January 26, 2012
Back to Basics
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Have you ever thought about giving up and quitting? I have met many people who have made a conscious decision to quit, sit down, and let life go by without them. I have met other people who have deserted their friends, family, and their assembly, because they had begun walking in darkness and spiritual lies. People who give up often started their decline by walking away from the truth of Jesus Christ. Today, we will study a single verse about deserting Christ Jesus.
I Am Amazed. My wife often looks at me and says: “Why are you amazed at the way those people act? You know what people are like.” I believe the Bible accurately describes man’s heart: “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). I watch people act from their hearts, and do very terrible things. A friend of mine told me recently that he had reconciled with another friend of mine, and I was very happy for both of them, until my friend told me that they had both been in the park all day for the last three days drinking beer together all day until they were completely drunk all day. I know that one of them tells his wife that he had stopped drinking, and was trying to take care of his body. Later I learned that he had spent several nights lately on the beach, because his wife had thrown him out of the house. I was amazed at the bad behavior of my friend. What happened that caused such tragic events in the life of someone who claims to know Christ? In short, when you desert Christ, and abandon His teachings, terrible things may happen in your life.
In Galatians 1:6, Paul talks about being “amazed” (“Θαυμάζω”) by the Galatians. In this case, the Galatians amazed Paul by their change in doctrine. For so many believers, they think that doctrine makes little or no difference and what you believe does not really make much difference, so long as you have truly been born again. In this verse, Paul described to the Galatians how bad doctrine, even among believers, leads to bad lives. As an apostle of Jesus Christ, Paul’s life centered around spreading the Word of God to new places and watching Jesus Christ build His church. Now Paul sees the Galatians moving away from Christ.
So Quickly Deserting Him. Paul describes the Galatians as “so quickly deserting” (“οὕτως ταχέως μετατίθεσθε”) Christ. As a believer, you should remember the Galatians because they were deserting Christ so quickly. Notice the emphasis here upon speed. You can have major spiritual problems in your life very quickly. You may be o.k. one day, and drinking in the park, separated from your spouse, the next day. Paul also used the term “deserting.” This same root word for deserting occurs in Jude 4, to describe that activity of evil men creeping in to churches, and turning the grace of God into licentiousness and so denying our only Master and Lord Jesus Christ. In Galatians 1:6, the force of the action comes from within the believer, and acts upon the believer himself. Let me summarize the action for you. Paul described the Galatians as people who had turned away from Christ. He emphasized that they had done it to themselves, as a product of their own decisions. They chose to desert Christ. Before we leave the verse, keep in mind that they had not deserted the doctrine only, but the Person of Jesus Christ. If you start believing bad doctrine, then you will be deserting Jesus Christ and your relationship with Him. It really does matter what you believe, because your doctrine affects your relationship with Christ, who loves you every day of your life. You are deserting Jesus Christ, the Person who called (“καλέσαντος”) you. When you ponder the “call” of Jesus Christ in your life, you may recall that you were dead in your trespasses and sins, without hope in the world, and living in this present evil age. But Jesus Christ reached out to you, gave you new spiritual life, and you were born again by the power and love of God. Why did you desert Him and His loving call in your life? Why would anyone do that?
A Different Gospel. We have a candidate running for the office of President in America who describes himself as a Mormon. Mormons teach that Jesus Christ was not divine or equal to the Father, but rather is the brother of Satan as they were both a “son of the morning,” created by God (Joseph Smith, Mormon Prophet, Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 2, Pg. 218-219; Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 6:207). In contrast, the Bible teaches that Jesus was never created, but eternally existed as God before Jesus took flesh and God dwelt among men. Jesus was fully God and fully man at the same time (John 1:1, 14; Philippians 2:5-11). Mormons have embraced a different gospel, which is not really a gospel at all. Joseph Smith, the first prophet of Mormons in America, crept into the lives of many Americans, and promoted licentious living, having sex and children with many woman, and falling into the error of Jude 4 described above. While we can quickly see that Mormonism denies the deity of Christ, and rejects the Gospel of Jesus Christ, other cults move more subtly into Christianity. Mormons always try to claim they are Christians, but Christ would never embrace Mormon teaching, and has already condemned Mormons to hell because they reject Christ and His Gospel, substituting another gospel that denies the deity of Christ. Because they claim Christ is not divine like God the Father, then they do not believe that Christ is truly God. Only God can save you from your sins. But for every Mormon who turns away from their evil doctrines, and receives Christ Jesus as God the Savior, by the grace and calling of God they too can be saved and leave Mormonism.
In Galatians 1:6, Paul described a “different Gospel” (“ἕτερον εὐαγγέλιον”). Paul could have called that gospel a different kind of gospel, but the same kind of gospel. Instead, however, Paul chose a different Greek word to emphasize the difference between the Galatians’ gospel and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul wrote that the gospel they believed now was a totally different gospel, not at all like the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In the next verse Paul will clearly state that their gospel is no Gospel at all, period. Paul makes the point here that we must be very careful not to be swept away by a different Gospel. These Galatians have deserted Christ, because they have made a decision within themselves to believe a totally different Gospel. We will see that this different Gospel requires men to work for their salvation, and must do certain acts to go to heaven. Without those certain acts, they cannot go to heaven. In contrast, Paul will remind them that God saves people from the penalty of their sins by His grace through faith, and never saves people by their works (Ephesians 2:8-9). Notice too that the Galatians had deserted God, who had called them by the grace of Christ. So many religions, like Mormonism, emphasize that man must work to obtain salvation, but God in the Bible declares that only the grace of God saves man. Man believes, and God saves. But even that faith is a gift of God, so that no man may boast.
So we learn more deserting Christ today.
● God warns each believer about adopting a different gospel, that results in us deserting Christ.
● Paul was amazed at how quickly people desert the Gospel of Christ, which should remind us that we can fall quickly away from correct doctrine.
● Jesus called us by His grace, and once saved by His grace through faith, we can never lose our salvation, but we can desert Him in favor of bad doctrine, so that we too may be drinking in the park every day.
Application for Today
As I walk through life today, I will be careful to read my Bible, and be sure my doctrine follows the doctrine of Christ. I do not want to desert God for a different gospel, and move away from the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Will you be careful not to desert Christ for a different gospel today?