Apostolic Astonishment: Serving Christ by Safeguarding the Gospel of His Grace

Brian Mahon - 9/10/2023


Call to worship: 1 Corinthians 15:1-4

Text: Galatians 1:6-10


Paul showcases his love for these churches by reproving them as a father, his wayward children. Having begun by the sheer grace of God in Christ, these churches have begun to introduce merits (and demerits) into the equation of salvation, and Paul is astonished and agitated by this. He clarifies: to do this is not to continue in the Gospel. It's to turn from it to no Gospel at all. If you deny the sufficiency of Christ, you deny Christ, the all-sufficient Savior, Himself. There is one Gospel, but multiple distorters of that Gospel. It is the responsibility of the churches to know and safeguard this Gospel against any and everyone who would ever preach against it, Paul included. Again, he doesn't hold back. To preach a non-Gospel as Gospel is to draw down a curse from the apostle. It's to invite upon oneself the curse Jesus suffered for His people. If you say His work didn't suffice for it, you will find yourself under the brunt of it. At heart, faithfulness, as preachers and churches, is a matter of who we serve. If Man, we will bend to the errors that draw their praise; if Christ, we'll stand upon His Gospel, willing to be fools for Him.

Sermon Outline:

  1. The reproofs in Paul's astonishment. (1:6-7)
    • a: In departing from the Gospel, you're deserting God. (1:6)
    • b: You're deleting the grace of Christ. (1:6)
    • c: You're denying your responsibility as churches. (1:7)
  2. The rules of Gospel allegiance. (1:8-10)
    • a: Revelation over revelations. (1:8-9)
    • b: Message over messengers. (1:8-9)
    • c: God and Christ over Man. (1:10)


Discussion Questions:

  1. 1: Read Galatians 1:6-10. Compare with the texts given for our call to worship and intermediate reading above.
  2. What could possibly astonish the apostle Paul? Why is he astonished? What reproofs does he assert for these churches? How again are these churches departing from the one Gospel? See 2:21-3:5, for instance. How did God call you? On what basis? How does Paul reason from the basis of conversion to the continuation of the Christian life---and how have they begun to depart from this? Is there more than one Gospel? At whose feet is the apostle laying the responsibility to know and safeguard the one Gospel from distorting trouble-makers?
  3. Now that Christ has come, does the Gospel message change over time? Is it subject to new revelations, even from angels? What if Paul changes his message from what he originally preached to them? How is a church supposed to handle that? Are they to fall in league with him because he's Paul and he's loved them, etc.? Is the authority of any pulpit ever above the truth of the one Gospel?
  4. If the Gospel is to have chief authority and allegiance in our hearts and churches, what responsibilities does that lay upon us? If anyone preaches a gospel contrary to the one Gospel, what does Paul exhort? How serious is it that we ensure the preaching of the Gospel? What is it to be accursed?
  5. What is the pivot point for saints and our churches in this matter of Gospel allegiance (1:10)? Why will we be inclined to move away from the Gospel if our aim is the praise of people? Why is it critical, then, that we settle it in our hearts to 'be fools for Christ'? Do you think God's Gospel would be appeasable to the natural, self-saving sentiments of unregenerate Man? Staying true to the Gospel in this world (and even in our churches) may very well involve great trial. Why is it important to reckon ourselves, 'servants of Christ'?
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