5. The Exclusive Subject of the Gospel Cannot be Characterized as Human (1:7c).
Christ is the exclusive object, the sole essence and the single focal point of the Gospel.
In Galatians 1:7, Paul labels the gospel as “the gospel of Christ,” because He is both its subject and substance.
The gospel is not some vague, generic theism, an Oprah Winfrey god (little “god”), which is so popular in our culture today.
The person and work of Christ mark the limits of the gospel. Thus, to preach the gospel is to preach Christ (1:11, 16). To desert the gospel is to desert Christ (1:6). To distort the gospel is to distort Christ (1:7). To receive the gospel is to receive Christ (1:12).
The gospel embraces and focuses exclusively on Christ’s humanity and Deity (i.e. His person) as well as his birth, death, burial, resurrection, ascension and second coming (i.e. His work).
The gospel, then, is preeminently Christ-centered. It looks totally away from self to Christ. To look away from self is hardly characteristic of fallen humanity!
6. The Chief Goal of the Gospel Cannot be Characterized as Human (1:5, 24; 6:14).
The gospel takes dead aim at the glory of God. God’s glory, not man’s, is the central focus of the gospel.
The one common characteristic of fallen man is the desire for his own exaltation. Self-love, self-promotion, self-justification and self-exaltation are the driving desires of the fallen heart. (cf. Gal. 4:17; 6:12-14). The gospel according to man drives man to make much of man (Gal. 4:17; 6:12-13). The gospel according to Christ compels man to make much of Christ (Gal. 6:14).
God has designed everything about the gospel for His own glory (cf. Eph. 1:6, 12, 14).
The gospel attributes all to Christ and nothing to man. The gospel takes away from man and condemns all his glory, wisdom, reason, righteousness and goodness and attributes it all to Christ alone.
The gospel, then, is not man’s announcement about God. The gospel message is not a revelation of man’s thinking or ways (cf. Isa. 55:1-3, 8-9; 1 Cor. 1:18; 2:14). Rather, the gospel is God’s announcement from heaven concerning His Good News to man (cf. Lk. 2:9-10). The gospel is, as Martin Luther stated, extra nos (outside of us).
The heart of gospel proclamation consists in announcing to sinners the divinely authored and given message of justification by grace through faith in Christ alone apart from the works of the law (cf. Gal. 2:16).
F.F. Bruce writes,
“…the gospel preached by Paul was the law-free gospel, the gospel to which anything like the obligation to be circumcised was completely alien. And this law-free gospel, he insists, is the gospel which he received by divine revelation on the Damascus Road and which he was commissioned to make known among the Gentiles. It was no gospel according to man, for no earthly authority had imparted it to him, neither was it the product of his own reasoning,” (Galatians, p. 88).
Having examined six reasons why the gospel is not a human message, the question may be asked, “What is the gospel according to man?”
To be continued…