17 January 2016

AN UNCHANGING MESSAGE FOR AN EVER CHANGING WORLD


Gal 1:6-9

I want to start by asking a two part question! Are all religions the same? And do we all worship the same God? The reason I ask that question is because of the latest comments the Pope made this past week in a video. Francis contends that all the religions of the world simply represent mankind’s diversity in seeking God. He says that despite the differing beliefs, everyone is a child of the same God. Francis said this and I quote “Many think differently, feel differently, seeking God or meeting God in different ways,” he states. “In this crowd, in this range of religions, there is only one certainty that we have for all: we are all children of God." If that is true than why did Jesus say this to the Pharisee’s “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44. The pope’s proclamation that all mankind meets with/seeks after the same God, just in different ways, is false according to the word of God. As Paul penned these words “no one understands; no one seeks for God.” Rom 3:11. There is only one true God and in order to come to Him we have to die to self and cry out to Jesus to save us. “….And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Cor 4:1-6

See, there are five major, popular myths about religion in Canada and around the world.

Myth #1: There is no way to know who is right.
Myth #2: It is arrogant to suggest that you alone have the truth.
Myth #3: All religions basically teach the same thing.
Myth #4: I can be spiritual without being religious.
Myth #5: It doesn't make a difference anyway.

Those myths raise several important questions.
  • What gives legitimacy to a religion?
  • Is the concept of God enough to unite us?
  • Are there multiple paths to God?
  • What distinguishes Christianity from all others?
  • Isn't sincerity enough?
  • Why does this matter at all?
What do you think would happen if we preached from our pulpits that all religions are equal and we worship the same God anyways?
  • It would get me removed from my position as shepherd
  • It would make God very angry with how we are handling His truth.
  • It would lead many to live a lie and a life of unrepentance.
  • It would give a person a sense of false hope and security.
  • It would lead many to destruction and eternal separation from God. 

This is sad news; not good news!  This world desires and is embracing this false gospel of equality! And this is exactly what Satan wants! And many follow this path of pain and forever torment! The Bible says "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.  "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.  Matt 7:13-15. John MacArthur said in his commentary “Satan’s primary target for false teaching is the doctrine of salvation, because if people are confused about that they have no way of coming to God in the first place and thus remains under Satan’s influence and control.”

There was a problem in the churches and Paul had to address it rather swiftly. The same urgency a doctor would have to hurry you into surgery to remove the cancer before it spreads throughout your whole body. See, false teachers were spreading a false gospel (cancer for the soul) and to make matters worse, the Galatians were listening to them. Many in the early church were being deceived by man’s gospel and forgetting the true Gospel.  The Judaizers were disrupting the Christians during the time of Paul’s ministry. The Judaizers were Jewish false teachers who were plaguing the Galatian church with legalism and bondage. These false teachers were preaching a different Gospel. And what’s worse they would follow Paul through the land, and when Paul left they would go in and disrupt the fellowship. But this wasn’t the first time! This was going from the very beginning of Paul’s missionary journey. And Paul gave warning to the spiritual leaders in these churches.

In Acts 20:27-31 Paul pleads with the pastors and spiritual leaders. “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

Paul sounds an alarm and then he gently rebukes the Galatian churches! Look at (v6)I marvel (amazed, bewildered, and astounded) that you are turning away so soon....” (NKJV) “Turning away” is better translated “deserted, or change sides” They were being easily misled to believe another gospel by leaving GRACE and pursuing another way to God. To desert the true gospel is to desert Jesus Christ, the one who made it possible to receive grace, through His death and resurrection. Another gospel only perverts the purity of the message of the true gospel. See the issue of legalism (another gospel) wasn’t just a matter of someone who has higher standards or more rules than you have. We don’t serve the same God…because one is trying in their own strength, where the other (like me) is completely dependent on Christ and His sustain grace. See, God, has no need or desire for our works…..apart from a genuine desire of faith and repentance, to serve and to follow Jesus Christ. In fact, our works are offensive to Him according to the scriptures. As Isa 64:6 says "All our righteousness’s are as filthy rags..." If I try to impress God with my works. He discards them “as filthy rags”. We need to remember any righteousness other than the imputed righteousness of Christ……. is mere legalism. It is such an offense to God, which is as if we were offering Him soiled rags and expecting Him to applaud us for them. This kind of legalism is what we would call “spiritually fatalism” the outcome has devastating eternal effects. Thomas Schreiner writes “legalism has its origin in self worship. If people are justified through their obedience to the Law, then they merit praise, honor, and glory. Legalism in other words, means the glory goes to people rather than GOD”

That is dangerous, since God according to Moses is a jealous God “(for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God),” Exo 34:14. This other gospel the Judaizers’ were preaching was no gospel at all! This gospel promoted and elevated you and me over Christ’s death. This in reality makes His death insufficient for you and me for salvation. I must add my works and my goodness and whatever I believe to the Cross in order to be saved. Again, “THAT’S NOT GRACE!” Look what Paul says next because he uses 2 very important words in the next few verses. (v7) says “some want to pervert the Gospel” 

“Perverted” means: to distort the truth, or to turn someone in the opposite direction by adding something to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When we change the message, what we are doing is perverting the true gospel. To change the message of grace is to choke and eventually suffocate the church. Look at what Paul says in (v8) “if any person man or angel preaches any other Gospel! Anything other than Christ Jesus “let him be accused” 

“Accursed” means: an anathema which refers to someone to destruction in eternal Hell. Basically Paul is warning the church that if any:
  • Person
  • Pastor
  • Evangelist
  • Friend
  • Loved one
  • Stranger
  • Church as a whole
Preach any other Gospel than the grace of God through Christ alone, let him be damned to Hell for all eternity. So my question for you is this! If Paul is gently rebuking these people over a false gospel, then; how can all religions be seeking and worshipping the same God? Why would Peter say “let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.  And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:10-12. Why would John write “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” John 3:36. In John 14:6 we read "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

So what is the Gospel? Well, first I think we need to understand what the Gospel isn’t!
  • Not through works or my good intentions.
  • Not saying a prayer or bowing a head.
  • Not attending a church/bible study regularly.
  • Not having or growing up in a Christian home.
  • Not having many paths to Heaven.

As the bible says……“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Rom 3:23. Solomon penned “For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin.” Eccl 7:20. Paul was reminding the churches there is no other Gospel under Heaven to which a person can be saved. Paul understood that truth himself personally as it is written in His letter to Philippi. “If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so:  circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel (direct descendent of Abraham), of the tribe of Benjamin (from the tribe of the second son of Rachel), a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee (legalistic fundamentalist of Judaism); concerning zeal (passion for anything that threatened the Law), persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,”  Phil 3:4-10. So, what is the true and only gospel?

THE TRUE AND ONLY GOSPEL EXHIBITS THE GRACE OF GOD. 
(Sola Gratia)

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Eph 2:4-7

THE TRUE AND ONLY GOSPEL REVEALS THE GLORY OF GOD
(Sola Deo Gloria)

“For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”  2 Cor 4:6

THE TRUE AND ONLY GOSPEL IS FOUNDED IN THE WORD OF GOD
(Sola Scriptura)

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep…..Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 1 Cor 15:3-9


THE TRUE AND ONLY GOSPEL IS THROUGH FAITH ALONE
(Sola Fide)

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Rom 5:1-2


THE TRUE AND ONLY GOSPEL IS ALL ABOUT THE SON, JESUS CHRIST
(Sola Christos)

looking to Jesus, the Founder and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb 12:4

The beauty of the gospel and what separates His grace from all the religions out there……… is that He does all the work, and all the saving. The one thing God required of me is that I humble myself through repentance and faith and….. Rejoice in His saving grace with the understanding that it’s only through Him; I’m able to find this rest and freedom from my sin and bondage. And what that means for you and me is! There is no record of wrong with a new heart and that’s only made possible through Christ alone! David Platt gives a story about a gentleman who bought a Rolls Royce: “the car that never breaks down.” Well guess what, one day the man was driving and it broke down. So he called Rolls Royce and told him. They immediately sent a mechanic by helicopter (Our CAA is good, but that takes the cake!). Surely the man thought this would cost a pretty penny, but several weeks went by and there was no bill. He once again called the company wanting to settle up, but the lady who answered said “Sir, we are deeply sorry, but we have absolutely no record of anything having gone wrong with your car.” God says the same thing when he showers us with His grace “I have absolutely no record of anything ever having gone wrong with your life.” That’s the gospel! That’s the only GOSPEL.

No other religion has good news like this, which confirms there is only one true gospel. Are all religions equal and is Pope Francis right? Answer, NO! There are many roads, but only one leads to eternal life. There are many religions but there is only one true religion and its foundation is in Christ alone “sola Christos” and His word “sola scriptura”. And the warning goes out to anyone, including the Pope! “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” Gal 1:8-9. The Gospel goes against all other religions and man centered ways to God.

The Gospel stands against every false teaching, because……
  • There is only one way to heaven
  • There is only one Gospel
  • There is only one way to God
  • There is only one Savior and His name is Jesus Christ

As Charles Spurgeon said “Are you satisfied with Christ? If you are not, you have not really got Him. If you have got Him, He is everything to you.” Many ethnic groups, religious groups, and society groups today, will debate and fight you against those dogmatic statements. Why? They don’t want to believe that it’s true and that Jesus is the only way to God. This is because! They love their sin and they will choose the broad road that leads to Hell and the wrath of God. But for those who are being saved we will cling to Christ….the One who can set us free. As the hymn “Rock Of Ages” says …..

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress,
Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die
Rock of ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee

Is this your heart this morning? Are you going to desert the Lord as some were or have? There is only one Gospel, and any other Gospel is accused, an abomination to Him and His glory. Which gospel are you going to listen to? The true gospel or a gospel created by man? A false gospel that has and is leading many to Hell then and more so today!

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