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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « TULIP (10) | Main | Solomon's Song »

    Paul, to the Galatians

    When Paul wrote to the Galatian Church to warn of the Judaizing heresy, he did not mention the fact that the Judaizers embraced Christ as Messiah and were probably in all other ways fully orthodox.

    I am sure they believed all the Old Testament. Perhaps they would even affirm the true humanity and full deity of Christ. Perhaps even Christ’s substitutionary death for sinners on the cross, and even His resurrection from the grave… on and on we could go.

    Yet the Apostle Paul never mentioned any of this in his letter to the Galatians. Why not? For the simple reason that there was no need to do so. That was because in spite of all the many vital doctrines the Judaizers would affirm, they added one thing to the biblical gospel (it happened to be circumcision in this case) and the gospel is not something anyone can mess with. Jesus + circumcision is not the gospel.

    Paul’s reaction, and I might say, his Holy Spirit inspired reaction, was to warn of the false doctrine in no uncertain terms calling it for what it was, “a different gospel.”

    Galatians 1: 6 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 (slave) of Christ.

    Imagine what the reaction would have been when Paul’s letter to the congregation was read out loud to the people. Certainly, there would have been Judaizers present in the services when the words were heard in the various Christian meeting places in Galatia. Its no real stretch of the imagination to say that we can be sure that Paul would have been hated by many.

    The Apostle Paul could not have been more clear. He pronounced the eternal curse of God on anyone preaching another gospel, even if the one preaching it was Paul himself or even a heavenly angel.

    I can imagine people saying, “Where is the love Paul? Do you not recognize the wonderful things the Judaizers have brought to our congregation? They can teach us so much about God’s law. They can show us how Christ fulfills all the types and shadows and even the Feasts of Israel. We have been so enriched by all they have taught us. What’s wrong with you for being so short sighted Paul? If you had heard ALL these men have been teaching you would not write in this way….”

    But what Paul wrote – every word of it – was inspired by the Holy Spirit, even when he called the perpetrators of the false doctrine “false brothers.” (Gal 2:4)

    The same Apostle Paul, speaking to the elders of Ephesus said (in Acts 20:26), “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, 27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. 28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert….”

    Brothers and sisters, heresy is not a victimless crime. There are such things as “damnable heresies” (2 Peter 2:1) – doctrines, which if believed, damn the soul.

    If one of God’s leaders witnesses false doctrine in such magnitude and then would remain silent, failing to warn God’s people, it is nothing but an act of cowardice (yes, doing nothing can indeed by an action in and of itself), and cowardice is something which ought to have no place whatsoever amongst the leaders of God’s people. Leadership is not for cowards. His precious sheep need their God appointed shepherds to protect them from the wolves.

    Selah. (Stop, pause, meditate)

    Posted by John Samson on March 4, 2011 01:37 AM

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