Avoid the Perversion of the Gospel

     This school year in 4:TWELVE Student Ministries we are working our way through the books of Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. We have titled this series, In Christ. All of these books will teach some deep lessons about the application of the Gospel in our lives.
      We want our parents to be able to track along with our lessons and be able to discuss the topics we are covering with your teens. We will include the follow-up discussion questions that were discussed in small groups so you can hear your teen discuss these questions. Please use this tool as we seek to assist parents in raising their teens in the way of the Lord.

This week we discussed Galatians 1:1-9 and focused on the need to Reject Any Perversion of the Gospel.

Introduction to the book of Galatians

In verses 1 and 2 we have the introduction to the book of Galatians. The book is written by the Apostle Paul, “who was sent not from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead.” Paul was specifically selected by God to help start the church. Paul was passionate in his preaching of God’s Word,  Paul was quick to point out that he was sent by God and not for any other reason. Some in that day were trying to claim he was not a true Apostle but someone who was seeking gain because of the church. Some were concerned about his authenticity because of his previous task as a persecutor of the church.

Paul was writing this book to a group of churches in Galatia, which is known as Turkey today. There was specifically a group of 4 churches there (Antioch of Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe).

Traditionally the introductions to Epistles of Paul start with a greeting and a section of verses thanking God for the church to whom he is writing. However, in the book of Galatians, he jumps right in with teaching. He makes statements like, “I am astonished (6)”, “you are taking hold of a gospel that isn’t the Gospel (7)”, “you are in confusion (7)”, and he condemns those who are trying to pervert the Gospel (9).

This book is going to address the issue of how the Gospel should impact every part of life. The Gospel is not just to save us, but should also shape our response to all of life.

What is the Gospel as told by Paul in Galatians 1:1-9?

The Apostle Paul is going to address the need to keep the pure Gospel, so he needs to define what the Gospel is. Here is a recap of the Gospel according to Paul in these verses.
1. We are helpless and lost in need of rescuing (4).
2. Jesus rescued us (He gave Himself for our sins 4).
3. God accepted the work of Christ (God raised Jesus from the dead – 1; gave us grace and peace – 3)
4. God did this by His grace (according to the will of our God and Father  4; Christ came to rescue us by His grace 6)

It is super important for us to recognize that the Gospel involves our helplessness because in our pride we try to make our salvation be all about us. However, we are rescued by the work of God through Christ, and it has nothing to do with us.

The Perversion of the Gospel – Any Change to the Gospel Makes It No Gospel At All.

According to Scripture, it was God who called us and not us who called God. This means that the Gospel cannot be added to because it was given to us by God and not created by man (6). The Jewish believers in Galatia were insisting that the Gentile believers start practicing the traditional ways of the Jews. They were saying that following Christ requires more than what God says is needed. They were adding extra work to the Gospel. Any teaching that makes us give God something in order to be accepted by God is a false Gospel (6-7).
It is important not to get wrapped up into any teaching of the Gospel that says anything beyond what God clearly says in His Word. So we must reject any teaching that says the Gospel plus works equals the Gospel. We must reject the teachings that try to bring traditions into equal bearing with the Gospel.

“There is no middle ground between Christian righteousness and works-righteousness. There is no other alternative to Christian righteousness but works righteousness; if you do not build your confidence on the work of Christ, you must build your confidence on your own work.” – Martin Luther

Others try to say that it does not matter what you believe about Christ as long as you are sincere and want to do good. This is the perversion of the Gospel because it makes Jesus death and grace unneeded.

There are so many perversions of the Gospel that are being put in front of us all the time. There are perversions that claim salvation brings us earthly prosperity. There are perversions that say that God does not love if He wants us to change from our sinful state.

It is important that we be constantly on guard for any additions or subtractions to the Gospel because they are not the Gospel at all.

Ignore the Teaching of Anyone Who Is Teaching Anything Beyond What the Bible Clearly Says About the Gospel.

The only standard of truth is the Word of God. Our feelings do not define truth. Our opinions do not define truth. When your opinions or feelings disagree with the Bible, the Bible is always right! Every single time the Bible is right!

Follow-up Questions!

a. What are some of the ways you have seen the Gospel be poisoned by false teaching?

b. Do you agree that the Bible is the standard of truth and all other truths must agree with the Bible?

c. Why is it important to check the purity of all Gospel teaching?

d. Do you need to make adjustments to the influences you allow to speak into your life? Where are some areas we       may need to look to see this false teaching creeping in?

Johnny KjaerJohnny Kjaer
Johnny Kjaer oversees the Youth and Skatepark Ministries at Faith Church. He can often be found serving the community with the teenagers. His passion is to assist parents in training their teens to love the Lord. He and his wife, Tori, have three children; Leif, Tryggve, and Kjirsti.