Today’s selected is found in the New Testament epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the churches which were in Galatia. More specifically today’s passage is found in the first chapter of this New Testament epistle. “Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead) and all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia: Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (Galatians 1:1-5).
“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 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. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:6-10).
“But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: and profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own. Nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother. Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not. Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; and was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ: but they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. And they glorified God in me” (Galatians 1:11-24).
When you come to the epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the churches which were in Galatia you will find an epistle that was written unto a church that had experience a tremendous infiltration into it by false brethren. As you read the words which are presented within this epistle you will find almost from the start the apostle Paul writing unto them to address the tremendous false doctrine and false teaching that had crept in among them and had begun to take them captive. If the Corinthian congregation was a church which was bitterly divided against itself and at war with its members then the churches in Galatia were churches which were captivated. What’s more is that not only were the churches in Galatia captivated but they were captivated by a tremendous amount of legalism which was present among them in their midst. Scripture is not clear as to how many churches were present in the region of Galatia, however, we do know from this epistle the apostle Paul recognized the tremendous captivity and bondage that was taking place in the church. There is something to be said about this particular epistle and the language that is contained therein for the apostle Paul sought to correct these churches and through the Holy Spirit lead them into deliverance, freedom and breakthrough from that which not only plagued them but also held them captive.
As you begin reading with and from the first and opening verses of this epistle you will find the apostle Paul’s customary greeting for he begins it with his name and then the description of himself as being an apostle. What makes this particular greeting so incredibly unique is when you consider how immediately after the apostle mentions his name and his being an apostle he goes on—in parentheses I might add—declaring that he was made an apostle not by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father who raised Him from the dead. The apostle Paul begins this epistle with an incredibly powerful statement concerning his apostleship and that it was not something that was ordained and appointed by men but rather was something that was given unto and bestowed upon him by the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father. In all reality I find it absolutely unique and intriguing the apostle Paul chose to begin the epistle with these words for the entire epistle was written in an attempt to bring these dear saints and beloved believers to the place where they recognized that what they received came not from men but from the living God. There is something to be said about how the apostle Paul opens this epistle for he chooses to open it with a unique and powerful description unto these saints concerning his being ordained and appointed as an apostle by Jesus Christ and God the Father. This particular reality would be further described in some measure in the final verses of the chapter when the apostle Paul would speak of the gospel he preached not being after man. What’s more is the apostle Paul would write how the gospel he preached was not received from man, nor was it taught it by man but by the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I am absolutely convinced it is absolutely necessary for us to recognize the words which are found in the opening chapter of the epistle written unto the Galatian churches for the apostle Paul not only speaks of his apostleship but he also speaks concerning the gospel which he preached. Pretty much right from the start the apostle Paul declared and made known unto the churches which were in Galatia that his apostleship was not received by man nor was it given to him by man but was given to him by the Lord Jesus Christ and by God the Father who raised Him from the dead. The apostle Paul wanted the Galatian saints to recognize and understand that the stewardship and ministry of apostleship was such that was ordained and appointed by the Lord Jesus Christ for it was the Lord Jesus Christ who had appeared unto him while he was traveling along the road to Damascus. If you remember back in the ninth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts Saul was traveling from the city of Jerusalem to Damascus with letters in hand which he had received from the chief priests. These letters which he had obtained from the chief priests were such that authorized him to find any who were of the way whether male or female and bring them back bound unto the city of Jerusalem where they would either be imprisoned or put to death. It would, however, be as the apostle Paul journeyed from the city of Jerusalem unto the city of Damascus the Lord Jesus would Himself appear unto him while he traveled along the way.
If we wish to truly understand the opening statement made by the apostle Paul in the first chapter of this epistle written unto the saints which were among the churches in Galatia it is absolutely necessary that we turn and direct our attention to the ninth, twenty-second and twenty-sixth chapters of the New Testament book of Acts. It is in the ninth chapter where we encounter and come face to face with the apostle Paul who was known as Saul at that time traveling along the road to Damascus and being thrown from his horse because of a brilliant light that shone before and round about him. In the midst of that light there would be a voice that would speak unto him and not only call him by name but also ask why he was persecuting him. When Saul asked the one speaking their name they responded by declaring they were Jesus whom he was persecuting. What we must needs realize and recognize when considering the words which are found in the ninth chapter is that it wasn’t merely about the Lord Jesus appearing unto Saul while he was traveling on the road to Damascus but it was also about the Lord appearing and speaking unto Ananias who was a disciple dwelling in Damascus. It would be while traveling on the road to Damascus the apostle Paul would encounter the Lord Jesus who would not only proclaim His name, not only declare that it was He whom he was persecuting but would also instruct him to rise up and enter into the city where he would be told what he must do. Having been led by the hand the apostle Paul would be brought unto the house of Judas at the street called Straight where he would pray and fast while awaiting further instruction. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the ninth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts which actually describes the events surrounding the conversion of Saul of Tarsus:
“And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shine round about him a light from heaven: and he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink” (Acts 9:1-9).
“And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, and hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: and here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake. And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales; and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. But all the heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt in Damascus, proving that this is very Christ” (Acts 9:10-22).
There is a great need for us to recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in this portion of Scripture for it presents us with the events which surround the conversion of Saul—conversion which began on the road to Damascus in the presence of the Lord Jesus and would continue in the house of Judas at the street called Straight. It would be on the road to Damascus the apostle Paul would encounter the Lord Jesus and would be told that it was He whom he was persecuting and not just flesh and blood. It would be there on the road to Damascus the Lord Jesus would instruct the apostle Paul to go into the city of Damascus where he would receive further instruction on what he must do. For a period of days the apostle Paul would be without his sight as he prayed and fasted in the city of Damascus before receiving a vision of a man by the name of Ananias who would come and lay hands on him that he might receive his sight. What makes the conversion of the apostle Paul so incredibly unique and interesting is when you consider the fact that it would initially begin with the apostle Paul encountering and experiencing the risen and exalted Jesus on the road to Damascus and hearing him not only speak his name but also declaring His own name. That conversion of the apostle Paul would continue with the receiving of his sight—and not only the receiving of his sight but also his receiving the Holy Spirit and being baptized. There in the house of Judas at the street called Straight the apostle Paul would receive his sight, would be baptized and would be filled with the Holy Spirit.
As we read the words which are found in the first and opening chapter of the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the churches of Galatia we find him writing and declaring unto them how he was ordained and appointed as an apostle not by men nor by the will of men but by the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father who had raised Him from the dead. What’s more is that when you read the ninth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find the apostle Paul experiencing a true and genuine encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ—one that would not only result in his receiving the Holy Spirit and being baptized but would also result in his preaching the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. It would be the Lord Jesus Christ who would Himself appear unto the apostle Paul while traveling on the road to Damascus and would completely and entirely alter and transform the trajectory of his life. The apostle Paul thought he was journeying unto Damascus with letters in hand to bring any of those who were of the way bound unto Jerusalem to either be imprisoned or put to death. Instead of bringing men and women bound unto the city of Jerusalem the apostle Paul would himself be captivated by the Lord Jesus Christ who would call him to be an apostle. What’s more is that when the apostle Paul stood before the Jews in Jerusalem as well as Agrippa in Caesarea he would give an account of that day while traveling on the road to Damascus. Having said this I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the twenty-second and twenty-sixth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts when the apostle Paul not only stood before his countrymen but also stood before Agrippa and other rulers and leaders of that day in Caesarea:
“Men, and brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you. (And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,) I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished. And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me. And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told of thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do. And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus. And one Ananias, a devour man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there, came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him. And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard. And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. And it came to pass, that when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance; and I saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they wwill not receive thy testimony concerning me. And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee: and when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him. And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles” (Acts 22:1-21).
Consider also the following words which are found in the twenty-sixth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts for the words which we find here bring us face to face with the apostle Paul standing before Agrippa in Caesarea giving his defense before all them that stood by:
“Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself: I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews: Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently. My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews; which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers: unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope’s sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews. Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead? I verily though with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities. Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, at midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me. And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: but shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me. Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: that Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles” (Acts 26:1-23).
The words presented within each of these passages are incredibly unique and powerful for within both of them we find the apostle Paul giving defense—not necessarily of himself but rather of the calling that was placed upon his life. What’s more is that within this passages of Scripture we find the apostle Paul speaking unto the Jews and unto Agrippa and those who were present there of the heavenly calling and vision that was presented unto him. In all reality I would dare say the apostle Paul was not merely giving a defense of himself as though he even thought he needed to defend himself before flesh and blood. What we find within these passages of Scripture must be carefully understood—particularly in light of the words which are found in the opening chapter of the epistle written unto the Galatian Christians—for they help us to understand the apostleship which was given unto and bestowed upon Paul by the Lord Jesus Christ and not by man. There was not a single man who had ordained and appointed the apostle Paul as an apostle unto the Gentiles and to stand as witness before kings, and rulers, and Gentiles, and before the children of Israel. There was absolutely no man upon the earth that would or could speak unto the apostle Paul and declare that they had been responsible for his conversion—and not only for his conversion but also for the apostolic calling that was placed upon his life. What makes this all the more intriguing when you think about it is not necessarily the concept of calling alone but also the concept of being made to be sons and daughters of the living God. I am absolutely convinced we must needs consider the first and third chapters of the New Testament gospel written by the apostle John—not only concerning becoming sons of God but also of being born again which he spoke and mentioned unto Nicodemus by night:
“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness to the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them he gave power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (John 1:6-18).
“There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; the same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goether; so is every one that is born of the Spirit. Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and. Ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?” (John 3:1-13).
In these two passages—not only do we encounter the tremendous reality of those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ being granted power to become sons of God but we also read of Jesus speaking unto Nicodemus of being born again. When we read of Nicodemus speaking unto the Lord Jesus we find the eternal and only begotten Son of God emphatically declaring that unless one be born of water and of the Spirit they cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven. Pause for a moment and consider how absolutely and incredibly challenging these passages truly are for they both highlight and underscore the absolutely awesome and powerful truth of being given power to become sons of God not being a work of the flesh or a work of the will of men but according to the living and eternal God. There is a great need for us to pay close and careful attention to this for when speaking unto Nicodemus the Lord Jesus declared how that which was born of the flesh is flesh whereas that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Within the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John we not only encounter the truth of men being granted power to become sons of God but we also find the incredible truth of being born of both water and of the Spirit. I have long believed that being born of the water most certainly symbolizes being baptized with the baptism of John unto repentance for the remission of sins while the baptism of the Spirit refers to the baptism which the Lord Jesus Himself will baptize us with. It was John the Baptist who himself emphatically declared and proclaimed how there was one coming after Him the latchet of whose sandals he was not worthy to unloose who would not only baptize with the Holy Spirit but also with fire. Oh there is a clear and present link between the need to not only be baptized with water but also being baptized with water that we might indeed enter into the kingdom of heaven.
As you read the words which are found in the first chapter of the epistle written unto the saints which were present among the churches in Galatia you will find the apostle Paul not only describing his apostleship as not originating and coming from man but so also the gospel he preached did not originate with man. A GOSPEL AND CALLING THAT DID NOT ORIGNATE WITH MAN! There is something truly remarkable about the words and truth that is found in the first and opening chapter of this particular epistle for it calls and draws our attention to the wonderful reality of an apostle who received his stewardship directly from the Lord Jesus Christ rather than from man. What’s more is the gospel which the apostle Paul preached unto both Jews and Gentiles did not originate with him or with man but originated with and from the Lord Jesus. It’s absolutely incredible the apostle Paul declared that the gospel which he preached was not after man for he neither received it of man nor was he taught it. Instead the gospel which the apostle Paul preached came directly by the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh that we would recognize and understand the significance of what the apostle Paul wrote in this particular passage of Scripture for there are those who preach a gospel that came not by revelation from the Lord Jesus Christ but by their own inspiration. There are preachers, ministers, pastors, evangelists and the like who are preaching week in and week out and the so-called gospel they are preaching is nothing more than their own intellect and their own imagination. There are men and women who not only preach a gospel which they received from man but they also have not stood in the counsel of the Lord.
That which the apostle Paul wrote in this passage of Scripture is not only that the gospel which he preached came from revelation from the Lord Jesus but he also received it by standing in the presence and counsel of the Lord Jesus. As you read the words found in this passage you will find the apostle Paul speaking of his past manner of life and past conversation and how he persecuted the church of God beyond measure and wasted it. Not only this but the apostle profited in the Jews’ religion above many of his equals in his own nation being more exceedingly zealous of the tradition of his fathers. Eventually, however, the God who separated him from his mother’s womb and called him by His grace chose to reveal his Son in him that he might preach Jesus among the heathen. What we find the apostle Paul writing next is how he did not immediately confer with flesh and blood not went up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before him but went into Arabia and returned again unto Damascus. This is something we must needs recognize and understand when considering the truth of what is contained in the epistle for what is present in the epistle is the apostle Paul seeking to lay a foundation that everything he has and everything he is has its foundation in the Lord Jesus. The apostle Paul received nothing by works not did he receive anything from man but from the Lord Jesus—a truth which he would explain unto the churches which were in Galatia. The apostle would eventually ask the churches in Galatia if they received justification by the works of the law or by faith according to the Spirit. Oh it’s incredibly important for us to recognize and understand this for when we read the words the apostle Paul wrote in this epistle we find him declaring himself to have been one who received apostleship from the Lord Jesus and one who stood in the presence and counsel of the Lord. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the twenty-third chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah beginning with the ninth verse:
“Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the Lord, and because of the words of his holiness. For the land is full of adulterers; for because of swearing the land mourneth; the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up, and their course is evil, and their force is not right. For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the Lord. Wherefore their way shall be unto them as slippery ways in the darkness: they shall be driven on, and fall therein; For I will bring evil upon them, even the year of their visitation, saith the LORD. And I have seen folly int eh prophets of Samaria; they prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err. I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them. Unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah. Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts concerning the prophets; Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall: for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth into all the land. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord. They shay still unto them that despise me, The Lord hath said, Ye shall not have peace; and they shay unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you. For who hath stood in the counsel of the Lord, and hath perceived and heard his word? Who hath marked his word, and heard it? Behold, a whirlwind of the LORD is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind: it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked. The anger of the LORD shall not return, until we have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly. I have not sent these prophets, yet they rain: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings. Am I a God at hand, saith the LORD, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? Saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? Saith the LORD. I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying I have dreamed, I have dreamed. How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? Yea, they are prophets of deceit of their own heart; which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal. The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? Saith the LORD. Is not my word like as a fire? Saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour. Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith. Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD” (Jeremiah 23:9-32).
“And when this people, or the prophet, or a priest, shall ask thee, saying, What is the burden of the LORD? Thou shalt then say unto them, What burden? I will even forsake you, saith the LORD. And as for the prophet, and the priest, and the people, that shall say, The burden of THE LORD, I will even punish that man and his house. Thus shall ye say every one to his neighbour, and every one to this brother, What hath the LORD answered? And, What hath the LORD spoken? And the burden of the LORD shall ye mention no more: for every man’s word shall be his burden; for ye have perverted the words of the living God, of the LORD of hosts our God. Thus shalt thou say to the prophet, What hath the LORD answered thee? And, What hath the LORD spoken? But since ye say, The burden of the LORD; therefore thus saith the LORD; Because ye say this word, The burden of the LORD, and I have sent unto you, saying, Ye shall not say, The burden of the LORD; Therefore, behold, I, even I, will utterly forget you, and I will forsake you, and the city that I gave you and your fathers, and cast you out of my presence: and I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten” (Jeremiah 23:33-40).
In light of the words found in the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah as well as that which is found in the first chapter of the epistle written unto the churches in Galatia I find it absolutely incredible to read the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the first chapter beginning with the sixth verse. What we find in the prophetic book of Jeremiah is the incredibly powerful truth of those who not only stole their “words,” their “burdens” and their “prophecies” from each other but they also prophesied of their own imagination and their own inspiration. This was precisely why the LORD God of hosts proclaimed and spoke of those who had in fact stood in His counsel and had indeed heard His voice directly from His mouth. Moreover this is what the LORD was driving home when He spoke of His word being like a fire which burns and like a hammer which breaks for He was indicating the awesome and powerful response and impact of the word. In all reality I am absolutely convinced you know you are in the presence of the true gospel of the Lord Jesus when it is like as a consuming fire present within your heart and within your soul. Remember what Jeremiah spoke and declared when he thought about ceasing to proclaim the words of the LORD and how he described His word like a fire that was shut up in his bones? Remember also the two men who journeyed from the city of Jerusalem along the road to a village called Emmaus and how Jesus met them on the way? During their journey Jesus expounded unto them everything concerning Himself found in the Scriptures beginning with Moses and continuing through the Law and the prophets. When Jesus blessed the bread and broke it and gave it unto them in the house their eyes were opened and immediately He vanished from their sight. Immediately following this they both turned one to another and spoke of how their hearts burned within them as He broke down and expounded the Scriptures unto them as they walked along the way.
DID NOT OUR HEARTS BURN WITHIN US? HIS WORD IS LIKE A FIRE SHUT UP IN MY BONES! IS NOT MY WORD LIKE A FIRE? Oh if there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand concerning the true gospel and the true word of God and its presence among us it’s that we can truly know when we are in the midst of it when it like a fire burns within us and when our hearts burn within us. Have you ever been in a service, gathering or meeting and your heart and soul literally burned within you as the word of the gospel was being preached? Can you even remember a time when you were sitting in the house of the LORD and heard such a mighty and powerful presentation of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ that it literally burned like a consuming fire within your heart and soul? When was the last time your heart burned like fire within your chest as you heard and listened to the word of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ? There is not a doubt in my mind that when we think about the word of the gospel of the Lord Jesus we must needs consider the response to the preaching of John the Baptist as it was written and recorded in the New Testament gospel narrative written by Luke—and not only the response to the preaching of John the Baptist during his generation but also the preaching of the apostle Peter on the day of Pentecost. There is absolutely no denying or mistaking each of these two events for within Scripture we uncover a tremendous response to the preaching of these two men. Undoubtedly these men preached under the weight of the anointing of the Holy Spirit and as a direct result of this those who heard and listened to their words were pricked in their consciences and desperately wanted to know what they ought to do. Oh it is incredibly important for us to recognize and pay close attention to these two passages for they describe the response men have when they are truly in the presence of the genuine and authentic gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ:
“…the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias, the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God. Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire” (Luke 3:1-9).
“And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, master, what shall we do? And he said unto them, Excat no more than that which is appointed you. And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages” (Luke 3:10-14).
Consider now the words which are found in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts concerning the preaching of the apostle Peter on the day of Pentecost:
“…And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither will thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; he seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto me Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:21-36).
“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise us unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation” (Acts 2:37-40).
WHAT SHALL WE DO? Stop and truly consider the full weight and significance of this question for it was not only asked by those who heard the words which the apostle Peter preached on the day of Pentecost but they were also asked by the people, the publicans and the soldiers alike in response to the preaching of John the Baptist. What makes this truly astonishing is when you consider that this question was asked in response to the preaching of John the Baptist before the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus and before He was buried and raised from death to life on the third day. That which the apostle Peter preached on the day of Pentecost was the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ which described how He had suffered in the flesh, how He was delivered up unto His enemies and adversaries—not only by the hands of the Jews and their leaders themselves but also according to the predeterminate counsel of the living God. What’s more is the gospel which the apostle Peter preached on the day of Pentecost was absolutely and incredibly astounding when you take the time to consider it for not only did He preach the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus but He also preached how the Lord Jesus was raised by the Holy Ghost according to the will of the Father on the third day. The apostle Peter emphatically declared unto those in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost how that they had delivered up the Lord Jesus to suffer in the flesh and ultimately be crucified but how God the Father would not suffer His body to see decay nor His soul to abide in hell. Not only did the Lord Jesus bring His Son forth from the depths of hell itself but He also raised His physical and natural body from the grave that it might not see decay.
I absolutely love this particular truth and reality—especially when you consider the words which are found in the first and opening chapter of the epistle written unto the churches of Galatia. In the first and opening chapter of this epistle the apostle Paul declared unto them how he marveled that they were so soon removed from Him that called them unto the grace of Christ unto another gospel. Not only this but the apostle Paul would go on to describe how this gospel was not another one but rather how there were some which troubled them and would pervert the gospel of Christ. There is a great need to recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in this particular chapter for the apostle Paul declared concerning the gospel which he preached and delivered unto them that it was not after man for he neither received it of man neither was he taught it. Rather, the gospel which the apostle Paul preached unto the churches which were in Galatia came by revelation of Jesus Christ as He had indeed stood in His counsel and heard directly from His words and His mouth. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it draws and calls us to the powerful distinction which exists within the first chapter between the gospel which the apostle Paul preached unto these churches and another gospel which they had turned to. What makes this all the more intriguing is when you consider the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the second epistle written unto the saints which were at Corinth. If you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in the eleventh chapter of the second epistle written unto the Corinthian saints you will find the apostle Paul being genuinely concerned for them that there was a danger of them being beguiled like as was Eve in the garden through the serpent’s subtilty. Consider if you will the following words which are found in this passage beginning with the first and opening verse:
“Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chast virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. For I suppose I was not a white behind the very chiefest apostles. But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been thoroughly made ministers among you in all things. Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely? I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service. And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself. As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia. Wherefore? Because I love you not? God knoweth. But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:1-15)).
ANOTHER JESUS! ANOTHER SPIRIT! ANOTHER GOSPEL! It’s truly interesting that the very same thing the apostle Paul was concerned over the Corinthian saints for was the very same thing he was concerned over the Galatian churches for. What’s more is that when you read the words which are found in the opening chapter of the epistle written unto the Galatian congregations you will find the apostle Paul describing unto them how they were actually removed from Him that called them into the grace of Christ unto another gospel. The apostle Paul—when writing unto the Galatian churches—not only expressed concern over them hearing and being in danger of receiving another gospel but would actually go on to describe how they had been removed unto another gospel. The gospel which they were removed unto was not truly the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and was not another gospel at all for there is only one true gospel. Just as there is only one name in heaven, under heaven and upon the earth whereby men must be saved, and just as there is only one Spirit and God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ so also is there only one gospel. There is a tremendous and. Inherent danger when we think there are somehow multiple gospels which can be preached from pulpits across and throughout this nation—and not only throughout this nation but also across the world. There is and there has always been only one true and genuine gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ—this despite the fact there have been and there will be false gospels. This is precisely what the Lord Jesus warned of when speaking unto His disciples at the mount called Olivet when He spoke unto them of the Last Days. If you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in the twenty-fourth chapter of the gospel written by the apostle Matthew you will find the Lord Jesus warning them against deception—and not only against deception but also against those who would proclaim themselves to be Christ. Consider if you will the following words:
“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you, For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand) then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning comerth out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together” (Matthew 24:4-28).
As I bring this writing to a close there is a great need for us to recognize and pay attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for the words presented here draw and call our attention to the tremendous danger surrounding those who would preach what they would describe as “another gospel.” When writing unto the Corinthian saints the apostle Paul was genuinely concerned that there would come unto and among them those who would preach another Jesus, those who would preach another gospel and those who would preach another spirit. When writing unto the churches which were in Galatia the apostle Paul marveled how they had so quickly been removed from the genuine gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ unto another gospel. Oh if there is one thing we must needs recognize when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture—not only is it the tremendous need for discernment to recognize the sound and presence of another gospel but also knowing the Lord Jesus Christ. I am convinced it isn’t enough to merely be able to recognize when the true gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is being preached but we must also know and recognize the voice and presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am absolutely convinced the words which we find in the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John is a fitting conclusion to this for it speaks of the sheep of the Shepherd and how they not only know His voice but also how they will not follow another. Oh that we would be those who not only know the voice of the Shepherd but also that we would not follow another and that we walk with and follow only one—the true Shepherd which is the Lord Jesus Christ:
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth: and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger they will not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them. Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment I have received of my Father” (John 10:1-18).