But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? (Galatians 1:8-9 and 3:1a)
Interpretation of the above verses is not rocket science. We know that there is no such thing as the perfect church while we still live on this earth. This is not what is being addressed. What is being addressed is the harmful conduct and teachings of any fellowship that disguises itself in the Lord’s Church.
Over the past 25 years, my family and I have been faithful attendees and contributors of only two local churches. I believe in local fellowshipping for two main reasons. First, it allows us to bump into those from our fellowship in the local marketplace. Second, it allows us to target the lost and needy in our immediate area. That is why we are heartbroken with what I now have to share. In both cases we had to remove ourselves from both of these local fellowships. The first was because they were practicing ‘the end justifies the means gospel’. The fallout from this was, they ended up being convicted and sentenced in Federal court. The second allowed the heretical teachings of Bill Johnson and Bethel Church to infiltrate. When approached with warnings they out-and-out chose to ignore the warnings and not address their sins. In both cases, we had to obey Scripture and not fellowship with them anymore. This left us in a dilemma as we were being forced from our local area to find a good Scripture based church. It opened our eyes that there are very few churches that stick to orthodox teachings and don’t go a whoring after excitement and the catering to itching ears.
On the way to work everyday, I drive by each of these churches with a sorrow in my heart. They have not changed their ways, nor have they repented. My prayer each day is that the conviction of the Holy Spirit would have its way. That things would be made right while there is still time on this earth. It boggles my mind of how we can claim we work for the Lord, but not have unity. Is it not realized that if Heaven is to be our home, that there is no disunity in Heaven and we will have to be with each other through eternity?
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. (Romans 12:18)
The reason I waited until now to share all of this is because I needed to come to grips with it. When I read the following devotional today, especially the last part entitled ‘THOUGHTS FOR PRAYER’, I felt the Holy Spirit whispering that now is the time to share it. Too many church leaders are so caught up in growing their churches that they forget that their top priority is to protect their flock.
MAY 12 ESV DAILY DEVOTIONAL
Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written, “Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband.” Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.
Paul compares the false teachers to a boy named Ishmael, who was the son of a slave woman named Hagar (see Genesis 16). lshmael’s birth was not the result of God’s miraculous work, but merely the product of human efforts (the “flesh”; Gal. 4:23). Similar to the story of Hagar and lshmael, those who depend on their own human efforts will find themselves enslaved (v. 25; cf.3:10) and will not inherit God’s promises (4:30).
Christians, on the other hand, are like a boy named lsaac, who was the son of a free woman named Sarah (see Genesis 17:21). Since Sarah was barren (Gal. 4:27), Isaac’s birth would have been impossible if it were not for God’s gracious life-giving promise (v. 23). Like Isaac, Christians are the children of God’s promise (v. 28) and have been given eternal life by the miraculous work of God’s Spirit (v. 29).
Paul does not want the Galatians to be surprised by the trouble being caused by the children of “slavery” (v. 29), but neither does he want the churches to tolerate their lies. Teachers who reject the gospel and promote obedience as the basis of our acceptance before God are a grave danger to the health of Christ’s people. Paul’s concern for the Galatian Christians is so serious that he wants them to expel these false teachers from the churches (v. 30).
THOUGHTS FOR PRAYER
Those who teach a false gospel are a true threat to the health of the church. Pray for your church leaders and ask God to use them to protect you and others from those who are promoting teaching that is out of line with God’s Word.