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— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the Gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:6–9 ESV)
What is the Gospel? It is the Revelation of Jesus. To have an encounter with Jesus is to have an encounter with the Gospel. The Spirit initiates this encounter, and it is by grace alone. This encounter with Jesus is all we need to live our life here on this earth. The Gospel has everything, and it is the substance that helps us to live an empowered life.
In these verses, Paul is so upset with the Galatians! They allowed another gospel to be heard and infiltrate within their lives, and this false Gospel is sending them into confusion.
The Gospel cannot be achieved, but it is only to be received.
It is the gift of God for humanity, and if in the wisdom of God and the plans of God you have received this Gospel then you have among many other blessings, you have the mind of Christ.
This is important, the Gospel is not just a theoretical formula, or set of principles to be believed; it is much more than that the Gospel is to be experienced and to be lived.
We come to the Gospel by an act of the Sovereignty of God, takes place. It is his grace being given to us. He alone is “Grace”.
We need to remember that we were dead in our transgressions and sins, and now by Grace, we have entered into the most defining turning point of our existence. We now can hear the voice of our Creator.
The original voice of the Creator, a voice that defines, give us a sound and powerful identity and a voice which is tender and reliable, the voice of the Shepherd of our souls.
There are three I want to say about this passage:
- The Gospel of Desertion
- The Gospel of Religion
- The Warning of the Gospel
The Gospel of Desertion
Paul is pretty much upset here; the language he uses is extraordinary; he is more than amazed; he is annoyed. That the very people whom he works for over a year, preaching the Gospel and teaching the Gospel are now leaving the Gospel
They have deserted the Gospel, and they have turned to another Gospel. Yet this is what Paul says, but it is more grave than that!!
Paul is saying that by deserting the Gospel they have left, they have turned their back on the one who called you in the Grace of Christ. They have rejected God; they have chosen to accept a false and cheaper different Gospel than the one that Paul preached, taught a Gospel that the Galatians received as the Word of God.
The language here is of deserting to the enemy, going back to the placed where they were before the Gospel. But now with a heavy burden of knowing the truth. It is an impossible position to be in
Are we in danger of turning to another Gospel?
Are we so gullible to believe another distorted Gospel?
Paul reminded us in verses 4 -5 what the Gospel is about Grace, Peace and what Jesus has done, that it is the will of the Father with such mighty force of resurrection power.
What is the different Gospel?
The Gospel of Religion
Who are these false teachers, and what was their teaching?
Unfortunately, there were other Christians from a robust Jewish background that came to the region of Galatia sharing a similar message but adding to the Gospel.
This was their message:
“We know Jesus is the Messiah, the Saviour, but for you to follow Him, it is necessary to observe certain religious laws, and only then you become a true believer.”
What is wrong with this idea?
This is not the Gospel of Grace, this is Jesus, plus you need to work, perform, do your part to be saved.
This idea of Jesus plus something is, I believe, very much part of the need of redeeming ourselves, of us becoming our saviours.
This idea of adding to the Gospel, I believe, is still present today:
- When we place Christian traditions above the Gospel.
- When we place Christian codes above the Gospel.
- When we place Christian cultures above the Gospel.
- When we speak “Christianise and the world around us does not understand us”.
- When you hear “I can’t go to church because they are full of good people and I am not” and we make it difficult for people to come to our churches, that is not the Gospel.
- When we place a culture, a language, a race above the Gospel is not the Gospel.
In the Gospel, we are new humanity, a redeemed community, saved by grace alone.
The Gospel is the revelation of Jesus, and we enter into this revelation by an act of God’s grace. In that encounter with the Living Jesus the Gospel develops in us, it has the capacity of changing us.
You can be the best Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, Reformed, Independent Church, Pentecostal, Charismatic, If you don’t have the Gospel of Grace. You have another Gospel, and you need to hear the S.O.S. from the Lord.
The S.O.S. of the Gospel
- What do you do when you read the word “Warning”?
- What do you do when you hear the word “Warning?
- What comes to your mind when you think about the word “Warning”?
When I hear, read and picture the word “warning” in my mind, I get an internal alarm sounding deep within me. I was for three years onboard the ship Logos 2 (O.M.), and even though I was not part of the fire crew, I knew well the sound of Warning, the alarm will go off and I would run to get my lifejacket and then go to our designated point. I was trained to respond rapidly to the sound of the Warning.
I wonder if we have the same discipline when it comes to discerning the Gospel and when it isn’t. I believe that we can all discern the voice of the Gospel by practising spiritual disciplines, like reading, studying and meditating in the Word of God, when we pray, fast, worship, when we exercise the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit.
Paul, who is an Apostle, which means, “ to be sent” is sending us a big S.O.S. regarding the true nature of the Gospel.
The Warning is clear, it is repeated twice in these verses, and it should be heard.
Paul says whoever teaches or preaches a gospel that is contrary to the one he preached he/she is to be condemned, even if the messenger is an angel from heaven, or even the apostle himself.
What is clear about these two verses is that the “messenger” is not that important.
But the Message is!!!
Why is the Gospel so important?
It is essential for many reasons, and I want to mention three.
The Gospel is the Power of God (Romans 1:16)
The Gospel is the Blessing of God (1 Cor. 9:23)
The Gospel is the Glory of God (2 Cor. 4:4-6)
In the Gospel, the seed of the life of God is given to us so that we can live the life God so promised us.
A distorted Gospel, a corrupt Gospel does nor lead to life and freedom but slavery and performance, leading ultimately to trying so hard to safe ourselves, but we can’t.
Can you hear the S.O.S.?
This is so subtle.