Almost 2,000 years have come and gone since the gospel was first preached. Since that time many
changes have been wrought and much that is styled "the gospel" is not the gospel. Many are the
adulterations pawned off on the human family as that which was first delivered to the world.
Many people have very vague ideas about what the gospel is and what it is not. In order to
consider some of the earmarks of the gospel, I direct your attention to the following passage:
"I marvel that ye are so quickly removing from him that called you in the grace of Christ unto a different gospel: which is not another gospel: only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we or an angel from heaven should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema. As we have said before, so say I now again, if any man preacheth unto you any gospel other than that which ye received, let him be anathema. For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? or am I striving to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ. For I make known to you ("certify to you" KJV), brethren as touching the gospel which was preached by me, that it is not after man. For neither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came to me through revelation of Jesus Christ" (Galatians 1:6-12 ASV).
This passage contains some interesting marks which identify the gospel for us, and it is those to which we direct our attention.
One of the most powerful motives playing upon us in this age is the desire to be "up to date." Advertisers understand the secret of this persuasive appeal and present their goods as "the latest thing." The "latest model" always has a ready sale. We dislike being considered "back numbers" and to be "up-to-date" is one of men's most dominant desires.
With many, the question is not, "Is it true?" but, "Is it new?" Paul said, "I marvel that ye are so quickly removing from him that called you in the grace of Christ unto a different gospel, which is not another gospel" (v. 6). Even in Paul's day, there were those who were leaving the original gospel for another, which was not another gospel.
Anything which had its origin this side of the New Testament or outside of the New Testament is a human product and is not the gospel preached by Paul and the other apostles. Every creed written by man falls under this grave indictment.
Let us ask for the original gospel. No longer do the masses ask, "Is it true," but, "Is it new?" But the original gospel has its unmistakable trademark. Let us heed the warning, "Accept no substitutes."
Galatians 1:7 says, "Which is not another gospel: only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ." A perverted gospel is an adulterated gospel. It cannot save. The gospel that Paul preached was pure, and was not an admixture of doctrines and commandments of men.
Power can be perverted. For example, bread is God's power to satisfy hunger. It is the "staff of life," but a measure of poison intermixed with it will destroy its saving, life-giving power, and turn it into a power of destruction. The bread still retains all its qualities, but the poison makes it unfit for human consumption. Water has power to quench thirst. But, take a glass of sparkling, pure water and add a handful of salt to it and what happens? Instead of quenching thirst, it will create thirst. Before the salt was added, it was pure water with the power to satisfy thirst. But with addition of foreign matter it became a creator of thirst.
So it is with the gospel. It is God's power to save (Romans 1:16-17), but mixed with human philosophies, doctrines and tenets of men it becomes a destroying agent. Mere belief is not sufficient to save anyone. Just believing whatever one wants to believe does not save. Neither is mere eating sufficient to nourish one physically. It is what one eats. So it is with the gospel. The gospel preached, believed and obeyed makes a Christian.
The man who adulterates the gospel is a greater enemy to my soul than the man who pollutes a drinking fountain or poisons my food. Paul said, "Let him be anathema."
Jude said, "Beloved while I was giving all diligence to write unto you of our common salvation, I was constrained to write unto you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3 ASV). In Galatians 1:23, we learn what this "Faith" was and that Paul preached the same thing. "But they only heard say, he that once persecuted us now preacheth the faith of which he once made havoc."
These passages teach us that the gospel — just as it was delivered "once for all unto the saints" — is adequate for all time. It is for universal diffusion, for every land, tongue, and clime. This gospel was not made subject to alteration or change. The die was cast perfectly. The cloth out of which it was made was divine and divinity cut it. Human hands dare not change it. The man who does so is under the "anathema" of high heaven.
Many men — and not a few women — have claimed direct revelations from God since those words were written. But granted that is so — which, of course, it is not — none of us could accept their testimony if they told us to do one thing which we cannot read in the inspired word of God. Thus we see that the gospel of Christ, as it was given 2,000 years ago, is still adequate for the needs of man in our day.
Paul wrote, "For I make known to you, brethren, (The King James Version says, "I certify you brethren") as touching the gospel which was preached by me, that it is not after man. For neither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came to me through revelation of Jesus Christ" (Galatians 1:11 ASV). A "certified" gospel is one that has Christ back of it.
We today believe in purchasing "certified" goods. We demand certified food, milk, meat and clothing. We demand those things be guaranteed and that they are genuine. Yet, in religion man believes anything will do. He is not concerned so much with the genuine gospel as he is in what he "feels" in his heart or what his Mama taught him. Look for the trademark in religion. Has it ever occurred to you that to be genuine, it must be "certified?"
First, in becoming a Christian, you will follow a "certified" plan. You will be led to believe in Christ with all your heart, which is demanded of every saved person. Jesus said, "Except ye believe I am he, ye shall die in your sins" (John 8:24 ASV). We are also told that they that, "cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Hebrews 11:6 KJV).
The certified gospel will then lead you to repent of your sins as it commands. "I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3 KJV). And Paul said, "The times of this ignorance, God winked at, but now commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent" (Acts 17:30 KJV).
From Matthew 10:32, Romans 10:8-10 and Acts 8:37, we learn that this certified gospel requires us to confess the sweet name of Jesus as God's Son.
Then we are commanded by this certified gospel to be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, for the remission of sins (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38). We also learn that we are buried with Christ in baptism (immersed in water) that like as He was raised up from the dead, we also should walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3-4). When you do those things, you have obeyed a certified plan of salvation — certified by Christ Himself.
When you do those things listed above, you are made a member of the "certified" church of which you read in the New Testament, for the Lord adds the saved to His church (Acts 2:47). No one has the right to "vote" on your membership. Voting members in is no part of the certified gospel.
When you become a member of the "certified" church of Christ, you become a "Christian" — nothing more and nothing less. The name "Christian" is found but three times in the New Testament and has God's certification behind it (Acts 11:26, 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16).
Having obeyed the certified gospel, you become a member of the certified church, wear the only certified name for Christ's followers — "Christian" — and, as such, engage in worship acceptable to God and certified by Him in the New Testament.
Do you believe and follow the "certified" gospel? Can you read in the New Testament what you did in becoming what you are religiously? Is your religious activity "certified" by the New Testament?