Summary: In this text the apostle gives us four abiding principles concerning the word of God.
An Unchanging Message For An Ever Changing World
“One of the most frequently used phrases in Christian circles is "the gospel." 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 only through the sacrificial death and subsequent resurrection of Jesus Christ and a person’s acceptance of Christ as their savior. 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 meaning of this expression. (1994)… [From Barna Research Online – Beliefs: Salvation. www.barna.org]
“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, (7) which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. (8) But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. (9) As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. (10) For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
In the past thirty years there has been a proliferation of “new gospels” in the United States. Some such as the “new age” belief system are rooted in eastern mysticism, such as Hinduism. Others are based more on pop-psychology than they are on the gospel. But whatever their origin they are misdirecting men and women away from the only truth that can save you from you sin.
The core of this letter is that the people at Galatia have been turned from the life changing truth of God’s word. Paul says in verse six, “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 astonish-ment is not that false teachers exist, but that the church was following them. He had expected false teachers and in fact had warned the Ephesians elders (Acts 20:28-30) that false teachers would come. What he is so surprised about is that the church is so easily mislead.
In the four verses that we are going to consider today the apostle gives us four abiding principles concerning the word of God, the gospel.
First, The Gospel Needs No Additions
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 is at least implied is that the faith that these believers have is not sufficient, some -thing more is needed.
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.
He goes on in verse seven to clarify that by saying, “which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.” The New Living Translation renders these verses this way, “I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who in his love and mercy called you to share the eternal life he gives through Christ. You are already following a different way (7) that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who twist and change the truth concerning Christ”
Paul says that this new gospel or “good news,” is in reality not the gospel or “good news” at all. It is a counterfeit. In verses six and seven, Paul uses two different Greek words, to describes their spiritual defection to another [heterous – another of a different kind] gospel, which is not another [allos – another of the same kind].
Not Only Does The Gospel Not Need Any Additions but….
Secondly, Distorting the Gospel Is Serious Business
In verse eight Paul invokes a curse on anyone, himself included, who distorts the gospel, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. (9) As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.”