WONDERFUL THING IN THIS PASSAGE – Not long ago, one of the smarter people I know was tricked by a phone scam. He’s warier now, but the lesson was expensive. If you haven’t yet clicked the wrong button or opened the wrong attachment, it’s just a matter of time. Whether we like to admit it or not, you and I are susceptible to being fooled.
So were the Galatians. They had started so well: When Paul proclaimed the gospel to several cities in Galatia, many turned to Christ, and soon several of those cities had a church. But after Paul left, some deceived and deceitful leaders began teaching that simple faith in the crucified Christ wasn’t enough. They fooled so many of the believers that the apostle wrote this letter to warn them of their folly: “I am amazed that you are so quickly turning away from Him who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel” (Gal. 1:6). He begins today’s chapter with this:
“You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?” (Gal. 3:1).
Few, if any, of the Galatians had witnessed the crucifixion of Christ, but Paul and his companions had painstakingly portrayed it to them over and over. They all knew the gory details of the cross – and the glorious victory of the resurrection. Paul had made it as plain to them as he had to the Corinthians: “Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel I preached to you … that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day” (1 Cor. 15:1-4).
And the Galatians had staked their eternal futures in faith that this was enough for salvation. As Paul’s gospel proclaimed: “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9). It was all so clear, so simple. That is, until more eloquent preachers came in with an “enhanced” message. And they were quickly fooled.
WONDERFUL THING IN MY LIFE – The point the Lord made to me in today’s Wonderful Thing was not so much the specific ways the Galatians were fooled. What God wanted me (and I think you) to see is this:
It wasn’t that hard to fool them.
All it took was a better preacher. Paul admitted several times that he wasn’t that good of a preacher. Others could turn a better phrase and craft a more compelling argument. What he had on his side was divinely revealed truth: “I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel preached by me is not of human origin. For I did not receive it from a human source and I was not taught it, but it came by a revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1:11-12).
God had that gospel written down in perfect form in the 13 New Testament books Paul wrote and in the 14 written by others. He had it written down so that you and I could read it. Doing so, carefully and often, is our best defense against being fooled.