The Berean Expositor
Volume 51 - Page 21 of 181
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These were strong words indeed, but they were absolutely necessary. Fundamental
truth was at stake and there could be no compromise. What "we preached" and what "ye
received" was the criteria and it still is. In religious circles there is scarcely a word that is
more misused than the word "gospel". It is on everyone's lips whatever their persuasion,
and from this one would think that its meaning was clear and evident to all. However,
like the word "democracy" it can be made to mean anything the user wishes. All the
professing churches assert that they are preaching the "gospel", but so often this so-called
gospel bears no relationship to the true one revealed in the Word of God.
There is a constant need for everyone who professes to be a true believer in the Lord
Jesus Christ to test every "gospel" that he reads or hears by the one so clearly expressed
in God's Word. That gospel originates solely from God and was made known by His
revelation to the Apostle Paul and delivered through him as the channel.
"For I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after
man, for I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it but by the revelation of Jesus
Christ" (1: 10, 11).
Just what this gospel of God consisted of, Paul does not state, but it had been very
clearly made known to the Galatians by his ministry. He had "placarded" (literally)
Christ before them (3: 1) and so magnified Him that they could have been in no doubt
whatsoever that the good news centred in the Lord Jesus, and what He had accomplished
for them on the cross and by His resurrection.
That gospel is clearly expressed in I Corinthians:
"For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how 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" (I Cor. 15: 3, 4).
This death was an atoning death; it was "for our sins" as Peter expressed it:
"Who His own self bear our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to
sins, should live unto righteousness, by Whose stripes we were healed" (I Pet. 2: 24).
The work on the cross, then, touches the root cause of all man's troubles, namely sin
and its consequence, death, and any gospel that does not do this is fraudulent, deceiving
and completely empty of any virtue or power.
Here is the acid test for all gospel preaching, past, present and future. Does it present
a Christ crucified for the sins of His people and risen again as the conqueror of death? If
it does not do so then the two greatest enemies of mankind, sin and death, are left
dominating us for ever and we are as utter slaves without hope. This is what the Galatian
Christian failed to realize. No wonder Paul was stirred to the depths of his being. He
even put himself under God's curse if he failed to deliver faithfully the good news of
redemption committed to him by the Lord and worked out by Christ alone. Any mingling
of "good works", human merit or religious ordinances as a necessary part of the true
gospel was heresy, even if an angel from heaven preached it.