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我信耶稣基督 I believe in Jesus Christ

Sermon passage: (Galatians 1:6-10) Spoken on: April 18, 2021
More sermons from this speaker 更多该讲员的讲道: Rev Enoch Keong
For more of this sermon series 更多关于此讲道系列: Galatians

Tags: Galatians 加拉太书

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About Rev Enoch Keong: Rev. Keong is currently serving as a pastor in the youth, young adult and young families ministries in Jubilee Church.
Bible passage (ESV) of the sermon can be found at the bottom of the page.

Title: I believe in Jesus Christ
Date: 25 April 2021
Preacher: Enoch Keong

Introduction
Today is the 4th Sunday of Easter. During the Holy Week and on Easter Sunday, the church remembered Jesus’ self-denial and celebrated the resurrection. Easter Sunday also marks the beginning of the new age where we are enabled to live a new life. To make living a new life into a reality, God sent His spirit to dwell in all his children and make them as one with Christ. All these wonderful happening took place upon the resurrection. And by the way, it was Ps Weikang who told us all these in the first sermon on Galatians preached here last Sunday. Remember?

All these wonderful truths must also have been told to the Galatians by Paul and his mission team. Their preaching gave birth to the church in Galatia. But things went awry after a while. The Galatians failed to remember and to trust wholeheartedly these wonderful truths. They started trying out suggestion givens by another group of missionaries. This loss of memory, this loosing of wholehearted trust was to Paul a very serious and urgent matter. If there were DHL, FedEx or Email back then, or if there were smartphone and WhatsApp back then, Paul would have chosen the quickest means to dispatch his message to the Galatians. Anyway, Paul wrote:

6I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—7not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8But 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. 9As 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.
10For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

We mentioned that Paul would have used DHL, WhatsApp or whatever quickest possible means to get these words across to the Galatian. We are not overstating things. In all the letters that Paul wrote to the churches, we will either find words of thanksgiving or a blessing after the opening lines. The only other 2 letters that we won’t find anything like that are 1 Timothy and Titus, which are letters to individuals, not letter to a church per se. The lack in thanksgiving or blessing tells us that Paul has either no time or finds no reason to give thanks, perhaps even no ground to say a blessing for people who choose to not remember and not trust in Jesus and his work on the cross.

But was it really so serious an issue? It is at least not a situation where these Greek converts were going back to their pleasure seeking lifestyle, like starting to advocate sacred prostitution. Neither was it that they fashioned a statue of Jesus with Galatian facial features and outfit and started worshipping it. Paul could have at least given thanks to God that it was not immorality or idolatry that had infiltrated the Church. All they were thinking of was to practice circumcision; a rite that is traced back to the father of faith, Abraham.

Where did they get the idea? Most people believe it came from the Judaizers. What they preached might have gone something like this. Grace starts you on the road to salvation, that’s true. But grace can only help you that much. If you want to be truly saved, then there are still quite a few things that you would need to do. You have to get circumcised, you have to keep to the Jewish food law and you have to observe the Jewish festivals. In other words, the Judaizers stressed that the effect of grace have been overstated.

Friends, let’s pause for a moment and ask ourselves this question. What come to mind when we think of God’s grace? We forever fall short of God’s glory, yet God always forgives. So grace is God’s kind disposition for being willing to forgive time and again. We pray for things we need and stuffs we want and God grant us according to our prayers. So grace is God’s generosity in his abundance. It is a blessing when we experience grace in these ways.

But what really is grace? The Judaizers stressed that the effect of grace have been overstated, but Paul turns around and asks the Galatians, “Do you remember what grace really is?” “Do you remember”, he asked.

The understanding or misunderstanding of grace gave birth to the story between Paul, the Galatians and the Judaizers. This unhappy story can be quickly summarized with the title and the first 2 lines of a secular love song that some of us may know. Anyone remembers Phil Collins? Do we remember his has a song “Do you remember”? The song starts this way,

We never talked about it
But I hear the blame was mine…

And there we have it. Paul thought things at Galatia were in shape, so he moved on to other places. In no time came the Judaizers, who thought that everybody must observe the Law of Moses. The Judaizers blamed Paul for preaching something incomplete, for preaching a people pleasing message that was easy to gain converts. They Galatians were swayed. This is just a quick recap of the unhappy story. The rest of Phil Collins song is totally irrelevant to our sharing this morning, so we need not look at it now. But maybe we can still invite our Brother Colin to sing it for us after service.

We come back to the question, what really is grace? It was in the grace of Christ that God called the Galatians (v.6), say Paul. So grace is first and foremost, “God's powerful and costly action for the salvation of the world through Christ's self-giving on the cross”. [1] Through God’s grace, we have the gospel.

Question, what could be used as a top up to this?

The Galatians that were swayed by the Judaizers answer the question, strangely, with “yes there are”.

But come to think of it, to answer this way is actually not so strange after having been Christians for a while. When Christian walk start to become something mundane, regular and uneventful, it would seems to make sense to start doing something to demonstrate piousness. To do something in order to ensure that we are really still on God’s side and that he is still on ours.

The Galatians Christians weren’t the only ones that could identify things to supplement the gospel. Churches after the Paul’s time are no different from the Christian church in its infancy. Throughout the different eras, churches did things like rebaptism of believers. Rebaptism was done for various reasons. But by and large, it was a top up to ensure that believers are on course in terms of salvation. More recently, certain arm of Christianity strongly believed that Christians would have to speak in tongue. Only the ones who could do so were truly Christians or truly saved. What follows were classes and methodologies to learn how to enunciate in tongues. And even more recently, many Christians were taught to seek for a filling of God’s Sprit. This is usually done at the end of worship services, and many saw it as a way to go deeper with God and to experience more fully one’s salvation.

Christians, we see from these few examples, are willing to try things so as to demonstrate piousness and to find assurance.

The Judaizers suggested stuff to the Galatians in order to promote and uphold the Mosaic Law. But I believe it is also this willingness in Christian to try things that granted them success. I think it may actually be more correct to say that the Judaizers’ action appealed to human nature. Humans crave for security and assurance. Humans, more often than not, like to please others. It shouldn’t be too wrong therefore to say that these 2 aspects of human had led the Galatians to consider circumcision, Christians to have accepted rebaptism and to go for classes to learn how to exercise the gift of speaking in tongues. Then, it’s also human to like to do more and to do better. When I first started using smartphone, I thought the photos looked good with the bigger screen, as compared to days where cellphones came with keypad and pathetically tiny screens. But newer and better products kept getting launched. Every now and then, the phone will prompt to do a software update, promising that the latest software will improve camera performance and phone screen. This is human nature at work, this will carry on. Human nature is likewise at work in spiritual matters, so many new ideas on how to better secure salvation, I believe, will also be launched in time. Be prepared.

Yet to Paul, any additions to the gospel, however harmless, helpful, faith promoting, would be as good as to turn the gospel message upside down. Jesus claimed while hanged on the cross to have finished the work he was sent to do (John 19:30). To add things to the gospel is to render Jesus' claim being false, and made him a liar.

That’s why Paul seem be in extreme distress when the Galatians sought to supplement the Gospel. And it’s why he lashed out at the false teachers twice over. If we may use less polite lingo, Paul was saying vehemently, “To hell with them” when he penned “let him be accused”.

What is more telling would be what Paul writes in the first part of verse 8. The same curse would apply if he or an angel is to distort the gospel message. In saying so, Paul wants us to come to terms with one thing, which is the basis behind every word we read in Galatians this morning: the gospel should have the final say and every say in our lives.

It’s not Paul or me who try to make this up. The understanding of the gospel goes back to Isa 52:7, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”

The gospel should have the final say and every say in our lives because the gospel is a declaration. It declares that it is our God who reigns. And, he reigns chiefly through the gospel. One commentator wrote, “In [the gospel] an energy is released to change the plight of people and circumstances. [2] And may I add to it, that this is true not only for us who are sitting here worshipping, but to people from all walks of life; people who see themselves as God’s children and family or otherwise. Amen to it?

If so, then we are good to wrap up the sharing. Our text helps us see that we are prone to top up to the gospel so as to do better, something which is a NO NO. But that doesn’t mean we should sit there and do nothing, because the gospel is energy to change the plight of people and circumstances.

So, on a day to day basis, how do we stand firm in the wonderful truth of the gospel? We need not suggest new ideas, but simply that, the gospel should have the final say and every say in our lives.

Let the gospel tell us daily about who we are, we are God’s beloved children and family. Let the gospel guide us daily in decision making. When we do that we will co-rule with God in Jesus’ self-giving style, and we release that energy uniquely found in the gospel. And most importantly, we thank God daily for the gospel, in which God has done all that is ever needed for man to enjoy life everlasting.

Can I invite all believers and all who are willing let the gospel have the final say and every say in live to stand, and declare in one voice the content of this gospel. We will do so by reciting the Apostles’ Creed:

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord;
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit;
Born of the Virgin Mary;
Suffered under Pontius Pilate; Was crucified, dead and buried;
He descended into Hell;
The third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven;
And sit on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
From thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit; The Holy Christian Church, the Communion of Saints; The Forgiveness of
sins; The Resurrection of the body; And the life everlasting. Amen.

[1] R. B . Hays , “ Th e Letter to the Galatians: Introduction, Commentary, and Reflections ,” 11 : 181 – 348 in NIB. p.204.
[2] C. B. Cousar , Galatians (IBC; Atlanta, GA : John Knox , 1982 ). p.22.

Galatians 1:6–10 (Listen)

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 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.

10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

(ESV)