May 29, 2016

Galatians 1:1-12  .  .  .Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— and all the brothers who are with me,

To the churches of Galatia:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 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.

10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel. 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

            Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

          My Sermon today comes from our Epistle Lesson for today, some other passages from the Bible, and from this; the Book of Concord.  For those of you who do not know, the Book of Concord is where the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod has all its confessions and the reasons we believe these confessions.  Before I get into this book, I want to read for you another passage from Holy Scripture.

            This is from 1 John 2:18-20, Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.  They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.  But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.”  John speaks of people known as antichrists; those who oppose the will of Christ and lead people down the wrong path.

            In our confessions, a certain person and organization is named as THE antichrist.  Honestly it made me laugh a little the first time I read it.  Let me know what you think.  (Read “Power and Primacy of the Pope paragraphs 39-41)(“It is clear that the Roman pontiffs……What fellowship has light with darkness?”

            It goes on to talk about other specific things such as indulgences, vows, and salvation through works.  But yes, according to our confessions, the Pope is considered the antichrist.  Kind of interesting isn’t it?  Now please, do not take this part and just run with it telling everyone that our faith is anti-pope and we want everyone to stay clear of him.  We have to understand when and why these confessions were written.  At the time, Protestants were being persecuted, and anyone who opposed the Pope was excommunicated.  Even Martin Luther was excommunicated by the Church.

            The reason the Pope had been deemed the antichrist was because he was teaching people things that were not in the Bible for his own sake rather than teaching what God commanded for the people’s sakes.  Things such as indulgences, purgatory, and salvation through works were becoming widespread believed.  Yet the Bible does not teach any of these.

            My point is this.  Verse 8 of our Epistle for this morning says this, “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.” Even the Pope, who is considered the holiest of the holy by many, is susceptible to giving false teachings when faced with the world.  How much more difficult is it for us to find what is right?  I remember having a heated debate with a professor about a topic in the Bible.  I just knew that a certain event happened in the way I remembered it.  This was the basis for my full argument.  He told me to go back and read the Scripture pertaining to the part I was speaking of.  So I did, and realized that my memory had distorted the story and changed it in my mind to fit my argument.  I found the teaching I believed to be true to actually be false.

            And we should all do that with everything we are taught.  I give sermons up here each Sunday.  I try to explain things the best I can.  But if you hear something that does not sound correct according to what you have been taught, go back to the Scripture and find the answer.  If I am teaching something contrary to the Gospel given to us by Christ, call me out on it.  Say, “Pastor, you’re wrong.  Here is what the Bible says.”  Then I will be able to go back to Scripture as well and see where I made my mistake so I can correct it for everyone else so as not to lead them down the wrong path.  Trust me, I am fallible because I am a sinner.  But don’t just do this courtesy for me, do the same for your brothers and sisters.  Use Scripture as your foundation for Christ’s Gospel.  Build from there, and never stray.

            His Word should be your first source.  Not me.  Not someone else.  Yes, maybe others can help us gain a better understanding, but it all needs to start in Scripture.  Do not allow others to lead you down the wrong path.  Keep in Christ who loves you and has given you life.  Amen.