No Other Gospel
“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 —
The gospel of Jesus Christ can be explained in different ways, but all necessary components, as defined by the Bible, must be present in order for it to have saving capabilities. One way to describe the gospel is to understand that Jesus lived the life we could not live due to our insistence on rebellion, died the death we deserved to die due to our corrupted and sinful state, defeated the enemy we could not defeat due to our incapability to overcome death and the prongs of Satan and rose in victory to give life to those who repent of sin and trust in Jesus Christ for full salvation. To lose any of these elements is to lose the gospel that saves. For further consideration, see Isaiah 53:4-6; Romans 3:23-24; Romans 4:4-5; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Galatians 3:13-14; Ephesians 2:4-5; Philippians 2:6-8; Colossians 1:19-20; Colossians 2:13-14; Titus 3:4-7; Hebrews 2:14-17; 1 Peter 2:22-25.
With the true gospel baseline established, one can begin to understand the reason for Paul’s fierce and aggressive language, which was a response to the abandonment of the true gospel by the Galatians for a false gospel presented by those who wished to be accepted and approved by men more than God. To reject the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is to reject Christ himself! One cannot remain attached to Christ without acknowledging that Christ alone provides deliverance from sin!
How does one go about constructing a false gospel? Is it always the case that false gospels are completely removed from the true gospel in content, language, and principle? I would argue no. Often times, false gospels are constructed using the same language and content found in the true gospel a the key difference being that a false gospel includes mingling inventions by man, while the true gospel remains purely the work and design of God. Let it be known, today there are many false gospels that plague the church. Consider the following for instance:
The Prosperity Gospel – Christ lived, died, and rose so that you can be happy in the world, financially prosperous, and comfortable in all earthly circumstances.
The Self-Esteem Gospel – Christ lived, died, and rose because you are worth his love regardless of whether or not others recognize it. God couldn’t go on without you. He needs you to feel good about himself, which is why he gave Jesus for you.
The Working Gospel – Christ lived, died, and rose so that you can earn his favor by working for him. If you accrue enough good works and are a good enough person, then you will saved.
Paul would respond to any one of these false gospels as he did in Galatians 1:9, “If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed” (literal meaning – “let him go to hell”). One may ask, “Is that not a bit harsh?” However, prior to assuming that Paul is overreacting, remember that a false gospel cannot save. It is appropriate to understand that eternal life and death depend on one correctly understanding the true gospel. As John Calvin once said, “Let it be carefully observed, that we are removed from Christ, when we fall into those views which are inconsistent with his gospel; for light can have no fellowship with darkness.”
If you have rested in anyone/anything apart from Christ and his gospel, then you must retreat immediately. You are playing a game of chicken with eternity and the consequence will be more than you can bear. There is no other gospel that has the capabilities and powers necessary to save. An invention of man based on an imaginary Christ will never be enough to grant one entrance into heaven.
Therefore, let each one who is in Christ consider the basic tenets of the gospel as unceasingly important to guard and protect. When the basic tenets of the gospel are attacked and lost, the gospel is destroyed. May it never be!
Questions to Ponder:
- Where have you seen false gospels presented and how were you able to recognize them as false?
- How do you go about guarding the true gospel in your mind and heart?
Prayer to Pray:
“Father, hold me fast to the truth that Jesus Christ is my righteousness and the means to my being forgiven of all my sin. May I never depart from Christ! Make me watchful, vigilant, and quick to recognize gospel perversion.”