The Gospel of Christ, Not the Gospel of Men—Galatians 1:1-2
The dream of Christian unity was just that, a dream. From the earliest sources, one thing is quite clear: the Church was not united. THE CHURCH, as in the mystical body of Christ, was and is “one” both with itself and with the Trinity—that seems to be without question. But the unity of the physical church was fractured, even in its earliest stages.
This fracture spiraled from one central issue: was Christianity another religion or was it something else? Did it embolden men and women alike to try harder and work better, aided by Christ, to live more holy lives or was it the end of trying?
In the end, Paul makes it quite clear‚ the gospel of Christ is not the gospel of men.
The “good news” that so many believe, even today, is not really that good. Christ “saved” us and died on the cross, but now its your turn. He killed your sin, now you need to kill it. This odd “paradox” is the old law wrapped in Christian jargon and gospel-like trappings.
In Galatians 1, Paul immediately lays it out. Christ “gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.” [Gal.1:4]
He is the one who delivered us, not we ourselves who freed, frees, or will free our own selves from our sin. The cross was all encompassing—both throughout all time and in covering all sin.
Paul wrote to the Galatians because they had made this critical mistake—this same spirit of religion, of self effort, possesses many denominations, communities, and churches of every stripe and sort.
After all, a quasi-gospel is no gospel at all. A “tempered” grace is no grace at all—just the law masquerading as such.
The gospel is the gospel, and those who want to add law to their lives under the misunderstanding that it will make them more holy have not understood the gospel at all. This is a “different gospel” as Paul warns. [Gal. 1:6]
The one and only gospel is a gospel of grace and of nothing else. Man’s gospel is of self-effort, payment of good deeds or bad, and, put simply, a religion like all the rest. Through our own efforts come rewards.
This revelation of the gospel does not belong to any person, nor is understanding conjured up by intellect or study. The gospel is not even Paul’s, as he so clearly states in Gal. 1:12. It is the revelation of Jesus Christ, a gospel, Paul claims, that was taught to him by God himself (whether this implies the Holy Spirit, the Father, or Christ himself remains unclear).
This seems to be the heart of God, that His true Gospel might be revealed to many. As He did for Paul, so too might we hope for a similar revelation for ourselves or those around us.
Even for Paul, who confessed that he once believed that his righteous actions would have gotten him into the good graces of God, only became convinced that it was through Christ and Christ alone that salvation might be had.
The Gospel of Christ—the one which Paul preached—was Grace plus nothing. No human action, reaction, or effort could make us any more holy than what Christ had made us. This is the difference between the Gospel of Christ and the Gospel of Mankind.
And this seems to be the starting point for Paul in Galatians.
Check back for more as we continue to work our way though Galatians and the entire new Testament. To check out more on the project or our schedule, click here.
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