Hello everybody, and welcome in to episode 80 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Galatians 1 today and our focus is on staying true to the good news of the Bible, and not adding, nor subtracting, nor warping it in any way. We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in . Thanks for listening! Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan
In 1937 a medical disaster happened. A company called S.E. Massengill had an idea. They took a medicine that was quite effective – Sulfanilamide (Sulfa-antibiotics) and combined it with a liquid base to make an elixir – a drinkable antibiotic in elixir form that they called Elixir sulfanilamide. (Elixirs were all the rage in the 30s) Unfortunately, they took a good and effective antibiotic, and combined it with a deadly chemical called diethylene glycol in order to make this elixir. If you aren’t familiar with diethylene glycol, you should know that it is odorless and slightly sweet tasting, and a deadly poison, very similar to antifreeze in its chemical makeup. Sadly, at least 100 people died from taking this adulterated medicine. Not from the good and beneficial antibiotic, of course, but from the ADDED deadly poison. It was an example of subtraction by addition – a deadly practice in pharmacology and an even deadlier practice in theology.
The letter of Galatians is addressed to a church that was hit by a wave of false teaching. On the surface, much like Elixir sulfanilamide, this false teaching didn’t seem to be particularly deadly. It basically took a good thing – the good news of Jesus – salvation by grace through faith – and added circumcision as a necessary ingredient. No big deal, right? Except, actually – it is a massively huge deal. In the same way that adding DEG to sulfanilamide created an entirely different and deadly compound, adding ANYTHING to the gospel of Jesus creates an entirely different gospel – a deadly one. You can see how serious this is from our verses of the day:
8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, a curse be on him! 9 As we have said before, I now say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, a curse be on him! Galatians 1:8-9
Paul says this TWICE! If ANYBODY, even an angel – proclaims a DIFFERENT gospel or ADDS to the gospel, then they are accursed. What a huge statement! Let’s read the passage and then get some great insight from pastor Tim Keller.
Why is it such a big deal not to have a different good news, or add to the good news? Here’s pastor Keller to help us understand:
This is the most startling place anywhere in the Bible that says your experience, your feelings, and your sense of what God is telling you mean nothing. If an angel came down and appeared and you all saw it, somebody called up Fox 5 News and Channel 4 CBS, if they all came in and took pictures of it, everybody saw it, the angel sat down and people interviewed it, if people did things like try to stab it and, of course, just pulled the knife out or it went right through and things like that …This is an angel. We have an angel. Everybody knows it’s an angel, and the angel says, “I want to be your pastor.” Here’s what I would suggest according to Paul. Ask the angel what it believes about justification and sanctification, and Paul says if he reverses the order, pick him up by the seat of his ethereal pants and throw him out.
Your experience means nothing if it doesn’t have the gospel. It doesn’t matter if you’ve heard voices. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had visions. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had dreams. None of that stuff matters. Your experience does not judge the gospel. The gospel judges the experience. That’s the first epistemology it just throws right out. As we said, it’s because it’s fruitless to say, “God told me this,” and somebody else says, “Well, God didn’t tell me that.” Now what are we going to do? It’s over. Then he gives another epistemology that’s often used and is not … He doesn’t just say, “If an angel from heaven tells you something other than what I’ve told you, cast him out,” but he says, “If I,” which he’s talking about himself. He says, “If we,” and maybe he’s talking about the apostolic band. It’s possible. He says, “If I, if we, come and tell you something different than what I’ve already told you, throw me out.”
This is one of the most astounding things because in many independent churches, the church leaders are the ones who say, “Don’t question me. I am God’s emissary for you. God has anointed me. You must listen to me.” Of course, we have entire denominations and we entire churches that believe church tradition is the thing that is the final authority.
Paul has a very high office. He is not just a bishop. He’s not just an archbishop. He’s not just an ordained minister. He’s an apostle, and he says, “It’s not so much me as an apostle, but it’s the apostolic revelation. I heard something from Jesus Christ’s own lips …” We’re going to see in the next chapter … “I checked it out with all the other apostles. It’s exactly what he told them in the 40 days after his resurrection. Therefore, this is the gospel, and if I change my mind, throw me out. If I differ from this, throw me out.”
What he’s really trying to say is, “Church leadership or hierarchy? No.” You can’t say what really matters is what the church authoritatively says. No, the gospel judges the church. The church does not judge the gospel. The gospel judges your experience. The experience does not judge the gospel. So what is the gospel? What the Bible says has to judge the leaders, and it has to judge your experience. It’s the only thing you can be sure of.
Timothy J. Keller, The Timothy Keller Sermon Archive (New York City: Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 2013).
End of the Show: Bible memory verse for March: Hebrews 7:25 “Therefore, [Jesus] is able to save completely those who come to God through him, since he always lives to intercede for them.”
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