THE STAKES ARE HIGH
Lord, I dread the thought of altering Your Gospel. Keep me faithful to You.
Read GALATIANS 1:1–10
1 Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2 and all the brothers and sisters[a] with me,
To the churches in Galatia:
3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
No Other Gospel
6 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— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 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! 9 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!
10 Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
a Galatians 1:2 The Greek word for brothers and sisters (adelphoi) refers here to believers, both men and women, as part of God’s family; also in verse 11; and in 3:15; 4:12, 28, 31; 5:11, 13; 6:1, 18.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Haddon Robinson, 1931–2017). So is the Gospel that bears witness to him. Praise be to God!
In keeping with the conventions of Graeco-Roman letter writing, Paul starts by mentioning sender, recipient, and greetings. No surprises there, but what should get our attention is that the opening is not followed by the usual thanksgiving language. There is a sense of extreme urgency as Paul, in a noticeably emotional tone, goes straight to the heart of the matter—the one, true Gospel. He is shocked that the Galatians are dangerously close to turning away from the God who called them and are turning to a “different gospel” (6)—as if there were such a thing.
Paul does not mince his words, affirming that there is no gospel except the one he preached to them when he was with them. Apparently, “some people” (7) are stirring up the Galatian believers and perverting the Gospel of Christ. Although Paul does not clarify just what these opponents are doing, we will soon learn that they are appending the Mosaic Law to faith in Christ. For Paul, adding anything to the Gospel is not a different or improved version of the Gospel but a perversion, a non-gospel. Today, we are so used to continual upgrades that it can be hard to accept that the good news about Jesus must not be altered or upgraded to a gospel 2.0.
Paul realizes that framing the issue this way may not make him popular, but acclaim is not his goal. Paul is a slave of Christ, seeking to please him. He is not a slave of his audience, seeking to please them (Rom. 5:5). Sometimes, depending on the issue, the truth must be told in the clearest terms. Paul deems that the Galatians have put themselves in a dangerous situation; it is not (yet) irreversible, but action is needed, and now. The stakes are quite high.
Consider the pressures we face to alter or “upgrade” the Gospel to make it suitable for a (post)modern, progressive world.
Lord, I fully recognize that my salvation owes to my personal faith on the finished work of Calvary plus nothing.