“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:6-7)
While some may associate the word “gospel” with a particular style of music, others may be less familiar with this word as it is used in the passage quoted above. You see, the word “gospel” means “good news” when used in this context. It refers to the salvation that is available through faith in Christ. In light of the death sentence that faces every sinful human being, this message of salvation is fittingly identified as “good news.”
Unfortunately, these verses tell us that the Galatian churches were in the midst of substituting this good news for something else. The problem stemmed from the fact that the Galatian Christians were “…deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ” (ESV). This led Paul the Apostle to express his astonishment (ESV), shock (CEV), or amazement (CEB) at their response.
This example illustrates a critical issue for anyone who seeks to exchange the true gospel for a substitute. The problem for the person who turns to a “different gospel” is that he or she ultimately trades a Person for a thing.
For instance, the gospel is not about finding salvation through a religious organization. It is not about how closely we adhere to a spiritual idea or belief system. The gospel is not about a set of rules we must follow in order to find acceptance. The genuine gospel message of salvation through faith in Christ alone is at the center of Christianity- and Christianity is about Christ.
Whenever we attempt to exchange faith in Christ for a religious idea, a spiritual belief system, or a set of “do’s and don’ts” we inevitably repeat the same mistake made by the churches of Galatia- a “gospel” that is actually a perversion, no matter how good it may sound. As Jesus once observed…
“Not all who sound religious are really godly people. They may refer to me as ‘Lord,’ but still won’t get to heaven. For the decisive question is whether they obey my Father in heaven. At the Judgment many will tell me, ‘Lord, Lord, we told others about you and used your name to cast out demons and to do many other great miracles.’ But I will reply, ‘You have never been mine. Go away, for your deeds are evil'” (Matthew 7:21-23 TLB).