By Ronald Graham
“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:8-9. Paul in his letter to the Galatians is delivering a resounding rebuke as they have begun to place themselves back under the Law. They were being corrupted by Judaizers who opposed Paul’s teachings. It’s interesting how these same heresies have flourished over the centuries and are now quite pervasive in today’s Christian culture. The Gospel of Christ was being replaced with a false gospel; Paul was furious, with good reason.
Paul used the Greek word anathema as a condemnation against these heretics. The Apostle declares in the strongest language that the Gospel he preached was the one and only way of salvation, and that to preach another was to attempt to nullify the death of Christ. Paul was not happy with the new direction he saw the Galatians heading.
We need to back up a couple of verses to get the flavor of Paul’s apparent frustration “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:” Galatians 1:6. Paul uses the Greek word thaumazo- which means: to wonder at, to look at something as a spectacle; it was hard for Paul to believe what he was witnessing. He was dumbfounded at the change of direction the Galatians had made. After he had taught them the truth of the Gospel they were so easily moved toward another gospel, a false gospel.
Can we see any of this type of movement in our Christian Churches today? Absolutely. Now, before I go any further I’d like to point out something about Galatians chapter 1 verse 8 which many Bible students might not see as so obvious. Paul adds angels to all those he’s condemning for infiltrating the church with false gospels. Even angels? Personally, I find it intriguing how false gospels involve even angels. As we look into the Mormon religion, right away we see that Joseph Smith was approached by an angel, the angel Maroni, who handed Smith “another gospel.” It’s exciting to see the Holy Spirit’s hand in every aspect of God’s holy writ. I couldn’t resist pointing out the obvious condemnation of this fallen angel as was handed down by God Himself, some 1,800 years prior to that particular angel’s deception. Paul’s letter to the Galatians, written centuries prior to the angel Maroni offering Joseph Smith another gospel, was a scathing indictment against the hoard of fallen angels and demons whose purpose is to deceive the masses, to turn folks away from the true Gospel. Millions now follow the teachings of Joseph Smith, thus the angel Maroni was quite successful.
“For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God…For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” Acts 20:27, 29-30. Sure enough the wolves are on the march heading toward the sanctuary. The liars have corrupted the congregation; the masses are being deceived while being led away from the Gospel of Christ. Men who have no concept of the truth have risen in the church to fill leadership roles. Many have fallen for Satan’s lies thus they teach another gospel, one that leads the masses down the path of no return. Paul’s warning to the Galatians falls on deaf ears in many Christian Churches today.
Paul made it his life’s work to teach the whole counsel of God to all the churches he started, and even those he didn’t start (the Church in Rome). It was Paul’s mission to ensure that the true Gospel was preached and to drive out the erroneous teachings of the Judaizers, and not just the Judaizers but all false teaching. Paul was distraught with the Galatians because they were so easily persuaded to return to Judaism and place themselves back under the Law. But Paul was also very aware of the false teachings that were creeping in through Gnosticism and it was his mission to shine the truth on these false teachers and expose them for what they were.
The Gospel of Christ is ludicrous to many men in teaching roles in our Christian churches, which means they will only teach Christ’s Gospel as a symptom of the early churches ignorance. The Gnostics did not believe Jesus actually died on that cross hence His resurrection was only an illusion. The Apostle John explains who these Gnostics are. “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father:” 1 John 2:18, 22-23a. John paints a very clear picture here. Denying Christ, as the Gnostics do, makes them antichrists. These are harsh words but necessary in order for the church to fully grasp what’s happening in our midst today.
The Church needs more Pauls today than ever before; as the Church has grown by leaps and bounds so have the heresies. We need men who will stand up for the truth of the Gospel. But where do such men come from? They are products of Christ centered teaching. They are drawn to the truth by the Holy Spirit of truth, and they are Bible believing saints with a mission. They are determined to provide accuracy in Bible teaching. These men are the Pauls of today; seek them out and you will find they won’t veer from the truth. Nothing can hinder the truth of God but many will try. Those who are led by the spirit of lies (Satan) will continue to do his bidding as they work toward dispelling correct doctrine. Only the discernment that is available from God can keep the truth seeker on the right path.
As born again believers in Christ we have our work cut out for us. There is and has been a systematic and forceful malevolent supernatural entity behind all false teaching. These antichrists know what they are doing and they are good at it. We have to be better at advancing the truth of God than those who follow Satan and his plan. Which means we must be knowledgeable of God’s precepts to be able to defend His word correctly – and with all tenacity; this is possible only through the power of the Holy Spirit and a regime of diligent study of God’s Word.
Side Note: The Bible gives us knowledge and answers our questions, but just when we think we have all the answers, pride jumps up and bites us where we sit. Seeking knowledge through God’s word is necessary as we strive to be more like Paul, but we must be careful of pride. Remember Lucifer’s downfall was pride. We’ve all seen Christian leaders fall from their lofty perches, many after acquiring a prideful attitude.
Biblical literacy is the key to discerning truth from fable, and it only comes through a system of constant prayer and study, while humbly seeking His truth. It’s always a good idea to pray for God’s discernment to be upon you before undertaking a particular biblical study; by praying first we enlist the Holy Spirit’s help in guiding us through God’s Word. If you don’t study God’s word you’ll never know when a false gospel has crossed your path. You may be following one of these Gnostic teachers right now. Only diligent Bible study coupled with much prayer will keep you from being led astray. God’s word is truth, but it’s the way men interpret – or misinterpret – what God says that allows error. Some men find it necessary to embellish God’s word with their own thoughts to give the scriptures more excitement. Adding to or taking away from God’s word will only bring condemnation.
The enemy has many followers willing to step in and teach when there are no Pauls present or willing to fill that position, and the enemy has convinced many to follow his false doctrines. I can promise you this, the churches that are replete with false doctrines are Paul-less. When good men fail to stand up and be counted, bad men will always fill the void. Paul’s admonition to the Galatians is proof positive that there were no good men willing to stand up for the truth of the Gospel, thus they allowed the enemy to come in and present a false gospel which was readily accepted. There is no difference today when it comes to the myriad of lies infiltrating the church. Most congregations lack even a few Pauls who know the truth well enough to be able to stand up for Christ as they show the followers of Satan the door.
If you attend a church where the Pauls are numerous, count yourself blessed to be a part of such a congregation. On the other hand, if you can’t find a Paul among the men in your congregation then perhaps God has it in mind for you to step up and be the Paul or Pauline He wants you to be. At any rate, without due diligence, the wolves will be circling the sanctuary soon. Perchance there’s one standing behind the pulpit right now.
God bless you all,
All scripture is from the KJV and God breathed