The apostle Paul faced a unique problem when he went to Galatia to present the gospel. Among the Galatians was a group of Judaizers who had changed the gospel of Christ to “another gospel.” These Jewish leaders were adding works of the law to the grace of Christ. In a real sense they were rejecting the true nature of grace. Many find it easy to reject grace. They do not understand that they do not have to do anything other than believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior through the cross to be saved. That was not enough for some of the Galatians. They wanted to add works of the law to the grace of Christ in order to be saved. Paul was against such a thing and said it was a perversion of the gospel. He warned the Galatians that they should not believe such preaching even if it came from “an angel from heaven.” The one preaching such a gospel was to be accursed.
People are still trying to pervert the gospel today. It is still difficult for persons to accept the pure grace of Jesus Christ as an atonement for sin and the only way to salvation. Today’s world still finds it easy to add things from man-made traditions to create another gospel.
One temptation is to say that a person has to be baptized in order to be saved. Paul affirmed that salvation is “By grace … through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works” (Ephesians 2:8, 9). Yet some fail to see that baptism is a work when it is made a requirement for salvation. It isn’t too difficult to find persons who, when asked if they are saved, will answer by saying that they have been baptized.
Another temptation is to add speaking in tongues as evidence of salvation. There are no scriptures in the Bible that indicate that a person has to speak in an unknown tongue to confirm salvation. Some persons confuse the indwelling of the Spirit, which happens at conversion, with the filling of the Holy Spirit, which occurs repeatedly in the believer’s life. This confusion leads some to think that one has to demonstrate his having been filled as a confirmation of salvation. Requiring any outward sign to confirm salvation perverts the gospel because it adds something to the pure message God has given in His Word.
Another perversion of the gospel is the assumption that when a person joins the church, he has joined Christ — thus that church membership is synonymous with salvation. Again, this is “another gospel.” Water baptism is an act of obedience where members of the church authenticate the outward experience of one’s inner faith, but that does not guarantee that a person is saved. Church membership does not constitute salvation.
Paul said that the medium of preaching was designed by God to lead the lost to salvation. Why should we change the gospel, or the method of communicating it, for that matter? I agree with Paul; all those who pervert the gospel should be accursed.