Have you noticed that there is a radical difference between Philippians 1 and Galatians 1? In Philippians 1, the Apostle Paul both laments and celebrates the competitive and rivalrous forms of preaching the Gospel to unbelievers. He says, “It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice” (Philippians 1:15-18).
In contrast in Galatians 1, Paul is confronting false teaching about the Gospel by those who say they believe it. He says, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!”
Paul’s litmus test for the faith wasn’t good disagreement or getting along, but rather truth. Even when that truth was preached out of mixed motives, the truth is what mattered. Speak the truth in love, (Ephesians 4:15). But preaching the truth is preaching it without compromise. A different Gospel is no gospel at all. Again, the Scriptures are very clear: “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord” (Jude 3-4).
The witness we see in the Scriptures and in church history is that truth produces unity and freedom to love. The clarity of truth is powerful. That truth was revealed in the person and teaching of Jesus Christ.
— Tom Herrick (@canontomherrick) August 26, 2016