Monday, June 3, 2013

Proper 4 Galatians 1:1-12

Paul, an apostle, not from men nor through man but through Jesus Christ and God (the) Father, the One having raised Him out of death, and all the brothers with me, to the ones called out of Galatia, grace to you and peace from God our Father and (the) Lord Jesus Christ, the one having given Himself on behalf of our sins, so that He may remove out of the present age of evil according to the will of God, and our Father, to Whom–the glory into the ages of ages, amen. I am amazed that so quickly you turn away from the One calling you in grace, into another gospel which is not another, if not some are the ones stirring you up and wanting to change the gospel of the Christ. But even if ever we or an angel out of heaven proclaims a gospel other than the gospel in you, may he be cursed! As I foretold, and now again I say, if anyone proclaims a gospel to you other than the one you received, may he be cursed! For now am I persuading men or God? Or am I seeking to please men? If yet men I were pleasing, a slave of Christ I would not ever be.  

Just what is true nowadays? It's becoming more difficult to tell. One tv channel spins a news story one way, and another channel spins it in an entirely different direction. Your significant other tells you one way is best, but that conflicts with what your parents taught you as the right way. One TV preacher claims that God wants one thing for you, then you flip the channel, to find another one preaching an entirely different message. How can you know what words are reliable, and which ones aren't?

Well, this is not a new problem, although in our post-modern age where everyone has their own personal version of the truth, it might seem worse than ever before. But way back in Paul's day, there were already others substituting a different so-called "gospel" for the one of Christ Jesus. Folks were trying to substitute a different message, claiming all the while that it was the same as God's word. It wasn't. But they would use twisted logic, quotes out of context, whatever to buttress this false gospel.

Really this is no different than the false appeal made to Jesus in today's gospel. "This guy is really worthy" the people argue. He wasn't. He knew it. He admits freely to Jesus that he doesn't deserve a miracle, or even for Jesus to come under his roof. The truth comes out in the end. The prevailing opinion of the people was dead wrong. Jesus does not bless the man "who deserves it", because nobody deserves it. We are all sinners deserving of hell. Jesus blesses the unworthy out of His love!

This flies directly in the face of popular notions. God can only love the "lovable", right? Wrong. That's what man thinks. It's not God's will. People show favor to the one who seems worthy of it. People only praise the person who has done something deserving of it. We only honor somebody who seems honorable. We expect ourselves to receiving something good because we've somehow earned it, so that we can receive the credit. This is the foundation of the false gospels that abound even today.

The orthodox gospel is different. Orthodox means "proper glory". So if the glory, the honor, the credit, or the praise goes to you as deserving God's blessings, it's not orthodox, because the glory isn't going in the right place. All glory is to belong to our God, alone. He's the One who saves the unworthy of salvation. God loves you in Christ Jesus, not because you are so lovable, but despite the fact that you aren't. Jesus died for your sins, became your sins on the cross so you become His righteousness.

This is God's will, the Lord's plan for you, His desire to love you despite yourself. Yet Satan works overtime to drag you away from this free gift of grace. Though he appears as a "white devil" he's still a wolf, albeit in sheep's clothing. He appeals to the popular opinion, telling you that God can't love you unless you... Or he tried to deceive you by saying, "if you just do this, then, and only then, God will bless you..."  What horse-pucky!  While you were yet sinners, Christ died for you! "It is finished!"

These false gospels of today twist the glory from God to men. The gracious washing of your baptism they pervert into an "ordinance" you gotta do to please God. The Lord's Supper, Jesus' body and blood given and shed for your forgiveness is twisted into your act of remembering Jesus. God's gift of faith to convert you from heathen to believer is turned on its head into "your decision" for Christ. Each gift, each work of God, each blessing from Jesus becomes your work, your effort, your choice.

Yet you remain confident in Christ Jesus, by Whose death your sin, your death, and the devil's hold on you is defeated, and by Whose resurrection you are raised to life everlasting! You await His return to remove you from this evil age of false gospels, according to God's will to save you eternally!


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