According to Man”
Do you think that our
nation's constitution is a
"living document"? By this it is meant
that it's laws are subject to redefinition according to changes in prevailing
cultural attitudes. Some believe hat the constitution needs to be
re-interpreted every generation. They say that what the original framers meant
by the words they chose is not necessarily the meaning we should give those
words today. Others are more strict than that, suggesting if we allow
redefinitions then we will put our security and liberties at risk.
The Divine source of the gospel of Christ
By Jon W. Quinn
The U.S. Constitution, as wonderful as it is, is no doubt one of the better
documents men have written, but it is still just that; a document of man. The
Bible, and specifically the gospel of Jesus Christ, is something more than
that. It comes not from mere man but from God, the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul wrote, “For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was
preached by me 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.”
Whatever argument we may use concerning the constitution is not applicable to
the gospel. It is not subject to redefinition or amendment by man due to
prevailing cultural attitudes because it is not "according to man" to begin
with. In fact, that very point is made by Paul earlier in the chapter, and it
still needs to be heard today because many would still, today, like to
redefine the gospel (Galatians 1:6-9).
The Gospel of Jesus Christ
There are characteristics of the Gospel that are peculiar to it, setting it
apart from all writings of men.
The gospel was revealed by God (Ephesians 1:7-9; 3:3-4).
It is a gospel of reconciliation and peace with God (Ephesians 6:15; 2
The gospel is the power of God to save (Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 1:18)
The gospel gives us a foundation upon which to live (Romans 16:25; Acts 20:32)
The gospel tells of the promises of God (Ephesians 3:6; 1 John 2:25).
The gospel is the truth of God (Colossians 1:5; John 17:17)
Changing the Gospel
It simply is not man's place to alter the gospel. It is not within the scope
of man's responsibility or rights.
In the first century, some attempted to alter the gospel so as to make
requirements of Gentile believers to keep portions of the Law of Moses to be
justified by Law and not by grace (Galatians 2:16). Then, in other places, it
was altering the gospel to make grace a license to sin (Jude 4). Today, there
are similar efforts to alter the gospel with the additions of religious creeds
of man and/or altering or even denying the moral precepts of the gospel
suggesting they no longer apply. Some even claim to be Christians but deny
that Jesus is the only way to the Father as he said He was (John 14:6) or that
we are divinely limited in who may divorce (Matthew 19:4,5) or whether
homosexual practice constitutes sin (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
Another Gospel, Or the Gospel Distorted?
Paul mentions both other gospels as well as a distorted gospel. The end result
of both is the same-the displeasure of God (Galatians 1:6,7).
Paul had worked tirelessly to instruct the Galatians and others in the pure
gospel for their salvation. Changing the gospel could/would render all that
effort in their behalf vain (Galatians 4:9-11). They would become enslaved
again (Galatians 5:1). They would be fallen from grace (Galatians 5:4). They
would be hindered from obeying the truth (Galatians 5:7). In fact, these
things had already occurred with some of them!
Understand this important point: These who had distorted the gospel were still
mentioning Jesus in their teachings. They were not denying the death, burial
and resurrection of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). One can still render the
gospel vain without such a denial. The Galatians had done so.
Also, there is a difference between being faithful to the gospel and being
perfect. (Men, are you a faithful husband? Are you a perfect husband? See?
There is a difference!) These people were not condemned for being less than
perfect while trying to live by the gospel, but rather for looking to a
different, or distorted gospel for their justification.
We might also look at who God specifically prohibits from changing the gospel
(see Galatians 1:8,9).
"We" - This would be Paul and the
apostles or Paul and his associates. An apostle was not permitted to change
what was given to him by revelation (John 14:26). What would happen if an
apostle acted in a way contrary to what he had received by revelation? He
would stand condemned unless she repented! (Acts 10:34-35; Galatians 2:11;
"An angel" - This may be somewhat
hypothetical, but I have met and talked with people who thought an angel had
communicated something to them different from what is written in the gospel.
In fact, whole religions have been founded on such alleged occurrences. So,
even if it happened, what do we do with such an event? We recognize that the
messenger is "accursed" ("anathema" - he has incurred the disfavor of God)
"Any man" ("whoever") - teaching a different
gospel is accursed - has incurred God's disfavor.
The gospel is not a "living document" in the sense that it is subject to
change, but it is in that it imparts life in a practical and eternal sense.
This is one of the reasons that we seek to know the definitions of Bible words
as they were defined when revealed by the Lord and written down to eventually
form the pages of the New Testament. It is the revelation of Almighty God. It
does not need to be changed from what it is; it needs to be received into the
heart as it is.
From The Bradley Banner 11/1/2009
Published by the Bradley Church of Christ
1505 E. Broadway