6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. (Gal 1:6-7)
The apostle Paul was a lot like the circuit-riding preachers of the early twentieth century. These preachers usually covered a certain area or a number of congregations. They would then ride that circuit on a schedule either monthly or quarterly. We can see some of the similar travel habits in Paul’s letters. He was responsible, at least in some part, for the establishment of the churches we are familiar with in the New Testament (Galatia, Colosse, Thessalonica, Philippi, Ephesus). Paul would travel around to these churches and minister to and encourage them. He would write letters (our NT books) to encourage, teach, and address problems and issues they were facing. We see this happening in the first part of Galatians. Paul had delivered to the Galatians that the resurrection of Christ was the center of the gospel. He taught them that the death of Christ was sufficient for the forgiveness of their sin. The Galatian Christians were being led astray by false teachers known as Judaizers. Judaizers were Jewish Christians who were telling the Gentile Christians that in addition to their faith in Christ they must adhere to the Jewish Law in order to be truly saved. We see Paul’s reaction in v.6, “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him”. He says that he is surprised how fast they turned from the truth of the gospel to something different. Paul spoke of a desire of some in his day to pervert the gospel. The same desire exists today.
The gospel is very simple and amazingly clear. The resurrection is the power of the gospel and grace is the vehicle that delivers it. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 says, “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures”. Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:8-9, “ For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” To “pervert” means to “misinterpret or distort”. Across the landscape of Christianity we can see the pure gospel that has been delivered to us being perverted regularly. Here are a few examples.
1. The gospel is perverted by suggesting that Jesus Christ is just simply one of many ways to the Father.
2. The gospel is perverted by suggesting that grace is not sufficient and human efforts (works) are needed to complete salvation.
3. The gospel is perverted by suggesting that an individual can accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior and continue living as they did before.
4. The gospel is perverted by suggesting that some are predestined to Heaven and some are predestined to Hell and there is nothing that can be done about it.
As believers who have been changed from the inside out, we have a responsibility to ensure that those who are lost receive the true gospel. They deserve the gospel, as offensive and difficult as it might be to hear, it is the only message that will release them from the bondage of their sin.