The gospel was being distorted in Galatia by a group called the Judaizers. Essentially they were teaching that the Gentiles had to accept circumcision alongside the message that Jesus was their Lord and Savior. While it was a small change, it was still a change. A change that made all the difference. Remember the gospel tells us that we can do nothing to earn our own salvation, and here the Galatians were being taught that they had to do something.
While it’s a common assumption that we must do something in order to earn our salvation, that’s not, as Paul points out, the gospel. Instead the gospel tells us that there is nothing we can do to earn our salvation. It is a gift of God that’s freely given to those who don’t deserve it.
There are a number of things we can add to or replace the gospel with, but doing so changes and distorts the gospel so that it’s no longer good news. It is just another form of works based salvation labeled as the gospel. When we change the gospel today, we are essentially committing the same error as the Judaizers in Paul’s day.
But how do we know the gospel hasn’t changed?
How do we know the gospel hasn’t changed? (vs. Ps 33:11; Is 26:4; Jas 1:17; Mal 3:6)
That question is one that is directed at God’s character, His trustworthiness, which is why we must explore who God is in order to find answer.
Let me make a bold statement to start us off. One I will prove in a moment.
We know the gospel hasn’t changed because God Himself hasn’t changed, which means the way He relates to us hasn’t changed.
Scripture testifies to that idea. In Psalms 33:11 we read,
“The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.” (Ps 33:11)
Then Isaiah says,
“Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” (Is 26:4)
And in the New Testament James says,
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (Jas 1:17)
These Scriptures tells us that God doesn’t change.
Before you say, “Of course the Bible would say that God doesn’t change. It is God’s book!” Before you levy that claim against this argument, consider how the Bible was written. To be sure, it wasn’t written in one go by one author. Instead, it was written by a multitude of authors over thousands of years. The fact that they all testify to the unchanging trustworthiness of God tells us that we can trust the idea that God doesn’t change.
Since God doesn’t change, the way we experience salvation doesn’t change.
God, Himself, in Malachi 3:6 testifies to this when He says,
“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” (Mal 3:6)
God’s statement was good news to the Israelites, and it’s good news to us, because we aren’t always faithful to God. There are times when we sin against God, when we rebel, but God remains faithful. He doesn’t change. He doesn’t forget His promises.
From these ideas we can infer that God doesn’t change the way we experience salvation either. Salvation has never been achieved through our works. It’s always been through Jesus’ work on our behalf. We can be sure that will not change because God doesn’t change.
Question for Reflection
- Do you believe God is unchanging?
- Have you seen evidence of God’s faithfulness in your life?
Post developed from my sermon: Why shouldn’t we change the gospel? You can listen to it here.