Sermon #2 Galatians Series
Title: “The Singularity of the Gospel”
Text: Galatians 1:6-10
Subject: The necessity of maintaining the purity of the gospel.
Man, as a moral and religious being, is radically and totally depraved. The bias of his nature is decidedly towards that which is false in sentiment, and towards that which is wrong in feeling and action. This principle is not only frequently stated in the plainest terms in the Holy Scriptures; but our personal experience, and our observation of that which takes place around us compels us to admit its truth. In the Bible we have given to us a complete system of moral means for making men wise and good, for giving proper direction to their religious and moral thoughts. This is a plain, well-attested revelation of the will of God, and, yet, how seldom do we see it applied by men for the permanent and favorable change of their characters, for which it was intended. Indeed, this never takes place except as a result of the peculiar power of God. No man is “born again” until he is born of the Spirit.” And I know of no point which shows in stronger light the natural depravity of the human heart than this: That no man ever really understands, believes, and lives under the influence of the remarkably simple, perfectly rational, and most clearly attested principles of the Christian revelation, until he becomes the subject of the supernatural operation of the Holy Spirit.
And even after a man has become the subject of this Divine power, how much ignorance, misapprehension, and error, how much imperfection and impropriety, still remain simply because he is not in subjection to that power. The partial apostasies of genuine Christians are fearful demonstrations of the power of natural depravity. These are clear evidences that were it not for the constant operation of the gracious Spirit of God, every righteous man would soon become a wicked man, and all true religious thinking, feeling, and deed would become banished from the face of the earth.
In the history of these Galatian churches we have a striking exemplification of the strong tendency of the human mind, even after being in a good degree enlightened in the knowledge of the truth, to revert to former, or to all into new errors. These churches had been instructed in the principles of Christian faith, in the most clear and distinct manner by the Apostle Paul. He had taught them that Christ crucified was the only and sufficient Savior of men, and that faith in Him was the only way that men could become interested in his salvation. He had proved the truth of all his declarations by miracles. These Galatians believed the gospel as it was preached and confirmed by the Apostle; and they were so delighted in him that they received him as an angel of God, and would have, had it been possible, plucked out their own eyes and given them to him. Yet, within a short time, these converts were induced, by the eloquent discourses of false teachers, to renounce the principles taught by the Apostle and to receive in their place a message contrary to the glorious gospel proclaimed by Paul. Thus, he writes them this letter filled with indignation, sorrow, and astonishment.
Here Paul declares that there is only one gospel and he proceeds to show the singularity of that gospel. This message is one of dogmatism, finality, and authoritarianism, which is a rare message in our day of broadminded liberalism. Our generation is taught not to believe anything, not really. One certainly is not to be dogmatic about anything. But, brethren, the Christian faith is, in its very essence, a non-compromising, authoritarian religion of absolutes. The very reason for the flourishing of Christianity in the pagan Roman world, in which it was born, was the non-compromising spirit of our forefathers in the faith. Rather than relinquishing or adding to one article of faith they would die! Brethren, we must return to this dogmatism about the gospel.
We need a clarion message ringing once again from the pulpits across our land. Too long we have been silent regarding the message that passes for the gospel in our day. There is only one gospel! It must not be altered! It must not be mixed and diluted with human conjectures! We must uphold the gospel in its purity. Men are in a helpless, hopeless, mad dash to hell; and they will not be rescued unless Christ, the crucified Redeemer, sovereignly bestows his grace upon them. The gospel is “good news” from heaven of how that God sent his Son to save his people. It is the declaration of what God has done for sinful, helpless humanity. It is never a proposition. It is a declaration!
The Galatian Christians had been seduced from the pure gospel of God’s grace to a gospel mixed with God’s grace and man’s merit. Paul here calls upon them to return to, and maintain the gospel in its purity.
The gospel is a declaration of what God has done for sinners in the person of his Son, apart from anything done by men. Anything other than a declaration of God’s work is a perversion of the gospel.
1. The apostle’s disturbance (6-7).
2. The alarming denunciation (8-9).
3. The absolute declaration (10).
I. The apostle’s disturbance.
We now come to the place in this letter where, ordinarily according to the custom of the day, words of thanksgiving and commendation would be found. It was Paul’s custom to give grateful acknowledgement of divine grace bestowed upon those he addressed, whereby they had been enabled to grow in knowledge, faith, and love. It was very common for him to express his inner satisfaction with the work of God upon them, and to give forth a prayer that they may continue to persevere in the faith.
But, in this epistle to the Galatians, we are confronted with the exact opposite. What we find here is not satisfaction, but stupefication, overwhelming amazement, and painful perplexity.
A. The first thing we see in this book is their removal from the gospel. A Change had taken place among them, and this disturbed their spiritual father.
1. Paul was stern. He was no flatterer.
a. He was generally very tactful and expressed words of encouragement before he began to criticize.
b. Paul was a man of tolerance, as a general rule.
(1.) He was with the Corinthians.
(2.) He was with the Philippians (1:15-18).
c. But here the very essence of the gospel is at stake. God’s glory and man’s salvation is the issue, and here there is no place for tolerance.
2. The Galatians were in the process of changing their position. They were forsaking liberty in Christ for the bondage of Moses. Paul is amazed.
a. This was not merely a change of theological positions.
b. This was a change of loyalty from Christ, who in his grace and mercy had called them to a gospel, which was different from his in its very essence.
3. The call here referred to is the internal, or effectual call of Christ. “It is that act of the Holy spirit whereby he savingly applies the gospel invitation to the heart and life of certain definite individuals among all of those to whom, in the course of history, that invitation is extended. It is a call to salvation, full and free, via the avenue of sanctification. Speaking by and large, the apostle is convinced that the Galatians had received that effectual call” (Hendrickson).
a. This cal goes forth in the general proclamation of the gospel.
b. This is only effectual, however, when that preaching is attended by the power of the Holy Spirit.
(1.) This effectual call is ascribed to all three Persons of the Trinity, though specifically it is a part of the mediation of Christ (John 10:2-3, 16; Rom. 1:6).
(2.) It is always effectual when accompanied by the Spirit of God.
(3.) The Galatians were replacing another gospel for the gospel of Christ, and thus they were being removed from Christ.
4. The gospel of Christ is “good news” from a far land. It is the message of grace from God in heaven for men of the earth.
a. It is a message of what God has done and is doing for sinners in Christ (1 Cor. 15:1-4; 2 Cor. 5:19-21).
b. It is a message of salvation alone in Christ.
(1.) He is the Door.
(2). He is the Way.
(3.) He is the Truth.
(4.) He is the Life.
(5.) He is our all for salvation (1 Cor. 1:30).
c. It is a message of the finished work of Christ whereby he has made all of his people acceptable to God.
B. Their replacement of the gospel (7).
1. The Galatians had not made a formal renunciation of Christianity.
2. They were only adding obedience to the Mosaic law to what had already been revealed.
3. This, however, was a perversion of the gospel of Christ.
Quote: “They made good works, which are the effect of justification, its cause” (Luther).
4. It is a hazardous thing to tamper with the gospel of Christ. It must neither be abridged nor enlarged.
Note: Many make faith and repentance along with Christ’s sacrifice the grounds of our pardon, but this is a perversion of the gospel.
a. Justification is a judicial act between God and Christ.
b. Faith, repentance, etc. are the results of justification.
II. The alarming denunciation.
Here the apostle tells us how those who corrupt the gospel ought to be regarded.
A. The gospel revelation is final.
1. The finality of Christ.
a. He is the full revelation of the Father.
b. He came on a mission to perform the work of redemption.
c. He has finished the work.
2. The finality of the Word of God (Isa. 8:20; Rev. 22:18-19).
a. The Bible is God’s Book.
b. It tells us his will.
c. It reveals his work.
3. The finality of the gospel way of salvation (Acts 4:12; 1 john 5:10-12).
B. The gospel perverters, those who preach another gospel, which is no gospel at all, are to be regarded as accursed men (2 John 10-11).
1. We should be very cautious in charging men with preaching another gospel; but when we are conscientiously persuaded that they do so, the line of conduct to be followed is very clear.
a. We must not acknowledge them as teachers.
b. We must not receive instruction from them.
III. The absolute declaration (10).
Here Paul defends himself against the charge of being a man pleaser.
A. Paul did not try to persuade (that is conciliate) men. He never courted the favor of men.
B. Paul did not try to please men.
C. Paul’s only principle of life was to please his one Master, Christ Jesus the Lord.
1. We cannot have two masters (Matt. 6:24).
2. Any man who, for the sake of human favor, or out of fear for human resentment, will keep back any part of sacred truth is not worthy to be the servant of Christ.
3. It is a happy circumstance when a Christian minister, whose character has been slandered, can fearlessly appeal to the tenor of his life and leave the decision with those who know him best.
1. We must be certain that we use the law lawfully (1 Tim. 1:8-9).
2. We must not allow ourselves to be brought back under the bondage of the law from which Christ has set us free.
3. We must hold forth the gospel in its purity. It is the work of Christ, which alone saves sinners.
4. Sinner, if you will believe the testimony God has given concerning his Son, he will receive you.