Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Gospel 26

We turn today to how Paul understands the word “gospel” and I will begin with Galatians, since I think it is the earliest letter of Paul’s. The moment we enter into Paul’s use of “gospel” we also enter into a web of thoughts. I will do my best to stick to what the text says in its context but it may involve pulling in other Pauline texts to make sense of what Paul says.

We begin with Galatians 1:6-10:

6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting
the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a
different gospel- 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some
people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the
gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should
preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be
eternally condemned! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If
anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let
him be eternally condemned! 10 Am I now trying to win the approval of
men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to
please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.


The Galatians are abandoning — or in danger of abandoning — the
gospel of Paul for “a different [kind of] gospel.” Paul says this
“gospel” to which they are turning is not really a gospel at all. Why?
They are turning to a faith + works response to God and Paul says in
this letter that if you “add works” to “faith” you “subtract”
salvation, justification, Christ, and grace.
2. The opponents of
Paul are perverting the gospel when they add to the gospel. The gospel
is Christ and Spirit and not Moses and Law.
3. Paul condemns those who preach a gospel other than the gospel of faith in Jesus Christ.

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posted November 4, 2008 at 9:37 am

This seems to be the most important single passage so far – because of the “not a gospel”. I have to think about this.

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posted November 4, 2008 at 10:41 am

I have understood the story of the OT to be about God’s struggle to bring the Israelites out of idolotry. It has seemed to me for a while that the Israelites were not very good at this because what God was bringing them to was so odd, not normal and made them stand out like a sore thumb in their world. I guess you could say that it was a paradigm shift that God was asking them to make which was so different that it probably often felt all wrong to the Israelites.
It is fairly obvious that God has asked us to make a paradigm shift with the advent of Christianity. However, from verses like these we can see that even people who were seeking after God struggled to hold onto this new way of thinking, seeing and being. Other “gospels” which probably fit better with their understanding of the world and felt more comfortable were probably very tempting to early believers. It also makes me wonder to what extent we may be following a different gospel today which feels very comfortable to us. And if that is the case, then how uncomfortable will contact with the real gospel make us?
At any rate, I think these struggles that God’s people have with His ways and teachings often get over looked. They seem to be fodder for condemning those who we disagree with rather than warnings that taking on the real gospel will be uncomfortable and we are easily drawn away by other visions of the gospel. It seems to be a natural part of how we interact with God to struggle like this.

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posted November 4, 2008 at 1:55 pm

“They seem to be fodder for condemning those who we disagree with rather than warnings that taking on the real gospel will be uncomfortable and we are easily drawn away by other visions of the gospel.”
I see what you are saying, but the real gospel is actually quite liberating. Does it mean an easy life? Certainly not (The Cost of Discipleship). However, people should see the gospel as just that- good news.
In regards to the “other visions of the gospel” you mention, it seems to be more of a problem in which people are too limited in their appreciation of, participation in, and proclamation of the gospel (Scot’s post yesterday on Acts 20 display a more complete gospel). That is different than the preaching of a different gospel in which things are actually being added or changed.
That being said, I appreciate your emphasis on our need to look in the mirror.

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posted November 4, 2008 at 2:06 pm

Sorry Rebeccat. I just realized I didn’t submit my name in that last comment (I am too used to the old Jesus Creed site that kept it automatically).

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