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Astonishing Desertion

Astonishing Desertion

Words of Faith 5-7-19

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2019

Jeff.Hoy@faithfellowshipweb.com

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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Galatians 1

[6] I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-- [7] which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.

 

        Paul's letter to the Galatian churches starts with a bang.  Many readers are struck by the absence of the usual niceties usually found in Paul's letters.

       The assumption is that Paul must have been very angry. This would seem to be the case since Paul typically began his letters with some words of commendation and thanksgiving even if the message to come was a strong one.  There is none of that here.

        It is also possible that because this was Paul's first letter, the more graceful tone he used later was something he learned over time. Sometimes we forget that Paul was human.  He began his ministry with a burning passion for the Gospel and a laser-sharp clarity concerning what grace is all about.  But Paul personally had to develop some people skills along the way.  He learned from his complicated relationship with John Mark to invest differently into young Timothy.  He also grew in his advice and expressions regarding married life from the harsher view found in 1 Corinthians to a quite lovely one in Ephesians. 

         But we cannot miss the fact that here Paul is blunt.  There was so much at stake.  He was astonished at the quick desertion of the Galatians, and he seems to take this personally.  It was a desertion of the Gospel.  It was a desertion of grace.  It was a desertion of Jesus.  It is also a desertion of Paul.  But most of all it was a desertion of God, "the one who called you by the grace of Christ."

        Paul had delivered to them the one and only Gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. They had received it. But now he had reports come to him that the Christians of Galatia were on the verge of turning from the Gospel of Christ to embrace something that was no gospel at all, but only legalism.

         For Paul, this was like a military revolt.  If anyone knew about the emptiness of legalistic religion, it was Paul!  It was not that they simply "had been removed" to another partially valid expression of the Christian faith as the KJV infers.  They were "deserting" the Christian camp altogether.  Embracing legalism meant rejecting God because it was a substitution of man's work in place of God in one's life.  

          This threat of legalism was "a different gospel," but really not a gospel at all! There is no good news in legalism. Really there cannot be another gospel as long as the gospel is understood to be God's way of salvation in Christ. The gospel is one. Any system of salvation that varies from it is counterfeit. 

         John Stott put it this way: "To tamper with the gospel is to trouble the Church... Indeed, the Church's greatest troublemakers (now as then) are not those outside who oppose, ridicule and persecute it, but those inside who try to change the gospel... Conversely, the only way to be a good churchman is to be a good gospel-man. The best way to serve the Church is to believe and to preach the gospel."

         We will spend time on these thoughts during the weeks ahead.  The letter to the Galatians may seem basic or simple to some, but it really is better described as foundational. The core of the Gospel and center of Christian faith is here.  We dare not abandon this truth.

 

        Father God, thank You for the Gospel of Jesus.  Thank You for the truth of Your grace.  Thank You for providing the way of salvation apart from any effort or work that I might do.  Thank You for saving me.  Give me grace for my day.  In Jesus' Name.

 

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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail, and our website, and our church app excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.  

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