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Thinking of God by Larry Sheehy

Be responsible preaching Gospel

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Posted: October 12, 2007 2:57 p.m.
Updated: October 27, 2007 5:01 a.m.
Popular evangelist Chuck Swindoll was speaking on the theme of grace and its relationship to God’s will on his radio program “Insight for Livin.,” He was looking at material from Paul’s letter to the churches of Galatia, and among his textual references for the day was this sobering one from chapter 1:
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – which is really no gospel at all.  Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.  But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!  As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!  (Vs. 6-9)
Among his comments on this passage, this one was particularly noteworthy to me:  “If people turned from the gospel in Paul’s day, it can surely happen in our ministries, when there are no apostles to confirm our theology.”  
Although unsure of everything he might have meant, I believe Swindoll points out something that most would likely consider obvious, and yet many seemingly do not see as of much concern.  Teaching that which goes against the gospel of Christ, that distorts God’s intentions regarding salvation, bears eternal consequences.  And the existence of such distortion is possible today, just as in the time of the apostle’s work.  
So great was Paul’s desire to impress these Christians with the importance of staying with an uncorrupted message, and the corresponding necessity of careful teaching, he made it clear that divinely appointed apostles, even angels, would be held accountable for the content of their instruction about the person, life, will and work of the Christ!  
Again, uncertain of everything Swindoll may have had in mind in this brief quote, let me point out that, in fact, there are apostles present today who can “confirm our theology” through the content of their inspired and approved messages in the canon of the New Testament.  Paul implies this in the Galatian passage in his reference to “a gospel other than the one we preached to you” (v.8).  They were to judge any teaching they received against the model of the message of grace they had originally received from Paul and his companions.  Other passages point out the significance of inspired apostolic teaching.  (Cf. Matt.28:19, 20; Jn.14:26; 15:26, 27; 16:13; Eph.2:19, 20)
None are flawless in understanding or teaching of the gospel message.  And yet there is a sense of gravity, accented in this passage, for the concern of faithfulness to the will of God in Christ, confirmed by his apostles for all time
    Larry Sheehy is the preaching minister at Statesboro Church of Christ. He can be reached at (912) 764-5269 or sborococ@frontiernet.net.
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