Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the churches which were in Galatia. More specifically today’s passage begins with the first verse of the third chapter and continues through to the seventh verse of the fourth chapter. “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit. By the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Have ye suffered so many things in vain? If it be yet in vain. He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” (Galatians 3:1-5).
“Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that odeth them shall live in them. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man diannulleth, or addeth thereto. Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise” (Galatians 3:6-18).
“Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one. Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise of faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:19-29).
“Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; but is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ” (Galatians 4:1-7).
When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the second declaration written by the apostle Paul unto the churches which were in Galatia concerning their apparent abandonment of the one true gospel. If you take the time to read the words which are found in the opening three chapters of this New Testament epistle you will find the apostle Paul—in the opening chapter—describing unto the Galatian churches how they had turned aside from the gospel of the Lord Jesus unto another gospel. In fact I would dare say it is impossible to truly understand the words which are found in the third chapter without first recognizing and understanding the words which are found in the opening chapter. What’s more is that I would also argue and contend there is additional language that is found in the second chapter of this epistle that helps shine a tremendous amount of light on to that which is presented in the third chapter. In all reality the churches of Galatia were such that had received the teaching, the doctrine and the gospel which the apostle Paul had preached unto them, however, as time progressed they would turn aside from that true gospel unto something else that presented itself as the gospel and yet was anything but the gospel. In the opening passage of this epistle the apostle Paul begins by describing how the gospel which he preached came not from men nor was it taught unto him by men but was received from the Lord Jesus Christ. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for there is the true gospel which comes directly from revelation from the Lord Jesus Christ while there are others who preach a gospel that originated from their own imagination and their own inspiration.
As I sit here this morning and consider the narrative found in the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Galatian churches I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the ancient seer and prophet Jeremiah proclaimed unto the remnant and residue of the children of Israel who dwelt in the city of Jerusalem and in the southern kingdom of Judah. During his generations the LORD God Almighty had a controversy with the prophets and priests who prophesied according to their own imagination and according to their own inspiration. You cannot read the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah without and apart from encountering the tremendous controversy the living God had with the prophets and priests of the land during those days for not only did they prophesy falsely but they also caused the people of God to err. Oh it is one thing for someone to prophesy falsely and/or preach a gospel that is false and deceptive, however there is something else entirely about those who actually lead people astray. In all reality the twenty-third chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah must also be considered in light of the words which are found in the thirty-fourth chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Ezekiel. In the twenty-third chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel we find the controversy of the LORD with those false prophets and voices present during that generation while in the thirty-fourth chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel we find the controversy which the LORD God had with the shepherds of the house of Israel. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following two passages to uncover the indictment of and the controversy the LORD God had with both the prophets and the shepherds during those days:
“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 shall fall therein: For I will bring evil upon them, even the year of their visitation, saith the LORD. And I have seen folly in the 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 as Gomorrah” (Jeremiah 23:9-14).
“Therefore 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 say still unto them that despise me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say 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 he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days y e 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 haven 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 the deceit of their own heart; which think top 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 23:15-32).
“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 his 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).
With these words in mind concerning the prophets and priests which were present in the land during the days and generation of Jeremiah I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the Old Testament prophetic book of Ezekiel. During the days of the prophet Jeremiah the living God had a controversy with the prophets who prophesied falsely during those days—and not only prophesied falsely but also led people astray and caused them to err. It is absolutely necessary and imperative we recognize and understand the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for the controversy which the LORD God had against the prophets was not only that they prophesied of their own imagination and their own inspiration but they also caused the people of Israel to err. This is something we must needs recognize and understand—particularly when we think about the days of the New Covenant and the preaching of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is something to be said about a gospel that not only leads and causes people to go astray but also refuses to turn them from their wicked way and unto righteousness. Oh there are gospels being preached in this generation which neither turn men and women from their wicked ways nor encourage them to turn unto righteousness. There are gospels present among us today which excuse sin, transgression, iniquity, immorality, idolatry and the like while doing absolutely nothing to draw and call men unto righteousness. This is a far cry from the preaching which John the Baptist preached when publicans, Roman soldiers and the people were pricked in their consciences and asked what they must needs do. Moreover this is a far cry from the preaching which the apostle Peter preached on the day of Pentecost unto all those who were in the city at the time the Holy Spirit arrived in the upper room and filled men and women with His presence and granted them utterance to speak with other tongues. On this particular day those who were pricked in their hearts asked the apostle Peter what they must do to which he responded by instructing them to repent and be baptized.
Having said this I now invite you to turn and direct your attention to the following words which are found in the thirty-fourth chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Ezekiel. It is within this passage of Scripture we find the tremendous controversy the LORD God had—not with the prophets and priests during those days but with the shepherds of his people. During the days of the prophet Ezekiel the LORD God had a tremendous controversy with His shepherds for their negligence pertaining to the sheep of His pasture. In all reality it is absolutely impossible to read the words found in this passage of Scripture and not encounter this tremendous controversy and see how it has direct implications for our generation today. We would be incredibly naïve to think and consider for a moment that the controversy the LORD God had with the prophets and priests during the days of Jeremiah and the controversy the LORD God had with the shepherds during the days of Ezekiel was relegated to those days alone and does not have practical implication and ramifications for our generation today. With this in mind I invite you to now consider the following words which are found in the thirty-fourth chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel beginning with the first verse:
“And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the LORD God unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: But ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them” (Ezekiel 34:1-6).
“Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; As I live, saith the LORD God, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock; Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; Thus saith the LORD God; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them” (Ezekiel 34:7-10).
“For thus saith the LORD God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the LORD God. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong: I will feed them with judgment. And as for you, O my flock, thus saith LORD God; Behold, I judge between cattle and cattle, between the rams and the he goats. Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? And to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet? ?And as for my flock, they eat that which ye have trodden with your feet; and they drink that which ye have fouled with your feet” (Ezekiel 34:11-19).
“Therefore thus saith the LORD God unto them; Behold, I even I, will judge between the fat cattle and between the lean cattle. Because ye have thrust with side and with shoulder, and pushed all the diseased with your horns, till ye have scattered them abroad; Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle. And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it. And I will make them the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing. And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know that I am the LORD, when I have broken the bands of their yoke, and delivered them out of the hand of those that served themselves of them. And they shall no more be a prey to the heathen, neither shall the beast of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and none shall make them afraid. And I will raise up for them a plant of renown, and they shall be no more consumed with hunger in the land, neither bear the shame of the heathen any more. Thus shall they know that I the LORD their God am with them, and that they, even the house of Israel, are my people, saith the LORD God. And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the LORD God” (Ezekiel 34:20-31).
FEED THEMSELVES! SHOULD NOT THE SHEPHERDS FEED THE FLOCKS? YE EAT THE FAT, AND YE CLOTHE YOU WITH THE WOOL! YE. KILL THEM THAT ARE FED! YE FEED NOT THE FLOCK! THE DISEASED HAVE YE NOT STRENGTEHENED! NEITHER HAVE YE HEALED THAT WHICH WAS SICK! NEITHER HAVE YE BOUND UP THAT WHICH WAS BROKEN! NEITHER HAVE YE BROUGHT AGAIN THAT WHICH WAS DRIVEN AWAY! NEITHER HAVE YE SOUGHT THAT WHICH WAS LOST! WITH FORCE AND WITH CRUELTY HAVE YE RULED THEM! THEY WERE SCATTERED BECAUSE THERE WAS NO SHEPHERD! THEY BECAME MEAT TO ALL T HE BEASTS OF THE FIELD! MY SHEEP WANDERED THROUGH ALL THE MOUNTAINS! UPON EVERY HIGH HILL! MY FLOCK WAS SCATTERED UPON ALL THE FACE OF THE EARTH! NONE DID SEARCH OR SEEK AFTER THEM! BECAUSE MY FLOCK BECAME A PREY, AND MY FLOCK BECAME MEAT TO EVERY BEAST OF THE FIELD! NEITHER SHALL THE SHEPHERDS FEED THEMSELVES ANY MORE! I, EVEN I, WILL BOTH SEARCH MY SHEEP, AND SEEK THEM OUT! SO WILL I SEEK OUT MY SHEEP, AND WILL DELIVER THEM OUT OF ALL PLACES WHERE THEY HAVE BEEN SCATTERED! I WILL FEED THEM IN A GOOD PASTURE, AND UPON THE HIGH. MOUNTAINS OF ISRAEL SHALL THEIR FOLD BE!
THEY PROPHESIED IN BAAL, AND CAUSED MY PEOPLE ISRAEL TO ERR! THEY COMMIT ADULTERY, AND WALK IN LIES! THEY STRENGTHEN ALSO THE HANDS OF EVILDOERS, THAT NONE DOTH RETURN FROM HIS WICKEDNESS! PROFANENESS GONE FORTH INTO ALL THE LAND! THEY MAKE YOU VAIN! THEY SPEAK A VISION OF THEIR OWN HEART AND NOT OUT OF THE MOUTH OF THE LORD! THEY SAY STILL UNTO THEM THAT DESPISE ME, THE LORD HATH SAID, YE SHALL HAVE PEACE! THEY SAY 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? I HAVE NOT SENT THESE PROPHETS, YET THEY RAN! I HAVE NOT SPOKEN TO THEM, YET THEY PROPHESIED! IF THEY HAD STOOD IN MY COUNSEL, AND HAD CAUSED ME PEOPLE TO HEAR MY WORDS, THEN THEY SHOULD HAVE TURNED THEM FROM THEIR EVIL WAY, AND FROM THE EVIL OF THEIR DOINGS! THEY PROPHESY LIES IN MY NAME! THEY ARE PROPHETS OF THE 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! HE THAT HATH MY WORD, LET HIM SPEAK MY WORD FAITHFULLY! IS NOT MY WORD LIKE AS A FIRE? AND LIKE A HAMMER THAT BREAKETH THE ROCK IN PIECES!
It is imperative we recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in these two passages of Scripture for not only did the LORD have a controversy against the prophets and priests of Jeremiah’s generation but He also had a controversy with the shepherds. As it pertains to the prophets which were present during the day of Jeremiah we must needs recognize that these prophets not only prophesied falsely and prophesied their own dreams and imaginations but they also failed and refused to turn men and women from the evil of their ways. You cannot read the words which the prophet Jeremiah spoke and prophesied and not come face to face with the controversy the LORD God had with the prophets who not only prophesied lies and deceit but also prophesied a false sense of security, rest and peace for those who were living in transgression before and in the sight of the living God. There were prophets and priests during the days of Jeremiah who had not stood in the counsel of the LORD nor heard the word from His mouth and as a direct result of this lack of communion and fellowship they prophesied of their own imaginations and inspiration. As if this weren’t enough they also stole words from each other and prophesied one after another, thus polluting the land with their defilement and whoredoms. Oh it is absolutely necessary we recognize and understand the words which are found in this passage for when we consider the days in which the apostle Paul, the apostles of Christ, and the early church lived in we must recognize the tremendous dangers from deceit, falsehood and lies which were present among them.
I sit here today thinking about and considering the tremendous truth surrounding the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the churches which were in Galatia and I can’t help but be brought face to face with the awesome and incredible reality surrounding a gospel which presents itself as true and yet has at the very core of it deceit, treachery and falsehood. Oh dear brother, oh dear sister there is indeed a false gospel that is being present among us in this generation which is being perpetuated by those who seek to promote their own agenda. What’s more is I would dare say that there is an intrinsic link between the prophets during the days of Jeremiah and the shepherds during the days of Ezekiel and those who are present among us during these days. It is absolutely undeniable and unmistakable to not see, witness and behold countless “prophets,” “apostles” “teachers” “bishops,” “evangelists” and the like who not only prophesy of their own imagination and inspiration but who also refuse to deal with and confront sin. How do you know when you are hearing the true gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ among you in your midst? Is the word like a fire that is shut up in your bones? Is the word like a fire burning within and consuming you? Is the word like a hammer that is breaking into pieces the hard and stony areas of your life? Does the gospel which you are hearing deal with and confront the sin which might be present in your life or does it seek to make you comfortable in it? Does the gospel you are sitting under call and invite you into the place of true fellowship and communion with the Father, the Son and the Spirit clean, pure and holy in their sight? Oh with this in mind I can’t help but think about the following words which are found in the fifteenth chapter of the Old Testament poetic book of the Psalms which was written by the psalmist David:
“LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour. In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; be he honoureth them that fear the LORD. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not. He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved” (Psalm 15:1-5).
With these words firmly before you and in your mind I feel it is also necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which the psalmist David wrote in the twenty-fourth chapter of the Old Testament poetic book of the Psalms. Consider if you will the following words which are found in this particular psalm beginning to read with and from the first and opening verse:
“The earth is the LORD’s, and the fulness thereof; The world, and they that dwell therein. For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods. Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? OR who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness form the God of his salvation. This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah” (Psalm 24:1-6).
It is quite clear from each of these psalms that there is a very specific person who will not only ascend into the hill of the LORD but who will also stand in his holy place. What’s more is there is a very specific person who will abide in his holy tabernacle and stand in his holy hill. If you take the time to truly read the words which are found in these passages of Scripture you will encounter and come face to face with the awesome and incredible truth surrounding the concept of abiding and dwelling with the living and eternal God. With this being said it is necessary we recognize that upon reading these words there is a very specific person who will be granted access to the holy mountain of the LORD and one who will have access to His presence. This is incredibly important for us to recognize and understand when considering the gospels which are present among us within this generation for if the gospel you are sitting under does not prepare you to stand in the holy mountain of the LORD in His presence then I would strongly argue and contend the gospel you are under is indeed a false gospel. If the gospel you are sitting under does not address and confront the sin which is present within your heart and life and promote holiness, purity and righteousness in the sight of the LORD then I would strongly suggest the gospel you are sitting under is indeed a false gospel. Moreover if the gospel you are sitting under does not have at the very heart and center of it the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus and the sacrifice He made for us to be reconciled unto the one true and living God I would argue and contend that gospel is indeed false and deceptive. If the gospel you are sitting under does not preach the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus as the means of being saved then I would strongly argue and contend the gospel you are sitting under is a false gospel.
In order to help drive this point home even further I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the tenth chapter of the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul. Within this particular epistle the apostle Paul presents unto the saints which were at Rome the word of faith—and not only the word of faith but also the gospel of salvation which was nigh unto them and even in their mouth. If we are going to truly understand the false gospel which was present among the churches which were in Galatia it is absolutely necessary that we recognize the very heart, center, foundation and core of the true gospel of the Lord Jesus—namely, that men might call upon the name of the LORD that they might be saved. Oh you might be reading these words does the word and gospel you are presently sitting under call and invite you to call upon the name of the LORD that you might be saved? Does the gospel you are sitting under preach and proclaim Jesus as the only way unto the Father and the only way to be saved? Does the gospel you are sitting under proclaim that Jesus is indeed the Way, the Truth and the Life and that no man comes unto the Father but by Him? Does the gospel you are sitting under declare that those who are in Christ are new creations as old things have passed away and behold all things are becoming new? I am absolutely and completely convinced that in this generation in which we are living there is a tremendous need for us to possess a discerning heart and discerning ears to hear and recognize those false gospels which are present among us within our churches, on podcasts, on YouTube, on the television, on the radio, and the like. Having said this I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the tenth chapter of the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome:
“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (That is, to bring Christ down from above) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (That is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: That is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the LORD Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: For the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the LORD shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, Have they not heard? Yes, verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world” (Romans 10:1-18).
Please pay close attention to the words which are found within this passage of Scripture for within it the apostle Paul speaks of the nation and people of Israel and how they were ignorant of the righteousness which is of God and went about seeking their own righteousness. The reason this is so incredibly necessary is when you come to the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the churches which were in Galatia you will find the apostle speaking in similar terms. The churches which were in Galatia were essentially seeking to produce and manufacture their own righteousness—a righteousness that was not based upon the promise of the Holy Spirit but on their own merits and works before the Lord Jesus. The churches which were in Galatia had turned aside to another gospel—a gospel that did not promote faith in the person of the Lord Jesus and in His death burial and resurrection but rather in their own works, merits and efforts. The apostle Paul spoke unto the churches which were in Galatia concerning those who sought to trouble them by preaching another gospel which was not a gospel at all. What we find in the third chapter of this epistle is a first-hand glimpse into the gospel which was being preached unto them which was one of works—and not only works but one of legalism. In all reality I would dare say that one of the greatest dangers to the true gospel of the Lord Jesus is a gospel that has at the very heart and center of it legalism—that which declares that in order for men to be saved they must needs do this or they must needs do that. Such a gospel might very well preach belief in the Lord Jesus and might even preach the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus but it also promotes additional works which must accompany that belief and trust.
If you take the time to read the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the churches which were in Galatia you will encounter the tremendous truth that there was indeed a false gospel being preached among them—a gospel which had at the very heart and center of it legalism and works. This gospel was not Christ-centered but was works-centered and one which might very well have taken the true and authentic gospel of the Lord Jesus and added to it. Oh dear brother, oh dear sister I am absolutely convinced that one of the most dangerous things we can do is take the gospel of the Lord Jesus and add to it—whether it’s adding our own imagination, inspiration, ideas and the like or adding unto it a gospel of works independent of faith. The apostle Paul wrote in the epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome that those who confess with their mouth the Lord Jesus and those who believe with their heart that the living God raised Him from the dead will be saved. Not only this but the apostle Paul also declared that all who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Oh we have great need to recognize and pay close attention to these words for they highlight and confront what is so absolutely critical when seeking to decipher and discern whether or not we are hearing the true gospel of the Lord Jesus or whether we are hearing a false gospel which is not a gospel at all. With this in mind I feel it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are not only found in the eleventh chapter of the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints but also the words which are found in the first chapter of this very epistle written unto the Galatian churches:
“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 a godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste 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 preaceth 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 manifest 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).
“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 I say not again, if any man p reach 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).
As you come to the third chapter of this epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were in Galatia you will find him asking them point blank who had bewitched them that they should not obey the truth before whose eyes Jesus Christ was evidently set forth as being crucified. The apostle Paul would also go on to ask of them if they received the Spirit by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith. Not only this but the apostle Paul would also go on to ask them if they were so foolish having begun in the Spirit and yet were now seeking to be made perfect by the flesh. Moreover, the apostle Paul would ask them if they had suffered so many things in vain and that one who ministered unto them the Spirit and works miracles among them—did they do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith. Oh it is quite clear and obvious when reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture that the apostle Paul recognized and understood the churches of Galatia were being deceived by a false gospel that was not a gospel at all. The gospel which was being preached unto them was a gospel that promoted works as means of being saved. The gospel which the apostle Paul preached unto them was Christ crucified and yet they were turning aside to a gospel of works according to the Law of Moses. THE GOSPEL OF THE PHARISEES! THE GOSPEL OF RELIGION! THE GOSPEL OF WORKS! THE GOSPEL OF LEGALISM! Oh what we must needs recognize and understand is that the gospel which the apostle Paul preached unto them was a gospel of faith according to the free gift of God the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ as the wages of sin were death but the gift of God in Christ was eternal life.
The more I think about and consider the words which are found in the third chapter of the New Testament epistle written unto the Galatian saints the more I am brought face to face with the incredibly awesome and powerful truth that these saints were such which were turning aside from a gospel of faith to a gospel of works and a gospel of religion. I continue to believe that one of the greatest dangers and threats to the true gospel of the Lord Jesus—a gospel that is according to faith in the free gift of God in the person of the Lord Jesus—is a gospel of religion and a gospel of legalism. What’s more is one might very well say that what we witness and behold in the New Testament gospel narratives concerning the Pharisees is an incredibly powerful picture of that which sought to trouble the churches in Asia and in Europe. The same spirit which operated and was manifested among the religious leaders which were present during the days of Jesus was the same spirit which was animating those who preached a false gospel of works, of legalism and of works. The same spirit which was present and evident among the scribes, the chief priests, the Pharisees, the elders of the people, the Sadducees and the religious experts and teachers of the Law was the same spirit that was animating those who sought to trouble those who had received the gospel of the Lord Jesus which was preached unto them by the apostle Paul and others who were present during those days. What’s more is that we must needs recognize that the gospel which was preached unto the Gentiles was a gospel that neither required them to be circumcised nor adhere to the works of the Law to be saved but simply believe on the name of the Lord Jesus and to call upon His name.
I continue to be absolutely and incredible intrigued by how scandalous the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ was during the days of the apostles and early church—particularly and especially unto both Jews and Gentiles alike. The gospel which was preached—the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ—was one which not only declared that man is not justified in the sight of the living God by and through works of the Law but by and through faith. What’s more is the gospel which the apostle Paul preached was a gospel which promoted faith in the Lord Jesus Christ over and above circumcision. The gospel of the Lord Jesus did not require men and women to be circumcised and not only delivered them from the burden of the Law but also from the condemnation that was found in the Law itself. This is precisely what the apostle Paul sought to convey in the eighth chapter of the New Testament epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome. In the eighth chapter of this New Testament epistle—not only did the apostle Paul emphatically declare that there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus but would also go on to write and speak about being more than conquerors in Christ Jesus. In addition to this the apostle Paul would go on to write and declare that there is absolutely nothing that can and shall separate us from the love of God that is found in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Not only this but in the fifty-fourth chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah we find the prophet emphatically declaring that no weapon formed against the people of God shall prosper and every tongue which rose up against them in condemnation they could cast down according to their right as the people of God. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the eighth chapter of the epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome in both the opening verses as well as the concluding verses:
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spirituall minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cty, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God; and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:1-17).
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he did also predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these thigns? If God be fore us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principliaties, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:28-39).
As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were in the churches of Galatia. These churches were being infiltrated by those who sought to trouble them by promoting a false gospel of religion and legalism—a gospel that had at the very heart and center of it works according to the Law. Much like those who had infiltrated the church in Antioch and began teaching that they needed to be circumcised according to the Law of Moses troubled them so also were there those who had infiltrated the churches in Galatia teaching them similar doctrines. Oh they might very well have preached and promoted the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, however, they would preach at the same time and side by side with that a gospel of works according to the Law. If we are being truly honest with ourselves we must needs admit that some of the greatest dangers to the true gospel of the Lord Jesus are those gospels which do not preach or promote the Lord Jesus as the only begotten Son of the Father and/or that deny the death, the burial and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus from the dead. There are those who would deny the Lord Jesus and that He came in the flesh as the Word which became flesh and dwelt among us. There would be those who would deny the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus and by very nature would also deny the resurrection of the Lord Jesus from the dead. These claims and denials are gross and profane in the sight of the living God and we must be cautious and on our guard from and against it. With this being said we must needs recognize and understand that there would be those who would seek to diminish and minimize grace and even faith by declaring that we can only be saved by and through works of the Law of Moses.
There is a great and powerful need within our hearts and our lives to truly recognize and understand the wonderful truth that we have a great need to guard ourselves against the various gross, profane and deceptive gospels which are present among us in this generation. We would be incredibly naïve to think and consider for a moment that such false doctrines and false teachings were only present during the days of the apostle Paul and the early church. It was the apostle Paul who when writing unto his spiritual son Timothy spoke of the last days and how in the last days there would be false teachers, false apostles, false prophets, and false brethren who would infiltrate the church and who would wreak havoc and destruction. This was something the apostle Paul warned the elders of the Ephesian church about and it was something the apostle Paul warned the Corinthian saints about. Not only this but this was something the apostle Paul warned the churches which were in Galatia about in his epistle. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand it’s the tremendous need for discernment and wisdom during these Last Days in the face of tremendous deception and false teaching, false gospels, false doctrine and the like which are already rampant and will only increase in the coming days. With this in mind I leave you with the following words which were written and recorded in the fourth chapter of the first epistle written unto Timothy and the third chapter of the second epistle written unto Timothy:
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe in know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:1-5).
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:1-7).