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Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Edifier du Jour-Galatians 1:6-9
6: I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7: which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8: But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9: As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!
The basic message of the Gospel is seemingly too simple to stand by itself; people want to make it say something different. I'm not talking about secondary or tertiary doctrines that believers can agree to disagree about, but distortions of the basic tenant that Jesus died to save sinners who will accept him as Lord and Savior. One way people can alter the Gospel is to make accepting that gift of salvation optional, that you can make your way to heaven even if you don't accept Jesus' lordship. That's the sin of the theological left. This can be expressed in out-and-out universalism or the more subtle "we're all praying to the same God" routine that assumes that Jews, Muslims and other monotheistic religions are all equally devoted to God. Problem is, there are some less-than-inclusive scriptures, like "I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me." That kinda precludes people from blowing off Jesus and still be heaven-bound. The other major alteration is to add extra conditions to that free gift of salvation. You might require someone be baptized in order to be saved or require that they attend the correct church or not go to movies or not drink alcohol, etc. If universalism is the sin of the left, legalism is the sin of the right. Legalism is often coupled with separatism, where arguments about what a proper life-style is can be raised to the level where the legalist will view the person who would watch a Veggie Tales movie or have a glass of wine with a meal to be preaching a different gospel and be shunned. The left looks for a fallacious inclusion of other religions while the right leans towards a fallacious exclusion of people whose hermeneutics are a bit different than theirs. Both are problems to be wary of as we try to preach the Gospel as Jesus delivered it.

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