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ETERNITY HAS NO TIME FOR TIME CHANGE:
UNALTERABLE, DELIGHTFUL, DIVINE
ONCE IS WONDERFUL
In how many bodies, then did Christ die ?
On how many dates did He die ?
In how many places did He die ?
In how many agonies did He find His life sacrificed in atonement, offered to all sinners,
in sincerity, reality and abundant pardon ?
It is one.
He came once, died once, sacrificed Himself once, rose once, paid for the Gospel once,
sent His Spirit in ONE initial scope which has continued,
speaking of ONE Saviour, ONE Lord in ONE way (John 16:13, 14:26),
so that the Gospel which ONCE
was predicted (SMR pp. 755ff.),
is ONCE AND FOR ALL,
perfected (Hebrews 2; 9:12,10:10-14).
But what does Galatians 1:6-12 say MORE THAN ONCE ?
It is in effect that the Gospel is beautiful, that its promulgation must be dutiful,
that its origin is divine, and ministers are limited to presenting what it is,
without adornment, alteration, innovation or equivocation.
GALATIANS REPEATS THE 'ONCE'
"To the churches of Galatia:
Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ,
who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age,
according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
"I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another;
but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.
"But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you
than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.
"As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
"For do I now persuade men, or God?
Or do I seek to please men?
For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.
"But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is
not according to man.
For I neither received it from man,
nor was I taught it,
but it came through the revelation
of Jesus Christ."
Multiple Wounds, but One Site
Multiple Predictions to Him*1, One Body
Multiple Graces, One Face
Multiplied Predictive Outputs from Him*2, One Precise Parallel
Note then that this present Age is called "evil" and it is one in which ONE, Jesus Christ, gave Himself for our sins,
in divine programmatic perfection, in holy harmony with His Father,
bringing grace and peace to His people.
That is the first declaration from Galatians 1, above.
The second is this. In view of such
wonderful things declared, Paul marvels, is amazed, staggered
that they to whom he speaks are so facilely turning to some OTHER Gospel,
which of course is NOT another.
How is this apparent antinomy to be resolved ?
Quite simply: it is presented in pretence as a "gospel" or even "the gospel" by false prophets,
but it is NOT another gospel for one very good reason:
THERE IS ONLY ONE GOSPEL.
That is the force of his utterance, which we have brought out so that the full impact of the terms is realised.
What then is being preached ? Is it the Gospel ? Well. But if it is another 'thing' therefore, whatever that thing may be, it is NOT either THE or A Gospel! It is a FRAUD.
This then is the apostle Paul's pronouncement. He is far from finished: though the Gospel is!
He then in effect indicates that we might suppose an angel came along and said:
"See my goodness, my brightness, my angelic glory ? Now listen to me.
I have a new gospel. Isn't that great ? Remember the shepherds hearing the news ?
Well I HAVE NEW NEWS!"
In such a case, Paul indicates, not only should you not listen, not only is it thoroughly corrupt and wicked, delusive and false, but such an angel would be subject to a divine curse! He goes further.
Suppose now, virtually impossible to imagine, but just suppose that PAUL himself came with a 'new look', Paul Mark II or what you will, and here, in the midst of his apostolic ministry - try to imagine this - he stated this: HERE is the NEW GOSPEL! I PAUL, the apostle, noted for my miracles, divinely inspired dynamic and aflame with divinely enabled integrity, one like a standard and authority among you, I declare a new Gospel.
Can you imagine that ? the apostle in effect is asking ?
If that happens, then there is one thing that remains. THAT PAUL, be he apostle or whatever, he would be ACCURSED. A divine curse and not a divine blessing would rest on what had seemed apostle brows, and his brows would be battered by divine disapprobation of the utmost severity.
Let me repeat this, Paul asseverates. IF ANYONE, anyone at all preaches some other Gospel, this is what the apostle Paul declares in God's name (I Corinthians 2:9-13, 14:37), that person is accursed.
Curse not blessing, damnation not deliverance, this is the place for any such antic as preaching a false gospel, which is ANY other, since there is NO other! IF THAT is the way of the person's life, then THIS is the result. Not only would those hearing the gospel which being fraudulent, is not a Gospel at all, be gulled and so left in their cursed condition under judgment (Galatians 3:10, Romans 6:23, Ephesians 4:17-19), but the very speaker would be cursed with them, misleader of the misled, fraud and fosterer of damnable lies against the grace of God and mutterings to confuse His mercy. Such is the position of man, that UNLESS you call on the name of the Lord, this same Jesus (cf. II Corinthians 11:4ff.), there is no go; it is as if you used the wrong house key. It looks like a key, but far is this from opening the door. It is a criminal pretence or a blasphemous guile.
Christ made clear his detestation of such guile, godlessness and pretension in Luke 11:52 when He referred to the scribes who neither entered the kingdom themselves, but misusing the 'key of knowledge' interfered with those who were entering in. So far from helping to obtain the remission from God, they hinder them!
This is the substance of Paul's message as we seek to translate his terms to our modern minds, so that the full impact is felt.
Yet Paul is not finished yet.
REASON ITSELF IS ROBUST FOR THE TRUTH
He reasons with them now.
AM I, he asks, ENGAGED in an act of persuasion of God, as if I were to have surveyed mankind, found their wants, and as an Ambassador of Humanity, storming the gates of heaven, asked for an audience so that the claims of man might be met ?
AM I PERSUADING GOD ? he asks.
Or AM I PERSUADING MEN ? Which is it ?
Is Paul for GOD's SAKE persuading men to be reconciled to God on HIS DIVINE terms,
or is he for MAN's SAKE persuading God to be reconciled to man on man's human terms!
As his ministry is God-given, so the terms of reference are God-supplied, and this Gospel, the same one which has figured in the prophetic scriptures for generations (Romans 16:25, Isaiah 42,49,50-55, Jeremiah 31, Micah 5, Psalm 2,16,22,40,102,110 cf. Joyful Jottings 22-25), is no more alterable than is God! Thus if anyone acts as if to mutate it, to mutilate it, to transform it, that person is an enemy of God. He is like a chemist who changes the medical prescription handed to him, and puts a useless or even poisonous substance in its place. In view of the disease already racking or condemning the patient, this is an act more than merely criminal: it is merciless, arrogant, pompous, self-assured and spiritually insane (cf. Hosea 9:7, Micah 3:5-6).
Let us hear Micah on just such a point:
"Thus says the Lord concerning the prophets
Who make my people stray;
Who chant "Peace"
While they chew with their teeth,
But who prepare war against him
Who puts nothing into their mouths:
"Therefore you shall have night without vision,
And you shall have darkness without divination;
The sun shall go down on the prophets,
And the day shall be dark for them.
So the seers shall be ashamed,
And the diviners abashed;
Indeed they shall all cover their lips;
For there is no answer from God."
See too how Micah spoke like Paul, in holy boldness, indeed just as did the apostles in Acts 4:19, 5:29ff..
Let us hear Micah:
"But truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the Lord,
And of justice and might,
To declare to Jacob his transgression
And to Israel his sin.
"Now hear this,
You heads of the house of Jacob
And rulers of the house of Israel,
Who abhor justice
And pervert all equity,
Who build up Zion with bloodshed
And Jerusalem with iniquity:
Her heads judge for a bribe,
Her priests teach for pay,
And her prophets divine for money.
Yet they lean on the Lord, and say,
'Is not the Lord among us?
No harm can come upon us.'
"Therefore because of you
Zion shall be plowed like a field,
Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins,
And the mountain of the temple
Like the bare hills of the forest."
Whether, say Peter and John, it is right in the sight of God to obey you more than God, you be the judge!
They then proclaim the Gospel to the polluted priestly party, fearlessly, always the same Gospel, never varying, for it is based on things seen and heard, and is subject to no more alteration that seeing the moon, and questioning if it is the sun!
This then is the direction of Paul, one in total harmony with the rest of the Bible.
ORIGINS ARE MORE
ORIGINAL THAN IMAGINATION,
WHEN GOD IS CONCERNED
We move now to the last of the verses cited in blue at the outset of this Chapter, Galatians 1:11-12.
SEEING THE POINT
Thus we have seen already that the GOSPEL is
NOT ecclesiastically manufacturable
NOT apostolically alterable.
NOT duplicable by angels in any way,
OR by apostles,
EVEN by Paul,
for it is FIXED,
as IRREVOCABLE as God is.
Now we find moreover, and in accord with these things, that
THE GOSPEL is
NOT obtained by thought,
NOT attuned by learning
NOR is it due to tradition.
This is because it came from another source.
The name of that source ? JESUS CHRIST.
The METHOD of the gift of the Gospel ?
How else could the Gospel come,
GOD's decision on pardon -
first whether there would be any, and if so, by what means,
and if by some means, then what would need to be done to make them applicable and effective:
it is clearly HIS ALONE.
Pardon is always like that; but when it is God's pardon,
it is INFINITELY like that!
It was not distilled, this Gospel, at all by thought.
It was not infilled by the subtle contrivances,
or the cumulative wisdom supposedly to be found in tradition!
On the contrary, Christ Himself accused his own priestly countrymen of this,
MAKING THE WORD OF GOD VOID by their traditions (Mark 7:7ff.).
GOD's heart is its place, man's spirit is as God's proclamation site,
where God's word is presented in
its precision built prescription (I Cor. 2:9-13, 14:37);
and even when such things were predicted,
this too was by the Spirit of Christ (I Peter 1:10-12).
Thus if some seek to convert the Gospel,
to alter the means of alteration of the heart of man,
intruding into holy places in the infinite holiness of God,
with the artful or even imagined helpfulness of man
(like a child helpfully playing with the switches on a heart-lung machine, when it is in operation):
they just become just objects of curse,
real Dr Jeckyl and Mr Hyde characters,
perverters of the truth,
troublers of the Church,
purveyors of a different and accursed thing
not the Gospel at all, merely sharing its name,
makers of quasi-truth, pseudo-gospel innovators,
withered artificers of alienation.
No, it is God who persuades men and gives authority to PRESENT HIS WORD, HIS GOSPEL to man, and not at all men who by the act and work of some 'apostle' try God out, with some new idea:
for if Paul did that sort of thing, he would not be the servant of Christ. He would be a men-pleaser!
THE DISPENSATION OF THE FULNESS OF TIMES
HAS IT ALL IN ONE
This Gospel is unalterable, unnegotiable, unrevisable, inconceivable from the heart of man,
expression of the heart of God, enshrined in divine words, given by divine grace.
Thus you see in Ephesians 1:10 that there is to come a field or phase of the entirety of that grand scale and scope of things known as human history, the dispensation of the fulness of times as Paul calls it, when it will all be perfectly explicit. There is ONE CHRIST, ONE GOSPEL, ONE LORD, ONE GOD (as Ephesians 4:4 and Galatians 1:6ff. tell us), and it is in this same Jesus Christ that all things are to be classified. He is in fact going to "gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in Him."
Some will be sent out as chaff for the burning; some will be gathered into His stores of value, who are His. He told us that in Matthew 13:30.
There is thus a unity which comes from the dual facts that man was first made in God's image, suitable for fellowship with truth and involvement in mercy, and having lost this image through defilement, has it restorable in ONE WAY by ONE MAN who is GOD AS MAN, whose reconciliation is presented as a gift, for it is He who bore sin, thus removing the obstacle to that marvel of mercy, friendship with God (Philippians 2, II Corinthians 5:17ff., James 2:23.
So sure are these things that they are predestined already who are His (Ephesians 1:9,11) and Christians who now are His, HAVE ALREADY received an inheritance. It is set to their account, to their destiny already (cf. I John 5:11-12, Romans 5:11-12).
It has so come to those who like those to whom Paul speaks in the church at Ephesus (1:13), for whom Christ is the One "in whom you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation; in whom also after you believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory."
APPLICATION TO OUR FIELD
Here then is the criterion of consistency. If there is ONE UNCHANGEABLE GOD, then you would expect ONE UNCHANGEABLE GOSPEL, in the event He elected to save sinners rather than simply destroy them.
God DID so elect, He HAS so uttered the immutable beauty of the Gospel, He HAS suffered man to remain while this REMEDY, now released, has its full effect. That there would be remedy or ruin was sure, for God is not mocked, heaven is haven not rubble, truth rules and is not derailed (Psalm 50:21-23 cf. Calibrating Myths, Machining Dreams and Keeping Faith Ch. 6). Only through the word of God could it be revealed, to which reason pointed with severe certainty and indubitable dynamic (cf. SMR), systematically certain, irrevocably alone, the written word of God. Without this, none could know the things angels desire to look into; but it is here, the confirmation, verification, application of the holiness of God, and in it, there it is seen, the remedy of God.
What form this remedy would take, in what way the divine name would be secured in the midst of sin, at what cost this would be secured, with what love it would be accomplished, with what gaunt horror the price would be paid, these things were past the imagination of man, resident in the glory of God, manifest in the gory horror of the cost, attested in the dynamic power of the overthrow of death, not as penalty required, but as penalty to be applied! Applied ? it was applied to Christ that it might be waived for man at the end, when the test is over, the trial concluded and the race is before the books (Revelation 20). Covered already in Christ (Romans 5:1, Titus 3:5ff., Ephesians 2:1-10, 1:11, John 5:24), the Christian now IN Christ, then is shown acquitted BY Christ, when all things become manifest.
This infinitely costly work of God has brought history to its opportunity, redemption to its glory and in its own spectacular wonder has done what none could know; for love is like that, and God is like that, whose thoughts are His own (cf. Isaiah 55:8ff.).
It is then IMMUTABLE, ORIGINAL, INTRACTABLE, DUTIFUL AND BEAUTIFUL.
You would expect moreover that it would be zealously guarded, much more than an Art Museum would guard a Rembrandt worth in money terms, perhaps 20 million dollars. You would expect the most stringent, strenuous means to be used to keep it pure, so that what as in this case, cost God the death of His Son, as the end of a series of subtle and violent contemptuous mixtures handed to Him BECAUSE of His goodness (Isaiah 53:9), would be kept clear for ever, that the word of God would endure, though the grass should wither or the world tremble. SO it is, and so indeed was it written that it would be, as it has been (I Peter 1:24-25).
Men might die to preserve it, to proclaim it, to be faithful for it; and live to promulgate it in the name, flame and passion of Christ. This you might indeed also expect.
You would have ground and reason for your expectation, in this, that if the INFINITE BEING and Creator of man is going to secure many of mankind from his condition, at cost to His own image in sending His only begotten Son to defilement of body, but not of Spirit, to anguish and agony that man might be comforted: then there would be a penalty most extreme for fooling with this Gospel, altering it, presuming concerning it, or seeking to abort the word of God which gives this Gospel, just as the resurrection overcame the effort of man to delete the living word of God, the Christ, Jesus the Lord
So you would expect, and so in all points it has been. God will not be changed, His word will not be altered and His Gospel of remedy, of good news, of grace for man, this gift of life by death, this restoration of life by resurrection, this news of redemption, this will be more fixed than the stars. So you would expect, and it is, all things verified as light verifies the presence and power of its source..
Change what cost this! Change the mind of God ? Invade the premises of love and dictate! Would some even dare ? Of course they would, since they did not linger in killing Christ Himself, but even rushed the job, thus rushing redemption, but not one iota out of line with the divine prediction as to WHEN IT WOULD BE! So does God make the wrath of man to serve Him, as He SAID (Psalm 76) -
"Surely the wrath of man shall praise You;
With the remainder of wrath You shall gird Yourself."
fulfilling His word in this also, as He fulfils all things that He said.
To assault the Gospel then ? what of that!
This, it would not be blasphemy alone, but a special kind of intrusive bombast into the field of sacred things by those who did not infinitely redeem, nor in writhing horror meet man's guilt, for as many as received Him; but these, rather in clowning stupidity than in merciful bounty, sought to add their own gifts to the field, as if cow manure were put into surgical instruments, or the AIDS virus mixed with mother's milk in order to help the child, or enrich the nurse! (II Peter 2:1,18). Such atrocities of avarice are indeed forecast by Peter for the last days, before this Age ends.
As to what would be expected, in all reason, for such a Gospel from the infinite God, it is this and this precisely this which is found: both this constancy of care on the one hand, and on the other, this acme of odium on the part of the enemies of the Lord who are many, furious in their fulminations and inglorious in their grasping as in their gore.
This mighty maintenance of the word of God, that blessed bastion of the Gospel, it is found concerning the earlier expressions of God's mercy as the Gospel was being made more and more detailed in its revelation to man, over the centuries; and it is found just the same finality concerning its total and final transmission when no detail is missing. And what is found ? It is this divine zeal and a holy incandescence of protection and authority about this Gospel, that as it is, so it be presented, and as it has been, so it continues, irrevocable, irrefragable, indomitable, the deliverance divine for man.
Men might be hacked, crucified, tortured for months, left to starve in dungeons, have to move in infested jungles to carry it, give their lives to killers in far places to instil it, might surrender fortunes to spread this Gospel, but they went, and it went and fulfils as it has fulfilled its delightful contrariety to the ways of men, concerned to give, not get, to shed light not absorb it, to consign the free grant of pardon, power and propulsion in the just aims of life, vitality and dynamic to the hearts who receive Him whose it is.
It is this which PAUL HAD ALREADY PREACHED, with the apostles (Galatians 1:8) which is the criterion.
This Gospel, and not some other which is not another: it is as unprogressive as death, and as vital as life.
SEE on this topic also ...
Question and Answer Ch. 2,
Great Execrations, Great Enervations, Greater Grace Chs. 7 and 9.
*1 See SMR Ch. 9
*2 See SMR Ch. 8