Summary: Discovering freedom through God's grace.
An oxymoron is a set of words that cancel each other out and the English language is full of them. Here are ten of my favorites: (1) Live recording; (2) Original Copy; (3) Freezer burn; (4) Jumbo Shrimp; (5) Minor miracle; those are fairly evident, but there are others that you have to think about: (6) Congressional Action; (7) Microsoft Works; (8) Federal Budget; (9) Airline food; and my all-time favorite oxymoron: (10) Humble Texan.
Bad News Gospel is an oxymoron. We use the word “gospel’ without knowing what it really means. It literally means “good news.” Paul wrote this letter to the churches in Galatia because he was appalled that some false teachers had been spreading another gospel, a bad news gospel. They were teaching that the grace of God wasn’t enough to save a person. They insisted in order for a person to be saved they had to believe AND do some religious acts. That’s called legalism. So I could invent another oxymoron by using the term “legalistic grace.”
This message is to help you avoid the bad news gospel, and to embrace the gospel of grace.
Galatians 1:3-9. “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!”
Notice how many times Paul uses the word “gospel.” He is so sure of his last statement, he repeats it! Those are some of the strongest words Paul ever wrote. He said if even an angel appeared with another gospel, then let him be eternally condemned; the word he used was anathema. It literally means, “let him go to hell.”
So let’s just imagine for a moment as we are gathered on a Sunday morning, suddenly—boom! A mighty angel appears right here on this platform. I’m not talking about someone disguised as an angel; I’m talking about a sure-enough-dyed-in-the-feathers angel, like Gabriel, for instance. The first thing we’d all do is tremble with fear. Throughout the Bible the first thing an angel usually said was, “Don’t fear.” So Gabriel says, “People of Green Acres, don’t be afraid. I’ve come from heaven with a message from God. You are the first to learn this: There is a new revelation from God; a new message; a new gospel, and I’m bringing it to you today!” How would we react? I would say, “Hold it right there, Gabriel, but based upon Galatians 1:9, you can take your new gospel and go straight to Hades. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.”
Legalism was a problem in Paul’s day and it’s a problem today. But legalism isn’t the only bad news gospel that’s being preached. Today there are plenty of people who are preaching their own version of the bad news gospel. Let me give you three examples of:
I. MESSED-UP “GOSPEL” MESSAGES
We have plenty of false teachers today who are offering another gospel, and people are being misled. They may be sincere and have good intentions, but you can be sincere and be sincerely wrong. Let me mention three popular messed-up gospel messages.
A. The Trump Gospel: “Believe and Succeed!”
This bad news gospel also goes by the name “Prosperity Gospel” or “Health and Wealth Gospel.” But I’m calling it the “Trump” Gospel because we’re all familiar with “The Donald’s” obsession with success and public exposure. He once wrote another book entitled, No Such Thing as Over-Exposure.
This prosperity gospel is being preached on television and radio by a host of false prophets who tell you to send in your money to them, and God will bless you with more money, then they laugh all the way to the bank. When I was young there was a radio preacher named “Reverend Ike” who used to say, “The LACK of money is the root of all evil!” He taught that anything you could imagine, if you had enough faith, you WILL receive it, even if it’s ten million dollars.
This gospel is still being offered, and it’s never been more popular, because Americans are obsessed with possessions. Steve Farrar has offered a modern prayer that many materialistic Americans could pray: “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray my Cuisinart to keep. I pray my stocks are on the rise, And that my analyst is wise. That all the wine I sip is white, And that my hot tub’s watertight. That racquetball won’t get too tough, That all my sushi’s fresh enough. I pray my cellular phone still works, That my career won’t lose its perks. My microwave won’t radiate, And my condo won’t depreciate. I pray my health club doesn’t close, And that my money market grows. If I go broke before I wake, I pray my Lexus they won’t take!” (Survival in the American Jungle)