Today’s Reading:: “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse! – Galatians 1:6-9
One of the most frequently used phrases in church circles is “the gospel.” Yet, amazingly few adults know what this term means. It could either refer to its literal translation, “good news;” or to the perspective that salvation is available through Jesus Christ. In one survey, less than four out of ten adults (37%) knew this; 34% had other, inaccurate perceptions of the meaning of the term; three out of ten adults did not offer a guess. Even among born again Christians, only 60% correctly identified at least one element of the gospel message.
Paul says “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel”. The Greek word used here (thaumazou) is “to be astounded or bewildered.” Paul’s astonishment is not that false teachers exist, but that the church was following them. He had expected false teachers and in fact had warned the elders (Acts 20:28-30) that false teachers would come. What he is so surprised about is that the church is so easily mislead.
Note that these false teachers are not opening denying the gospel message. They only wanted to improve the gospel by adding to it; requirements, new ceremonies and new standards. It is as if they are saying, “We believe in Jesus Christ – but we have something wonderful to add to what you already believe!” What they viewed as a different gospel was actually a distorted gospel. The word translated “distort” means to transform into something of an opposite character.
The Gospel does not need any additions! Paul says that this new gospel or “good news,” is in reality not the gospel or “good news” at all. It is a counterfeit. Today we must also be careful to remain faithful to the gospel. I am not only talking about false cults here, but anything we try to add onto the finished work of Christ.
C.H. Spurgeon preached: “Let this be to you the mark of true Gospel preaching – where Christ is everything, and the creature is nothing; where it is salvation all of grace, through the work of the Holy Spirit applying to the soul the precious blood of Jesus.”