17 And now I make one more appeal, my dear brothers and sisters. Watch out for people who cause divisions and upset people’s faith by teaching things contrary to what you have been taught. Stay away from them. 18 Such people are not serving Christ our Lord; they are serving their own personal interests. By smooth talk and glowing words they deceive innocent people. 19 But everyone knows that you are obedient to the Lord. This makes me very happy. I want you to be wise in doing right and to stay innocent of any wrong. 20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.21 Timothy, my fellow worker, sends you his greetings, as do Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater, my fellow Jews.
22 I, Tertius, the one writing this letter for Paul, send my greetings, too, as one of the Lord’s followers.
23 Gaius says hello to you. He is my host and also serves as host to the whole church. Erastus, the city treasurer, sends you his greetings, and so does our brother Quartus.
25 Now all glory to God, who is able to make you strong, just as my Good News says. This message about Jesus Christ has revealed his plan for you Gentiles, a plan kept secret from the beginning of time. 26 But now as the prophets foretold and as the eternal God has commanded, this message is made known to all Gentiles everywhere, so that they too might believe and obey him. 27 All glory to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, forever. Amen.
We've grown up seeing tele-evangelists preach the gospel. Most preach the true gospel of Jesus Christ, and in doing so, help brings thousands to faith in Christ. But, we also know of others that were found to be doing it for their own selfish reasons. They used the gospel message to promote their own interests, and were found to be frauds.
If we donate to their ministry, they will promise a special blessing from God. They prey upon the needs of believers and convince them that they have a special connection to God that no other believer has.
It was no different in first century Rome. The fact that there were no televisions didn't stop these people from coming up with ways to serve their own interests and deceive innocent people.
Paul pleaded with them to stick to the simple message and avoid anyone that preached a different gospel than the one he had taught. Paul addressed this exact issue in his letter to the church at Galatia at about the same time.
A group of Jewish Christians had come to the region of Galatia, spreading the word that in order to be a real Christian, they must also follow the Jewish Law. Paul adamantly opposed this idea with bold words that left no room for negotiation.
6 I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News 7 but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ.8 Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. 9 I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed. (Galatians 1:6-9)
Paul addressed the church in Corinth about divisions;
11 For some members of Chloe’s household have told me about your quarrels, my dear brothers and sisters. 12 Some of you are saying, “I am a follower of Paul.” Others are saying, “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Peter,” or “I follow only Christ.”
13 Has Christ been divided into factions? Was I, Paul, crucified for you? Were any of you baptized in the name of Paul? Of course not! (1 Cor 1: 11-13) We need to remember that our salvation is entirely between us and God. It is about we, as individuals, believing in Christ. It has absolutely nothing to do with what denomination or non-denomination that we work out our faith through. Remember that Salvation is a one-time act. It is us individually, standing before God and saying that we are turning from our old life and choosing to follow Him.
Each believer is an integral and equally important part of the Church as a whole. If we start thinking that one believer is more important than another believer, the whole Church suffers.
The truth is that we all have a special connection to God by His Spirit dwelling within each of us as believers. We are called to be obedient to God, and to spread His Good News.
We are all sinners, in need of a savior. Jesus is our Savior. The Good News of Jesus Christ is truly that simple. All we are asked to do is to believe it, and we are saved. No one could have said it better than Jesus Himself.
"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him will never perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
It sounds too good to be true. We live in a culture that demands that we ask the question, "What's the catch?" We get the feeling that there has to be more. We have to do something, or quit something, or start something. But, we don't.
Paul explained that, "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead - you are saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and by confessing with your mouth that you are saved." (Romans 10:9-10)
This is the Gospel truth that we need to stand on, and to build everything else on. It is the only foundation that will withstand the storms that are a part of this life.
Paul ended this magnificent letter with greeting from those who were always close to him. He knew that these friends were an essential part of his ministry, and that they deserved mention.
His reason for writing was to, first and foremost, give glory to God for revealing His awesome plan, and to assure all who will ever read this that we can rest in knowing that our strength comes from God, through His Son Jesus Christ.