“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in 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 them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse! Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” [Galatians 1:6-10]
The Gospel is the Gospel is the Gospel
Paul is encouraging us here to understand the truth of the Gospel. It never changes. It’s not something we should shy away from. But we do need to be cautious of those who try to skew the Gospel or purposefully confuse believers. In verses 8 and 9, Paul is intentionally harsh because he knows that the Gospel is not something to be tampered with. In 2 Corinthians 11: 14-15, Paul explains how Satan sometimes masquerades himself as an angel of light, and his servants disguise themselves as angels of righteousness. This is why it’s so important that we know the the Truth of the Gospel and know Jesus as Lord through a personal relationship. The message of the Gospel never changes; therefore, the Truth of the Gospel never changes.
Paul says the Gospel is this: “Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the Gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,” - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 NIV. It really is the Good News.
Remember that Paul used to be Saul, a persecutor of Christians. Pre-Jesus Paul hated the Gospel, and aimed to demolish the church. Once he encountered the Lord, though, his entire life changed. He lived in such a way that reflected his love for God, encouraging Christians and spreading the church wherever he went. He knew the Truth because he experienced the Truth.
Living Unashamed of the Gospel
I know the Gospel. But what am I doing with it? These are the questions I often have to ask myself:
Who do I want to please?
Am I more interested in appealing to my friends, to people that I hardly know, to my family? Or do I want to please my Father in Heaven?
Do the opinions of others matter more than the opinion of my God?
My mission while I’m on this earth is to love people. My purpose is to God and make Him known. Of course I get caught up in life and get distracted by things less important, but I’m learning to become totally dependent upon the Lord. He is the only one who can sustain me and my desire to follow Him wholeheartedly. I’m learning that to love the Lord well means that I have to sacrifice a lot. I have to surrender my image, my gifts and my talents, my longing for success by worldly standards... my everything.
The way that I live my life communicates the Gospel. The never-changing, always good Gospel. Paul says this in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” I’ve found myself reciting this verse a lot recently. I’ll get nervous about encouraging someone I don’t know, or I’ll hesitate to invite someone to Wesley because of fear. And these are not good excuses.
So I declare that verse from Romans.
God loves us, always. He is our strength in our weakness and our courage when we fear. It’s not up to us to save anyone. We’re not to carry that burden or hold that pressure. We’re only responsible for loving people and sharing the Good News. God’s got the rest. He’s better at it, anyway.
God, thank You for Your Gospel. Thank You for placing someone or something in my life that communicated the Gospel to me. Help me discern who is teaching the Truth and who is intentionally corrupting the Truth and give me wisdom in knowing how to love everyone I encounter well. I want to hold firmly to the Word. God, give me boldness and courage in sharing Your love and spreading Your Kingdom. This is my heart cry, to know You and to make You known. Love You. Amen.