Galatians 1:8-9 – 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.
In many areas of our lives, we want to be eager to allow room for the views and opinions of others in order to be gentle, loving, and to live at peace with others. For example, you might greatly disagree with someone’s preference of musical styles, but that should not be a reason to break in Christian fellowship from them. Likewise, your church may focus more on ministry to the poor and needy while another may focus more on evangelism or education; and neither church is totally out of line in its choice. But there is one issue over which you can not compromise. There is one issue that, regardless of your cultural background or social standing, you must be ready to go to the mat to defend. There is one issue that, if you disagree with others on, you can not have a peaceable Christian relationship. That issue is the gospel itself.
IN Galatians, Paul is writing to a church that was moving away from a belief in salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Instead, many of the people in the church were embracing again the Jewish laws, and considering them requirements for anyone to truly be saved. That is why Paul, in his opening statements in chapter 1, says that he is astonished that they are so quickly deserting the faith. They were moving away from the true gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Christ, and they were moving toward a supposed gospel of salvation by grace through faith and works of the law.
When we look at verses 8-9 above, we see that Paul took aim at those Christians who were thinking about backing back into the Jewish law system, and he blasted them with the strongest possible words. He declared that anyone who goes out preaching a gospel different than the gospel that he had originally preached to them (a gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone), let that person be accursed. Literally, Paul is actually saying to the Galatians that any person who is preaching a gospel contrary to the gospel of Christ should be cursed by God, that they should go to hell forever.
Why such strong words from Paul? Why no tolerance? The answer to these questions should come immediately to your mind if you are a believer in Christ. We know that there is salvation in no one else other than Christ (Acts 4:12). We know that no one will be justified or made right before God by doing righteous actions or works of the law (Romans 3:20). We know that the most righteous actions of any unsaved person are like filthy rags in God’s sight (Isaiah 64:6). And if we know these things, we should also know that a person who preaches something other than salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone preaches a false gospel that will lead people toward someone other than the real Jesus Christ. Someone who preaches salvation by works is someone who preaches a false gospel that will lead people toward hell. The preacher of such a false gospel takes the name of Christ and the story of Christ’s life, and twists it in such a way as to steer people just shy of receiving God’s grace. Such a false teacher actually leads people to hell, and that is why Paul speaks so harshly against anyone who would preach a gospel other than the true and original gospel that Paul himself preached, the gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ apart from any additional works.
Paul was clearly furious at the idea that anyone out there might preach a gospel contrary to the true one, leading people to hell. My question for myself and for you today is this: Are you that upset at the notion of people claiming Christ and misleading the lost? Do you have a righteous indignation that boils up within you when you recognize that there are teachers and churches out there that are completely misleading thousands, even millions? It is time for those who believe in the true gospel to act like Paul here. It is time for us to shake off any false form of tolerance and speak the truth. We need to speak the truth in love. We need to speak the truth without resorting to physical violence. But we need to speak the truth with honesty and boldness. If we believe that people are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, we need to preach that truth for all to hear, even if it contradicts those around us who are preaching a false gospel. Whether they be our friends, our co-workers, or members of our church, if we see people preaching a false gospel, we can not let that go. We have to , if we are to be responsible before God and loving to the lost, preach the true gospel and correct those who distort it.
Dear Lord, I thank you so much for the gospel. I thank you that you saved my soul, not based on anything I have done, but based on your grace through the works and righteousness of Jesus Christ. I add nothing to salvation. I can do nothing to earn my salvation. And I pray that you will help me to be honest and bold while being loving toward those who preach a false gospel. Help me to faithfully stand for truth in my community, so that none over whom I have influence might believe that they are saved by anything other than by your grace alone.