Galatians 1:56-7 “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”
Pretty strong language from the Apostle! Twice he repeats that those who preach any other gospel than that which he himself preached are under God’s curse.
But isn’t that intolerant? Isn’t that being exclusive, and “my way or the highway”? Doesn’t that show a lot of arrogance on Paul’s part, to believe that he is the only one who has the true gospel?
I love the first two words of this passage, “I marvel.” Paul was amazed, dumbfounded, shocked, that the people he had so recently brought to Christ through the gospel of salvation by grace through faith would be so quickly turned from that truth to “another gospel,” which he has not yet named or described. So soon! With so little time to process what he had taught them, they were already being influenced by those who preached another gospel.
And why was his language so strong as to twice say that the bearers of this other gospel are under God’s curse? Why, because that new gospel braided works-based salvation into the gospel of Jesus Christ, and when you start doing that, it isn’t long before the true gospel is perverted, and people will believe they are going to heaven based on their good works. In other words, souls will be turned from the truth to the lie, and souls will be lost.
Satan is always quick to find any weakness, any flaw, and to worm his way in with a lie that is wrapped with just enough truth to be very dangerous.
In the colonial days of our country, the Congregational Church was governed by a board of men who all had clear-cut testimonies of coming to faith in Jesus Christ through faith, plus nothing. Membership in the church required the same testimony of its members. Faith, grace. No works.
However, as time went on, fewer people joined the church, which, by the way, governed the colony. It began to lose its original members through death. Their children and grandchildren were not as strong in their faith, and the church began to lose its influence over the colony. Church leaders, because they were concerned with losing power, came up with the idea of offering memberships to those who were the children or grandchildren of the original members. They were not required to have a firm testimony of salvation by grace; they were accepted as partial members on the basis of their parents’ testimonies. Thus, the Half-way Covenant. It was hoped that these partial members would eventually come to salvation and become full members, thereby maintaining the authority of the Church over civil matters in the colony.
It was another gospel. And the half-baked plan of the Half-way Covenant didn’t work very well. Today, those colonies where the Congregational Church had been the major influence have fallen away from the gospel of the grace of Jesus Christ.
It can happen really fast.