Grab your Bible and let’s go deeper into Galatians 1.
Read Galatians 1:1-5.
In this opening salutation, Paul gets right to preaching the gospel to the people in Galatia.
What is the gospel?
It is the truth that God reigns supreme over all created things. Everything is from Him, through Him, to Him, and is for His glory forever and ever. That’s Romans 11.
It is the truth that man has turned away from God’s glory in sin to make their lives about their own glory; man worships the idol of creation instead of God. That’s Romans 1 and 3.
It is the truth that because of our sin, we deserve the righteous eternal wrath of God. That’s Romans 6.
It is the truth that by God’s amazing grace, He saves sinners by the perfect shed blood of Christ, based on Jesus’ perfect life, sacrificial death, and victorious resurrection. That’s Romans 3.
It is the truth that those whom God gives ears to hear and eyes to see, who repent of sin and self and trust wholly in Jesus Christ alone for salvation and lordship, He justifies and adopts as His own for eternity. That’s Romans 8.
The Word of Truth Catechism defines it this way:
The gospel is the good news of the grace and power of God to redeem undeserving sinners to eternal life through Jesus’ perfect, sinless life; substitutional, sacrificial death; and victorious resurrection from the grave. These sinners are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus alone from the eternal wrath they deserved, and they are reconciled into an eternally secure relationship with God.
This is THE GOOD NEWS. The word gospel means “news.” THE GOSPEL OF JESUS = THE GOOD NEWS!
There is no other news that has been, or ever will be, bigger than this.
The Scriptures teach us there is only one true gospel. The only one way to have lasting joy, real hope, total pardon from sin, and life everlasting with God is Jesus.
Only Jesus perfectly lived the life you and I failed to live.
Only Jesus paid the penalty in death that you and I should pay for eternity.
Only Jesus produces in us the redeemed life you and I could never attain on our own.
This is the good news! But, the problem in Galatia was that new Christians were being taught there was more to it than Jesus. This is a problem we still face today.
Read Galatians 1:6-7.
What is a false gospel?
It is any “news” that proclaims to change your life based on a savior or lord who is not Jesus Christ.
It is any “news” that proclaims to change your life with a different instruction or revelation that is not God’s holy word.
Some false gospels are easy to recognize because they are proclamations from Looneyville. But many are harder to discern because they claim Scripture and Jesus to be central to their belief.
Many false gospels are simply perversions or variations of the one true gospel.
What they will say is, “Oh, we are God’s people. We believe in the Bible, too. We believe in Jesus.” What they do is take the Scriptures and then lay another teaching or extra-biblical revelation over them.
Mormons will claim the holy Scriptures and Jesus, but then lay the revelation of Joseph Smith over them.
Jehovah’s Witnesses will claim the Scriptures, but then lay the teachings of Charles Taze Russel and the Watchtower Society over them.
Christian Scientists will lay the teachings of science and health from Mary Baker Eddy over the Scriptures.
Roman Catholics will claim the Holy Scriptures and Jesus as Lord, but then wrongly add the authority of the Pope and the church and the writings of the Apocrypha over them.
Whatever the agenda (Socialism/Marxism, Prosperity Capitalism, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, etc.), if it seeks to add to or modify the pure gospel teaching of Scripture then you have a false gospel.
A false gospel is any teaching that is not solely rooted in the living word of God (the 66 books of the historic cannon of the holy Bible) and the authority and work alone of Jesus Christ.
A false gospel is any teaching that doesn’t say with clarity that all of us are, by nature, wicked and dead in our sin. In ourselves, we are without hope for eternal life or even the ability to pursue eternal life apart from the atoning work of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, and the sovereign work of the living God alone who redeems His people for His eternal glory and our eternal joy.
Paul is bringing a very important clarity, which is this:
The gospel of Jesus is not inclusive in that it’s not many ways to be redeemed and reconciled to God. It is exclusive--Jesus alone is the way, the truth, and the life. That is not an inclusive statement. The cross of Christ cannot and does not “COEXIST” with, or “include”, any other religion.
This is an aggressive denial of a common modern belief called Universalism or Pluralism! Universalism says everyone who dies will go to heaven and be reconciled to God someway somehow. Pluralism says all religious paths are equally valid and can, and should, coexist.
The common statement by grieving people who have lost loved ones is, “They are in a better place.” But if they had no true repentance and belief in Jesus alone prior to death then that person had no redemption from their sin guilty by the substitutional atonement of Jesus Christ. Still, some people cling to the false gospel that their unbelieving loved ones will be accepted because they were generally thought of as a good person.
Hear this today very clearly: There is no accurate biblical teaching that a person can go on rejecting the gospel of Christ and still be saved.
There are other man-made religions besides true, biblical Christianity, and there are other man-ordained authorities that seek to override Scripture; but there is no other gospel, no other good news of salvation other than grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, based on holy Scripture alone, for the glory of God alone.
This is what Paul is fired up about. People in Galatia were being lied to and led astray. The false gospel Paul was specifically confronting was the Judaizers’ teaching that in addition to Jesus, you needed to be circumcised and act like a Jew to be right with God.
Instead of the good news being, “Jesus saves us by His power,” they were teaching: It is Jesus’ work and you also need to … (fill in the blank).
This is “Jesus PLUS” language. This is a false gospel! This teaching is adding to what the Scriptures clearly teach—Jesus alone saves us and redeems us. We can do nothing to add to, help, or assist our salvation.
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Anytime you hear someone say, “You need Jesus … (plus something else).” STOP! And be warned! All we need is Jesus. Period. That is the good news. Jesus paid it all. It is an undeserved gift of epic proportions.
It is Jesus’ work for Jesus’ glory, and it is our utter privilege to be called by God into it. There is nothing else you and I can do. The Bible says even our faith is a gift from God.
Philippians 1:29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake.
God made it this way so that He gets all the glory, and not you or me. He made it this way so that we have nothing to boast in.
I encourage people all the time to stop testifying, “This is the day I accepted Jesus.” I encourage a change in how this is said not only because it is not a biblical statement, but also because in even the smallest way, it is a boasting in oneself—“Let me tell you about the day that I did this.”
Instead, I encourage people to proclaim, “This is the day that God saved me.” This way, all praise and glory go to God. “He chose me, He pursued me while I was His enemy and in His timing He awakened my depraved heart of stone to see and savor His gospel—He gave me faith in Jesus alone. Jesus did the work needed to earn my salvation—work that I could not do. And Jesus claimed for me eternal victory and right standing with God. All praise to God!”
We have nothing to brag about. Only Jesus. The good news is Jesus! Nothing else.
It is not Jesus … plus something else. He is our means and our prize! Our victory! Our greatest JOY! Jesus is not the means to another end. He is the prize.
Why is the gospel of Jesus “The good news”? One word: grace. Look at verses 3-5 again.
Did you and I do anything to deserve the Son of God to come to earth and be tortured in our place, so we could be pardoned from our selfish rebellion against Him? NO!
Was He obligated to do this anyway? NO!
That’s why it is called grace! Grace is unmerited favor, or an undeserved gift, given by an unobligated giver.
If you want to sum up what distinguishes Christianity from everything else, it is the gospel of grace. We are saved by grace, which means by nothing we have done.
What the Judaizers were teaching the Galatians was that they needed to “do” something else to be in the true family of God—they needed to get circumcised and act like Jews.
Next, Paul says we are to look very carefully for those who proclaim false gospels, even among those who claim to be in the church or who claim to be connected to God.
Read Galatians 1:8-9.
Many modern-day, self-proclaimed Christian teachers, preachers, and churches are the greatest danger to true Christianity. False teachers trying to satisfy fleshly desires will preach false gospels to gather a crowd, get rich, and/or start a movement.
Brothers/Sisters, just because it’s on TV, it is a big church, or the leader is likable, that doesn’t mean the true gospel is what is being preached. The worst thing we could do is think, “They talk about Jesus, so it can’t be that bad.” No, it can be that bad—bad enough to convince lost people who are under God’s wrath they are saved when they are not.
The testimony we are called to bring to the lost world is not one of pandering to others’ man-made beliefs that somehow they are good with God because of their (fill in the blank) point of view. Instead, our call is to testify the true, life-altering, exclusive gospel of Jesus Christ alone to them and trust in God’s perfect will and timing to set them free.
Finally, read Galatians 1:10.
Let me ask you, “Who are you trying to please?”
Often, we are working so hard to try to please someone else, to win the approval of man. We desire to be accepted by our loved ones, our work associates, others we associate with so we can be known and liked.
Often, we are looking to meet the approval of ourselves—trying so hard to get to a level of life we think we should be at, such as the way we look, our intelligence, the accomplishments we have made, the success of our kids.
God is making clear to us in this passage today that, “There is no other Gospel.” There is no other “good news” you can get from anyone else, or you can tell yourself, that will ultimately satisfy you and eternally save you from deserved eternal death.
Jesus is the only One who ultimately pleased God and the good news is that He satisfied God’s perfect wrath on our behalf, so we could be a part of the family forever.
In Christ, we have a new identity! We are accepted because of what Christ alone has done. This is the good news of Jesus!
Like Paul, the greatest joy in my life is to be a servant of Jesus: to be a solider for Jesus: to be a child of God!
Brothers/Sisters, hold fast to, and proclaim, no other gospel than “Christ alone.”