SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSONS
Commentary by Walter Albritton
We Must Not Compromise the Essential Truths of the Gospel
Key Verse: For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin. – Galatians 1:11
When I was a young man my dad sent me to town many times to pick up supplies he needed for our farm. I took no money. Dad said, “Tell them to charge it to me.”
Sometimes a store clerk would not recognize me when I said, “Please charge it to my daddy.” Then I would hear the uncomfortable question, “And just who is your daddy?” Never once did anyone refuse to charge a purchase to me when I said, “My daddy is Walter Albritton.”
I understood that my daddy had a good name. He had a reputation for paying his debts. I was trusted because my father was a man of integrity. Store owners believed me because my father had sent me.
Albert Schweitzer gave up the
privileges of life as a university professor to serve as a missionary doctor in
In my early years as a preacher I was not as convinced of my calling as Paul was. In time my hesitancy disappeared and I began to have a strong, inner conviction about my ministry. Wherever I was assigned the Spirit gave me certainty about my purpose. I was not there merely to conduct worship services, funerals, and weddings. I was there because God sent me there to preach the gospel. This conviction gave my preaching new fervor and power.
Preaching with great fervor and power, Paul traveled far and wide sharing the good news and establishing churches. In time reports came to Paul about false teaching being shared in some of his churches. The doctrine he has received by revelation from God was being perverted and people were being misled. The apostle is alarmed that some Christians had so quickly transferred their allegiance to “another gospel,” a travesty of the true gospel.
Paul responds by insisting that the gospel he preached was “no human invention.” He asserted, “No man gave it to me, no man taught it to me; it came as a direct revelation from Jesus Christ” (J.B. Phillips). The trumpet Paul blew was no uncertain trumpet. He was a man sent from God with a message from God – and he knew it. This conviction kept him from preaching a watered-down gospel to “please people.”
Preachers today need clarity and conviction about the gospel or their preaching will be weak and insipid. God calls preachers to work with people, get along with people, love people, challenge people – but he never calls preachers to preach for the approval of people. Once a preacher begins doing that, he loses any chance of seeing the power of God released in his preaching. Such preaching then becomes no more valuable than reading the Sears catalog from the pulpit! The only approval the preacher should seek is the approval of God! Without that he has no business behind the sacred desk.
Today is a good day to examine the gospel we preach – and the gospel we hear from our pulpit. The true gospel that Paul preached, and that is offered us in the New Testament, contains these essential truths:
1. Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Savior of the world, and beside him there is no other. Never forget these powerful words: “If the gospel is true for any man anywhere, then it is true for all men everywhere!” (Feel free to update this quote by changing “man” to “person” if you wish!)
2. Jesus died because God loved the world so much that he wanted his grace to be available to all people and all nations.
3. Jesus gave his life to pay for our sins because it was the only way to give us access to the Father’s forgiveness. Jesus took our sins upon himself and bore them on that cruel tree!
4. Jesus died to set us free from bondage to sin. He rescued us from the dominion of darkness! The result, as Charles Wesley said: “Our chains fell off!” Jesus died so that we might be made new, alive in Christ!
5. Jesus was raised from the dead by the power of God. The resurrection demonstrates for all time the authority of Jesus Christ whom God has made Lord of all. For, as Paul says to the Colossians, “it is in him, and in him alone, that men will find all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” And it is Jesus Christ to whom we must all one day give account for God has made him both Lord and Judge of the world.
If Paul was alarmed by the corrupt teaching of his day, he would probably have a stroke today! False teachers are a dime a dozen, both inside and outside our churches. The people in the pews should be embarrassed if they pressure their pastor to please them at the expense of proclaiming God’s truth to them! Let there be no tolerance for compromise when it comes to the basic essentials of the New Testament Gospel. If and when they are willing, laity can pray down fire from heaven until the pastor is consumed with the clarity and unction necessary to preach the gospel with power.
Surely we should all – preachers and laity alike – pray daily that God will anoint his preachers with the fire that warmed Wesley’s heart and empower them to proclaim the true gospel as men – and women – sent from God!
+ + + + (Contact Walter at firstname.lastname@example.org)