No Other Gospel - Part II
“I marvel that you are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel.” —Galatians 1:6
Paul knew who the Galatians were before they had accepted his message, and he knew what they had become after they had accepted his message. They had known what bondage was like—bondage to sin and degradation—and Paul knew how they felt after he had preached the message of the cross to them. They had lived in a freedom they had never known before, but now they abandoned that freedom to go back into bondage.
What Exactly Is A Gospel Of Works?
When we refer to a “gospel of works,” we’re talking about dependence on self-effort to bring about a specific result, which, in this case, is victory over sin, and that’s exactly where most Christians are today. They know that there is a major problem, but they try to accomplish victory by doing certain things or keeping certain disciplines. Are disciplines wrong? Not at all. In fact, disciplines are something that believers should do. But dependence on those disciplines—that’s not how we enjoy an abundant life.
The only way that we can experience victory over sin is through faith and grace. In grace, God gave His Son to die for us. In grace, He calls us to Himself. In grace, He justifies us when we believe. “All things are of God,” Paul wrote in II Corinthians 5:18, meaning that “all is of grace.” Nothing is due to our efforts, merits, or works; everything in salvation is due to the grace of God.1 The fact is evident: works is not the way ordained by God to bring about the grace that is needed, but rather by simple faith. Everything regarding life and living is brought about by grace and faith meaning that this is something we cannot earn nor deserve. It’s by simple faith evidenced in what Christ has provided for us that we can experience victory over sin.
As Christians, when will we realize that there was nothing we could do to bring about salvation, nor is there anything we can do to bring about the process of sanctification?
In Hebrews 11:6 Paul writes, “without faith it is impossible to please Him” (The Expositor’s Study Bible, italics and emphasis is mine). Paul didn’t say it was improbable, he said it was impossible to please God without the simple avenue of faith. This completely destroys works-based righteousness.
We have a choice before us today: we can either add human effort to the finished work of Christ, or we can trust completely in what Christ has accomplished. If we try to add human effort to what Christ afforded us, we are, in essence, saying that the work of Christ on the cross was not enough, and that we must add our puny efforts to it. When you think about it, it sounds so silly, but this is exactly what many Christians are trying to do. Christian faith and Christian life cannot be separated—they belong together. To turn from the gospel of grace is to turn from the God of grace.2 As it is utterly impossible to please God without faith, it is utterly impossible to forsake the gospel without forsaking Him.
This term Paul uses, “another gospel,” is quite incriminating. It presents something that is quite unlike the gospel that Paul had given them to begin with, and, if not addressed, would lead them toward a path of self-destruction. In the Greek, the word another means “something strange, or different.” By the use of this word, we can gather that what the Galatians were now believing was something strange and different from what they had originally heard from the apostle, which brought about their salvation.
The gospel that was being peddled by the Judaizers introduced the Galatian church to a dependence on the Mosaic law and observance to that particular system, which is the opposite of the message of grace.
Anything that is not the cross of Christ is simply “another gospel.” That might make some a little angry at me, but it’s the truth. Anything that purports a way of salvation or victory over sin by means of self-dependence or the observance of man-made rules and regulations is “another gospel.” If you belong to a church or religious organization that teaches anything other than the cross of Christ for salvation or sanctification, then you have to make a choice: stay and die spiritually or leave and experience freedom in Christ.
Some might ask, how can I tell if what is being presented really is another gospel? That’s a great question. First, let me state that there is enough truth in the heresy that makes it extremely difficult for most to understand that they are being deceived. For many, it looks and sounds like the real thing, and there is a tremendous amount of appeal to what is being proclaimed. However, the most dangerous heresies lie in the gray area, a shadowy place of both light and darkness, and they may vary in doctrinal error, but the danger is the threat to the church which is directly proportionate to the degree in which they appear orthodox.3
This is why we must study the Word, to know and understand what the Bible says, because most who fall for heresy are caught up in whatever is being said because it sounds good and right. Nevertheless, if that preacher, denomination, religious organization, or church is presenting something that is contrary to what God has given us in His Word, then it is plainly another gospel.
We catch a lot of flack for standing for the gospel of Jesus Christ, but we have a responsibility not only to those who hear what we preach, but also to God Himself; He has given us this mandate to deliver exactly what He tells us to deliver. If we ever go against that mandate, blood will be on our hands. It becomes of extreme importance that every minister of the gospel presents that which not only will save, but will heal, deliver, sanctify, bless, restore, and bring hope. There is only one message that can do that—the message of the cross. We must not change our message to attract a crowd or to belong. Our course of action is to see as many people brought to Christ as possible and to see as many people brought to an understanding of how to live for God properly. Any other gospel that does not lead people to Christ and Him crucified only leads to destruction.
1 Stott, John R. W. The Message of Galatians (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1968), 22.
2Stott, John R. W., 22-23
3McConnell, D. R. A Different Gospel (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1995), xvi.
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