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Study to Grow

Updated: Jan 24, 2023

By Doug Bell

Galatians 1:

6 ¶"I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel,

7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.

8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.

9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed."


These are very strong words from Paul. Some of the strongest lines that he wrote in the New Testament. Why? What made the Apostle feel such rage that he anathamatized those whom he fought against with such passion? (This does remind me of our Lord's words against the Pharisees in Matthew 23! )

Because each were fighting for the Gospel in their own way. Today we look at Paul as he addresses the Galatians This was a new church that he had established, and in a very short time they were being led astray. These things they were getting away from weren't small or insignificant traditions, nor were they just secondary subjects. This was the very "Heart" of Christianity itself; The Gospel!

John MacArthur Says:

"I suppose the shocking word here, at least the shocking word for me is the first word of verse 22, “Many will say to Me on that day.”

Matthew 7:21-23

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

And I can’t help but tie that word back to verse 13: “Many are those who enter on the broad way through the wide gate.”

It’s the same “many.”

It’s the religious but lost.

It’s the same many who go on the broad road that says heaven, but goes to hell.

It’s the same many who when they come to the end of the road think they will be admitted to heaven, only to find that the entrance to heaven is from, as it were, the very portals of – the entrance to hell, rather, is from the very portals of heaven.

What a shock that is to think you’re on the way to heaven, only to find out you are in hell.

What lulls people into this deception?

What does it?

How could you get to that place where you’re comfortable in your own deception, your own self-deception, even unaware of it.

Well, let me suggest some things.

There are some things that contributed to this; and I would say, first of all, is a superficial understanding of the gospel, which, by the way, permeates, if not dominates, quote-unquote, “Christendom,” a failure to understand the true terms of the gospel, the real definition of salvation and saving faith.

We have such a weak and shallow and superficial and trivialized, emotionalized, psychologized approach to the gospel, that most people who call themselves Christians couldn’t give you a meaningful explanation of the great doctrines of redemption.

They don’t know them, nor are they expected to know them, because in many cases the people who teach them don’t know them either.

And so, people have a false understanding of their spiritual condition because they don’t even understand what saving faith and what the saving gospel are.

Perhaps this is the most tragic text in all the Bible.

The reality is there will be people one day who stand before the Lord, many of them who will assume that they are about to enter heaven only to be told they’re on their way to hell.

This is the worst possible illusion that someone can have: to be mistaken about your eternal destiny, to be mistaken about your salvation."

There is only One Gospel, but many have added to or taken away from it. See first what it is NOT:

  • Easy Believism- this may be called 'head-knowledge.' Just knowing the facts can save no one! ( "You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!" James 2:19).

  • Water Baptism- Being sprinkled or dipped in water cannot save. Baptism merely symbolizes what should have taken place. ie., that the person has been joined in Union with Christ (Romans 6).

  • Walking an isle, saying a prayer, or joining a church- These are all man-made actions. Whereas, salvation is being "Born from Above." (John 3:5-9).

  • Keeping the Law OT- this was what Paul was fighting against, these were Judaizers that said you had to also 'be circumcised and keep the Law. Galatians 2:21 ("I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”)

  • Adding Any Works to Salvation- and there are many who try. Whether it's the work of baptism, speaking in tongues, circumcision, or the terrible additions of the Roman Catholic Church;

  • 'Salvation, in Roman Catholicism, is a process with many steps:  Actual Grace, Faith, Good Works, Baptism,Participation in the Sacraments, Penance, Indulgences, and Keeping the Commandments.  Basically, salvation is attained through baptism and good works.  It is maintained by good works and participation in the sacraments.  If lost, it is regained through the sacrament of Penance which only a Roman Catholic priest can administer.  Add to this purgatorial cleansing after a person dies, and you can see that salvation is an arduous process. 1.

What is the Gospel then? Paul has already shown us an abbreviated account in the book of 1 Corinthians 15:1 ¶ "Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand,

2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

3 ¶ For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,

4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,"

Salvation isn't about us, but what the Lord Jesus Christ did FOR us, over 2,000 years ago in the City of Jerusalem! The Vicarious (in our place), Sacrifical (Jesus was the perfect Lamb without spot) Attonement (He paid the price for sin), and the proof that the Father accepted His sacrifice is that He (the Father), Raised Him (Jesus Christ) from the dead!

So, if we can't DO anything to add to our salvation, HOW do we receive this miracle of God? Jesus tells us in Mark 1:14 ¶ "Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,

15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

"Repent, and believe in the gospel." What does this mean? First: Repent literally means 'turn around,' or 'about face.' This person has been walking in the opposite direction than the Way God is going. So he must reverse course and come back to God. Also: he must be sorry for offending God's Holiness by trying to 'work' his was to salvation and for all of his sin that he has rubbed in God's face.

Secondly: he must "believe." Again this doesn't just mean knowing certain facts about Jesus. ( the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:30 said, “What must I do to be saved?” And Paul said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you’ll be saved.” But notice the next verse. “Paul spoke to him of many things.” ) True belief must be more than intellectual assent. In Romans 10:9 says, "that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."

"Look at verse 10 for a moment. “For with the heart, man believes.” Now, what does he believe in? Well, it says it in verse 9. “He believes in the heart that God raised Jesus from the dead.” So, we are asking here for a belief in the resurrection of Christ. Now, you say, “Well why only that? How can you say that if you believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you’ll be saved?” Isn’t there a lot more to the Gospel?

Is it simply enough to believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, to believe the objective historical fact of the resurrection? Is that all? Why only this? And the answer is very simple, because the resurrection is the focal point of everything else in the life and ministry of Christ. And if you believe in the resurrection, it is a foregone conclusion that everything else falls into place... But Paul says, “believing in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead,” which sets Him apart as the Savior, the Messiah. That’s very objective faith. Salvation then is really produced by believing. Believing in what? Believing in the person and work of Christ as culminated in his resurrection. That’s essential. That is an objective element in saving faith." 2

Belief then is a trust and a confidence that Jesus is whom He claims to be and in what He has accomplished on our behalf. There is no going back. We have burned our bridges. Jesus is entirely what He claims to be or we are doomed. 1 Corinthians 15:19 "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

20 ¶ But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep."

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

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