The Sunday after Easter I started a series titled, “Set Free: Freedom In Christ” over the book of Galatians. At the center of the book of Galatians is a discussion on the gospel. Or you could say a fight for the gospel.
Unfortunately, the churches of Galatia departed from the gospel to another gospel, which Paul clarifies is no gospel at all.
Discussing the gospel or discussing departing from the gospel leads to the question, “What is the gospel?” Here’s my definition:
The gospel is the story of God reconciling and redeeming through the life, death, burial, resurrection, and future return of Jesus Christ as fulfillment of Old Testament promises. The gospel is a witness to God’s grace. Jesus’ death and resurrection are crucial themes.
There are a few words in that definition that might need a little more info. Reconciling: Healing a relationship broken by sin. Redeeming: Giving purpose and power. Grace: We don’t work for it. Earn it. Or deserve it.
Because Jesus’ death and resurrection are crucial themes, a passage like 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 summarizes the gospel as:
- Christ died for our sins
- Christ was buried
- Christ was raised on the third day
- Christ proved his bodily resurrection by appearing to disciples
So much more could be said but that must suffice for the moment. We see it in the pages of Scripture and we see it in the world around us: people are prone to wander and people are prone to distort the gospel. When people distort the gospel they tend to do it in two ways:
Watered Down Gospel
- No Sin
- No Repentance
- No Commitment
- No Obedience
- No Discipleship
A watered down gospel down plays what Jesus did and down plays your response to it.
Burden Added Gospel
- Added Rules
- Added Regulations
- Added Hoops
- Added Guilt
- Added Shame
Jesus + _________ = nothing. No matter what you add. Any addition to the gospel makes it no gospel at all.
Paul takes the distortion of the gospel seriously … very seriously. Those who accept the gospel are given abundant life on earth and eternal life in heaven. Those who distort the gospel are eternally condemned. Just take a peak at Galatians 1:8-9.
What must we do in order to remain faithful to the gospel? We must know the gospel. We must surround ourselves with people who preach and remind us of the gospel. We must live each day in the gospel.
When I preached this theme in church I ended with a call and response with the congregation. That can’t be simulated in a blog post – but here’s my best effort. As you read, it’s your job to supply an emphatic “Amen” when necessary.
May we all stay true to the gospel! Amen.
May we all embrace the reconciliation offered by Jesus Christ! Amen.
May we all cling to the redemption offered by Jesus Christ! Amen.
May we reject gospel distortions! Amen.
May we know the gospel! Amen.
May we surround ourselves with gospel preaching people! Amen.
May we live the gospel each day! Amen.