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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles

Chapter 2 - Galatians 1:6-9 - Apostolic Jealousy for a Free Gospel Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles by Bonar, Horatius




Apostolic Jealousy For A Free Gospel.


     "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto, another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have receive let him be accursed."-Galatians 1:6-9.



     The thing which strikes us most in these verses, is Paul's jealousy for the purity and freeness of the gospel. He estimated everything as it bore upon its glad tidings. Of that gospel he was never weary; and whatever interfered with its good news he condemned. He needed that gospel for himself; and he knew that the world needed it. Men could do without the sun more easily than they could do without the gospel. In order to bring out the meaning of the whole passage, let as take up the following points:-

     I.  The one gospel.-There never have been two gospels. There is not an Old Testament gospel and a New Testament gospel. There is not one gospel for the Jew, and another for the Gentile,-one gospel for the first century, and another for the nineteenth. It is but one gospel, as there is but one cross and one Saviour. Many ages, but one gospel; many sinners, but one gospel; many prophets and apostles, but one gospel. As our earth has had but one sun, so it has had but one gospel Nor does it need more; that one is sufficient. The message which it brings to us concerning God's free love in Christ Jesus His Son, suffices for all, ages, and for all men, and for all nations.

     II. Christ's gospel.-It is the gospel of Christ (verse 7); and this, both because it contains the divine good news concerning Him, and because He Himself has sent it out. 'Glad tidings' Christ came to preach to us. These He not only declared, but He embodied them in His person, and in His great work upon the cross. He who brings a true report concerning Christ and His cross, tells the true gospel; and he who, in his report, adds anything to, or takes anything from, what God has testified concerning His Son, mars Christ's gospel. And he who simply believes that true report, is saved by that which he believes; for the gospel is the gospel of salvation (Ephesians 1:13). Of this gospel Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the circumference and the center. Apart from Him there is no gospel at all.

     III. The gospel of the grace of Christ.-It is specially to the 'grace of Christ' that the apostle refers (verse 6)[1]. The gospel, then, is the good news of Christ's free love: 'The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, though He was rich, for our sakes became poor.' From Bethlehem to Golgotha we see the same 'grace,' in word and deed, in all His dealings with the sons of men; riches of grace deposited in Him, and pouring themselves out of His fullness upon this needy and sinful earth. Fullness of grace in Christ Jesus,-this is what we preach, and this is what the sons of Adam (in their various sinfulness) need. It is large, wide, free, manifold grace, according to the wants and guilt of the millions of this sinful and sorrowful world.

     IV.  Paul's gospel.-He speaks of it as 'the gospel which I preach,' 'our gospel,' nay, 'my gospel,' identifying it with himself. He is not arrogating anything to himself in so speaking; he is merely proclaiming his confidence in the good news which he preached, as alone divine. Paul's gospel and Christ's gospel were one.

     V.  A complete gospel.-These verses declare this most emphatically. It is complete; repelling all additions, and refusing all subtractions; perfect in all respects; requiring nothing at the hands of man; so complete and perfect, that Paul himself would not utter it in the enticing words of man's wisdom, lest he should be adding anything to it, or presenting it in a form which might suggest that without such ornaments and recommendations it would be imperfect. How many since then have, by their additions of argument, and eloquence, and glittering words, seemed to assume the imperfection of the naked gospel? The gospel, they think, needs adorning, else it will not find its way into human hearts! The cross is too bare and hard; it needs to be beautified, and softened, and carved, and decked with flowers, else it will not attract!  This, says Paul, is to make it void; and terrible are the words he uses here to condemn these corrupters or perverters of the gospel: 'Let them be accursed.'

     Man has always set himself to subvert or pervert the gospel. He cannot be trusted with it for an hour. He is always adding to it, or taking from it, or altering it. The natural heart abhors the simple and pure gospel. Even the renewed heart is often misinterpreting it, or even sometimes questioning it. It is so utterly opposed to all human goodness; it makes so much of God, and so little of man.

     This perversion is very easily done, and does not imply a denial of Christ and His grace. These Galatians did not deny Christ. They admitted all that the apostle said about Him. They merely wished to add a little to the gospel. Believe in Christ, they said, but add to this the keeping of the Mosaic ordinances. A slight addition was all they wanted.

     But the apostle saw the danger of this small addition. It destroyed the whole gospel. 'If ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.' In how many ways we neutralize the gospel, by adding something of our own in order to make it more complete!  Except ye feel as well as believe, ye cannot be saved! Except ye can produce certain marks and evidences of regeneration, ye cannot be saved! Thus men make void the cross. They slide from the rock. They fall from grace. (Galatians 5:4.)

     Let us take the gospel as it is. Let us receive the 'report' in all its simplicity. Let us admit God's free love in all its largeness. Let us rest on the grace of Christ.