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Another Gospel

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
May 19, 2024 12:01 am

Another Gospel

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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May 19, 2024 12:01 am

There is only one gospel--and we must never distort it. From his expositional series in the book of Galatians, today R.C. Sproul solemnly calls us to defend the good news that we are justified by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

Get R.C. Sproul's Commentary on Galatians for Your Gift of Any Amount: https://gift.renewingyourmind.org/3325/galatians-commentary

Meet Today's Teacher:

R.C. Sproul (1939-2017) was known for his ability to winsomely and clearly communicate deep, practical truths from God's Word. He was founder of Ligonier Ministries, first minister of preaching and teaching at Saint Andrew's Chapel, first president of Reformation Bible College, and executive editor of Tabletalk magazine.

Meet the Host:

Nathan W. Bingham is vice president of ministry engagement for Ligonier Ministries, executive producer and host of Renewing Your Mind, host of the Ask Ligonier podcast, and a graduate of Presbyterian Theological College in Melbourne, Australia. Nathan joined Ligonier in 2012 and lives in Central Florida with his wife and four children.

Don't forget to make RenewingYourMind.org your home for daily in-depth Bible study and Christian resources.

Renewing Your Mind is a donor-supported outreach of Ligonier Ministries. Explore all of our podcasts: https://www.ligonier.org/podcasts

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This was the issue in the sixteenth century.

This was the issue in the first century. This has been the issue in every generation of human beings who think that they can add something of value and merit to affect their salvation, when the only righteousness by which we can ever possibly be saved is an alien righteousness, a righteousness that is apart from us, the righteousness of Jesus Christ. There is only one gospel, and we must be faithful when we proclaim it, not distorting it, not watering it down, not adding to it. And the words of the Apostle Paul in Galatians 1 verse 8 are strong for anyone or any creature who does distort the gospel. Let him be accursed. Welcome to the Sunday edition of Renewing Your Mind, as each week we feature the preaching ministry of R.C.

Sproul. This week we're beginning a short series in Paul's letter to the church in Galatia. This epistle exposes the serious nature of distorting the gospel message and the dangers of legalism. You can study Galatians line by line when you request Dr. Sproul's hardcover commentary.

Simply give a gift of any amount at renewingyourmind.org, and we'll get a copy to you. Well, here's today's sermon from Dr. Sproul in Galatians chapter 1. I'll be reading from chapter 1, verses 6 through 9, and I would ask the congregation please to stand for the reading of the Word of God. 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 preach to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say it again, if anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one that you received, let him be accursed. Again, extremely strong terms uttered by the Apostle here when he saw this deadly threat to the gospel of Jesus Christ. And may we hear this message with the same urgency by which it was proclaimed by the Apostle, and embrace it fully as the truth of God.

Please be seated. Let us pray. Again, our Father, we come before You in the weakness of our faith, how quickly we too have been willing to negotiate or fall away from the firmness of our profession of faith. Even this very day, we have heard our new members confess their faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and we pray that You would give them the special grace to persevere in the conviction of that faith. Help us now by Thy Holy Spirit to hear Your Word in its fullness, for we ask it in Jesus' name.

Amen. His name was Rudolf Bultmann, certainly one of the most controversial New Testament scholars of the twentieth century. He wrote many books, including Kerygma and Myth, in which he argued that the New Testament documents are replete with cleverly designed mythology, though there may be elements of historical reality contained within the Bible for anybody to receive any benefit from reading the New Testament. First, they had to follow Bultmann's program of what was called demythologizing of sacred Scripture. I remember studying Bultmann when I was in graduate school and hearing my professor, Professor G.C. Berkhauer, make the comment with respect to Bultmann, and I quote, theology can sink no lower. He hadn't yet seen the work of the post-Bultmannians, who took it even to a lower degree. But one of the things that Bultmann did was to follow a technique of criticizing the New Testament documents that had appeared earlier in the twentieth century, a form of higher criticism that was called form criticism. Now, I'm not going to go into the details of form criticism, but just briefly, form criticism followed this idea that the assumption was that the New Testament writings were a result of a lengthy tradition that was passed on orally and then finally codified by the written documents such as we find in the gospels and the epistles of the New Testament. But by way of rendering criticism to how the New Testament documents came to us, the scholars would look at certain patterns or structures or forms that may be detected in the written documents of the New Testament. And Bultmann was particularly interested in the miracle stories of the New Testament, which he rejected out of hand, and consigning them to the level of myth. But he saw the repetition of a certain pattern or form of these miracle stories that we find in the New Testament.

And the pattern was something like this. Jesus would encounter somebody who was in dire circumstances or misery or suffering or even death. And exercising His power as the incarnate Word of God, Jesus miraculously would heal the blind and the deaf and those who were crippled or even dead. And then that certain pattern that was repeated, those in need, meeting Jesus, Jesus performed a miraculous cure of their situation, and then the climax was always the same, that those who observed these works of Jesus acknowledged their enormous surprise and amazement or astonishment. And Bultmann picked up on that and said, every time you see a story of Jesus meeting some poor soul and healing them or curing them, all the time the onlookers and the observers were astonished. Well, how would you refute such an analysis and criticism of the New Testament?

I think probably the most academic and scholarly way you could refute the conclusions that Bultmann went to from form criticism is by one word. Duh! What do you expect if there was a real Jesus meeting people with real maladies who were cured by His real power? What do you think they would do? Be bored?

Be indifferent? Of course they were amazed. Of course they were astonished. Well, you know that there's a word in the Greek that occurs again and again and again and again in this pattern of miracle stories. And the word is a form of the verb thaumatsai, which being translated is to astonish. Now I gave you all that background for one word to point to what Paul says in the sixth verse, the first sentence of our text today, where he begins his response to the Galatians by saying, Thaumatzo, I am astonished. When Paul uses that word, thaumatzo, he's not saying, saying, I'm a little bit concerned about this matter and a little surprised that I hear what I'm hearing and the reports coming out of Galatia.

No, he is registering apostolic shock beyond measure. You know, one of the interesting views of this particular word here that comes from Martin Luther, whose favorite book of all of his works that he produced, which he called his Katie von Bora, was his commentary on Galatians. And Luther, who was not known for his temperate language, read this statement by Paul and saw in it a soft aspect of Paul's rebuke. Where he found any softness in Paul's statement here is beyond my comprehension.

I don't think that Paul was pulling any punches at all by using that term thaumatzo. It's what he's saying, I cannot believe what you have done. And there are two things about which he was astonished. First, there was the substance of the issue. The first thing of which he was astonished was that the people among the Galatians were moving away from the gospel that they had learned from the Apostle Paul to a different gospel, to another gospel. But added to that astonishment was the second element, that they moved away so quickly. It's like Paul is saying, and I quote a famous theologian, what's wrong with you people?

Thank you for laughing for those who got that one. He said, what's wrong with you people? Not only have you moved away from the gospel, the gospel, but I was hardly gone from your midst before you turned in another direction and began to listen to the heretics who were distorting the gospel that you heard preached among you. Let me fast forward to a second to the sixteenth century and to the very last sermon that was preached in 1546 by Martin Luther when he returned to the place of his birth to settle a dispute among nobles.

He was asked to do some preaching during that visitation, and he preached the sermon in February and a couple of days later became sick and subsequently died. But in the very last sermon that Martin Luther preached, he said this, in times past, we would have run to the ends of the world if we had known of a place where we could have heard God speak. But now, now that we hear the Word of God every day in sermons, indeed now that all books are full of it, we don't see it happening anymore. You hear at home in your house, father and mother and children sing and speak of the gospel. The preacher speaks of it in his parish church. You ought to lift up your hands and rejoice that we have been given the honor of hearing God speaking to us through His Word. But now people say, huh, what is that? After all, there's preaching every day, often many times every day, so that we soon grow weary of it.

What do we get out of it? Alright, go ahead, dear brother, if you don't want God to speak to you every day at home in your house or in your church, then be wise and look for something else. In Trier is our Lord God's coat, in Achan are Joseph's pants, and our blessed lady's chemise. Go there, squander your money, buy indulgences, and the pope's second-hand junk.

And he said, aren't we stupid and crazy? Once we've discovered the blessed gospel that came out of the darkness and into the light and the Reformation, how soon, even by the end of Luther's life, people were returning to relics, putting their faith not in the gospel of Jesus Christ to be saved, but in Joseph's pants, the pope's second-hand junk. Luther said, it's the pants of Joseph.

That's what'll do it. At least there were 29 years between the posting of the 95 theses on the church door in Wittenberg and Luther preaching his last sermon. Of course, there had some time that had taken place between the theses and Luther's last sermon, but it wasn't a long time. Perhaps it wasn't as short a time as it took for the Galatians to depart from the gospel as it took from the people of Germany to go back to their vomit like a dog and to put their trust in indulgences and relics rather than in Christ.

We live in a time today where there are very few Protestants who have any understanding what it is they're protesting, and frankly, very few Roman Catholics who have a clue about what Roman Catholicism teaches even in this very hour. And if you would say, as I have said to students who've been in the ministry for five years and are doing their doctoral work and I assemble them in the classroom and I say, okay, you men of the gospel, you men of the gospel, you ministers, let me go to the blackboard and write down the elements of the gospel. And I ask the pastors, what is the gospel?

And they'll say, God has a wonderful plan for your life. God gives you a purpose-driven life, or God forgives your sins, or God gives purpose and meaning to your existence. And I wish I could save you the papers or the clergy right on this topic when I ask them to define the gospel. It's rare if I can find ten ministers and could find more than one of the ten who could define the gospel.

I don't know what it is. It may be true that Jesus forgives your sins, and it may be true that you have purpose, and it may be true that you have meaning. All those things are wonderful, but that's not the gospel. The gospel is a distinct message with a distinct content that has to do with the person and work of Jesus Christ and how the benefits of His person and work are appropriated by faith and by faith alone. So now Paul, in his amazement, says, I can't believe it that you so quickly, and he uses the word to desert how quickly you are deserting Him.

And I don't think He's speaking of Himself. He's not saying, I'm astonished that you are so quickly deserting me, but rather deserting Him who called you in the grace of Christ, and that Him is God Himself. I can't believe how fast you have deserted God, how fast you've betrayed Christ, how fast you have left the gospel. And they're turning now to a different gospel. This particular phrase indirectly raises a question about the inspiration of the epistle to the Galatians because there's an error here, plain and simple. Paul rebukes these people for turning to a different gospel, but in the same breath, he corrects himself under the power of the Holy Spirit.

Not that there is another one. He says, I can't believe you're turning to another gospel. Oh, there isn't another gospel. There's only one gospel. If you ask me to embrace the teaching of Rome today or the Judaizers of the first century, I would sleep in tomorrow morning because the Judaizers then and Rome today, neither one of them, have a gospel. There is no message of the free offer of grace and justification by faith alone in Christ alone to the glory of God alone to be found in Rome.

You're not going to find it in Trier or Achan with Joseph's pants either. If you told me that my salvation depended upon my faith and my works, God's grace and my merit, Jesus' help and my response, and if I die with the slightest blemish of sin on my soul, I don't go to heaven, but I have to go to the place of purging. The fires of purgatory will cleanse me until I do have enough merit and righteousness to enter into the kingdom of God.

I would not receive that as good news because I know how much sin there is in my life, and if I have to go to purgatory and become perfect before I can ever enter into the kingdom of God, I'm going to have to spend literally a hell of a long time in order to get this soul cleansed and to be prepared for heaven. No, the good gospel, the good news is the basis of my salvation is not my merit, not my righteousness, but the righteousness of Christ, freely imputed to all who put their trust in Him. This was the issue in the sixteenth century.

This was the issue in the first century. This has been the issue in every generation of human beings who think that they can add something of value and merit to affect their salvation. When the only righteousness by which we can ever possibly be saved is an alien righteousness, an alien righteousness, a foreign righteousness, a righteousness that is apart from us, the righteousness of Jesus Christ. And so Paul says, Hey, you are turning to a different gospel, not that there is another one.

Did you get that? There is no other gospel. There's only one gospel. Now that flies in the face of everything that you've heard that is politically correct. This defies political correctness. As soon as you affirm exclusivity, saying there's only one way to God, only one Savior, only one gospel, you fly in the face of political correctness and risk your reputation in the process.

Paul doesn't hesitate. There is no other gospel. And then he wants to give some emphasis to this when he says, There are some who trouble you. And here's what they want to do. They want to distort the gospel, take it out of focus, blur it, confuse it, allow the sharpness of the Word of God to be left clouded in vagueness and uncertainty. That's what these people are trying to do here, these Judaizers. They're distorting, twisting, misshaping the gospel.

Now let me just stop for a second. So what? Doctrine divides.

Who cares? What does it matter what we believe? Remember I told you that this apostle was an apostle who had unbelievable tolerance and patience and long-suffering with his congregation, who said that there was a love that covers a multitude of sins.

You sit in something, got you covered. You know, most churches don't break up over doctrine. They divide over what color you painted the church basement. Trivial matters, but for the Apostle Paul, there was nothing trivial about the gospel. And God forbid that anyone in this room would think that the accuracy and the truth of the gospel were a trivial matter.

So exercise is God's Apostle that He says this. Some want to distort the gospel, but even if I wanted to do it, even if we did it, or an angel from heaven should preach to you should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one that we preached to you, let him be accursed. Now listen carefully to what Paul says. If John comes along, if Peter comes along, if James comes along, if St. Andrew comes along and tries to distort the gospel and teach you a different gospel than the one you received, even if I do it, may God curse you. Or even if it was an angel from heaven, why didn't he say if even it was an angel from hell, we would expect a demon to come onto the scene and try to undermine the purity of the gospel as sharply as they possibly could. But Paul says no. Even if it were an angel from heaven, even if Gabriel came into your church this morning and tried to preach to you a different gospel, what does Paul want you to do?

He wants you to take Gabriel by the seat of his ethereal pants and throw him out of the building. If an angel from heaven would preach to you any other gospel, let him be anotema, anotema. There's a word that is not just translated but transliterated easily into the English language by the word anathema. At the Council of Trent in the middle of the sixteenth century, the response of Rome to the Protestant Reformation was to have an ecumenical council and define their doctrine of justification and put a curse upon all of those who disagreed with it and included among the anathemas formally stated by the Council of Trent, the ecumenical council that still stands today puts an anathema on the gospel of the New Testament.

Let me put it simply. What does anathema mean? When people say this, vulgarity and profanity and blasphemy, they don't have the full measure of understanding of what it is they're saying. But any time somebody says to you, God damn you, that's what anathema means.

May God put His curse on your head. May God send you to hell if you preach any other gospel than that which has come from His Word in the New Testament. I said Paul's pen was on fire when he wrote these words. He didn't mess around.

He didn't care about being politically correct. What he's saying simply is, I don't care who it is, how much authority they have, how much esteem they have, how famous they are. If they preach any other gospel, may God curse them. But he's not satisfied to say it once. You know the significance of the Jewish literary method of repetition. It's like Paul said, did you hear what I just said? I know you don't want to hear it. And those words are past, and they're gone from my ears. And now Paul, let me hear you move to a different subject, so Paul says. Now I say it to you again. If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be anatema anathema.

This is serious business. We don't play with the gospel. We don't negotiate the gospel. We don't sugarcoat the gospel. We don't distort the gospel. If we do, we invite nothing less than the curse of God upon our heads, beloved, dearly beloved. This is not just serious business.

This is business that couldn't possibly be any more serious than it is. A strong warning there from the Apostle Paul and from R.C. Sproul. Dr. Sproul's ministry was marked by his commitment, even at personal cost, to defend the biblical gospel and never compromise. This is the Sunday edition of Renewing Your Mind. I'm your host, Nathan W. Bingham.

The passion and precision that you heard from R.C. Sproul today is reflected in his commentary on Galatians. His study and these sermons in this letter form the basis for the commentary, and you can add the hardcover edition to your library when you give a gift of any amount at renewingyourmind.org or when you click the link in the podcast show notes. As you make your donation, consider giving monthly and becoming a Ligonier ministry partner. Not only will you further the reach of your support in service to the global church, you'll also receive discipleship resources to help you in your growth, a Reformation Study Bible, Table Talk magazine, streaming access to hundreds of teaching series in the Ligonier app, and more. You can become a partner or simply request today's offer at renewingyourmind.org. Thank you for your generosity. The Apostle Paul will go on to say that the gospel he preached was not man's gospel, and that's what we'll consider next Sunday here on Renewing Your Mind. you
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-19 02:35:16 / 2024-05-19 02:45:00 / 10

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