EPA for a Pure Heart

=======================================
My Source:
NORTH MARSHALL MESSENGER
Vol 3, #1, November 1, 1998
…………………………
Author: David Lemmons
…………………………
File Under: CHRISTIAN LIVING or PHILIPPIANS 4:8
=======================================
PHILIPPIANS 4:8–EPA for the HEART

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is an independent agency of the federal government. It was established in 1970 to protect the nation’s environment from pollution. When the agency was created, it brought under its management the work previously done by 15 federal programs dealing with pollution. The idea behind this agency, of course, is to protect the environment in which we live from pollutants. Whether or not you think that many have carried this good idea to an extreme, its basic purpose seems quite good and praiseworthy. There have been some outstanding accomplishments in the improvement of the quality of water and air in our land. It is amazing what a little bit of attention to fighting pollution can accomplish.

We can thank God that in His great wisdom and in through the work of the Holy Spirit, there has been provided something similar to the EPA, only with regard to the mind of the Christian. In Philippians 4:8, the apostle Paul writes: Phil 4:8–“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things.” Can we not and should we not allow this verse to GUIDE us toward unpolluted living?

Whenever we find ourselves in some situation or environment that causes our minds to dwell on some matter which contradicts things that are: TRUE; HONEST; JUST; PURE; LOVELY; OF GOOD REPORT; VIRTUOUS;
and PRAISE-WORTHY, then we would be wise immediately to remove ourselves from that environment or situation to avoid pollution. It could be VITAL to our souls.

Perhaps it might be some PLACE that we have allowed ourselves to visit. Such places as where worldly and lustful activities are being pursued: a gambling casino; a dance hall; a movie theater; a dark “parking place,” etc. If we are concerned to have an unpolluted mind, we will do whatever has to be done to remove ourselves from that PLACE.

Perhaps it might be simply WORDS that we allow to enter our minds. Words from such things as: CD’s; mp3 Players;  TV; movies; magazines; the mouths of “friends,” religious error, etc. Using Philippians 4:8 as an EPA for the heart, we will recognize that allowing these words into our hearts pollutes our hearts. We will be repulsed by the prospect and will determine not to allow these pollutions to do their damage. And, by the way, there is such a thing as a “rating system” for Hollywood’s product. I have never understood how it is possible for Christians to think that there is some age we reach at which it becomes OK to take pollution into our hearts. We need to use as our rating standard, Matthew 18:3. In doing so, we will greatly limit our list of available movies.

Brethren, these matters that pollute our minds need to be a matter of much greater alarm and concern than the things which the governmental agency, EPA, watches after. I would like to urge that each one of us study carefully and apply diligently the EPA of the heart made available to each of us in Philippians 4:8. How much more influence we will have for good whenever we do. The consequences of our actions in this matter are ETERNAL in nature!

Advertisements

Near

Near to the Heart of God

by David Lemmons

It is an absolute truth that the sermon I preach on Sunday mornings has been preceded by your “sermons.”  There are indeed several “sermons” that you may preach each Lord’s Day (some time in the future we may write about them), but for this article I wish to zero in on the “sermons” that you sing.  From the omniscience of God Almighty He has placed within our worship assemblies the requirement that we TEACH and AD-MONISH one another (Colossians 3:16).  We do this by means of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, preceded by letting the word of Christ dwell in us richly in all wisdom.  We ought continually to chal-lenge ourselves with the thought that this is God’s will for us to sing in such a manner and for such a magnificent purpose.  By our gathering together and following the instructions of the Lord, we have the blessed opportunity of stirring one another up toward love and good works (Hebrews 10:24).  In addition, we can help visitors outside of Christ to develop a longing for what we have IN CHRIST.  Understanding this, it is beyond me how it is possible for any Christian not to join in this worthy work with the greatest enthusiasm possible!

If we are not careful, we might tend to devalue or at least not value highly enough our involvement together in singing.  There have been many attempts among our brethren to encourage greater appreciation for the singing part of our worship assemblies.  Some of these involve looking more closely at the lyrics of the songs we sing.  I have in my library an 851-page book which is the record of the 32nd MSOP Lectureship.  The title of that book is: Lessons in Lyrics, a study of 59 songs we use in worship.  Many of us are familiar with brother Tom Holland’s work in developing and participating in the “Diana Singing,” in Diana, TN.  They have just finished the 40th year of that great twice-per-year gathering.  Brother Waller was telling me recently about a very successful singing he helped to develop in Barnesville, when he preached there a few years ago.  I receive in an Email, once per week, a rather detailed “Hymn Study,” produced by one of our anti-brethren.  We are not left without encouragement to appreciate our worship in song!

For the past few weeks I have been reading from the book, Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions, written by K.W. Osbeck.  Each day I have been reading one of these hymn stories.  On Friday, I read about “Near to the Heart of God,” written by Cleland B. McAfee (1866-1944).  It is #592 in our songbooks.  It is hard for me to make a decision when it comes to selecting a FAVORITE hymn.  Sometimes I think they all are my favorites, but this one is surely one worthy of “favoriting”!

As is the case with a great number of the songs in our songbooks, the man who wrote this song was not content just to wear the name Christian, but was identified as a Presbyterian.  Nonetheless, he obviously had tremendous talent with words and produced a hymn for the ages in “Near to the Heart of God.”  Let me quote from page 281 of the book mentioned earlier to give some back-ground for the writing of this song.

…Dr. McAfee was stunned to hear the shocking news that his two beloved nieces had just died from diphtheria. Turning to God and the Scriptures, McAfee soon felt the lines and the tune of this hymn flow from his grieving heart. On the day of the double funeral he stood outside the quarantined home of his brother Howard singing these words as he choked back the tears. The following Sunday the hymn was repeated by the choir of McAfee’s church. It soon be-came widely known …

There is a place of quiet rest, near to the heart of God, a place where sin cannot molest, near to the heart of God.

There is a place of comfort sweet, near to the heart of God, a place where we our Savior meet, near to the heart of God.

There is a place of full release, near to the heart of God, a place where all is joy and peace, near to the heart of God.

Chorus: O Jesus, blest Redeemer, sent from the heart of God, hold us who wait before Thee near to the heart of God.

Read the Bible

A Bible Reading Plan that Has

Worked Wonderfully Well for Me…

I have just completed reading the entire Old Testament in 90 days.  During the same period I read the New Testament three times.  The average time it took to do this reading was 35 minutes and 27 seconds (calculated from detailed records kept in an Excel file).  I might add that during three weeks in July, I was in Indonesia and yet was able easily to complete the scheduled readings.

I consider that amount of time that I spent in reading God’s Word to have been some of the most useful and valuable time I have ever spent.  I have now set up the system on my computers which will allow me to read the entire Bible four times per year and to read the New Testament an additional 8 times each year using up an average of only 35 minutes and 27 seconds.  I am totally convinced that this will be an ongoing and continual part of my daily schedule so long as I am able to read.

I would like to encourage anyone interested in doing the same thing to set up a similar system.  I will go into great detail about my system.  You may want to adapt it in different ways to make it your system.  This one works fine for me.

First, I have been reading the New Testament monthly for several years.  Further, I have been reading it by the method of listening to audio files on my computer and reading the Bible text off of the screen.  If this is new to you, you might take some time adjusting to it.  Some people complain about reading text off of a computer monitor, but I do tons of reading off of a monitor and have no problems with it.  There is a marvelous piece of equipment that I have added in the past few months which assists my method of reading immensely, and that is a 22-inch monitor.  I can use my Logos Bible software at 200% magnification and do the reading with great ease.  However, I also have the same Bible-reading setup on my laptop and am able to read it just fine on the smaller screen, as well, when I am away from the office.

The thing about my system which may be quite different from others is that I have “speeded up” my audio-playback of the 1189 chapters of the Bible in such a way that it takes ½ of the time that normal playback requires.  No, it was not sped up in the fashion that the sound was like the chipmunks at Christmas time.  With a wonderful FREE software program called AUDACITY, I have been able to change the TEMPO and the result is a very easy to understand and normal-sounding voice, yet one which requires a great deal of concentration on the text before you in order to keep up.  In my opinion, this is a tremendous AID to my Bible reading and would be to yours!!!  It took a great amount of time for me to speed up all 1189 chapters of the mp3 Bible I used.  Initially, I did it as I was reading each chapter.  With that vast body of work done, my reading is much more enjoyable.

My starting point was the KJV Audio Bible, narrated by Eric Martin, which is contained on 2 CDs.  It is published by Jodacom International, Inc.  I googled and found a website where it can be purchased for $19.95.  I have absolutely no financial interest in that site, but am providing it for your benefit.  I do not always read with my eyes the same version my ears are hearing.  Most of my reading during this past 90-day period was from the ESV.  In other words, I was listening in the KJV and reading text on the screen in the ESV.  The reason I give this website information is that I anticipate someone might ask me for copies of my sped-up Bible files.  The only way I could conscientiously send them to someone would be if they agreed to purchase that set of CDs, because I would think it to be copyright violation otherwise.  Additionally, I would need to be reimbursed for cost of CD and shipping.

Another part of my plan is the reading “chunks.”  How do you divide up the reading?  For the New Testament, I followed a plan which I have been following for many years.  It is NOT in Bible order, but what I consider to be a good order for reading.  The average reading time for the New Testament portion is 17:36; the average reading time for the Old Testament portion is 17:51.  If the reading is done at normal speed, the total would be: 70:54… NT=35:12; OT=35:42.  For the Old Testament, I followed Bible order.  I did not attempt to space it out evenly, but stuck with ten chapters except for the Poetical books and some of the Minor Prophets, where I used 11 chapters per reading.

I used Excel to list the daily readings for a year.  I set columns to record the amount of time taken for each reading (NT, OT, Total + Total Chapters).  The time figures came from Windows Explorer.  If you place each NT and OT reading in its own folder, you can highlight the files within a folder and Windows Explorer will tell you at the bottom how many files there are and the total time needed to play each folder.  Each morning, I will open the Excel file to find what is to be read and will put an X in the appropriate column when I have finished the reading.

There also is a very helpful FREE software program called KeyBreeze which I use to great benefit in my Bible reading as well as all of my other computer usage.  KeyBreeze is a shortcut device for computer files.  I have my Bible audio files (31 New Testament folders, and 90 Old Testament ones) in the folder “KJV-Fast.”  So, when I get ready to read the Bible, I hit the semi-colon on the keyboard, which opens up KeyBreeze; then I hit KJV-Fast (actually only have to hit kj) and that folder opens up.  Then I hit the down-arrow-key till I am highlighting the appropriate folder to be read.  I hit Enter to open that folder.  I hit Control + A to highlight all of the audio files in that folder and then hit Enter.  This will open up those particular files in my audio program, WinAmp and they begin playing.  I have the individual audio files named in such a way that they open in Bible order.  So if I have my Bible program open to the right text, WinAmp will begin playing the file and I will begin reading off of the screen the words of that text.  I read until the audio stops.

If you have questions about this plan, I would be happy to try to explain further.  I truly believe that one of the MOST NEEDED things in the world today is AVID BIBLE READERS!!!

Role Models

Role Models and Chapter

215

by David Lemmons

There has been a lot of talk and there have been several articles written in recent days regarding role models.  One can barely keep up with the latest scandals that are being publicized about some of the most popular role models chosen by young people of our day.  Some famous people like Charles Barkely may wish to deny that they are role models, but the rich and famous in sports and entertainment are nonetheless SELECTED for that position by millions of young aspiring sports figures and entertainers and admirers.  We could wish that the rich and famous might be more aware of and be more responsible with the influence they wield on the minds of young people.  However, it does not seem that this dream is getting any closer to reality.

For Christian youth, the Bible urges caution and prudence in the selection of persons to look to for guidance in life.  Parents (esp., FATHERS, Eph 6:4) need to be careful in training their charges regarding the selection of role models.  Clearly, the people of God are to imitate God (Lev 11:44-45; 1 Pet 1:16; Eph 5:1).  The only Perfect Role Model for young people today REMAINS, as always, the Lord Jesus Christ (Mt 16:24; Jn 13:15; Mt 11:29; Jn 13:34; Rom 13:14; 1 Cor 11:1; Eph 5:2; Phil 2:5; Col 3:13; 1 Pet 2:21; 4:1).  God’s people are to AVOID imitating the wrong folks (Lev 20:23; Deut 18:9; 2 Kings 17:15; Mt 23:2,3; 1 Cor 15:33; 2 Pet 3:17; 1 Jn 3:11,12; Rev 2:14).

This being said, we are blessed by our God to have revealed to us many magnificent role models in the written Word.  Our New Testaments contain a total of 260 chapters.  Chapter number 215 is an especially helpful one for us to use if we have concern about role models.  Chapter number 215 is Hebrews 11.  Young people ought often to be directed to this great chapter by loving and concerned parents.  Let us briefly notice some of the wonderful lessons taught to us by the faithful ones mentioned in this great chapter…

  • From Abel (Heb 11:4)… Worship in faith.
  • From Enoch (Heb 11:4)… Please God.
  • From Noah (Heb 11:7)… Look toward things not seen; fear God;  and don’t live like the world around you.
  • From Abraham (Heb 11:8)… Have a true pilgrim heart.
  • From Sarah (Heb 11;11)…  Consider God to be a promise-keeper.
  • From Abraham (Heb 11:19)… Leave God’s problems to God and simply obey.
  • From Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph (Heb 11:20-22)… Face death with hope!
  • From the parents of Moses (Heb 11:23; cf., Acts 4:19,20)… Be without the fear of the civil authorities when their pronouncements place you in conflict with the will of God.
  • From Moses (Heb 11:24-27)… Choose wisely; keep looking to the heavenly reward; persevere; be identified with the people of God.
  • From the Israelites at the Red Sea (Heb 11:29)… Submit to GOD’S PLAN!
  • From Rahab (Heb 11:31)… Fear God and DO accordingly.
  • From Gideon (Heb 11:32)… Lead others to glorify God.
  • From Samson (Heb 11:32)… Use your strength to glorify God.
  • From Jephthah (Heb 11:32; Judges 11:27)… Allow the Lord to be the Judge.
  • From David (Heb 11:32; Acts 13:22)… Be a man/woman after God’s own heart.
  • From Samuel (Heb 11:32)… Allow yourself to be committed to the Lord FOR LIFE!!!

Hebrews 12:1-2… “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. {2} Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Heartily

DO IT HEARTILY!

by David Lemmons

You might recognize the expression of the title of this article as coming from the pen of the Apostle Paul in Colossians 3:23.  Please notice verses 22 through 25…
22  Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: 23  And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; 24  Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.  25  But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons
.

In this section of Paul’s letter to the saints at Colosse, instructions are given to various categories of Christians.  This particular instruction is for SERVANTS or SLAVES.  If we would make proper application of the text to our day, we would take the principle and apply it to employer/employee relationships.  The extent of the obedience mentioned is given as “in all things.”  Of course, this would not include instances when an employer makes some demand that would cause the Christian to disobey God (Acts 5:29).

In verse 22 the concept is put forth that it is possible to obey WITH EYESERVICE (opthalmodouleiais); the idea being of service or labor that needs to be watched (i.e., if someone is not watching, a less than full effort would be put forth by the servant).  In our modern setting, there are those who are “clockwatchers” and are not so productive at those times, as they long for the time to leave the place of employment in order to get on to their own concerns.  Paul teaches that the Christian is not to work in such a fashion, but rather he is to do his work in SINGLENESS OF HEART, fearing God.   There is a higher and nobler cause that drives the Christian in all that he does, including what he does at the work place.  He does what he does in order to bring glory to God and out of fear of God.  There is a SINGLENESS OF HEART that moves the Christian to render the kind of service that does not require constant watching and prodding along.  That singleness of heart is the desire to be well pleasing in the sight of God.  To please God like Enoch of old did when he “walked with God” (Gen 5:24; Heb 11:5).

The Christian has opportunity at the work place or wherever he finds himself to be a shining light of influence (Mt 5:14-16).  In another passage written by Paul to servants, he suggests what has to be an amazingly attractive and awesome opportunity.  Listen to the instructions…

Titus 2:9  Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; 10  Not purloining, but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.

Now the possibility of actually ADORNING the doctrine of God ought to be quite exciting to all of us.  As we go about our work we have opportunity to represent before others what it means to be part of God’s family.  We can make Christianity attractive to those who are outside of Christ in a lost condition.

The part of the passage from Colossians that I would like us to focus in on is that part that talks about doing WHATEVER we do HEARTILY.  Yes, the context is that section dealing with slaves or servants.  However, can we not see how inconsistent it is for a Christian to do anything he does in any other way than the way that the Holy Spirit demands servants to work for their masters?  After all, it is clearly pointed out that all Christians (whether we be an employer or an employee in the work situation) are the servants of the Lord Christ (v. 24).

If we would study the word HEARTILY in the original Greek, we would see that it is the same word root that is often translated SOUL.  The idea is that of working with your whole heart, with all of your being.  Putting your entire self into the work.

Colossians 3:24 speaks about the motivation for doing whatever we do heartily.  The reward is not the paycheck at the end of the week, but the one that is coming further down the road.  It is the reward that comes from serving the Lord Christ.  It is the crown of life (Rev 2:10).

When I think of this passage, I think of my need to be concerned about excellence in whatever I do.  I need to be doing all that I do HEARTILY.  As a Christian, I serve the Lord Christ.  As a Christian, people are watching me and they need to see a true and genuine Christian.  Those watching me need to be influenced toward that which is right and good.  They need to be led by my behavior to ask a reason of the hope that is in me, and I need to be prepared to give them that answer (1 Pet 3:15).

How often do we settle for something far less than our very best?  How often do we go about our daily tasks in an unconcerned and flippant way, never giving much effort, never putting our entire being into that which we are trying to accomplish?  How often is the work of the church dealt with in a Laodicean-like fashion–apathetic and thus sickening to our Lord (Rev 3:14ff)?  May we not be instructed by this one word: HEARTILY?

Next time you are called upon to perform some task, why not allow this word from the Holy Spirit to ring in your ears.  Let us all decide to render the service we render in whatever place or time it is rendered, HEARTILY.

Galatians 2:10

Lemmons LinesREMEMBER THE POOR (Galatians 2:10)

by David Lemmons

There are three main sections of chapter two of Galatians: (1) Paul’s Defense of his Apostleship–2:1-9; (2) Paul Openly Rebukes Peter–2:11-14; and (3) The Contrast of Two Systems: Freed from Law and Justified By Faith–2:15-21.  In between the first two of these divisions verse 10 (which is really a part of Paul’s defense of his apostleship), is presented as an important challenge to all Christians.  We are to REMEMBER THE POOR!

REMEMBER THE POOR!  Paul wrote, in Galatians 2:9-10–“And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.  10 Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.” Paul was pointing out that the “PILLARS” at Jerusalem did not add one thing to the message which he and Barnabas were preaching.
His argument was that his message came to him from Jesus Christ, and not from any other.  But along with the emphasis given to the divine origin of Paul’s message, and as a part of it, was the charge to REMEMBER THE POOR.

REMEMBER THE POOR!  The POOR in this context would have been the poor saints of Judea.  It was not necessary for Paul to be instructed in the importance of such a charge for a number of reasons.  First of all, as we will notice shortly, the Old Testament scriptures [with which Paul was intimately familiar] are filled with references to such a duty.  Many provisions are made in the word of God for the care of the poor.  But not only so, Paul knew about the monumental task of bringing Jew and Gentile together in Christ, considering the enmity which had long characterized their interactions.  Paul knew that collecting funds from the Gentiles to assist the poor saints of Judea (Jews), would be most helpful in uniting the two as the gospel message demanded (Gal 3:28).  We will want to come back to this point as we conclude this article.

REMEMBER THE POOR!  Let’s notice some of what the Lord has revealed to us about remembering the poor.  It is stated that God regards the poor equally with the rich (Job 34:19).  The fact is that both poor and rich are the product of His hands.  Most people, if honest, will have to acknowledge that the rich are given more attention and respect than the poor.  God’s word recognizes that such can even be a problem as we assemble for worship (James 2:1-8).  These kinds of discrimination are not well pleasing to the Lord, nor are they Christ-like.

REMEMBER THE POOR!  Why?  Because God does not forget the poor (Ps 9:18).
Even if every single one of us forgets the poor and ignores this exhortation of Galatians 2:10, the poor will not be forgotten.  Can we not see that one of the purposes of God’s word is His revelation of Himself to us.  How thankful must we be to have such a written revelation which guides us to know what pleases and displeases our God!  If we are to be pleasing to God, we must notice, pay attention to, the things that are characteristic of God.  We are like God whenever we remember the poor.

REMEMBER THE POOR!  Why?  Because God maintains the right of the poor (Ps 140:12).  For you or me to go up against the poor by disrespecting them or in some way abusing them, is for us to go up against the One Who maintains their right.  Shall we find ourselves fighting against God?

REMEMBER THE POOR!  Why?  Because God delivers the poor (Job 36:15; Ps 35:10).  Would we yield ourselves to be used by the Lord for the noble purpose of delivering the poor?  Likely we all can look around us and find both those in relation to whom we find ourselves to be rich and poor in the world’s standard of measuring such.  How important is it to be understanding and compassionate and teamed with God in helping to relieve those less fortunate then we?  Really, how important is it to ME?  When occasion arises that we can be used to help in delivering the poor, do we seize upon them, or let them pass?  Further, do we search out such opportunities?

REMEMBER THE POOR!  Why?  Because God exalts the poor (1 Sam 2:8; Ps 107:41).  In Hannah’s beautiful prayer to the Lord, she exalts Him with marvelous praise by drawing a strong contrast between the supposed mighty men and the Almighty God of heaven, who lifts the poor from the dunghill and exalts them as princes.  Should we have concern for the poor?  God does and it matters not what we have in this world’s goods, we owe it all to God (Js 1:17).

Now, let’s think back to one of the reasons Paul would have had no problem with the exhortation to remember the poor.  He knew the expression of concern and caring would have an impact on the uniting of Jew and Gentile.  Does it not make perfectly good since that we might use the same reasoning today?  You see, the sins of men have separated them from God (Isa 59:1-2).  They have a need of hearing the saving message of the gospel, and then obeying that message.  How do we get their ears?  How do we help them to listen to the message?  One powerful way is to REMEMBER THE POOR!  A powerful aid in our efforts to evangelize will be remembering the poor.  In doing so, we align ourselves with a caring and loving God who has always REMEMBERED THE POOR!

A FALSE View of Truth

Lemmons Lines

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.