A Customized Gospel

Leah DiPascal

Day: 1 | Plan: Christ Alone

Today’s Reading: Galatians 1

Galatians 1:6-7 (NIV) 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.”

I rarely receive personal letters in the mail anymore. Most of my mail consists of neighborhood fliers, local promotions and unwanted bills. But seeing a handwritten letter tucked between all that other stuff is like a heart-warming reminder that someone cared about my well-being and wanted me to know.

Paul sent a very personal letter to a group of churches in Galatia, which we now know as the book of Galatians. He cared about their spiritual well-being and felt it necessary to let them know.

This letter included truths that raised a few eyebrows and received mixed reviews. But Paul wasn’t interested in people-pleasing or sugarcoating the truth. (Galatians 1:10) He was passionate about the gospel being clearly presented and for these new believers to accurately understand their salvation.

You see, Paul had just returned to Antioch from his first missionary trip with Barnabas when a group of Jewish Christians in the Galatian churches accused him of watering down the gospel to make it more appealing to the Gentiles.

This outspoken group of Jewish believers, known as the Judaizers, was distorting the gospel by telling Gentile Christians they had to become more like them. Specifically they wanted Gentiles to be circumcised and follow the Jewish religious law and customs, in addition to receiving Jesus as their Savior.

They tried to customize the gospel to what they thought made sense to them. Paul boldly addressed this false narrative, and that’s why today’s key verse has such a direct and forceful tone.

The gospel of Christ had taken root and was growing in the hearts of these Galatian Gentile believers. They were beginning to experience freedom through the grace of God by believing Jesus had paid for all their sins on the cross. But the Judaizers were placing their own traditional practices on top of the gospel, inserting their rules and customs as “requirements” to salvation, as if Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension wasn’t enough.

Paul set the record straight by reminding the churches of Galatia that there is no other gospel, and that any false teachers adding or speaking contrary to it should be cursed. (Galatians 1:9) Paul’s strong words were necessary because this was a life-and-death issue.

This is true for us today as well. We can easily find ourselves adding addendums or extra requirements to the gospel without even realizing it. Ones like these …

Because Jesus died for me I now owe Him and must keep doing good works to stay on God’s good side and remain saved.

I need to get my life together first and stop sinning before I ask Jesus to have a personal relationship with me.

Before we take another step, let’s be sure we clearly understand the gospel of Christ so that we’re not accidentally customizing it for ourselves.

We have been saved by God’s grace through faith. It is purely a gift from Him, not something we can earn, maintain or take credit for. (Ephesians 2:8-9) God chose to love us, before we even knew Him, and gave His only Son to pay the debt for all our sins. It is through Jesus alone that we receive salvation. Nothing and no one can take it from us once we invite Him to be our Lord and Savior. (John 3:16; John 10:28-30)

Jesus is the only One who can redeem, save and transform us. And no one has the authority to add or take away from His gospel. He is our source of peace, love and joy. And the assurance and freedom we long for can only be found in Him. 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive me for adding to Your gospel of grace by inserting my own false ideas and traditions. There have been times when I’ve tried to do good works to keep my salvation intact instead of relying on Your gift of salvation through Jesus that cannot be taken from me. Help me rest in my faith in You and remember that Christ’s finished work on the cross redeems me forever. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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