This message was presented at the Parkrose Village United Congregation on 29/5/16.Parkrose Village is a combined retirement village and nursing home in Adelaide South Australia.It is the basic draft which may have had some slight alterations in actual presentation.I left out some of the text in the interest of time.
Bible Reading Galatians 1:1-12 is posted below the message.
“If anyone preaches any other Gospel”
Paul was writing to the Galatian Church. It was a province in what is now modern day Turkey.
Many of the people in the Church there had been sidetracked into believing they had to obey the old Jewish laws to get to Heaven rather than rely on the Gospel of Grace, of our Lord Jesus.
As I share with you this morning I hope to show how this message is still very relevant for us today and that we are not immune to someone “preaching” or teaching another Gospel even here at Parkrose.
I will repeat part of what Paul said in today’s reading.
What is the Gospel?
It means good news and this “good news” is encapsulated in Paul’s statement in this passage.
It is amazing how many people want to impress on us “good news”.
“Good news” that will make us
more at peace, calmer
exclusively chosen ones
a better house
membership of exclusive societies
And the list could go on endlessly.
Mostly these things make their proponents richer and us poorer.
Notice that some of these things can result from being a Christian and believing the Good News.
But ever since Jesus died and rose again there has been the unseen rulers of this world trying to either convince us not to be believe that the Gospel of Jesus alone can save us or convince us that the result of forgiveness of sin can be achieved without the Cross of Christ.
Just this week there was an article on the ABC internet site trying to suggest people can find fulfilment without God.
I will quote some of it.
Posted 22/5/16 “In his new book Beyond Belief, Australian social researcher Hugh Mackay argues a growing number of people, particularly young people, are abandoning religion in favour of a different kind of spirituality — one not restricted by institutions or guidelines.
First, in modern society, Australia included, we have been bombarded with propaganda over the last few decades, pressure from mass marketing — where we are told life's greatest satisfaction is to "buy, buy, buy".
We think we are entitled to more comfort and prosperity and it is all about 'me' … the industry is telling us we are entitled to be happy. If [we're not happy], then we need to do something about it: read that book, buy this CD, take that pill.
There is a trend among young people of them asking, "How can I unlock my spiritual potential? How can I be a better person without signing up or wearing the badge of religion?"
They still want the values that are taught with religion of "loving thy neighbour".We pick certain parts from many religions, making their beliefs our own. Many people don't want all the rules that come with Christianity, so they take certain aspects: Love thy neighbour; love thy enemy … these are hard things to do, but when people do this, they are satisfied in their own version”
The Bible calls this “having a form of Godliness but denying the power of God.”
2 Timothy 3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
Denying the Gospel!
This writer calls such people “Spiritual But Not Religious.” SBNR.
He goes on to say.
“I believe we can find meaning without religion.”
“I believe we can all think beyond ourselves, where faith is no larger than self or some non-religious pathway.”
Sadly many are going down this path today.
Over the times that humans have lived on this earth there has been an inbuilt desire for things to be better.
A French Philosopher and Theologian called Blaise Pascal is said to have made the statement once that everyone has a God shaped vacuum within their being waiting to be filled.
Here is his actual statement from his writings.
"What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself" (148/428).”
We come back to some more of Galations in
Galations 3 :Oh, foolish Galatians! What magician has hypnotized you and cast an evil spell upon you? For you used to see the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death as clearly as though I had waved a placard before you with a picture on it of Christ dying on the cross. 2 Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by trying to keep the Jewish laws? Of course not, for the Holy Spirit came upon you only after you heard about Christ and trusted him to save you. 3 Then have you gone completely crazy? For if trying to obey the Jewish laws never gave you spiritual life in the first place, why do you think that trying to obey them now will make you stronger Christians? 4 You have suffered so much for the Gospel. Now are you going to just throw it all overboard? I can hardly believe it!
Christ has come, we don’t need those laws any longer to guard us and lead us to him. 26 For now we are all children of God through faith in Jesus Christ, 27 and we who have been baptized into union with Christ are enveloped by him. 28 We are no longer Jews or Greeks or slaves or free men or even merely men or women, but we are all the same—we are Christians; we are one in Christ Jesus.
It wasn’t only the Galatian Christians who had strayed to another Gospel.
It was the same with the Corinthian Church.
Paul had to remind them what the Gospel was.
1 Corinthians 15 Living Bible
15 Now let me remind you, brothers, of what the Gospel really is, for it has not changed—it is the same Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then and still do now, for your faith is squarely built upon this wonderful message; 2 and it is this Good News that saves you if you still firmly believe it, unless of course you never really believed it in the first place.3 I passed on to you right from the first what had been told to me, that Christ died for our sins just as the Scriptures said he would, 4 and that he was buried, and that three days afterwards he arose from the grave just as the prophets foretold. 5 He was seen by Peter and later by the rest of “the Twelve.”[a] 6 After that he was seen by more than five hundred Christian brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died by now. 7 Then James saw him, and later all the apostles. 8 Last of all I saw him too, long after the others,
2 Corinthians 11 Living Bible
11 I hope you will be patient with me --------------. Do bear with me and let me say what is on my heart. 2 I am anxious for you with the deep concern of God himself—anxious that your love should be for Christ alone, just as a pure maiden saves her love for one man only, for the one who will be her husband. 3 But I am frightened, fearing that in some way you will be led away from your pure and simple devotion to our Lord, just as Eve was deceived by Satan in the Garden of Eden. 4 You seem so gullible: you believe whatever anyone tells you even if he is preaching about another Jesus than the one we preach, or a different spirit than the Holy Spirit you received, or shows you a different way to be saved. You swallow it all.”In fact all of Paul’s letters to the different churches are about re- enforcing the truth of the Gospel ,showing Christians how to grow as Christians, learn to use our gifts and put on the armour of God against the evil one.
So how do we bring this message about being misled by a false Gospel back to something that is relevant to those of us who live at Parkrose and those of us who don’t.
Is this warning for us here as well?
Is our Faith being undermined here?
Hopefully not by our band of volunteer speakers including me.
And we have a wonderful Chaplain Bill and dear people like Dean and Barrie who are such an inspiration here with much Christian wisdom.
When I stand up here and talk to you I seek to present Jesus Christ and His Cross and that alone.
But; Are we hearing and embracing another Gospel?
Are we being seduced by messages that tell us we can go to Heaven, be forgiven by any other way than our Lord Jesus sacrifice for us?
In this place we have access to books,newspapers, tv,radio even the internet for some.
We can be constantly being presented with ideas that are contrary to the Gospel.
On TV, if you like wildlife programs like I do , we are constantly being told we evolved from monkeys and fish and not created by our God in the Garden of Eden.
This is a message that undermines the Gospel and has no validity although some Christians embrace it.
We receive visitors who may be family and friends and we interact with staff.
Hopefully they bring us love which is from God not false ideologies.
Are we perhaps following the false promises of trying to win the lottery because that will make us happy?
That is the religion of luck and chance.
It is empty.
It won’t get us to Heaven and have our sins forgiven.
Are we in danger of being distracted from Jesus by false gods and idols.
Idols we sometimes worship that have no real substance.
When I was a young boy and then teenager I was a football fanatic.
I still love the footy and Lesley will tell you I watch too much of it. That’s true.
As I moved from playing High School footy to senior football,I found myself playing alongside of footballers who I had been idolising as a teenager.
I found to my dismay though that some of them had pretty bad personal morals. I found this to be sad even though I wasn’t a Christian at the time.
They soon fell off the pedestal I had them on.
It is pleasing that these days sports people are under much scrutiny and they are called to account when they play up off the sports field.
Sport is a religion for so many but it is an empty religion.
I think it’s great that you can especially in a place like this enjoy the footy in comfort on TV.
And remember to pray for your footy heroes as they are humans with all the same failings we have.
Like many things sport can give us much temporary pleasure but does not deal with the big questions of life.
In the large scheme of things it doesn’t really matter who wins.
I am so glad that some years later I found the one true person we can all worship.
Or rather He found me. (As He has found you.)
I accepted and understood His Gospel.
I received Him as Lord and Saviour.
He has been here with us today.
Sadhu Sundar Singh was a former Hindu who became a Christian.
He became a Christian Sahdu and wore an orange robe.
He preached the Gospel around the world.
His story is amazing.
Prior to becoming a Christian he had been worshiping a false God.
He was following another Gospel.
I heard(via John Stott) that once someone approached him and asked him what his Christian belief had that he didn’t already have as a Hindu.
His answer was “Jesus”.
The questioner persisted “but what do you do now that you didn’t do before?”
He replied “I have Jesus”.
We have been gathered together in His name.
The name of Jesus that is above all other names.
We have been sharing His Gospel.
His good news!
His wonderful Way,
the Way of Grace!
We don’t have to earn our salvation like the Galatian Christians were thinking and starting to believe.
Isn’t that wonderful!
Let’s, as we enter this coming week, keep our eyes and hearts fixed firmly on Him.
Make sure we are not distracted by another Gospel.
We will now sing our last Hymn and then have the vesper “Now Unto Him” as our benediction.
It is very appropriate for today's message.
“Now unto Him who is able to keep you from falling”
Galatians 1:1-12Living Bible (TLB)
1 1-2 From: Paul the missionary and all the other Christians here.To: The churches of Galatia.[a]
I was not called to be a missionary by any group or agency. My call is from Jesus Christ himself and from God the Father who raised him from the dead. 3 May peace and blessing be yours from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 He died for our sins just as God our Father planned, and rescued us from this evil world in which we live. 5 All glory to God through all the ages of eternity. Amen.
6 I am amazed that you are turning away so soon from God who, in his love and mercy, invited you to share the eternal life he gives through Christ; you are already following a different “way to heaven,” which really doesn’t go to heaven at all. 7 For there is no other way than the one we showed you; you are being fooled by those who twist and change the truth concerning Christ.
8 Let God’s curses fall on anyone, including myself, who preaches any other way to be saved than the one we told you about; yes, if an angel comes from heaven and preaches any other message, let him be forever cursed. 9 I will say it again: if anyone preaches any other gospel than the one you welcomed, let God’s curse fall upon him.
10 You can see that I am not trying to please you by sweet talk and flattery; no, I am trying to please God. If I were still trying to please men I could not be Christ’s servant.
11 Dear friends, I solemnly swear that the way to heaven that I preach is not based on some mere human whim or dream. 12 For my message comes from no less a person than Jesus Christ himself, who told me what to say. No one else has taught me.
1. Galatians 1:1 Galatia. Galatia was a province in what is now Turkey.