(Continued from part 2)
Though Paul was no longer proud, he was greatly distressed and amazed.
The Galatians had messed up big time.
For example, in contrast to the Galatian church, the church at Corinth had Christian people who were involved in all sorts of wrong doing.
- The church was splitting into rival tribes over who was the best minister.
- Some of them were in incestuous relationships.
- Others were suing one another and dragging each others dirty linen through the pagan court system (The ancient Greek legal system was at heart Character assassination – “This is my brother in Christ — the dirty rotten fink”)
- Others were hanging out at the local pagan temples and getting too much involved with the seamy side of things there.
But Paul managed to write a letter to the Corinthians that began with assurances of his prayers for them and his thanks to God every time he remembered them. But you see, as wrong and as bad as their behaviour was, and as much as Paul would tell the Corinthians to stop doing these bad things, Paul understood that they had not abandoned the Gospel message. The church was just not living the right way in response to it. The situation was wholly different in the Churches of Galatia.
The Galatians church people were most likely very moral. To the observer, they were probably regarded as model citizens, but they had abandoned the good news of Jesus Christ for another gospel, which is not another of the same kind, but a false kind of gospel.
Those men from Jerusalem had got it into their heads that, as good as the work of Jesus Christ was, it just wasn’t enough to make them proper Christians.
These men told them that after trusting Jesus, there was still something for them to do in order to complete the job.
The Galatians might not even have seen it that way, but Paul correctly characterised the Galatians’ acceptance of this false message as an abandonment of Jesus Christ.
“How have you so quickly abandoned Jesus Christ, the one who has called you by grace?”
You have left your own safety for another Gospel, which is not another.
Two different Greek words are used here for ‘another’. One is ‘allos’, another of the same kind, the other word is ‘heteros’, which means another of a different kind.
The men from Jerusalem had told the Galatians that adding a bit of their own efforts to complete the saving work of Jesus was the same type of gospel as the one Paul had brought.
It was, they said, another of the same type – allos – it was just a different way of expressing it.
But Paul knew it to be another of a completely different type – heteros.
In fact, their message was not good news at all – it was bad news.
- What Jesus did was not good enough (very bad because completely wrong)
- What you do MIGHT be good enough if you try hard enough (very bad because completely wrong – it leaves non-Christians in their lostness, and it puts unbearable and unnecessary burdens on people who are Christians.
This is a very serious matter – one of life and death.
This is way Paul said, “If anyone [we or an angel from heaven] should bring a gospel to you beside the one you had received, let that one be accursed”; that is, be utterly condemned by God.
The good news is that God was in Christ, reconciling sinners like us to himself. Trust Jesus alone – his good life, his death in the place of sinners, and his rising from the dead – as all you need to be accepted by God to have everlasting life. That is the Gospel.
As far as our salvation is concerned, what we do is irrelevant – doesn’t make a fig of difference. The reality of who Jesus is and what he has done gives life to those who trust him. Living thankful lives in the light of this mercy is true freedom in this wicked world.