“Turning to a different gospel” (Galatians 1:6)
Have you ever had to say these words to someone you love? Paul has just left the churches of Galatia about a year ago and writes this letter to challenge the churches to not forsake the gospel. Paul loved these people as their teacher, brother and friend. This is not an easy thing to tell them but Paul jumps right in to it asking them why they are “turning to a different gospel.”
Paul is not saying there is another gospel but rather warning them that they are forsaking the true gospel message. Following his statement about a different gospel he says, “Not that there is another one [gospel]” which clearly indicates Paul does not believe there are two different gospels but “there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ” (Gal. 1:7). The Judiazers had barged into the hearts and minds of these believers at Galatia telling them Christ is not sufficient for salvation. They came preaching a gospel contrary to the real gospel. They were putting heavy burdens upon these believers by distorting the gospel of Christ. Paul is sadden and “astonished” to hear these believers were deserting of the gospel. Paul is asking, “Why? Why? Why? Are you turning to a different gospel?”
Paul knows the slavery involved with sin. He knows that sin holds us captive by weighing us down in chains and shackles. Sin is dangerous and damning. He knows only one message can free us from our sin. Paul is clear about the true gospel: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen” (Gal. 1:3-5). Before he starts with his correction and admonishment about “turning to a different gospel” he gently greets them by reminding them of the great gospel of Jesus Christ. Christ will deliver us from our sins! Nothing else is needed because he accomplished our deliverance from sin at Calvary.
Christian, do you love like Paul? Examining my own heart I know I do not contend for the gospel in a loving manner like Paul. It’s not only Paul but listen to Jude speak about our role against false teachers: “I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (3). Contend for the gospel. How are you doing? In both these scenarios the writers are talking to fellow believers warning them of false teachers. In our day they are all over the place so we must be able to discern God’s will by reading his Word so we may contend for the gospel. Knowing the Scripture is the only way to be prepared to contend. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). Knowing the Bible is not about winning arguments or looking theologically intelligent to puff up your own ego but ought to humble us as we see our own inability to save ourselves. Winning an argument to puff up our ego is worthless and promotes the gospel of self but Scripture is for teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness “that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:17). Correction is never easy but it is loving if it is done to promote the gospel.
Our aim always ought to bring glory to God. We want to promote his name as the name above all other names. We want to exalt the Savior for his grace and mercy to us in the gospel. This is why reminding ourselves of the gospel is so important to do every day. But we must also remind other believers of the gospel as well to keep them from “turning to a different gospel.”
Grace upon grace,