In the Bible book of Galatians, Paul writes bluntly to the church that met in Galatia. In the letter’s introduction and greeting, Paul points to the eternal hope that we have through the resurrection of Jesus. He reminds the readers about the grace that we all need and enjoy. I love the line in the song “How He Loves,” that says “if grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.” It is endlessly deep and is literally available to all people everywhere. Then, Paul wishes peace upon them and us. If you’ve enjoyed peace in a season where you’re not sure how you found it in the midst of the turmoil raging around you, be sure God’s hand was in it.
The intro is wrapped up with the profession that Christ “gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age…” (Galatians 1:4). I can almost hear Paul’s trademark zeal as I read this introduction. He was so fired up about the riches that are only found IN CHRIST! Then, it’s as if he gives a really pointed “All that being said…” when he writes “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.” Some of them were “distorting the gospel,” or “changing the good news about the Messiah.” The facts that Jesus is the Messiah and that He died and was raised to give us hope are firm and true. They will never change and must not be misrepresented. Paul said that lying about those things is a sin worthy of condemnation (v. 9).
Make no mistake, those who knowingly misrepresent the gospel and try to exploit or lead people away from Christ are inviting God’s wrath upon themselves. But does every person who is mistaken about a point of doctrine deserve to be lumped in with these “wolves?” Wes McAdams of “Radically Christian” wrote about this some time back and pointed out that a “false prophet” or “false teacher” was one who made the conscious decision to lie about God’s truth. When that malicious intent is missing and error is believed or taught, you simply have a person who needs someone to “explain the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:26). Sounds a lot like me. But grace is available when we are actively seeking to please God instead of ourselves or others.