1 - There Is Only One Gospel
The Great Commission: As Jesus prepared to leave earth He gave His final verbal instructions to His followers. His final instructions must have represented something of critical importance to Him. There is nothing trivial here. These words contain His parting command known as “the great commission.” He instructed His followers to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”In His last words on earth, Jesus commanded His followers to go and tell His story — the gospel (good news).
God’s Power To Save:Jesus‘ instruction certainly elevated the importance of the gospel, and Romans 1:16 tells us why. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for salvation…” The gospel is a message that is to be preached to people that can save them. God does not use swords or take over people‘s minds to change people. He uses a message of objective, understandable truth. Because the gospel is so important, a very stern and strong warning is given to Christians not to change the gospel.
Beware Of False Gospels:Paul is amazed that the Christians in Galatia are already following” a different gospel.” This means that the Galatians were preaching a different way to be saved than what they were originally instructed! Paul strongly teaches that there is only one gospel (and they must know it!) by declaring that if even if he (an apostle) “or an angel from heaven teach a different gospel” they are to be condemned, Galatians 1:6‑9.(see also 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8).Even an apostle would be lost if he changed the gospel!
What Paul warned about in Galatians 1 has happened! Observe:
- Different gospels (what people are told about how to be saved)exist. This is one reason there are so many different churches. At the foundation of each of the churches is a different gospel message. Different churches are not evidence of an incomprehensible Bible or a failed Christianity; they are evidence that people have failed Christianity!
- Good sincere people, believers, or churches, can teach or follow a different gospel (just like the churches and Christians in Galatia!).
- Different gospels may be taught by those with considerable knowledge, education, or influence (even apostles or angels!). Being religious, even sincerely religious, provides no assurance. See what Jesus taught in Matthew 7:21.
- It is the responsibility of the individual Christian to discern between the one gospel and false gospels by fully recognizing the one true gospel.
- The gospel belongs to God, we are not to mess with it, at all!
How can we be sure of the one gospel? Where do we start to find out?
Will The Real Gospel Please Stand Up? The New Testament provides a pointer where to begin our search for the one gospel in Galatians 3:24, “Therefore the Law has become our teacher to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.” (see also Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11; 2 Timothy 3:15). The New Testament points us to the Old Testament. The Old Testament has a significant and important role to play in teaching us things that we need to know to be led to Christ.
A Progressive Revelation: The Bible is a progressive revelation, step-by-step revealed by God over time. If you skip the first half of any good book, you will have a hard time understanding the characters, the plot, and the ending. The New Testament is only completely understood when it is seen as being built upon the foundation of the events, characters, laws, sacrificial system, prophecies, covenants, and promises of the Old Testament. In this manner all of Old Testament history was a teaching or training period to prepare us for the arrival of Jesus Christ and His role in the plan of redemption.
Which God?Is there a New Testament God that is all love and forgiveness, while the God of the Old Testament is a harsh God of justice and punishment? God does behave differently during the “training period” of the Old Testament, much like a parent that lovingly disciplines a small child so that it will learn the things needed to be a productive adult. The God of the Old Testament and New Testament is the same God (Malachi 3:6, James 1:17). What do we need to learn from the Old Testament that would “lead us to Christ?”