We are currently considering what Paul means by his statement in Galatians 1:11, “the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel?”
In Part 1, we learned that Paul is emphasizing the fact that the gospel he first preached to the Galatians was not human-like but rather God-like. There is nothing characteristically human about the gospel. It doesn’t possess any human qualities.
We then explored the first two ways in which the gospel cannot be characterized as human. Here now are two additional reasons why the gospel cannot be characterized as human.
3. The Holy Purpose of the Gospel Cannot Be Characterized as Human (1:4b).
Paul, in Galatians 1:4b says that the purpose of Christ’s death was to deliver sinners from this present evil world. In contrast, the fallen human heart loves the things of the world and senses no need for deliverance. (cf. 1 Jn. 5:19).
For example, in 2 Timothy 4:10, Paul, writing of Demas says, “for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me…” In James 4:4, James describes unbelievers as being in friendship with the world, “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” To be in friendship with the world is to have a deep and intimate affection for the things of the world.
John, in 1 John 2:15-17, reveals how the hearts of unbelievers love the world (i.e., the world system that is opposed to God) and the things in the world. In 1 John 5:19, John states that the whole world (i.e., all the spiritually unconverted) lies in the power of the evil one.
The gospel, then, cannot be characterized as human because its purpose is directly opposite from the fallen desire (i.e., love of the world) and state (i.e., lies in the power of the evil one) of an unconverted heart.
4. The Sovereign Origin of the Gospel Cannot Be Characterized as Human (1:4c).
Paul unequivocally attributes the origin of man’s salvation to God’s will. Christ gave Himself for our sins in order to deliver us from this evil world and He did so “according to the will of our God and Father.” By this single phrase, Paul destroys the gospel according to man (i.e., man’s self-righteous works as the source of justification) and extols the good pleasure and gracious will of our God and Father.
Note Paul didn’t say “according to our Judge” but rather “according to our Father.” We see the love of the Father for His people revealed in the saving work of His Son. John, in 1 John 4:10 writes, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” What love! What grace! What mercy!
In Romans 1:1 and 1 Thessalonians 2:8, Paul calls the gospel, “the gospel of God,” because He is its author. The gospel originates with God. He is its source and architect. Salvation from beginning to end belongs to the Lord (Jonah 2:9). “For,” as Paul writes, “from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen,” (emphasis mine; Rom. 11:36).
Consider carefully the following observation by Graeme Goldsworthy concerning the divine authorship of the gospel,
“…it is God’s gospel. He is the author of it and the one who puts it into effect. It achieves what He wants it to, and in the way he determines. It deals with the problems that he perceives and defines. It does not primarily deal with our needs as we perceive them- how can I live a better life, overcome my hang-ups, make sense of my existence-although it may include these (as a benefit-J.F.). The gospel is God’s way of dealing with his “problem” of how He, a holy and just God, can justify and accept the sinner. Only God’s wisdom is great enough to devise a plan that will achieve this,” (According to Plan, pp. 81-82).