Invention, Tradition or Revelation?
- Colin Smith Colin Smith is Senior Pastor of The Orchard in northwest suburban Chicago.
- 2014 7 Jul
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 1:6-7
Where did the gospel come from? Some people say that the gospel came from Paul—he invented it. Others would say that the gospel must have come from the church—it was handed down by tradition over the centuries. But if you’re going to stake your life on the gospel, you need to have confidence that it’s true…
The gospel did not come from Paul
I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. Galatians 1:11
If Paul invented the gospel, if his teaching is an expression of his own thinking, then we have liberty to disagree with him. But Paul says emphatically, “The gospel I’m preaching is not a human invention.”
Paul reminds us of this plain fact of history—he once poured himself into opposing the gospel message that he now proclaimed: “For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it” (Galatians 1:13).
Paul was once an enemy of the gospel, and since he openly opposed the gospel message before he began to proclaim it, it stands to reason that he could not have invented it!
The gospel did not come from the church
I want you to know, brothers, that… I did not receive [the gospel] from any man, nor was I taught it. Galatians 1:11-12
Many people assume today that the gospel is a tradition of the church—that it has been distorted and manipulated in the interests of those who hold power. So you hear people saying, “Well, of course the church wrote the Bible.”
If it were true that the church wrote the Bible, then the task of each generation would be to update that teaching to fit the ever-changing needs of the church. Paul makes this quite clear here: “It did not come to me from the church. It is not a tradition to be developed adapted or changed.” It’s not the church that creates the gospel. It’s the gospel that creates the church.
The gospel came from Jesus Christ
I want you to know, brothers, that… I received [the gospel] by revelation from Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:11-12
The gospel came from the highest authority. Paul’s gospel came to him by revelation, directly from Jesus Christ. So, we can confidently affirm that the message of Paul is the message of Jesus.
You can stake your life on it
The problem addressed by the gospel is bigger than finding peace, building confidence, overcoming fear, or finding fulfillment. If the problem was internal to us, it might be possible to find an answer from a scientist, a psychologist, or maybe a theologian, or even a friend.
But the problem addressed by the gospel is that our planet is under the wrath of God. That’s why a message invented by Paul, or a message handed down to us by tradition would be of no use to us. It would leave us still under the curse and judgment of God!
If our problem is with God, only a gospel that is from God can help us. The reason the gospel is good news is that it’s from Jesus Christ. It comes from the highest authority, and that’s why you can stake your life on it.
This LifeKey is based on the message (Nov 12, 2006) called: “The Gospel is from God,” by Pastor Colin S. Smith, from the series, “Grasping the Gospel.”
Colin currently serves as Senior Pastor of the The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois. He is committed to preaching the Bible in a way that nourishes the soul by directing attention to Jesus Christ.
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