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What the Gospel is NOT - Galatians 1:6-12

Posted on September 2, 2018

What the Gospel is Not

Galatians 1:6 – 12; Jeremiah 8:20

Scripture Reading

Galatians 1:6 – 12

6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. 10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. 11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel. 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

Jeremiah 8:20

“The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.”

Introduction: Power-that's what mattered most to Napoleon. He wanted power, and he got it. Under his leadership, the armies of France won some stunning victories. They extended control well beyond their borders, but that wasn't enough for Napoleon. It is said that one day he gathered all the top officers together around this large table. Laid across that table was a map of Europe with a big red spot on it. That spot was England. He pounded his fist on the table, and he raged: "If it weren't for that red spot, I could have it all!"

I can almost picture it. Satan gathers his demonic lieutenants around a large table in hell, looking at a map of the world-a map with a big red spot on it. That spot marks a hill in Israel, just outside the city of Jerusalem. Calvary, Golgotha. On that hill stands a cross, stained with the blood of Jesus. Satan knows he's gone as far as he can. With almost uncontrolled rage, he shouts, "If it weren't for that red spot, I could have them all!" But now he wants to deceive Christians and non – Christians about the message of the cross, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

If you asked most people, they would tell you that they want to go to heaven. The problem is, most people do not understand clearly what to do or what to trust in when it comes to the Gospel. I contend that there are people even in this room today confused about the Gospel and would have a hard time explaining it.

As we finish today with “The Summer of Unpreached Topics”, we have covered a number of topics that you or I haven’t heard preached in a long time. It was a good reminder to me and I hope to you but also great lessons for our young people who may have never heard a sermon about some of these very important issues.

Purpose: Every Christ follower must be sure that they are trusting in the true Gospel alone for salvation

Transition: Let’s look very quickly at ten things the Gospel is not. First of all

The Gospel is NOT sin management

 John 5:37 - 40

And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

  • In the passage from the Gospel of John above, Jesus is telling the Pharisees that the promise of life is not found in religious teaching; even obeying God’s laws will not get them what they seek. Focusing their lives on knowledge and performance alone is a futile exercise. We see the same thing far too often in the church today. Dallas Willard, in his book, The Divine Conspiracy, describes it this way:

Quote: “History has brought us to the point where the Christian message is thought to be essentially concerned only with how to deal with sin: with wrongdoing or wrong-being and its effects. Life, our actual existence, is not included in what is now presented as the heart of the Christian message, or it is included only marginally.”

  • Willard goes on to describe this distorted view of the gospel as the “gospel of sin management.”
  • We try to do less and less sin. Do is the key word instead of living out the Gospel from who you are in Christ. “Be” is more important than “Do”.
  • If we are not careful, the Gospel in our lives becomes performance based or we become self-righteous as we compare what we do or don’t do to someone else.
  • We are loved fully in who we are in Christ. God does not love us anymore than He does right now and we cannot earn more of His love. We can rest in that.

Transition: Second;

The Gospel is NOT just the social gospel – Matthew 28:19 – 20; Acts 1:8

  • What do I mean by the social gospel?
  • One definition is “Christian faith practiced as a call not just to personal conversion but to social reform.”
  • On the surface that sounds very good. Many evangelicals are focused more on the cause or the social changes but without the Gospel at the heart of it, you are merely changing behavior.
    • Will verses the new nature given to us in the form of the Holy Spirit
    • The emphasis first and foremost in working with charitable ministries and the church doing work in the community is to make sure at the end of it all or even at the beginning, the purpose for doing it is to have the Gospel transform hearts
      • Behavior modification verses a new heart
      • Awana – memorize verses but no heart change
      • Serve Sunday – pre-evangelism - build bridges to the community for an opportunity to hear the Gospel
      • Children’s Hunger Fund – VBS – food and Jesus. Great combination.
      • I am all for doing things to help the community individually and corporately but the Gospel is what ultimately changes and keeps changing people’s hearts and lives. Changing people’s lives one at a time will slowly rebuild a culture.

Transition: Third,

The Gospel is NOT about serving God but relating to God – Ephesians 2:10

  • Our service to God and for God must be motivated out of the love that we have received from Him first.

Romans 5:5

And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

  • He already has a plan for the work we will be doing for Him.

Ephesians 2:10

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Quote: “There is a great gulf between the understanding that God accepts us because of our efforts and the understanding that God accepts us because of what Jesus has done. Religion operates on the principle, “I obey—therefore I am accepted by God.” But the operating principle of the gospel is “I am accepted by God through what Christ has done—therefore I obey.” – Tim Keller – The Reason for God

  • Our motivation to serve God ought to be out His great love for us and that He has given us spiritual gifts to use for His glory. The end goal of our life is to glorify.
  • We need to begin each day, resting in His love for us and serving Him out of the great love He has for us and not feeling like we have to try to earn His love.

Transition: This next point is very important

The Gospel is NOT moralism – Galatians 2:16

Galatians 1:6 – 7

6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.

  • In our own context, one of the most seductive false gospels is moralism. This false gospel can take many forms and can emerge from any number of political and cultural impulses. Nevertheless, the basic structure of moralism comes down to this — the belief that the Gospel can be reduced to improvements in behavior.
  • I believe this is a very subtle deviation from the true Gospel. The idea is that we need to look to psychology and self – help books to help us change behaviors
    • Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, Weight Watchers, etc.
    • Alcoholics Anonymous
    • All good programs and plans and we could list many more
    • But even Christians are thinking that all we need to do is change our will, our mindset, our habits that we can overcome anything
    • To be fair, these opportunities do work for millions of people.
    • So, what is wrong with them? Nothing, absolutely nothing if you are doing it in the power of the Gospel. The Gospel give us the necessary power for our everyday lives. God’s way is to change us from the inside out.
      • Transformed at salvation and inhabited by the Holy Spirit – Titus 3:5; Ephesians 1:13 - 14; 2 Corinthians 5:17
      • Relying on the filling of the Holy Spirit every moment of every day. – Ephesians 5:18
      • Asking God to help us when we come to the end of ourselves – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
  • That is the power of the Gospel to change us with lasting change in this life to be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29) and everlasting change.
  • Sadly, this false gospel is particularly attractive to those who believe themselves to be evangelicals motivated by a biblical impulse. Far too many believers and their churches succumb to the logic of moralism and reduce the Gospel to a message of moral improvement. In other words, we communicate to lost persons the message that what God desires for them and demands of them is to get their lives straight.
    • O Come to the Altar – Just as I Am
    • Someone who is a non-believer does not need to clean up their act before coming to Christ. They can come and be accepted by Jesus just as you are.
    • Then, the Holy Spirit will do the changing
    • The lure of moralism is the essence of its power. We are so easily seduced into believing that we actually can gain all the approval we need by our behavior. Of course, in order to participate in this seduction, we must negotiate a moral code that defines acceptable behavior with innumerable loopholes. Most moralists would not claim to be without sin, but merely beyond scandal. That is considered sufficient.
    • The theological temptation of moralism is one many Christians and churches find it difficult to resist. The danger is that the church will communicate by both direct and indirect means that what God expects of fallen humanity is moral improvement. In so doing, the church subverts the Gospel and communicates a false gospel to a fallen world.
    • The deadly danger of moralism has been a constant temptation to the church and an ever-convenient substitute for the Gospel. Clearly, millions of our neighbors believe that moralism is our message. Nothing less than the boldest preaching of the Gospel will suffice to correct this impression and to lead sinners to salvation in Christ.
    • Hell will be highly populated with those who were “raised right.” The citizens of heaven will be those who, by the sheer grace and mercy of God, are there solely because of the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ and not by our good deeds.
    • Moralism is not the gospel.

Transition: Our next point is very important as well.

The Gospel is NOT about me being a Christian if I grew up in a Christian home.

Romans 10:13

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Acts 2:39

For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

The Gospel is NOT based on infant or adult baptism – Romans 6:1-4; Matthew 28:19-20

  • Explain the purpose of baptism
  • There are no examples of infant baptisms in the Bible
    • Infant baptisms started long after the apostles
    • In case of death, God’s grace would be upon them if they died before the age of accountability
    • Others began to teach that it was all that was necessary to secure a place in heaven no matter how you lived your life
    • Others believe it is similar as dedicating babies like we do
    • Salvation is not a part of the Gospel. We do not believe in Baptismal regeneration as some denominations do.

Acts 2:38

38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

  • Jesus on the cross with the two thieves said to the one this day you will be with me in paradise and there was no recorded baptism from him.

Transition: Baptism, just like good works do not save but are vitally important to the Christian life after salvation.

The Gospel is NOT about how it will benefit me in the here and now – Hebrew 9:27

  • There are many verses that talk about the benefits of being a Christian, we need to have a balanced view of what it means to be a believer in Jesus Christ.
  • We live on earth, we are stewards of what God has given us, we are allowed to enjoy the pleasures God gives us (Sex, the fruit of our labors, possessions to use).
  • We need to recreate from time to time. Weekly enjoy a Sabbath day of rest, Extended times of vacation as well.

I Timothy 6:17

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.

  • But, we need to store up our treasures in heaven and not here on planet earth. That is a short-sighted idea. Matthew 6:19 – 21
  • Salvation is very vital and necessary for the here and now but since this life is so short, we must live with an eternal mindset.

Transition: Another misnomer about the Gospel

The Gospel is NOT just a one-time decision – Philippians 2:12 – 13; Matthew 10:21-23

Philippians 2:12 – 13

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Matthew 10:21-23

21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, 22 and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

James 1:12

12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

  • It is more than just praying a prayer. It is not the sinner’s prayer itself that saves but the intent of the heart
  • I looked back after I was saved to my confirmation papers and what they had us recite at the altar when I was 12. It was the sinner’s prayer but it did not change my life because at that time I did not understand the Gospel and its power to save.
  • Work out your salvation – evidence, fruits, works that show you are saved
  • Endure to the end – we may backslide, be carnal in our life for periods of time but we hold on to the truth that transforms us to the end of our earthly lives.
  • Staying true to the end and not succumbing to trials and temptation – a crown of life will be bestowed upon those who are truly saved.

Transition: On the flip side of a previous point,

The Gospel is NOT just about eternity – John 10:10

Quote: “We need to not be so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good.”

  • We were not saved by Christ to wait out our life on earth to get to heaven
  • We are to enjoy life, glorify God, lead others to Christ and disciple people, use our spiritual gifts.
  • Be productive citizens of heaven while here on earth.
  • We are to enjoy this life not endure it.

John 10:10

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Transition: The last one is;

The Gospel is NOT about good works vs. bad works – Ephesians 2:8-9; Matthew 7:15 - 23

  • This is very similar to the moralism view
  • This is the predominant view of religious people in our culture. They do not believe that you can know for sure that you are going to heaven when you die.
  • Many Christians struggle with assurance
  • Here is an example of how good works will not save you

Matthew 7:15 – 23

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

  • The scariest and saddest words a potential believer will hear when he or she stands before God

Illustration: George W. Truett on his death bed, pastor of the great First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas worried that half of his congregation was not saved.

Application: The Gospel must have transformed you into a person whose heart cry is for God.

  • If you are working to hard at the Christian life and you just are progressing, if you feel you have to work to earn more of God’s love, whatever your reason for striving for salvation, you don’t have to work or strive anymore.
  • You either are a child of God or you are not. It is more about being who God wants you to be than doing.

Transition: Let’s look very quickly at 10 evidences that the Gospel is alive and at work in your heart and life.

The Evidences that the Gospel is alive in you.

  1. 1.    A Christ follower has an awareness of sin – Ephesians 2:1 – 3

Ephesians 2:1 – 3

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind

  • You sense when you have sinned and you know what sin is and it convicts you and makes you upset.


  1. 2.    A Christ follower has a chastened life – Hebrews 12:5-10

Hebrews 12:6

For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives

  • If you can consistently and habitually sin and get away with it, you are probably not a believer but whom God loves, He disciplines


  1. 3.    A Christ follower has a love for other Christians – I John 4:19 – 21

I John 4:19 – 21

We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.


  1. 4.    A Christ follower has a disdain for this world’s system – I John 2:15 – 17

I John 2:15 – 17

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.


  1. 5.    A Christ follower has a hunger for God’s Word – I Peter 2:1 – 3

I Peter 2:2-3

Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.


  1. 6.    A Christ follower has a changed life – 2 Corinthians 5:17


  1. 7.    A Christ follower has a desire to share their faith story – Proverbs 11:30


  1. 8.    A Christ follower has a sense of the Holy Spirit working in their life – Romans 8:16; I Thessalonians 5:19

Romans 8:16

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,


  1. 9.    A Christ follower has a knowledge of God’s Will for their lives – Proverbs 3:5 -6; Psalm 119:105

Psalm 119:105

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.


10. A Christ follower has answers to prayer – I John 5:14; John 16:23 – 24

I John 5:14

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.

Application: As a fruit inspector, are you convinced you are living in the fruit of the Spirit due to your acceptance of the Gospel?

Transition: My hope and prayer that everyone in this room is clear what the Gospel is and my hope and prayer is that you can clearly share the Gospel with others in need.

Illustration: First date – lady doctor, an anesthesiologist – tech content creator – surfing - heart attack. First kiss was doing CPR and she saved his life. They recently had their first for real kiss on the same beach.

  • The importance of CPR and the AED defibrillator
  • The importance of the Gospel and the assurance of salvation.

Key Thought: There is nothing like knowing you are at peace with God on this earth.

Questions to Ponder This Week?

1.    Are you confident in your understanding of the Gospel?

2.    Are you basing your entire life upon the Gospel and its claims?

3.    Can you point to some areas of your life that God has transformed as a result of being born again?

Video: The Value of the Gospel 4:49

Let’s Pray