In the 1920s and 30s, the Fundamentalists and the Modernists battled over the essentials of the gospel. Harry Emerson Fosdick, a liberal Baptist pastor, kicked off the controversy by preaching a sermon entitled, “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?” Among the Fundamentalists who fought for the Gospel was T. T. Shields. In one of his sermons he warned, “In hell entire congregations will rise up and curse their liberal pastors who did not preach the gospel.”
Like Paul in Galatians, true ministers of the gospel have stood for the purity of the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. But the battle for the clarity of the Gospel is not over.
Chuck Colson led both Evangelicals and Roman Catholics to sign the Manhattan Declaration in November of 2009 to stand for the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, and religious freedom. While all of these are worthy goals, pastors like John MacArthur refused to sign because the agreement compromised the Gospel. From the document are these statements: “We are Christians who have joined together across lines of ecclesial differences,” and “It is our duty to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” MacArthur’s valid point is this, true Evangelicals and Roman Catholics do not preach the same Gospel or the Reformation was needless.
Paul took an unpopular stand for the Gospel in Galatians, his Battle Epistle.
1. In chapters 1-2, Paul gives his personal response and defends his apostleship.
2. In chapters 3-4, Paul gives his doctrinal response and defends justification by faith alone in Christ alone.
3. In chapters 5-6, Paul gives his practical response and defends sanctification by faith.
In chapter one Paul begins by
A. Expounding the Gospel in (1:1-5)
B. Condemning the False Teachers in (1:6-9)
C. Clearing his Name in (1:10-12)
D. Sharing his Salvation Experience in (1:13-24)
1) Our Sinful Past (1:13-14)
a) In his pre-conversion days, Paul persecuted the Church of God in 1:13.
1. First in Jerusalem in Acts 8:1-3.
2. Then north to Damascus in Acts 9:1-2. Paul was bent on exterminating the gospel. Jesus prayed from the cross, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” The Jews were deceived in thinking Jesus was a blasphemers who should be condemned as Deuteronomy 13 taught. Saul thought he was doing God’s service. Paul was similar to Martin Luther before his salvation as a RCC priest and theologian hated the gospel preacher John Huss. “I counted it a sin even to think of him. I would gladly have furnished the wood to burn him. I would have felt I had done God a real service.”
b) In his pre-conversion days, Paul also promoted a religion of works for salvation in 1:14.
Here is a contrast between salvation by grace and salvation by works in 1:14.
1. The Jews’ Religion 2. Christianity
a. Opposes the gospel a. Preaches the gospel
b. Persecutes believers b. Wins the lost
c. Based on Tradition c. Based on God’s Word
d. Works for salvation d. Salvation by Grace
2) Our Supernatural Conversion (1:15-16)
a. We are saved because God chose us
1. Why did God choose us? God chose us because “it pleased Him.” “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Cor 1:21). Nothing in us merited His choice.
2. When did God choose us? Before our birth and even before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4-5). Therefore we could not have merited God’s choice or salvation.
b. We are saved because God called us.
1. Acts gives the outward call, “Saul, Saul” in Acts 9. This is similar to God’s call of Samuel in 1 Samuel 3 “Samuel, Samuel.”
2. Although God does not call audibly today He calls just as authentically through the gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:14). When the Gospel is preached the Holy Spirit convinces us of the sin (John 16:8) and persuades us (John 6:44) “No man can come to me except, the Father who has sent me draw him.” God’s last call to the sinner will eventually come.
Conclusion: When D. L. Moody was at the height of his preaching ministry he held a great evangelistic campaign in Boston. There was a wife who was a Christian and her husband, a travelling salesman was not. She begged him to hear Moody preach. He said No! She did everything she could. He said No! She said, “Just hear him, just hear him.” He said No!
He was going the next day on a trip and would not be back in time to hear Moody preach. She begged and broke down and wept. She said she had no intention but she could not help it. “You are going to keep saying “No” “No” until God’s going to close the door and it will be to late,” and she went off to the meeting weeping. The husband was moved by her tears.
He called his friend and told him his wife went off weeping because he would not go to hear this guy Moody and he wanted to know if he would go with him. “Sure,” he friend said.
They both went. They got to the door and a big policemen put his back to the door and said, “Sorry gentlemen, your are too late.”
“But this is my last chance” said the husband.
“I am sorry you are too late” insisted the police officer.
“But my wife went off weeping because I had not come” pled the husband.
“I am sorry. We can’t get another person in this building. It is jammed pack. You are too late. The door is closed. Goodbye” declared the policeman.
The husband remembered what his wife had said. He practically ran all the way home. When he got home he ran to his bedroom fell on his knees and trusted Christ as his Savior. When his wife got home, a Christian husband opened the door.
Conclusion: When God calls the sinner should not hesitate. Just as God called Noah and his family into the ark and then shut the door (Genesis 7:1, 16) on Noah’s generation after he had preached 120 years, some day God will give His final call and then it will be too late.