I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.
What astonishes you? What catches you off-guard? One Sunday we were attending church when I looked up and saw two of our dearest friends standing there. Without warning, they stopped in on their way to Orlando for a surprise visit. I was astonished, and in a good way.
But not all surprises are good. You can be astonished by something bad. And that’s exactly where we find Paul with the Galatians. He was astonished at them. He expected better of them. They not only are letting down Paul, but letting down the one who died for them.
And what was it that surprised Paul? That the Galatians were so quickly deserting Jesus. They weren’t abandoning a religion. They weren’t leaving a club. They weren’t turning in their philosophy membership card. They weren’t transferring from one temple for another.
No, they were betraying a person. They were in the process of being a turncoat. They were deserting God’s salvation by grace and walking back towards doing it all on their own.
And why? They were leaving the gospel for another gospel. That’s like saying we’re going to leave the truth for another truth. We’re going to move from one answer to another. We’re going to trade in one love for another.
The gospel of Jesus, his taking our place and paying for our sins on the cross, isn’t true because so many people like it. It’s not a multiple-choice test where we get to pick the answer that we like best. Circling the one that makes us feel good.
I once showed a passage out of my bible to a friend at work. To encourage the conversation, I let her take it home to read more deeply. When she returned it the next day, I saw a circle around some words with her comment written in red, “I like this!” There were also little hearts next to her comments. My heart soared.
But in the following paragraph, she circled some other words with the comment, “I don’t like this.” There were no hearts next to this comment. My heart sank.
And then I realized something, she wanted exactly what we all want. A faith that we create and control. A God who is made by us, does what we want him to do, say what we want him to say. We want nothing but comfort, plenty of money, success without hard work. We want everyone to like us, to give us exactly what we want, when we want it.
We want to be the center of attention. We want people to run up and ask for our autograph. We want them to swoon and say, “Oh, you’re so smart. You’re so beautiful. Why can’t I be more like you.
If we’re honest for just a moment, we want to be in charge of our own, personal, private world. Or, to put it another way, we want to be God. We want everyone and everything to make it their life’s work to serve us all the days of our life.
But these people weren’t just moving away from Christ on their own. No, they had people helping them along the way. These people were throwing the Galatians into confusion. And what’s the end result of their working towards confusion?
Perversion. We don’t like this word. It’s not very exciting or modern. After all, it’s just another point of view. Isn’t it? What’s wrong with people believing different things? If we don’t bring in everyone, aren’t we being snobs? If we’re not inclusive, we’ll be labeled as bigoted, prejudice, intolerance. And no one wants a piece of that.
These people were doing everything they could to turn the Galatians around from faith back to works. They were posting false news on the internet. They were blasting out text messages to everyone they knew, trying their hardest to move the Galatians back to where they came from.
The good news about Jesus is not just another idea to be put next to all your existing ideas. It’s not just another card to put into your wallet. It’s not just another website or app you join and then move on.
The good news that God came to earth to rescue us from ourselves, that he paid the eternal price for all we’ve ever done or ever will do, isn’t just something you add to your live.
No, the gospel, the good news will just blowup your life. It will turn it around. It will turn you right-side up. It’s a revolution. It’s a completely different way of life. Different way of looking at life. Different way of thinking.
So yes, there is no other good news. It’s Jesus or nothing else.
Describe the last time that God totally overwhelmed and astonished you?
Where do you see “a different gospel” around you?
How is God’s good news different from all other religions?