I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:6-9)
There is only one gospel. Isn’t that Paul’s point from the outset of his letter to the churches of Galatia? He marvels at the fact that some were abandoning the one gospel for a “different” message and quickly assures his audience (then and now) that there is not another one. There is only one gospel.
Granted, there are innumerable sources and varying degrees of “good news.” But there is only one gospel that inherently offers the opportunity for sinful human beings to be reconciled to the holy Creator. “I am not ashamed of the gospel,” Paul wrote to Christians in Rome. “For it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith'” (Romans 1:16-17).
Throughout the modern religious landscape, it is fashionable to speak of the gospel in terms of the sacrifice of Jesus, nothing more and nothing less. Granted, in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8, Paul reminds saints “of the gospel,” and refreshes them on what he had delivered as of first importance. To “distort” those foundational facts is certainly a serious offense before the Father who gave His Son for our sins.
But how important to recognize that the gospel of Christ calls for more than mere mental agreement with the historical facts of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. The historical details are precious, but the good news of God also inherently carries a system of doctrine that must be obeyed.
This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering—since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10)
The gospel is “good news.” It details the sacrifice of the Lamb provided by God for the sins of all the world. It is a spoken message calling for belief on the part of repentant sinners. Paul’s great goal was to “bring about the obedience of faith” among all the nations (Romans 1:5). He continued to ask others the very question asked of him by Ananias, “Now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16). He lived and suffered and bled and died under the conviction that obedience to Christ was the only pathway to justification. We must never lose sight of the fact that to be undeservedly justified in the sight of the God we have so greatly offended is good news!
But having personally responded to this good news, let us continue to stand with Paul. Unashamed. Willing to live and suffer and bleed and (if necessary) die under the conviction that there is only one gospel. Let those who would preach contrary to that inspired fact be accursed, whomever they are. Such an exclusive message may not win the approval of men, but, after all, “am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).
There is only one gospel. It must be heard. It must be believed. It must be obeyed. Otherwise, we are lost.