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False Teachers and the Gospel

by Danny Mihailovic last modified Feb 23, 2014 12:54 AM
The question we were left with last week was, “Why do false teachers want to rob us of our assurance in the gospel?” What do they gain by unsettling our faith?

The apostle’s answer to that question is that false teachers want the approval of men. They tickle the ears of the unsuspecting, in order to get their support or their following. The Galatian church seemed to falter under this very pressure. Paul called the false teaching a “different gospel” which in itself could be no gospel because good news “gospel” can only be found in one Person and that is Jesus Christ. This different or other gospel was a perverted form of the real gospel; a corrupted version. So then, how did these false teachers pervert the truth? What was it that they actually attacked in the gospel? Remember, the church was in embryo stage here. It’s doctrines were not fully hammered out on the anvil of history as yet. But the essential “good news” of sins forgiven without the merit of works, through Christ alone, by grace alone and through faith alone, was clearly taught by all the apostles in contrast to the legal framework of the law, and its ceremonies with covenant signs, namely circumcision. This was the bitter pill which the Judaizers could not swallow. They insisted that if salvation was to be found, it had to include the Law of Moses. Of course Paul knew this because he of all people was the persecutor of the church, but not with Judaizing in mind, rather the total annihilation of the church….in favour of the Law. He formerly had no interest in Christ. But now, after that great revelation on the Damascus Road, Paul informed his readers that he did not confer with flesh and blood nor did he go to the Apostles to get this information. Rather He gained it through Christ – and what he learned over his fourteen years of self-imposed isolation, was exactly what the Church in Jerusalem had held to…that we are justified not through the works of the law, or any other type of works, but solely through the meritorious work of Christ.

The False teachers wanted to gain the approval of men which in contrast is quite opposite to  Gospel teaching which is quite offensive because it discards the works of man; totally rejects them; totally repudiates them in the light of the cross, and because of this, the gospel is an unpopular doctrine. People would rather be pampered with the thought that salvation will be granted to them on the basis of their sincere good works; or their good character; or their lesser evil; even their recognised status within their church circles. The human mind is full of itself until Christ empties it by filling it with His life. Paul was full of himself until he met Christ. The great lawyer; the legal mind par excellence; the Pharisee of Pharisees…became a pile of dung (his own words) when he saw the excellence of Christ — as that glory shone all around him. There on the ground like a beggar in the dust, Paul heard Christ’s voice…Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? Persecute the church, and you persecute Christ. That was the implication. If false teachers seek man’s approval by appealing to his sense of self-worth, i.e. self-worth in so much as it discards everyone else’s worth in order to elevate one’s own importance, then Paul certainly was not of that camp. He wished only to please Christ, and to teach the church about salvation. He was a bond-servant of Christ…

When the world attacks the truth of the gospel it does so by pointing to the weakness of those who proclaim it, but fail to see that while they may see the weakness of the church, rather than regale it with curses or ridicule, they should look beyond the church to its Head and Saviour the Lord Jesus. In Christ they will see their real need; their true condition and all that they worry about will fade into insignificance just as Paul’s concerns did when Christ confronted him. What do false teachers gain by troubling the church? They receive their own condemnation, because not only do they prevent anyone from coming to salvation, but they make their own followers twice the sons of hell; once by their own natural state, and twice by their preaching of it. By contrast to these false teachers, the gospel is not something that the church invented or had drawn up as a manifesto of some kind to impress man. Paul said in verse 9, “If anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received let him be accursed. “The church has received revelation. It was handed down through the apostles who received it from Christ. This is Paul’s foundational argument and he will pursue it now, to the fullest exposition as he shows how the law itself, wonderful and necessary in all respects, cannot save anyone and never has saved anyone, but that it gives us the necessary parameters in which Christ fulfils the promise of salvation to Adam and the seed of the woman. (Gen 3)