James writes to a group of Jewish Christians who have fled to regions north of Jerusalem. These believers were being treated as less then human to the point of not being able to earn a living because they followed Jesus. “Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of various kinds…” (James 1:2. Pursuit of Self The other reason for people deconstructing their faith is that they just want to live their life how they see fit. By rejecting truth, and making it sound reasonable, they have deceived their conscience into believing that the Bible is unreliable in its depiction of Jesus, therefore a false version of Jesus. If the Bible is inaccurate, then you can make Jesus out to be whoever you want and all heresies over the past 2,000 years are now valid. Galatian Heresy Paul is one the first to address heresy in the church, even before the first Church council. To the Galatian churches, Paul has to rebuke them for so easily giving up on the Gospel message he preached to them. They had allowed a false teaching to rise to the surface of their discourse to the point that Paul was shocked to find their shallow faith. They allowed someone else to come in and change their understanding of the vary nature of Christ. Does this sound familiar?
The letter to the churches of Galatia is the simplest letter to reference in dealing with people who seek to subvert 2,000 years of church teaching, doctrine, and defense of Jesus Christ.
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ…9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!” (Galatians 1:6,7, and 9). The Problem A group of people had subverted the teachings Paul originally gave them about Jesus. Paul’s frustration is that the new teaching is clearly incompatible with what he taught. Paul is frustrated that they have failed to see this contradiction of faith verses works.
He continues in chapter 3, “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard?” (Galatians 3:1-2).
Did you earn your salvation by following the law? Therein lies the heresy of the Galatian churches. After Paul presented the Gospel of grace through Christ, someone else told them they had to do additional things outside of believing what Paul taught them. Who Does the Work? Their arguments seemed logical, otherwise the Galatians wouldn’t have fallen for it. It mirrored what Paul preached so closely that to them, the addition of a thought swayed their perception. You need Jesus, and you need to convert to Judaism.
The region of Galatia is filled with gentiles and that is whom Paul was called to preach. Unknowingly, other Jews who claimed to follow the same Jesus, told them they needed to be a Jew first because Jesus was a Jew.
“Did you receive the Spirit, i.e. salvation, by the works of the Law, or by believing?”
When you came to faith, is it something you did or God did? If you did the work, then you can undue it or change it. If you can change what God did, then you are heading down a path of false teaching. Adding anything to the work of Christ is a sure fire sign of heresy. God Did It, We Believe It. However, if God did it, and God remains unchanged, immutable because he is eternal, then God isn’t the problem. It is we who have changed.
We should repent and not allow the man-made doctrine of this day and age to override the Gospel message the New Testament authors gave us. The early church attests to this Gospel, the early church fathers believed in it and passed it on to the next generation after them.
It is foolish and unwise to think that we are so much wiser than those who have come before us. We might see our generation as so brilliant. “Did they make it to the moon? Then we are smarter,” one might think. No, but neither did you…unless you are one of 12 people that have been there and are reading this. You are not wiser than those who walked with, talked with, and experienced the living Christ when he walked the earth.
Don’t allow a false teaching to cause you to doubt your faith and walk away. Seek him and you will find him. It is okay to have doubts about God and still pursue Him!
To be continued…
In Truth & Love,
Matthew J. Diaz