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    The Gospel According to Galatians, Pt. 3: "Man-Pleasers or God-Pleasers?" by C. R. Biggs

    We all want to be liked- -especially servants of Jesus Christ are tempted in this way! Yet we must be faithful to Christ as servants of him who called us!

    Whether we are liked or not, we must be faithful! It is not how much we are liked, as much as it is how much we are faithful. At the Judgment Seat of Christ on the Last Day, Christ will not ask his minister-ambassadors how much we were liked; he will ask if we were faithful!

    In Galatians 1:6-10 the Apostle Paul is criticized for being a "man-pleaser" because he was telling the Churches of Galatia that the gospel was by faith alone in Jesus 'plus nothing else'! The Judaizers criticized Paul for making the gospel too easy- -but he was telling the truth about the gospel of Jesus Christ!

    How do we determine whether the "messenger of Christ' is faithful these days?

    We determine a true minister-ambassador-messenger of Jesus only by how faithfully he proclaims the gospel of Jesus Christ, and not the other way around! If a messenger of Christ is truly called and commissioned by Christ, he will tell the truth of the gospel, regardless of what any man says, or whatever persecution or criticism he may receive, just because he is a servant, or bond-slave of Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:10). This means that the minister-ambassador-messenger's total allegiance is to Jesus Christ and making his gospel known as an ambassador of the Kingdom of Heaven (cf. 2 Cor. 5:10-21). Let us read Galatians 1:6-10:

    ESV Galatians 1:6-10: I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel- 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble 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 the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. 10 For 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.

    Because God’s grace in Christ is so good, wonderful, sweet –and “amazing” as the hymn by John Newton teaches (“Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.”), the Apostle Paul was amazed, astounded, perplexed by the fact that the Galatian Christians had so quickly deserted the God who had called them in the grace of Jesus (Gal. 1:6-7). Paul says later that the false gospel that they had heard from the Judaizers had mesmerized or bewitched them (Gal. 3:1ff), and that they were falling away from grace (Gal. 5:4) because they were believing in Christ’s work for them, plus their own works of the law added to it!

    “Man-Pleasers” and “God-Pleasers”: Who Are the True Servants of Christ?
    The Judaizers were saying that Paul was trying to be a man-pleaser (Gal. 1:9-10) because he is making the gospel “too easy” for the Galatians. Paul writes to defend himself and to say to them that if he were trying to please men, particularly the Galatian churches, he would not be writing a polemical letter loaded with ‘Anathemas’ or condemnations! The Apostle Paul was not fearing man, nor trying to please man with his gospel message, rather as a slave or bondservant of Jesus Christ, he was pleasing God by being faithful to the gospel, whether the Galatian churches liked it or not! Paul was faithful as Christ’s messenger and servant. Paul writes in Galatians 1:10:

    For 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.

    Paul is saying that a true servant of Christ proclaims the only gospel of God and does not live to please man (or to be a “man-pleaser”!) We need to remember in every age of the Church that what is most important and truly matters for the growth and maturity of Christians is not the messenger of the gospel, as much as the gospel itself that the messenger is proclaiming. It is the gospel that must be proclaimed! There have been great and popular teachers in the church who draw many to hear them (just look at many of the successful radio, television ministries, and the top 10 books being sold at bookstores). Just because these teachers have many who listen to them, learn from them, and support them financially does not a gospel preacher make!

    Augustine wrote concerning Galatians 1:10 something we should all remember: “…A person does well in wishing to persuade others when it is not himself that he wishes them to like but the truth that he persuades them of….When one pleases others on account of truth, it is not the messenger himself but the truth of the gospel that pleases….Thus the sense [of Galatians 1:10] is, “Do I then try to please men or God? And since it is men that I am trying to persuade of the truth, do I seek to please them? If I still sought to please men I should not be Christ’s servant. For he bids his servants to learn from him to be meek and lowly of heart, which is utterly impossible for one who seeks to please men on his own account, for his own private and special glory.”- Augustine, ‘Epistle to the Galatians’ (IB.I.10).

    Are those today who are claiming to be servants of Christ man-pleasers or God-pleasers? Are they truly faithful as servants of Christ? Are they faithful to being servants of Jesus Christ like Paul proclaiming God’s rich grace in Jesus, despite persecutions, unpopularity, and rejection? What makes a true teacher and preacher of God is a faithful one! It is not how eloquent or wise the messenger is, the important matter is how faithful he is to the message of Jesus Christ. Does he show his servant hood to Jesus (as Paul did as a servant-bondslave, Gal. 1:10) in his faithfulness to Jesus’ message? How do we rightly judge the messenger so that we listen to the truth? Remember 1 Corinthians 2:1-5:

    ESV 1 Corinthians 2:1-5: And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

    We must be reminded always to judge the messenger by the gospel, not the gospel by the messenger. In other words, if a person is truly a messenger of Jesus, it will be the gospel that will reveal this to all, regardless of how weak and unpopular he may be. In every age of the Church there is a temptation to judge the gospel by the messenger. We like and look for eloquence, superior wisdom, and popularity, and when we find a messenger like that, we tend to think that this gospel he is preaching is the right one whether it is or not. We judge the gospel by the messenger rather than the messenger by the gospel. As the people of God we are looking for a proclamation of God’s gospel and a demonstration of the Spirit’s power in changed lives!

    If a messenger comes as a servant of Jesus and is not preaching the gospel, he is merely trying to please men and tickle their ears. If he is preaching the one and only gospel in Jesus’ name, he is pleasing God! The same Apostle Paul who wrote the Letter to the Churches of Galatia, also warned Timothy that in the last days, many in the Church would be described like this:

    ESV 2 Timothy 4:1-5: I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

    Paul soberly charges Timothy and all gospel messengers who come in Jesus’ name to be reminded to always preach the word, the pure and true gospel of Christ that saves God’s people and grows us up into maturity in Jesus. Paul tells Timothy and all gospel messengers to be reminded that they will be faced with a time when people will not endure sound doctrine or teaching, but will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions. Many will turn aside from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

    Have you done this as one who claims to be a Christian? Have you wandered off into following those who say they have a “word from the Lord”, or are “messengers of Jesus”, who gather many together who listen to them, but who are not proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ? Are you constantly testing messengers who come to you in Christ’s name by the message?

    If the messenger is not preaching the true and offensive, yet sweet and amazing message of the gospel of Christ who died to save sinners and rescue us from this present evil age, who shed his blood for our law-breaking, and offers grace to all who believe upon his name- -plus nothing - -no works of any kind added to it- -but all of grace- - if the messenger is not preaching this truth then he is no messenger or servant of Christ at all, but a messenger seeking merely to please men—and not God.

    Martin Luther expresses wisely and soberly the importance of the only gospel and the messenger bringing it faithfully to Christ’s people! He wrote in his Commentary on the Galatians:

    “While we live here on earth, we will be accused, exercised with temptations, oppressed with heaviness and sorrow, and bruised by the law with its demands of active righteousness. Because of this, Paul sets out in this letter of Galatians to teach us, to comfort us, and to keep us constantly aware of this Christian righteousness. For if the truth of being justified by Christ alone (not by our works) is lost, then all Christian truths are lost. For there is no middle ground between Christian righteousness and works-righteousness. There is no other alternative to Christian righteousness but works-righteousness; if you do not build your confidence on the work of Christ, you must build your confidence on your own work. On this truth and only on this truth the church is built and has its being.”- Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians.

    In our time in the Church of Jesus Christ, if we dare to preach the gospel of pure grace alone in Christ alone, we may be persecuted and we may be frequently amazed at how quickly the majority turns away to a different gospel- -which is no gospel at all! If we dare to be messengers who are approved by God as his servants, we will be viewed oftentimes as offensive in our modern world, especially when we talk of such things as sin, sinners, and the blood of Christ, but for those who have ears to hear by God’s grace, we will be offering hope to the lost, and the hope of being rescued and delivered from sin and this present evil age, experiencing the grace and peace of God in Christ, and we will be pleasing God and truly servants of Jesus Christ as the Apostle Paul!

    Let the people of God shout loudly with the Apostle Paul:

    For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, "The righteous shall live by faith."- The Apostle Paul, Romans 1:16-17

    Next Study: Galatians 2: “I Have Been Crucified with Christ…”

    Hear Pastor Biggs' Sermons at

    © 2006-2007 A Place for Truth.

    Bibliography for Further Reading
    Bruce, F. F. Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free.

    _________. The Epistle to the Galatians (New International Greek Testament Commentary)

    Calvin, John. The Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, trans. T. H. L. Parker.

    Fung, Ronald Y. K. The Epistle to the Galatians (New International Commentary on the New Testament-New Edition).

    Gaffin, Richard B., Jr. By Faith, Not by Sight: Paul and the Order of Salvation.

    Hendriksen, William. Galatians and Ephesians (Baker New Testament Commentary).

    Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistles to the Galatians, Ephesians, and Philippians.

    Lightfoot, J. B. The Epistle of St. Paul to the Galatians (A Zondervan Commentary)

    Luther, Martin. A Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians.

    Machen, J. Gresham. Notes on Galatians (Edited by John Skilton).

    Morris, Leon. Galatians: Paul’s Charter of Christian Freedom.

    Ridderbos, H. N. The Epistle of Paul to the Churches of Galatia. (New International Commentary on the New Testament).

    ________. Paul: An Outline of His Theology.

    Stott, John R. W. The Message of Galatians (The Bible Speaks Today)

    Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 20: On Christian Liberty.

    Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Volume VIII: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians (edited by Mark J. Edwards).

    Posted by Charles Biggs on September 30, 2006 05:14 PM

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