minster of Jesus Christ. There are easier and more lucrative jobs to be had. Paul could have sold used chariots or just stayed making tents and saved himself the abuse of being Christ’s spokesman.
All humans have hardships common to being a human. All Christians have hardships common to being a Christian. True ministers have particular hardships given the fact that they are the herald of Jesus and have His delegated authority in the church.
Everyone, in our flesh, hates authority. Everyone, in our flesh, wants not just to be the boss, we want to be the king. That is because our flesh is blind to the responsibilities of leadership, and this is true of church leadership. These super apostles that stole the affections of the Corinthian church from Paul, did they want to pay the price of being a gospel minister that Paul paid? The answer would be a resounding no.
Read 2 Corinthians chapter 4 and chapter 11. Paul listed the hardships associated with his ministry. You remember what Jesus said to Ananias concerning Paul? I will show him how much he must suffer for My name sake. (Acts 9:16)
Oh beloved, the false teacher wants the honor, but they do not want the work. The false teacher wants you to be devoted to them. They are not laboring for you to be devoted to Christ.
You see the Judaizers were Jews that added law to grace, Moses to Christ. And they did this so as not to offend their fellow Jews. They would have lost their families, their honor, their money, they would have been kicked out of the synagogues, and hated like Paul.
Paul will say this in Galatians chapter five. The preaching of Christ alone by the Cross alone brings with it – the offense of the Cross. And that is what false teachers avoid.
The wicked method.
How did these false teachers separate the Galatian Christians from Paul? How did they do it?
False teachers have to separate the sheep from the faithful minister if they are going to be free to devour the flock. One way that you separate the people from their preacher is that you criticize the preacher – like Paul.
They are like snakes in the grass. They creep into the church. They are wolves in disguise. They look for a willing ear. They drop a harsh word here. A jab there. A veiled accusation or not so veiled at just the right moment.
You know brother or sister so and so, Paul is no real apostle. Paul isn’t even one of the original twelve apostles, Paul doesn’t even keep the Law of God – as the Bible says. Don’t listen to Paul, his Christ alone gospel is heresy!
After a little bit these wicked words will spread like a cancer.
There is also another technique that false Christians and false teachers use and that is to couple malice against the minister with a spoken desire to be the new and better and loving and informed teacher of the Word.
This was the Satanic technique of David’s son Absalom when he wanted to oust his father David from the throne. You remember what he did? He stationed himself outside of the city and as the people came into the city to see the king to settle some dispute as their judge, he would say to them, oh my father is probably way to busy to see you with your case, oh that I were king in Israel, then I would be able to really help you. (2 Sam.15:1-6)
The Bible says in this way he stole the affections of the people away from his father.
Well that is a common ploy when Satan seeks a foothold into Christ’s church. That is what the Judaizers did. They said, listen to us. We have the true Gospel. Paul doesn’t love you. We do.
And we see something very sad. It worked. In multiple churches. It worked because real Christians still have the flesh. So real Believers are still susceptible to this. And it worked because there are real unconverted professing Christians in churches.
There are real wolves dressed like lambs in the church. And they are wickedly good at what they do. Chase the shepherd off so they can feed upon the sheep. And the sad thing is, they will get the sheep to beg them to do it. It is like the “Stockholm Syndrome” the psychological mystery of the abused loving their abuser.
Watch the devotees of a false teacher. Speak out against his false gospel with the clear word of God and what will they say and do to you? To you who are trying to set them free in Christ? They will attack you. And they will defend their spiritual oppressor tooth-and-nail as they say. Oh beloved, am I not right?
The first thing that Paul mentions is his motive for his ministry. Motives are inward things. We cannot see them or hear them per se. What we think and what we feel moves our will, moves us to and to say the things we do.
Galatians 1:10. For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.
In some way, you could look at two ministers teaching and preaching, and let us say for our example, teaching and preaching the same Christ Crucified. Outwardly they look like they have the same ministry.
However, inwardly it may be different. One man may minister the gospel of Christ out of love to God and love to Man. That is a good and faithful minister. The other man may preach Christ from selfish motives, perhaps for honor, perhaps for money. This is what Paul said was happening among some preachers when he wrote to the Philippian church. They were preaching for selfish gain. (Phil.1:15-18)
But you see, if you preach a Christ for selfish gain, you will never preach a Christ that will cost you dearly. Maybe even your life.
False teachers are people-pleasers. They are man-fearers. And not God fearers. They say and they do to please Men and not God. Even when they say otherwise. They want the PRAISE of men. To be the true servant of Christ is the EXACT opposite of this. You hated by all, but loved by God.
Paul is making a contrast with his motive for preaching the true Gospel and the false teacher’s motive for preaching the false gospel.
Paul says this. I am not preaching Christ crucified, His atonement of our sins because I want to please Man. I preach this truth because I want to please God.
In fact, he says “if” I wanted to please men then I would not preach the gospel of Christ.
Now here is something very interesting. Paul is implying that it does not please men to hear Christ preached. Let’s unpack this a little bit.
Of course Paul means the true gospel. He has been saying this all along.
There are three classes of people that do not like to hear the true Gospel.
The first is the obvious category, they are professed unbelievers. This is the outright rejecters of Jesus as the Christ. Say an avowed Hindu or Muslim or atheist.
The reason here is quite obvious. The true Gospel humbles the pride of man. Christ crucified says to Man, you are a wretched sinner under the curse and wrath of almighty God for your sins. And you are dead in your sins and trespasses and you are unable and even unwilling to save yourself. You must be saved by the free gift of God. Christ says, I alone pay the penalty for your sins. Not your good works, but My death. The wages of sin is death. But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ. (Rom.6:23)
You see the believer in false gods hates this. Christ says, your best deeds, your five pillars of Islam are like filthy rags before a holy God. They do not appease God. They do not remove His wrath for your sin. They hate Christ because He says, I am the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes to the Father but by Me!
Oh beloved, if you say this to unbelievers and the Holy Spirit is not subduing them to Christ with those words, they will hate you as if they saw a monster. To the unbeliever who is not destined to eternal life, the preaching of the gospel is the stench of death, their death, eternal death.
False teachers know this. They are not stupid. They are not teaching to please God. They are not teaching to save souls. They are teaching for selfish gain. Why tell the truth if you will be hated for it? For the unbelieving teacher, they won’t. The false teacher is teaching to make devotees to himself and not to Christ – even as he uses the name of Christ.
Matthew 23:15. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.
So the false teacher will say, oh there are many roads to heaven, let’s have ecumenical dialogue, let’s have inter-faith worship services.
But for the true minister, they must tell the truth of Christ alone.. They are compelled to tell the truth. Out of love to God. Love to souls. Even for the cost of being hated by the majority of mankind.
False professors – legalists.
But this can also be the unconverted church person. This is the baptized member of a local church that is not in fact born again, they do not have true and saving faith in Jesus. Those who are in the church but not in Christ are displeased when the gospel of Jesus Christ is preached.
These are the Judaizers in the church. They hate the gospel being Christ alone saves. They hate that. It hurts their pride. Plus, there are often certain types of sinners they do not want to be saved. And if you tell the people they consider as vile, believe in Jesus and you will be saved. Well, legalists hate that. No. These vile wretches must suffer. They must pay. They must work to sit at the front of the bus!
Even true Believers can be offended with the true Gospel. I know this sounds shocking when you first hear it. What a true Believer, made a true Believer by the power of the Gospel? How can such a one be averse to the true Gospel? This does not make sense. Oh beloved, even true Believers can be a mass of contradictions. How much of our true selves is veiled even from us?
I have seen true lovers of Christ get angry if you tell an unconverted family member that Christ Crucified is the only hope of eternal salvation.
Years ago, I used to watch one young wife, a visitor, try to distract her husband every time I explained the blood of Christ paying for our sins. Why is this? Would not the wife want her husband to be saved? Of course. But she does not want him to be hurt. And therein is the contradiction even within the true Believer. We want to spare our loved one the temporary pain of being convicted of their sin, we don’t want to think that they are unbelievers and are in danger of going to hell, so we water down the gospel to make it palatable to the flesh. That is being a man-pleaser.
Then we criticize the preacher of the gospel to our loved ones. Again, as a way of protecting them from the hard things associated with the Good News. Pleasing man again.
The false teachers can see what I can see. They will give the people what they want, a smooth gospel, a false gospel using the name Jesus so they can comfort the people they are still Christians. But all is peace, peace.
You see the true Christian will hear enough Jesus so that they will stay in that church. The unconverted family and friends will not be offended. So, this pleases the converted. They will heap praises on their wise, and gentle, and loving pastor. Not like that narrow bigoted apostle Paul always glorying in the Cross of Christ, being freed by the blood of the Lamb.
Oh beloved, I promise I am not being even in the least bit silly. Converted parents will sit under a false teacher for years are long as their unconverted children are happy at the church.
The same thing happens of course in mixed marriages. How many believing spouses go to a church that does not preach the cross of Christ because they do not want to offend their unbelieving spouse. And after all some church is better than no church. Right? Wrong.
It is a sad thing to me beloved when I see the religious ignorant in the family dictating the religious instruction of the family, where they will go to church, what minister will be their teacher. The flesh never chooses the things of the Spirit. Oh Beloved, let’s fear God and not man.
Beloved we cannot serve two masters. We will either love and serve God. Or we will love and serve Self and Sin. Beloved never make man the standard for what you believe and what you do religiously. Do not make Man, any man or any woman your god. Do not bow to them. Only bow to God. If you are faithful to Christ it will cost you the affections of many, many people.
You will be thought mean-spirited, heartless, loveless, overly strict and on and on. Or you will be thought too lax, too easy, too easy on sin. Beloved, please do not water down the gospel for anyone. The Cross is an offense. You cannot get away from it.
There are great costs to being a disciple of Christ. We forsake all. We pick up our Cross. We die to self. And follow Christ – who is our all. But there is nothing we value more than Christ. So our sacrifice is a sacrifice of love and joy.
Most of us would say this. If a man preaches a true Christ on Sunday but lives like the devil on Monday through Saturday that this fellow has no business in being a pastor-preacher. And we would be correct.
However, Spurgeon makes this insight comment and I will apply this to false teachers that often look so good outwardly, the man that preaches a false Gospel on Sunday, but lives an outwardly decent and blameless life, he also should be rejected from being a pastor-preacher, take no heed of him. Spurgeon says he already knows the objections, Oh but he is so eloquent in his teaching and preaching. (Spurgeon, Commentary on Galatians, pp.14-15) Beloved, do not be fooled by outward appearance.
Test everything against the standard of God’s word. Test everything against the True Gospel of Christ Crucified. And remember this statement by Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry says, Christ is hated because sin is loved. And I will add a false Christ is loved because sin is loved. Live to fear God alone. Live to love God alone.