Only One Gospel
I have spoken many times about the Galatians and the problems they had with “Judiazers”, trying to pervert the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The text does not define the gospel. The rest of the book does. So our focus today will not be on the content of the gospel but on its cruciality. First of all, the underlying truth of the passage: There is only one gospel.
In verse 6 Paul says that the Galatians are starting to turn away to a “different gospel.” Then in verse 7 he corrects a false impression.
He did not mean to say that there are several possible gospels and that they have simply chosen another of several options. In verse 7 he carefully says, “Not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel.” This verse is very clear: There is no other gospel than the one he preached to them and which they received. To be sure, as verses 6 and 7 make plain, there are people presenting their ideas as gospel, but these are perversions.
The implications of this text for our day are very important. The text is a radical and forthright denial of a pluralism which says that we are all on different roads to heaven, but our destination is the same.
There is so much of that now a days, frankly it has been around for ages!
There are popular forms of this universalism, and there are technical, scholarly forms of it, but there is no biblical universalism—that is, no biblical teaching that a person can go on rejecting the gospel of Christ and still be saved. There are other religions besides Christianity, and there are other leaders besides Jesus Christ, but there is no other gospel, no other good news of salvation.
And what makes that underlying truth in the text so powerful is that the “different gospel” in the churches of Galatia was not a religion from a foreign land. It was a close counterfeit to the real thing. The people in verse 7 who were perverting the gospel were professing Christians. They probably belonged to the church in Jerusalem and knew its leaders (2:12). This “different gospel” was not on the order of Buddhism or Hinduism or Islam. It was an in-house distortion. It was promoted by men who called themselves Christian “brothers” (2:4).
John Piper, Sermons from John Piper (1980–1989) (Minneapolis, MN: Desiring God, 2007).