"Paul, an apostle - not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead - and all the brothers who are with me. To the churches of Galatia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel - not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ."
Paul starts out in this passage with a cordial greeting to the church of Galatia. After his introduction he gives a short gospel message before he goes into his letter. This ties into the things that he's about to say afterwards, because right after he tells them that Christ sacrificed Himself for our sins Paul starts basically yelling at the Galatians for believing a gospel that's different than the true Gospel.
The Galatians had started turning to false prophets and teachers, and Paul is chastising them for doing so. He says that he is astonished that they have moved away from God's gospel into something else.
One thing that is repeated in this passage is Paul's declaration that whoever teaches a false gospel needs to be accursed. He's not messing around here. He's making it very clear that those false teachers must be thrown out and not listened to anymore because they are presenting a false gospel. After he says these things, he shows the Galatians that he is not ashamed of what he has said because he tells them that he is not seeking the approval of man. All he cares about is God's approval because he is Christ's servant and nothing else matters. Because of this, Paul is adamant that those false teachers need to be thrown out in order for the advancement of the Kingdom to take place. He is not concerned with whether or not he steps on anyone's toes because of how much he cares for God's truth.
This is a really interesting passage. One thing it makes me think about is the many false teachers that are out there today, and they're treated well, as if they're doing something right! Of course, I'm only speaking of one false teacher, and that's Joel Osteen. And I'm also speaking of all the people who go along with what he teaches. I hate... absolutely HATE the prosperity gospel. I'm sorry, I wasn't aware that the Bible has a hidden verse that says, "Just kidding! The Christian life won't be hard. If you follow me and if you're REALLY doing what I say, then you'll be completely healthy, financially stable, and good-looking. If one of those things isn't happening... well... something's obviously wrong in your life."
Okay. The Bible says NOTHING about that. In fact, it says that in this life we WILL have trials and tribulations. Following Christ is not an easy road. That's why Christ says that there's a narrow gate and a wide gate. The people following Christ enter through the narrow gate because not many people make it there. They aren't interested in not living for themselves and answering to a Being that is higher than themselves. However, people LOVE to hear that if they follow God their lives are going to be easier and they'll be healed of their sicknesses and they'll have so many more friends. That's why the prosperity gospel is so popular.
However, Paul clearly points out that people who teach things like that need to be accursed! We as Christians who believe in the one true gospel must not stand for it! Unfortunately though, Joel Osteen's church is one of the biggest in America and is thriving as of right now. But because this "gospel" is so rampant in America today, we must be even more passionate and ready to speak about the true gospel. We cannot allow this kind of thinking to overtake the minds of our fellow Americans, because they will be sorely disappointed if they're really wanting to follow Christ. They WILL experience hardships. They WILL be persecuted for their faith. Yes, there's immense joy that comes with being a follower of Christ, but that has nothing to do with the circumstances that we're put in. Paul says to the Philippians that he has learned to be content and joyful NO MATTER WHAT the circumstances are. We don't get joy from the situations of life that we find ourselves in. We get our joy from knowing God and knowing Christ's sacrifice for us on the cross.
In being more passionate and straightforward about the gospel however, we must remember that it is of utmost importance for us to say those things in love. 1 Peter 3:15-16 says,
"...but in your hearts set apart Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame."
We MUST be prepared to make a defense and give the gospel to those who ask. But just as importantly, we MUST be prepared to do it with gentleness and respect. Otherwise I guarantee that those people will be completely turned off to anything about God and Christ because we did not respect them and we forced it upon them.
So I guess the main lesson to take out of this message is to make sure that the false gospels that are out there are not winning out. Be bold in the faith and know that what we believe is true and we need to take a stand for it. If we don't, then the false gospels WILL win out, and we will lose our platform to tell people about the true sacrifice of Christ.