by Ken Yates
Or do I seek to please men?…But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. (Gal 1:10-11)
From what I understand about the background of the book of Galatians, Paul was addressing the issue of false teachers and what they were saying about him. Paul preached a Gospel of eternal salvation in which the unbeliever is given eternal life by faith alone. The Old Testament Law played no part in the offer. In addition, a believer was not under the Law as a means of sanctification either. Instead, the Christian life was to be lived by faith as Christ lived through the Christian.
We don’t have to be theological rocket scientists to understand what some were saying about Paul’s teaching. Those who could not accept that eternal life is a completely free gift, as well as those who were wed to the Law because of their traditions, found what Paul was preaching as unacceptable.
It was a very short step, for those who opposed Paul, to accuse him of only telling people what they wanted to hear. For example, if a person believed that an unbeliever needed to be circumcised in order to enter into the Kingdom of God, he not only found Paul’s message offensive, but would have felt that Paul was making it too easy for the unbeliever to have eternal life. At the same time the uncircumcised unbeliever was hearing exactly what he wanted to hear.
Paul, then, was preaching a Gospel of eternal salvation that he had made up. By making it easy on folks, Paul was attracting followers to himself.
But Paul explicitly states that that was not how he operated. He did not preach a message in order to “please men.” He did not make up that message. It did not originate in his mind or the mind of any other “man” (verse 10-11). In fact, Paul says it came from Christ Himself.
Anybody, in any age, that proclaims a Gospel of eternal life by grace alone, through faith, can relate to what Paul says. Those who do so are accused of just telling people what they want to hear. They are accused of just “giving fire insurance,” or preaching “easy believism,” or a “non-Lordship” message.
It is maintained that grace preaching is too simple because it seeks to please the sensibilities of the unbeliever. It is preaching that is novel and does not belong to the teaching of the Apostles nor the New Testament. False teachers in different ages preach it because they only want people to follow them.
Free Grace folks, however, can take comfort. When they are accused of these things, they have good company. It is exactly what they said about Paul. We might even say if we do not have these negative things said about us, in all likelihood, we are not preaching the offer of eternal life that the Lord gave to Paul.