Summary: This message encourages us not to believe a different, distorted or damned gospel, but to believe the divine gospel of freedom through simple faith in Christ.
The Good News of Freedom (Galatians 1:6-12)
As I was getting ready to go to Belarus last month to teach church multiplication, I thought about getting my class handouts translated into Russian for the students to use. I had about a hundred pages of handouts, but to translate them would have cost $5 a page or $500 total.
It just cost too much, so I thought about finding a program on the internet that could translate the material. Then I remembered reading about a guy who used such a program to translate the song, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” into German, and I gave up on the idea. The guy had wondered about the accuracy of the translation, so he had the same program translate it back into English. You know the song:
Take me out to the ballgame.
Take me out to the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and Crackerjack.
I don’t care if I ever get back.
Let me root, root, root for the home team.
If they don’t win, it’s a shame.
For it’s one, two, three strikes you’re out at the old ballgame.
Well, when this guy translated it into German and then back into English, something got lost in the translation. It sounded a little militant, like Arnold Schwarzenegger:
Execute me to the ball play.
Execute me with the masses.
Buy me certain groundnuts and crackerstackfusig.
I’m not interested if I never receive back.
Let me root, root, root for the main team.
If they do not win, it is dishonor.
For there are one, two, three impacts on you at the old ball play.
(Lee Strobel, Meet the Jesus I Know, Preaching Today Audio No. 211; www.PreachingToday.com)
It sounds like we’re going to get beat up rather than enjoy a good ball game. Sure, the song is somewhat recognizable, but the meaning comes out quite different.
You know, that same kind of thing can happen in our understanding of Christ and the gospel. In people’s sincere efforts to translate the gospel into something we can understand, sometimes things get lost in the translation, and the Jesus we think we know ends up as a caricature of who he really is: somewhat recognizable, but really quite different.
My friends, we must be careful that we believe the RIGHT Gospel. Otherwise, we could be headed in the WRONG direction and never experience true freedom in this life or the next.
Galatians 1:6-7a -- 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. Literally, “which is really not the same gospel.”
You see, false teachers were coming after the Apostle Paul and claiming to preach the same Gospel he did. But Paul makes it very clear, “They are preaching a different gospel.” And he warns us, DON’T BELIEVE IN A DIFFERENT GOSPEL. DON’T TRUST IN AN ALTERED FAITH SYSTEM. DON’T TURN TO ANOTHER SO-CALLED “TRUTH.”
A few years ago, Robert Webber was traveling from San Francisco to Los Angeles on a plane where he sat next to the window, reading a Christian book. The man next to him, obviously from the Far East, asked him, “Are you a religious man?”
“Well, yes,” Webber said.
And the man responded, “I am too.”
They began talking about religion, and in the middle of the conversation Robert Webber asked his seat-mate, “Can you give me a one-liner that captures the essence of your faith?”
“Well, yes,” the man said. “We are all part of the problem, and we are all part of the solution.”
They talked about his one-liner, a statement Webber felt was very helpful. Then after a while Webber said, “Would you like a one-liner that captures the Christian faith?”
“Sure,” the man responded.
“We are all part of the problem, but there is only one man who is the solution. His name is Jesus.” (Robert Webber, Who Gets to Narrate the World? IVP, 2008, p. 26)
You see, Christianity is unique in that it recognizes that Jesus is the only answer to our problems. All other religions see us as part of the solution. In all other religions we have to do something. But Christianity says we cannot rescue ourselves from “this present evil age,” to use Paul’s terminology in verse 4. Christ Himself had to come down to “give himself for our sins.” He is the one who does all the work. All we need to do is trust Him. All we need to do is depend on Him.
That’s the gospel! That’s the good news! & Anything else is no gospel at all. Anything else is NOT good news.