If you believe the Bible, then you believe Galatians 1, where Paul notes that there is only one gospel that saves. If you believe that to be true, then you better understand what the true gospel really is. Many “gospels” invade our world and try to get us to buy what they are selling. Some want you to believe that Jesus was a pretty good sacrifice, but our ability to live a “good” life is also part of making it to heaven. Some want you to think that your obedience to God while on the earth will earn you better levels of heaven one day. Some want you to think that Jesus died for your earthly wealth and health. Graciously, the real gospel has nothing to do with us. Paul tells us that one gospel can save and it is simple: we are saved solely by what Jesus has done.
We are saved solely by what Jesus has done.
Let me clarify before we get much further that I believe the Bible teaches that our lives change once we receive the gospel. Our lives should absolutely look different after we place our faith in Jesus. However, I am not talking about the gospel fruit in our lives with this post. We will talk about that in upcoming posts, but today, my goal is to point us to the true gospel. I want us to see how we receive that gospel. We talked last week about the foundation of the gospel and how we are all dead and separated from God outside of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Now, I want to build on that foundation by looking at the solution to being separated from God. There is only one solution, and that’s why it is crucial that we understand it.
In writing to the church in Galatia, Paul was addressing a church that was in danger of being pulled away by false gospels. People were trying to get the church to believe the lie that the sacrifice of Jesus was not enough to save them. They thought that salvation was found in Jesus plus other things. People of Jewish background were wanting the church to hang on to the Jewish law. The law was the set of rules they used and followed in order to try their best to get to God. They thought that their effort and rituals were still a part of becoming right with God. We will see an example of this in Galatians 5, but let’s first look at how Paul clearly defines the gospel in chapter 2.
No one will be justified by the law. Period. Let’s substitute “the law” for anything that you think you need to do in order for God to love and accept you. Maybe you think that you need to read your Bible enough or pray enough in order to be worthy. Paul just said that no one will be justified by any of our own effort or abilities. A person is justified, counted righteous, found worthy in God’s eyes, solely by faith in Jesus Christ. That is the only gospel that saves. Our amount of quiet time with God does not play any role in our salvation. The perfection of Jesus makes us perfect. Our faith in Him is the only thing that can make us right with God. How incredible is that? All we have to do is accept it. Nothing needs to be added to it! In fact, adding anything to it, according to Paul, makes it a false gospel. False gospels cannot save.
To make this easy and clear, Paul is simply saying that if we put any hope in our own efforts or rituals, no matter how small that hope may be, it severs us from Christ. It keeps us in the bondage of having to work our way to God, which is a lost cause. If we believe that we are saved by faith in Jesus PLUS something else like circumcision (necessity in the Jewish law), or how much we give to the poor, etc., Jesus will be of no advantage to us. That way of thinking keeps us from the real gospel. The real gospel is placing 100% of our faith and trust in Jesus. Even if 1% of our trust is in our own abilities or spirituals rituals to get us to heaven, that 1% will keep us severed from Jesus. It makes us fall away from the grace that we have in Him. Without that grace, we stay dead and separated from God.
So, there is only one gospel that saves. That gospel is the truth that Jesus died in your place and made you right with God by what He did on the cross. The only thing you have to do to receive this gospel is place your faith in Jesus. Don’t buy any lie that says you have to earn anything with God or do certain things in order for God to love you. That is garbage, and not the message that Jesus died for. Jesus did everything. You did nothing. That is how good this gospel is! 100% Jesus. 0% us. The only gospel that saves.
- Have you been trying to earn your way to God in any way? If so, how can you change that?
- What false “gospels” do you see in the world around you? Who can you share the real gospel with today?