The Real Good News
“To recover the old, authentic, biblical gospel, and to bring our preaching and practice back into line with it, is perhaps our most pressing present need.” J. I. Packer wrote these words in his 1958 introduction to a reprint of John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. While Packer’s argumentation took him a distinct direction in the late 1950’s, his statement is no less applicable for us today.
In his letter to the Galatians, we find the same concern Packer raises in 1958 coming to the fore of the Apostle Paul’s thoughts in the first century:
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – which is really no gospel at all. (Galatians 1:6-7a)
That ‘old, authentic, biblical gospel’, Paul says, is something you have set aside for a new gospel that is … well, to be honest, not even a gospel at all.
In the church today, we are no less in need of considering what the real gospel is so that we do not exchange it for middle-class morality, therapeutic psychology, or dutiful religion.
What, then, we should ask, is the real gospel? What does Paul help us to understand about the nature of the gospel in Galatians that might help keep us on track as we assess our contemporary time?
Here are five things worth considering from Galatians:
- The real gospel is not of human origin – rather, God is the source (1:11-12).
- The real gospel admits human depravity – and God is the rescuer from sin (1:3-4; 3:13).
- The real gospel does not focus on human effort – but God is the gracious giver (2:15-16).
- The real gospel does not make new human duties and laws – but God provides His Spirit (5:16-18).
- The real gospel is not aimed at human glory – God gets glory for ever and ever (1:4b-5).
I am a husband to Kelly, father of three boys, a pastor, musician, avid hiker, disciple of Christ. Currently, I am employed as the Senior Pastor at Eastbrook Church in Milwaukee, WI. Before that I was the Associate Pastor at Brooklife Church in Mukwonago, WI, which I helped to plant a few years ago after serving for five years as the Collegiate Ministries Pastor at Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, WI. I graduated with a Masters in Divinity from Northern Theological Seminary and a Bachelors in English and Christian Education from Wheaton College (IL).