Preserving the Truth of the Gospel

Galatians 2:4-6 ESV

“Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me.”

In context, the “false brothers” being spoken of here were the Judaizers who were trying to convince the Christians that they had to be more like Jews, and that they had to keep some of the Old Covenant liturgical, ceremonial, purification, and dietary laws and restrictions, including that they had to be circumcised (I assume males only) in order to be saved. Yet, the broader picture here is of false Christians who are pushing a false man-made gospel which is indeed keeping in or returning their adherents to slavery to sin.

What many of these false Christians are teaching today is a one-sided relationship with God/Christ. For many of them are teaching that Jesus does it all for us and that we do nothing other than to believe in him, which is rarely defined and not biblically explained. And so many people have this idea that they can just acknowledge who Jesus is and what he did for us on that cross and that they can be saved from their sins and have eternal life guaranteed them regardless of how they live their lives on this earth.

For they are being told that they don’t have to change, that they don’t have to forsake their sins (repent), and that they don’t have to obey Jesus. Or else they are being told that this is optional and not required. And they are being told that Jesus will take them for who they are. And while it is true that we don’t change ourselves to be acceptable to God, which is not possible, anyway, it is not true that God does not require us to change in order to be acceptable to him. But he changes us as we cooperate with him.

It is like the subject of works. Yes, it is true that by grace we are saved, through faith, and this is not of ourselves, not of works lest any of us should boast. But the next verse says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus FOR GOOD WORKS, which God prepared beforehand, that we should WALK IN THEM” (see Ephesians 2:8-10). So our own fleshly works will not save us, but we are saved to do the good works of God. So, our salvation is not absent of works nor is it absent of obedience to our Lord.

And our faith is not of our own doing, but it is gifted to us by God, and Jesus is the author and the perfecter of this faith, so this faith is going to be aligned with God’s divine character and will for our lives. And we can’t even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless God the Father draws us to Christ, i.e. unless he persuades (the meaning of faith) us of his holiness and righteousness, and of our sinfulness, and of our need to turn from our sins to follow him in obedience to his ways, which is the gospel in a nutshell.

[Eph 2:8-10; Heb 12:1-2; Jn 6:44; 1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13; Acts 5:32; Tit 2:11-14; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14; Eph 4:17-32; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Lu 9:23-26; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:19-20; 2 Co 5:15,21; Matt 7:21-23]

It’s a Marriage

And then we have to consider here that faith in Jesus Christ is a covenant of marriage with Christ, and it is two-sided just like a marriage (Ephesians 5:25-33; 2 Corinthians 11:1-4). Imagine being the bride and saying to your husband-to-be in your vows of betrothal that he is to share your life with you but that he is to take you for what you are and that you are not going to change for him. And then you tell him that you expect him to do it all – all the loving, all the forgiving, all the faithfulness and fidelity, but not you.

I don’t know anyone who would agree to that arrangement, though perhaps some people have, and some people have ended up in relationships similar to that due to one or both spouses not keeping to their promises. But God does not accept that. For Jesus died on that cross that we would die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. And the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For if we live in sin, we will die in our sins (1 Peter 2:24; Romans 8:1-14; Galatians 5:16-21; 1 John 3:4-10).

Now our Lord does not demand absolute sinless perfection (1 John 2:1-2) of us, but he also does not accept professions of faith in Jesus Christ where there is no death to sin and no living to God and to his righteousness, and where there is no obedience to his commands, but where the professer of faith continues in deliberate and habitual sin. This is where he draws the line. For he says that not everyone who says to him, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one DOING the will of God the Father (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 9:23-26; Romans 6:1-23; 1 John 3:4-10).

Yet, that is not what the majority of preachers are teaching today. Most are teaching a gospel which does not require repentance or obedience to our Lord for salvation from sin and for eternal life with God. And many of these preachers are people of enormous influence who are greatly respected and admired in the Christian community. But we are not to look to their stature, but we are to be those who are testing their words against the Scriptures, in context (always in context), for many of them are smooth talkers and charmers who are deceiving the people and who are leading them to hell.

We should not blindly accept what people tell us is the truth just because of who they are or because of who they are related to, etc. No matter who the person is, we should test his/her words against the Scriptures to make certain that what they are teaching is the truth and not lies. For the lies are usually a mixture of truth and lies, usually taken from Scriptures being taught outside their context and made to say something they do not say. So, just because so-and-so says it, it doesn’t make it true necessarily.

[Matthew 7:15-23; Matthew 24:11-14; John 10:1-15; 2 Peter 2:1-22; 1 Timothy 1:3-7; 1 Timothy 6:3-10; 1 John 4:1-6; Jude 1:3-23]

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer

Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

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