Summary: Standing in the Freedom of the Gospel: Only One Gospel
Standing in the Freedom of the Gospel:
Only One Gospel
As I have said, Galatians is divided into three sections. In the first two chapters Paul defends his apostleship; in three and four he defends the gospel; and in the last two chapters he defends our liberty in the gospel. In today’s passage, Paul declares one truth, that there is only one gospel. From this one truth flow three statements. The first is that it is astonishing when a person hears and believes the gospel but then turns away from it (1:6–7); the second is that if a person rejects the gospel, he stands under God's curse (1:8, 9); and the third statement is that the servant of the gospel seeks to please God not men.
1. There is only One Gospel
Paul says that the Galatian churches are deserting God the Father by turning to a different gospel. Then immediately, to remove any false impression that there is more than one gospel, he immediately says there is no other gospel! There are two implications from this statement.
Pluralism is not an option
Paul’s gospel is not one among many options. The gospel claims exclusivity; there is no other way to God and there is no hope outside of Christ.
Doctrinal clarity is essential
The second implication is that doctrinal clarity is essential. This perverted gospel sprang up within the churches so Paul writes a whole letter clarifying what the gospel is. Some of us shy away from theology but it is not an option to declare and clarify biblical and doctrinal truth. Galatians is a perfect book for us to see the gospel clarified. The danger of a counterfeit gospel comes from within. Let’s look quickly at some counterfeit gospels within the church.
The moralistic gospel reduces Christianity to behavior modification. It boils down to good advice or steps to growth which amounts to modifying our behavior. Moralism is ingrained in us from childhood. We are rewarded for good behavior and punished for bad behavior. The bible is a hand book for human behavior and substitute’s moral instruction for the gospel.
The therapeutic gospel confuses spiritual symptoms like anger, a troubled marriage, or anxiety with our spiritual disease, sin. Because the diagnosis is superficial, the treatment is superficial. This gospel seeks to answer our desire for significance and happiness and self worth. It goes something like this, ‘God loves us and God wants us to be happy so the goal is to remove the obstacle to my happiness or what makes me feel bad.’ Unfortunately happiness becomes an excuse for sin. Another way it manifests itself is that God loves you so much that if you were the only person Jesus would die for you.
Universalism is the belief that everybody will end up in heaven. This gospel seeks to remove all sense of judgment and therefore justice from God. The recent book by Rob Bell, ‘Love Wins’ embraces this gospel.