For I Am Not Ashamed Of The Gospel

By Brandon Galbreath

We all have character flaws. The funny thing is I just recently considered making a list of my own. I didn’t even know exactly what qualifies as character flaws. There are literally hundreds of them as I searched through all the listed flaws I came upon a useful three-category explanation. What is funny is that these character flaws are for writers creating characters for either literature, movies, or television. Again, I am a theologian not a thespian. However, I think we can apply them to real life. 

  • Minor character flaws are minor physical or mental quirks to a character’s personality. For example, you might have a someone that always seems to say the wrong thing or just makes for awkward conversation. 
  • Major character flaws usually come from life-changing events that affected that person. For example, Jane Doe has a fatal flaw of putting others before herself or putting herself before others. This major flaw in her character nearly gets her killed dozens of times.
  • Fatal character flaws are the ones that make or break a character. These are flaws they must overcome or die. As Christians, do think we have any spiritual character flaws? 

Today, I want to talk about spiritual character flaws. It is the fatal flaw of preaching a false gospel which we fine being proclaimed today. The reality of our situation is that true believers are becoming fewer and fewer. Meanwhile, false preachers, teachers, and apostates increase. The teachings that are being preached from pulpits today are conforming to the world. This means that Christians are turning their backs on God. Some do not realize they are doing so. Even worse many believe they are preaching the true gospel. But they are so distorted a misleading academia, a paranoid media, and brainwashed political ideologies that falsely proclaim Christ when in reality they are promoting a worldly agenda. 

A well-known professor and pastor in my area of South Texas said on social media, “that the gospel is not enough anymore.” This was his response to the growing pressure for pastors to acknowledge and preach social justice plus the gospel. Is the gospel message of Jesus Christ no longer enough? Let’s hold that thought and we will be back to answer this fundamental question.

I used to worry that all my sermons were exactly the same and my congregation would grow tired of hearing the same message. Then I thought about the topics that are repetitive in my sermons. I am always preaching about Christ and everything leading to Him. That is all that I preach. Just in case, I double checked to ensure there are no other topics that should be preached other than a Christ-Centered one. There are no reasons other than Christ Alone. I wish I could say that false teachers were few. Unfortunately a false gospel has spread across the world time and time again just like this pandemic. Scripture has much to say about false teachers, false gospels, and false prophets proclaiming the Will of God. It’s not a matter of whether we are living in the end times because we are always living in them. We need not concern ourselves with the exact timing of God. Instead we need only be prepared, to be centered on His Word, fixated on Christ, and do our due diligence by preaching and defending the Scriptures. Therefore, we must recognize and point out the errors in false teachings and present the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

“No Other Gospel”

Galatians 1:6-9 (KJV)

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 say I now again, if any man preaches any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

Accursed is repeated twice in Galatians 1:6-9. That word appears only six times in the entire Bible, two of which in this passage. God’s Holy Word states that anyone who comes and preaches another gospel, whether it be a man or an angel, he or she will be accursed. That is a serious word in our English language and it a very strong word in the Greek language. 

 “ANATHEMA (ä-nä’-the-mä) ἀνάθεμα” literally means a man accursed devoted to the direst of woes set apart for complete destruction of the cursed. The accursed person is doomed because they become so separated from Christ. The Apostle Paul declares in the strongest manner that the Gospel he preached was the one and only way of salvation and to preach another was an attempt to invalidate the death and resurrection of Christ. Paul explains that he received the Gospel directly from God. He did not invent it himself nor did he learn it from someone else. It was a divine revelation from Jesus Christ. A person, who does not love Jesus, will not never see glory. He or she will be cursed forever. In the passage above the word anathema is used twice meaning doubly cursed. Scripture is telling us that if someone preaches a false gospel they are going to be absolutely and forever obliterated from His existence. That is why preachers and teachers of God’s Word need to take His Word so seriously because there is a judgment for teaching or preaching something that is in violation against the true Gospel. Those doomed preachers are the ones who say, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and, in your name, perform many miracles? Then the Lord will say, I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers” (Matthew 7:22-23).

The Apostle Paul is never one to beat around the bush when it comes to the church and the Lord’s work. Paul preaches clearly on these points. He opens his Epistle by stating his name, then who the audience is, and goes right for juggler by declaring to the Galatians that they are cursed for preaching a false gospel and allowing false teachings into the church.

I used to work in insurance and financials where I had to pass a test to earn a certification. After that there was more testing and assessments. It was constant throughout the year. People needed trustworthiness, integrity, and due diligence from the people handling another person’s finances. Now consider handling and performing God’s Word, His ministry, and caring for His flock? There is more at stake as souls lay in the balance. No one has the right to tamper with the Gospel. When a pastor alters the Gospel, they have done a horrendous thing. They are robbing people of faith. Of hope. This is not the first time Paul had to address the church and call out a false gospel.  Before telling the Galatian church, he told the Church of Corinth as 2 Corinthians 11:4 states,

For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully.

Paul’s warning remains clear. 

It was a problem in the church back then and it remains so today. Christians must stand up and take bold action against false teachings. There is more to this than losing your job or your friends or family members. Eternity is at stake. We must confront falsity not matter the circumstances or cost for their is no cost greater.

So what is the true Gospel?

The word “gospel” means “good news,” and the good news is that Jesus Christ came to this Earth born of a virgin. He was both fully God and fully human. Even though tempted and tried in every way He lived a sinless life. While all of humanity is absolutely guilty of sin. We are dead in our trespasses. No hope, but one. Jesus bore the punishment for our sins and offered His life as a living sacrifice on the Cross. A penal substitution; an ultimate scapegoat that relinquished the Judaic sacrificial system forever. Jesus Christ died, resurrected on third day, appeared before hundreds, then later ascended into heaven where he will return from heaven to earth one final day. Jesus promised that if you place your trust in Him alone, confess and repent your sins to Him alone, then you will be saved by His Grace Alone. Christ will prepare a room in His Father’s house for you that is His promise. Until His return Christ commanded us to make ourselves ready for whenever the hour comes by living sacrificially and sharing the Gospel with everyone no matter their creed or background in life. That’s the real Good News. Is the gospel message of Jesus Christ enough? Not just the Message, but the Messenger who gave us the Good News physically? Yes, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is enough because He is alive!

I want us to look at a few false gospels that are relevant because they are prevalent today. However, I must stress that we need only to be aware of false teachings and not indulge ourselves in a life of complete study of these false teachings and religions. 

1st False Teaching: The Knowledge Gospel (Gnostic)

This would be the occultist, theosophy, esoteric and mysticism religions. Most of them basically have been adapted and come from Buddhism (also a false teaching). Just to name a few; the Wiccans, Nazi occultism, scientologist, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the Nation of Islam. 

2nd False Teaching— The Racial Identity Gospel

These are the preachers and teachers that believe only a certain race is chosen for salvation and the battle between good and evil comes down to racial divisions. Christian Identity, Black Theology, Pan-Africanism, Ku Klux Klan, White or black power it’s all the same false gospel. They preach a false white Jesus or black Jesus. 

 3rd False Teaching—The Quick-Fix Gospel- the Christian life is not a quick fix. It is a discipline, an art, a science.

 4th False Teaching—Social Justice

Social Justice today has a political agenda and puts Christ secondary if not nonexistent. It tends to be more popular among clergy than laity and its leaders are predominantly associated with radical leftist ideologies. 

5th False Teaching— The Politically Correct Gospel

Our contemporary culture expects us to tolerate, accept, and affirm all their radical beliefs and ideologies.  Not only are we expected to affirm people, but we are expected to affirm their ideas and philosophies and, in some cases, apologize for having not done all of this in the first place. And in that spirit, it seems that a great many believers in our time have come to embrace the ideas and philosophies of the world. Remember what happened to that generation of people right before the flood? Christ said in Luke 17:26-27, Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.” Jesus was saying that whenever the philosophy of life becomes carnal and worldly (like in the days of Noah), He would return. The gospel is not politically correct. Now this doesn’t give us an excuse to be insensitive jerks. We ought to be marked by compassion and grace. We ought to love and respect people unconditionally regardless of their lifestyle or beliefs. But Christians have a duty and a work to perform through the Great Commission. We must declare the good news faithfully with due diligence and Christ-like integrity regardless of whether it is popular or not.

Conclusion

We must never forget that the Christian life is a living relationship with God through Jesus Christ. A man does not become a Christian merely by agreeing to a set of doctrines. He becomes a Christian by submitting to Christ and trusting Him forever. You cannot mix grace and works because the one excludes the other. Salvation is the gift of God’s grace purchased for us by Jesus Christ on the cross. To turn from Grace to Law is to desert the God who saved us.

(This article originated from a sermon preached Sunday Nov. 15th, 2020 by Brandon Galbreath and was formatted for reading purposes).

Principles Over Politics: Exordium

(Special Series)

What then is a Christian to make of conservatism? The danger, it would seem, is not in conserving, for anyone may have a vocation to care for precious things, but in conservative ideology, which sets forth a picture of these things at variance with the faith. The same is true of liberalism. From time to time Christians may find themselves in tactical alliance with conservatives, just as with liberals, over particular policies, precepts, and laws. But they cannot be in strategic alliance, because their reasons for these stands are different; they are living in a different vision. For our allies’ sake as well as our own, it behooves us to remember the difference. We do not need another Social Gospel—just the Gospel. – J. Budziszewski

The Problem With Conservatism (1996)

Conservatism at its purest form is philosophical though it inevitably holds political weight in decisions of property, rights, laws, war, and nearly every other area of socioeconomic and political consequence. Richard M. Weaver reminded us in 1948 that Ideas Have Consequences, what we believe and follow, can reverberate throughout all of human history. “The modern position,” wrote Weaver, “seems only another manifestation of egotism, which develops when man has reached a point at which he will no longer admit the right to existence of things not of his own contriving” (Weaver, p. 154). Faith is more than tradition. Christ is beyond any philosophy. Historic Christianity is rooted in truth and reality that centers on the wholeness of Jesus Christ. Conservative philosophy at best recognizes the need for God and the institutions of the Christian faith, but it is not a practice of faith. As Professor Budziszewski of government and philosophy at the University of Texas in Austin and author of the blog, UndergroundThomist, distinctly makes clear: there is the Christian Faith and there is Conservatism and Liberalism and every other philosophical, ideological, and political system. At the end of the 1996 article (the article can be read in full at First Things website) he notes the essential truth of Christ and His Kingdom:

Christians can no more be others on the right than others on the left. Citizenship is an obligation of the faith, therefore the Christian will not abstain from the politics of the nation-state. But his primary mode of politics must always be witness. It is a good and necessary thing to change the welfare laws, but better yet to go out and feed the poor. It is a good and necessary thing to ban abortion, but better yet to sustain young women and their babies by taking them into the fellowship of faith. This is the way the kingdom of God is built.

The Problem With Conservatism (1996)

Therefore what comes first in terms of principles must be through and by the means of Christ, the Scriptures, and the Church. Christendom can be the only root source of a Primitive Conservative. Politics is secondary. Our identity is tertiary. Philosophy a helpmate. Surrender is strength not a weakness. Intersection is inevitable in the world of questions concerning morality, law, justice, or economics.

The Common Good

Tom Nelson, President of Made to Flourish, a network that works with churches in helping people flourish for the common good, argues that one of the best ways to achieve an act of common good is through our daily work (Nelson 2017, pp. 78-79, The Economics of Neighborly Love). By no means against the Free Market, Nelson seeks to make the case for a “triple bottom-line approaches that take into account not only profit but also promoting the flourishing of people as well as the planet” (pp. 79-80). One of several approaches to economic revitalization, the real father of economics can be found in the ideas of Thomas Aquinas whose central doctrines and dogmas remain as a central, though controversial, voice within Catholicism and broader Christianity.

Gloria L. Zúñiga at Acton Institute explains that “Thomistic economic thought… is grounded on private property and voluntary exchange as the principle for determining licit contracts.” Mary L. Hirschfeld, professor of economics and theology, wrote the book Aquinas and the Market: Toward a Humane Economy (2018), arguing that there are intrinsic values modern society can learn from Aquinas for the sake of redeeming a neoliberal society from its moral shortcomings.

Alternatives and reforms to a capitalistic society are nothing new to conservative thought as the late Sir Roger Scruton explains that “to be a conservative at best is to be a reluctant Capitalist you have to acknowledge the free-market… but it has to be tempered.” Our source for the “good life” derives from a similar stream but diverges from its source as to the ultimate purpose over ones life. Economics is simply one example for indeed Jesus Christ did not come to establish an economic doctrine or political order on the Earth. He came to die for the sins of the world and to redeem all that is His. Yet he tells believers not to be anxious or to worry but to build up for the Kingdom of Heaven:

Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Luke 12: 32-34).

Giving, charity, helpfulness are virtues to be practiced for they are goodness in of themselves; eternal values of immense worth as conservatives understand them to be. However the Christian does not simply do good, he does it at the service of God who commands them to do good. A distinct difference not because of a total lack of will to do any good but that Christians acknowledge the source by which goodness is bequeathed. For none do good, not even one (Psalm 14:3; Rom. 3:11). A secular reader shall fail in their attempt to decipher its meaning without close inspection as much as new Christian in the faith who fails to study the scriptures. Acts of “good” can be accomplished by all men but their heart remains corrupted. Christ is the redeemer of the heart—that is the Gospel. Secondly, all life comes from God the creator. He is worthy of acknowledgement. And lastly Christians source their life around the Gospel. Good works follow after it but virtue is not their source or it is simply vanity. Harry Blamires succinctly summarizes this truth in his book, The Christian Mind (1963), between the Modern mind and the mind of the Christian:

If Christians think carefully and prayerfully, they will come to understand what the Incarnation means for them in terms of their twentieth-century vocation… They will learn what are the proper twentieth-century modes of judging the world, of identifying the self with its sins, of being in and yet of being out of this world which our Lord inhabited and yet was not of. But these vital insights will be achieved only if there is among us a Christian mind sharp enough as an instrument of discrimination to cut cleanly through the befuddling mental jungle which constitutes the practical ethic of our secular society (pp. 104-105).

Christ is the source of our Common Good; He is the Principle; the Rule of Thumb; and the Sole Being Worthy of Adoration. A.W. Tozer tells us that to be a follower of God means to be “other-worldly” (Tozer 2006, The Pursuit of God, p. 63). Or as Dietrich Bonhoeffer hammered it out straight for his readers in The Cost of Discipleship (1995), “Faith can no longer mean sitting still and waiting—they must rise and follow him. The call frees them from all earthly ties, and binds them to Jesus Christ alone” (pp. 62-63).

This week will be a week of explanation of what it means to hold to principles over politics; truth over lies; reality over irreality. A foundation that built from faith in Christ and Christ Alone. Sourced from Christian Doctrines and Dogmas in the face of a world that fails to love; fails to do justice; and fails in establishing dignity for all.