I miss this. Sitting down to take time out and journal really relaxes my soul. Lately things have gotten so busy at the church that I just haven’t had time to write about what I’ve read. Now I’ve finished Galatians on my own, but I don’t want to forget what God has taught me and feel the need to share with you His grace in this letter.
Our church is now going through The Story by Zondervan. If you’re living in the Falcon area in Colorado, come and see! One of the biggest concerns that has arisen from this is that it might be a different gospel than what the Bible teaches. It’s not. It’s the same. Granted, it’s abridged. But all of us read abridged versions of the Bible to our kids. The people who put this together did so in a chronological way so we could read it like a novel. Most of us read things this way, and sometimes the things we read in the Bible can be intimidating because of the things that don’t really make sense to us. Personally, I appreciate what they’ve done. This is a great opportunity for us to catch the story God’s been writing since creation so we can see His hand through the historical events in the Bible. We can see His work to draw people to Himself like the Good Shepherd He is. This study is supplemental to Bible reading, and they’ve included all the references in the back of the book if anyone wanted to see where it came from.
But all of us, or at least those who’ve been raised in the church, are a little concerned any time we hear something that seems to be a different gospel than what we’ve heard or been taught through the Bible itself. Others aren’t concerned at all because they haven’t opened the Bible to see what it says. My question is, what does the gospel look like in our lives? What kind of gospel are we preaching to the world as they watch us and observe our lifestyles because we’ve confessed Christ?
Paul mentioned that he was sent by God, the one who rescued us from His wrath and this evil age. He gives complete and all glory to Him because of his love for God. That was the driving motivation behind his preaching. Any gospel that isn’t motivated by God’s love and our love for Him, isn’t the right gospel. In fact, it isn’t a gospel at all. In the words of Dwight from The Office, “False.”
How many of us have heard a gospel that’s been preached that sounds good to you? We’ve become professionals at twisting the gospel when it disturbs our comfort or way of life. We live complacently and apathetically in many ways. Here’s an example to chew on.
Remember the parable Jesus talked about in Matthew 25? Jesus was talking about the kingdom of heaven, separating the people on His right and left. He mentions feeding those who were hungry, visiting the sick, clothing the naked, and visiting some in prison. Now, this is a tough question for me to ask, but are we doing any of those things? Jesus said that when we do those things we’re doing them to Him. Maybe some of us don’t really know Jesus that well. Maybe we’ve seen Him on the side of the street or laying in a hospital bed and walked right on by.
Any gospel that preaches comfort and coming to Jesus will solve all your problems and make your life better, has twisted the true gospel. Yes, Jesus does make life better, but on His terms, not ours. The life He brings isn’t the kind of life we typically look for or even long for. We need to be careful that what we hear isn’t a different gospel. We need to be careful about the gospel we’re preaching through our lifestyles.
In Galatians 1:8, Paul says that those who preach a different gospel are accursed! This lesson convicts me deeply. I believe I’m always living a gospel that God saved me with. I don’t think I’m always following the teachings that pull me out of a worldly viewpoint of life. God isn’t in the business of pleasing man. He’s in the business of bringing glory to Himself. And the cross is what does that the most! The evidence of a life redeemed by the glory in the cross and resurrection is the only true gospel! Anything outside of the cross is bringing glory to man, someone who wasn’t made to receive glory unless God bestows it on him.
At the heart of all this is verse 10. This is what I long to say about myself and pray for every day. This is what I close with, and hope the commitment you have with Christ is sealed with this motivation. This is the defining term of your life and helps us all determine if we’re really following Christ or not:
Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. (NLT)