A FALSE VIEW OF TRUTH: “That It Can Change”
by David Lemmons
Paul wrote in Galatians 1:8–“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.” This letter of Paul was addressed to the churches of the region of Galatia. The people of this region were mainly Gauls (French). We can better understand what Paul has written in this section if we consider something of the character of these Christians.
Julius Caesar said about these people: “THE INFIRMITY OF THE GAULS IS THAT THEY ARE FICKLE IN THEIR RESOLVES AND FOND OF CHANGE, AND NOT TO BE TRUSTED.” There are other quotes from other sources which recognize this general trait or characteristic which had been observed historically. It seems to be generally true that this was an identifiable trait of this group of people in that period of time. This relates to the statement of Paul in verse six that he MARVELED that they were so soon removed from the teaching he had done while in their midst. The fickleness, or the idea of being fond of change, may help to explain why they had so quickly been drawn away from Paul’s true teaching to another gospel.
The Galatian people had accepted Paul and had received the commands and instructions which he presented to them from the Lord. They had done so with confidence at first. An indication of this is seen in Galatians 4:14-15–“And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. 15 Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.” They were so receptive when Paul was among them that they seemed to him to be willing to sacrifice to a very large degree in order to be helpful to him, who had taught them the truth.
The sad thing is, and the thing which made Paul marvel, is that when the Judaizing teachers had come to them with a perverted and valueless substitute for the gospel, requiring them to be circumcised, they also received that perverted gospel. Paul therefore writes this letter in order to overcome the influence of these false teachers and to establish his apostleship. Paul very plainly and forcefully states that NO ONE has the authority to preach any gospel other than that which has been revealed.
In verse eight Paul writes: “But though we, or an angel from heaven…” Paul here supposes an impossibility in order to make his point to these brethren. Paul uses the word angel to make a very strong point that it matters not WHO it is that preaches a perverted gospel. This very concise statement will include all men, even Paul himself.
He continues: “…should preach any other gospel unto you…” That would specifically be any gospel not dependent upon the grace of God. Those Judaizing teachers tried to make salvation dependent upon the fleshly covenant of circumcision. Others may make different changes, but none of the changed gospels is to be accepted. At the beginning, near the middle, and at the ending of God’s written revelation to man, He makes clear that no additions nor subtractions are to be allowed (Deut 4:2; Prov 30:6; Rev 22:18-19). Jude 3 makes plain that the gospel has now been once and for all delivered.
And Paul continues by writing: “…than that which we preached unto you…” Paul preached the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (1 Cor 15:1-5). He preached belief in and confession of Christ (Rom 10:9-10). He preached repentance from sin (Acts 17:30). Paul preached baptism INTO Christ (Gal 3:27). He preached that submission to the gospel of Christ makes a “new creature” (2 Cor 5:17). The gospel Paul preached was a distinctive one and a universal one that could be understood easily!
Paul wrote for that one who makes changes in the gospel he preached: “…let him be anathema…” Paul devotes any who would pervert the gospel of Christ to destruction. Consider some of the many passages from God’ s revelation about the utterly repulsive nature of false teaching (Jer 23:2; 50:6; Titus 1:10-11; Rom 16:17-18; 2 Jn 9-11; Mt 7:22-23). Paul uses a very strong term in this verse to indicate the greatest possible abhorrence of any attempt to pervert the gospel of Christ. Any person who would be a teacher of God’s word certainly ought to have this passage before him constantly.
There is BUT ONE GOSPEL. It is not possible to preach a changed gospel and still be pleasing to God. We need to understand clearly that a solemn and serious responsibility rests upon the shoulders of all who would teach the word of God (James 3:1).
Brethren, today there is great pressure to change with the changing times. There are very many people who are quite willing to listen to perverted messages. Let us be the ones who shun all such perverted gospels. Let us be the ones who are in opposition to these twisted messages, rather than being the ones to praise and give thanks for them. Paul’s warning to his Galatian brethren in the first century is indeed one that deserves another hearing TODAY! Let us hear it well.