When I began typing this Update this morning, I had originally said, “Welcome to the cooler weather of Autumn...” but now I have to amend that. It’s gotten warmer as the day has progressed -- to the point where we’re needing to open up the windows and let some outside air in to cool off the church offices.
In our Adult Sunday School class, we’re squarely in the middle of the Renaissance, and it was funny to hear one of the adults say that she’d always assumed that things were worse now than they ever had been -- until she’d heard about what was going on during the Renaissance. Suddenly, the epidemics, church scandals, rumors of wars, and corrupt politicians of our day sounded a lot less horrific by comparison... Seriously, the whole point of this class is to help us understand a practical expression of Solomon’s observation that “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9), and to understand the historical ebbs and flows in the Church that have led to and created where we’re at in our modern era.
We talked a little bit about some of those changes and historical “progress” in our message this week. We’re starting a new series, looking at Paul’s letter to Galatians, and he doesn’t start off by being very happy with them. See, they were all excited about following a “new and improved” version of the Gospel message -- one that made them feel more religious-y and church-ified when they followed it -- and Paul wasn’t very impressed by their choices.
It wasn’t just that they were ignoring the truth (which would be bad enough), but that they felt the need to add to the truth in order to feel better about what they were doing. It can’t be that we’re saved simply by having a genuine, living faith in Jesus Christ, they thought -- surely it’s all ultimately based on how special we are, or how impressive our actions are.
It should come as no surprise to us that most modern cults do the same thing today, since “there is nothing new under the sun.” They add components to the Gospel that boast, “Well, you’re really only saved if you do X or Y... and that’s what makes our religion such an improvement on that musty one that Jesus came up with...”
But as Paul scolded the Galatians, if anyone -- anyone (even the holiest, most successful-seeming preacher, even the brightest-seeming angel of light) -- if anyone preaches a Gospel that contradicts Scripture, then it’s not only wrong, but it’s deadly wrong. If the true Gospel of Jesus Christ brings life, then false so-called “Gospels” (that aren’t really “Gospels” at all) just shackle us back to the dead ways of thinking that Jesus gave His own life to save us from.
So “Gospels” that assure you, “Don’t feel like God will ever call you to have to do anything that you don’t want to do,” or “God wants you to be comfortable and rich,” or “You have to prove to God that you’re worth saving,” or “You’re a Christian if you’re [nice, or from a Christian family, or not an atheist, etc.]” are not only wrong -- they’ll kill you, spiritually speaking.
Search the Bible for the truth, and -- like the Bereans (see Acts 17:11) -- search it every day, until hearing God’s voice through His Word becomes so familiar to you that no one can sneak falsehood into your life.
And when you hear God’s truth, cling to it.