Roger's Postings

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Galatians 1:1-12.                     There is no other Good News!!                        2/6/13

 1 Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2 and all the brothers and sisters with me,To the churches in Galatia:
3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!
10 Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
11 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

 This morning’s reading strongly emphasises that there is only one Gospel; and apart from that Gospel of Jesus Christ there is no other Good News. It stresses that we need to be very wary of people who try confuse and pervert this Gospel; and this can and does happen so very easily; even by some who may be very well meaning. The point being that we need to be very careful in what we listen to when it comes to our Christian faith.

 I'd like to use a modern day parable to illustrate how we need be careful in this regard. It is a true story from a good few years back. Some of you may be aware that some farmers in our country were caught out through their use of a chemical called Dieldren in order to combat certain problems on their farms. They were encouraged by certain authorities to use this chemical. To these farmers it was made to look as if this was the answer to their problems; and most likely it was effective in its short term results. It all sounded like very good advice at the time, but little did they know that it would all end in disaster. That Dieldren ended up poisoning their land and making it useless for a number of years. The chemical build up was entering the food chain, making the produce that came from that land unacceptable for human use. The moral of the story being - listen to the wrong advice and you could be courting disaster.

 Now Paul here warns us of much same thing - but with regard to our spiritual life; which is of course a far more important area for us to be concerned about because of its eternal results. Paul here reminds us - there is no other Good News except that which is in the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet there are some who are trying to confuse you and who want to pervert this Gospel.

 Now sadly this is just as applicable today. This is coming out in two very dangerous forms in our society today. On the one hand we have those who are placing the importance of their lives on I, me and myself over and above what our Lord has done for us and what his Word tells us. On the other hand we hear much about ‘God loves us all’ and nothing about sin and the centrality of Jesus death on the cross for our forgiveness.

 In both cases there is a confusion of the Gospel: there is a deserting of the grace of Jesus Christ: that undeserved love that picks us up and accepts us even though we don't deserve it. There is also a downplaying of the depth and severity of our sin and therefore also of the importance of Jesus death on the cross for our salvation. This is a very real danger for ourselves and others if we follow these lines of thinking.

 I mean how can we in all honesty believe that Jesus died and rose again to save us; and then basically go out and live as if there is no God, ignoring everything of what he has done for us and to say about living life as his people. How can we say we have new life in Christ - say that we are Christians; and yet there is little attempt to live the Christian life: Our church attendance and offerings to God's work are seen as no big deal, far less even living out our faith each and every day. We all too often only seem prepared to live for and serve self, first, last and only, rather than to love God and our neighbour.

 Too often we seem to think that as long as we have some vague idea in the back of our mind about Jesus, that’s all that matters. As long as we have been baptized and come to church occasionally then all is well. In this way we pay lip service to the Gospel; and yet have not allowed that Good News to touch and change our hearts and lives.

 So we are like the guy who acknowledged that the park ranger and guide had all the answers and directions when it comes to walking along a dangerous cliff in the park, yet still insisted on going his own way. Despite the fact that the ranger had hold of him and was trying to pull him back on the right path: on the safe, yet scenic walk. Despite that he was determined to go his own way – and it took him right over the edge of the cliff to his death.

 Or else we are like the pauper who was handed a cheque for a million dollars, who then promptly puts the cheque in his pocket and thinks that he is a wealthy man; but then proceeds to live the rest of his life lonely and starving in the streets.

 Likewise Jesus has saved us and has all the answers to life, yet, so often, we insist on going our own way, living most of our life as if he and what he has done for us is of no great importance: turning our backs on the  Lord and his saving work: Thereby heading straight into spiritual poverty and disaster.

 In many ways the second pitfall is so similar. Here again people acknowledge that God loves us all, but then we don’t talk about or want to think about what he has to say about sin and its consequences. Since he loves us we can ignore what he has to say on all manner of issues. As long as we are loving [whatever that means if we don’t care about the consequences of doing what is wrong and evil].

 God Word is very clear about issues of sexual immorality, homo-sexuality and many, many other things. To be loving in the face of those things is to clearly state that they are wrong and destructive and to do what we can to point them to Jesus and the cross for forgiveness and help to live the life that God would have for us. We cannot change what God has to say to us in the Scriptures just so that we can be free to do our own thing. Yes, God loves the sinner, but he hates the sin and in no way condones sin.

 Here again we need to remember that sin is that desire within us that wants to do what we want irrespective of what God says: It is disobedience to what God has given to us as good and right: The consequences of this disobedience is death. God’s Word is very clear about that. We cannot think that God does not care if we go against his Word and try to change it to suite our own desires.

 In fact we only need to look at the cross to see how serious this issue is. That is what our sin deserves. Yet as we look at that cross we don’t see ourselves, but instead Jesus Christ. He willingly took the punishment that we deserve on himself so that we might be forgiven and have the assurance of a new and better life. Those who believe this have what he has won for us. However those who turn their backs on it lose what has been won for them and face eternity in hell.

 So it is Jesus Christ who is the life now for those of us who believe. He is our Saviour and Lord. And that means, he and what he has to say is what is all important for us as we now go forward each and every day of our lives. In fact we now look to allow him to do and work in us everything that he wants for our lives. That means we also allow him to be our guide as to what we do not do and be a part of.
This is the Gospel that is to be proclaimed and lived. There is no other Good News than that in Jesus Christ we have salvation and new life. He alone died so we can be forgiven and brought back from death to life. He alone sets us free from this present evil age and he is where we find the help that we really need.

 That is the only Gospel; the only Good News that we have and are given. There is the news that encourages us forward into the future: The news that releases us from the pressure to have to perform in order to be acceptable. But at the same time it is news that picks us up and helps us to live out our Christian life each and every day. This Gospel transforms our life from one of selfishness and self-centredness, to a life of love and joy, and which gives all the glory to its creator and redeemer.

 It is there in this Good News of Jesus Christ and his death on the cross  that I encourage each and every one of you to look and place your trust in. Then you will not become confused and perverted to something which is not Good News at all. Be wary of many of the influences coming our way in this day and age that seeks to put this focus on us and what we would like. Seek at all times to live in light of the truth that Jesus has already saved us and has given us a new and positive life: a life that is focussed on giving all the glory to God through our Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other Good News than this – so hold to it for dear life. AMEN

 Pastor Roger Atze
Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish



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