by Mike Ratliff
For I make known to you brothers, the gospel that I preached, is not according to man. For I neither received it from man nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:11,12 Possessing the Treasure New Testament Version 1)
The εὐαγγέλιον or euaggelion, which the word “gospel” above translates, means “good message” or “good news.” What Paul stated in Galatians 1:11,12 is vital for us to grasp. Those of us who are in Christ can proclaim this εὐαγγέλιον for it is a message of very good news about something our Lord Jesus Christ has done on our behalf, but we cannot “be the gospel” nor can we “live the gospel.” It is a message of Christ’s work of redemption that was successful. He died on that cross and in so doing, His perfect obedience was made available to be imputed to all who believe this εὐαγγέλιον and in so doing, receive Christ as Lord and Saviour in repentance being saved by God’s grace through faith. In this, the Father justifies them, imputing Christ’s perfect righteousness to their account. This is possible because, while he was on that cross, their unrighteousness was imputed to his account and through his death, he became their propitiation. This εὐαγγέλιον is indeed good news because it means Christians do not have to work their way to God. Their salvation according to Ephesians 1,2 is actually God’s work entirely, not theirs. The preaching of the gospel is a call to repent and believe which is how who do become Christians receive Christ as Lord and Saviour. Now, is that the gospel prevalently heard in the visible church in our time?
The apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians for the express purpose of addressing a crisis that had hit those churches in that area. Some false teachers had come in convincing some with a false gospel, which required them to be circumcised, which is works of the flesh added to justification by grace through faith. Paul saw this has an abandoning of the genuine gospel, in other words, apostasy. However, in Galatians 3:4 we see that Paul does not see this as a hopeless situation though he does call those who have fallen for this false teaching as foolish. Let’s look at Galatians 1:6-12.
I marvel that you are so quickly being turned from the one who called you in the grace of Christ to a different gospel, which is not another, except there are some troubling you and are desiring to pervert the gospel of Christ, but even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel to you besides that which we preached to you, let him be a curse. As we have previously said, and now again I say, if anyone preaches a gospel to you besides that which you received, let him be a curse. Am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I seeking to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not have become Christ’s slave. For I make known to you brothers, the gospel that I preached, is not according to man. For I neither received it from man nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:6-12 Possessing the Treasure New Testament Version 1)
Paul did not consider the addition of a little legalism on top of the genuine gospel to be trivial. I mean what’s so wrong with giving a little bit to make the gospel more appealing to more people?
I had a short discussion with a fellow today about the Greek translations I do for these studies and how I am collecting them into a cohesive New Testament called the Possessing the Treasure New Testament. He gave me several sideways glances and smirks and then asked why this was necessary since there were already so many translations like that readily available. I was surprised by my answer. I really had not intended to respond like I did. I told him it was a matter of obedience. I did not just wake up one day and decide to do this. This came after much prayer and several people, after all that prayer, contacting me independent of knowing I was contemplating doing this, and telling me how much they appreciated the Greek translations I was doing and how much God had spoken to them through them, et cetera. Of course, I did not tell him all that, but I told him about how I tried to be as accurate as possible instead of seeking the common, or less offensive translation. In other words, it is just the Word, study tools, my prayer, and me. Those big Bible translations, as good as they are, on some of the “tricky” translations” I can tell that a committee made the decision they went with. When I said that, he told me that he preferred that approach to my approach. That was when I told him that I was not politically correct nor ever would be. The decision of what I translate a certain way, when it is difficult is always going to be a matter of prayer, seeking God’s will for it, not mine and especially not to seek to offend the fewest number of people. Then I walked away. I thought I would be discouraged by that discussion, but as I thought through it and sought the Lord about all that, I was convinced more than ever, that this is his will.
One thing that being in the Word like I am on a daily basis does for you is what Paul calls being transformed through the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2). It is amazing how I can see the fallacy of the way the natural man see things and how that has claimed so much of what calls itself “Christianity.” That fellow I was talking to today was offended about some of things I told him that the Greek clearly showed about the imperatives of God, the judgments of God, and that God very much loves some and not others, et cetera. His God is just love and the cross did away with all that wrath stuff, et cetera…Not according to a clear reading of the Biblical text brother! That is why it is imperative that we get as close to God’s truth as possible and not only read it, but immerse ourselves in it. How did Paul learn the gospel? It was a revelation of Jesus Christ.
My brethren, please pray for me in this that I will have both the time and direction to do it right and that it all be for the glory of God alone.
Soli Deo Gloria!