The Real Gospel and a Different Gospel
By David M Rogers
Published: Winter 2007
Table of Contents
I marvel that you are so readily turning away from Him who called you in the favor of Messiah, to a different ‘Good News,’ which is not another, only there are some who are troubling you and wishing to pervert the Good News of Messiah. However, even if we, or a messenger out of heaven, bring a ‘Good News’ to you beside what we announced to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, and now I say again, if anyone brings a ‘Good News’ to you beside what you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or Elohim? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I should not be a servant of Messiah. And I make known to you, brothers, that the Good News announced by me is not according to man. For I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but through a revelation of Yahusha’ Messiah.
Following the introductory remarks, Sha'ul immediately proceeds into a rebuke of the exiles in Galatia. Evidently, the message of freedom which was found in Messiah did not prevent some of the Galatians from wanting to slide back into the old ways and into another religious system which is in contrast to the message of Messiah.
“Gospel” means “good news” or “good announcement” “good message.” Dispensationalists like to define the gospel by quoting 1 Corinthians 15:1-8:
Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel that I preached to you, that you received and on which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received--that Messiah died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, and that he appeared to Kepha, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to Ya'acov, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as though to one born at the wrong time, he appeared to me also.
Is the gospel “the death, burial and resurrection of Messiah”? Yes, that is one aspect of it. But that is not all of the gospel. That scripture only pertains to the means by which forgiveness of sins was accomplished. The death, burial and resurrection of Messiah is only a capsulated formula summarizing the means by which reconciliation was obtained through Messiah. Sha'ul describes the gospel in other terms elsewhere.
The Gospel as defined and described in the Scriptures includes all of the following: The scattering of Yisrael because of their transgressions and the subsequent re-gathering of a repentant Yisrael by the work of Messiah. Repentance takes the form of returning to obedience to his Covenant – the chukim (statutes) and mishpatim (judgments or decisions) of the Torah. The goyim (lost Northern Kingdom and all whom they bring back with them) are to become a part of the Household of Faithfulness in full number.
Since this topic is so important and complex, I have placed this study on a separate page entitled (amazingly enough) The Gospel. For a complete understanding of Sha'ul's concern for the Galatians, please read this full article before moving on to the subject of A Different Gospel as described in the next section, Warning Against False Prophets.
Please click on this link to study The Gospel.
In summary, the Gospel is the work of Messiah to accomplish all that the Prophets predicted: the re-gathering of all repentant 12 tribes of Israel back to obedience to the commandments of Yahuwah which leads to their return to the Land of inheritance under Messiah the King.
The true "Good News" of the Scriptures is a call to repentance and obedience to the written commandments of Yahuwah. Any other proclamation of a "gospel" that doesn't teach these essentials is a "false gospel" - "another gospel." When people who “call themselves by his name” follow after the practices of the pagans, and celebrate the birthday of the Sun-god, meet on the day of the Sun, eat all that is forbidden in Torah, hang pictures of “Jesus” on the wall, wear crosses or other “symbols” which depict Dagon worship, sing hymns and praises to a god whose name is based on the name Zeus (Iaysous) – they are proclaiming “another gospel.” Gospels that proclaim another way of salvation other than repentance and obedience to the Covenant are false gospels. There is only one true Gospel - the one that announces salvation and favor with Elohim based on a decision to repent from sin and return to the right living of obedience to the eternal commandments of the Scriptures.
I marvel that you are so readily turning away from Him who called you in the favor of Messiah, to a different ‘Good News,’ which is not another, only there are some who are troubling you and wishing to pervert the Good News of Messiah. However, even if we, or a messenger out of heaven, bring a ‘Good News’ to you beside what we announced to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, and now I say again, if anyone brings a ‘Good News’ to you beside what you have received, let him be accursed.
It is “astounding” ("I marvel" reads the text) to Sha'ul that anyone who has heard the good news of the redemption that Messiah accomplished on our behalf would turn back to the old ways of trying to worship Elohim by performing all the practices and customs of the pagans or the traditions of the Sanhedrin (Rabbis). The good news of Scripture is clear and concise. Elohim forgives all who will turn away from lawlessness and return to loving Him with the whole mind, soul and strength. The good news is that Messiah has accomplished the means of return to fellowship and blessings by his death on the tree and his subsequent resurrection from the dead.
But some of Sha'ul's Galatian readers were turning away to "another gospel." Yet, there is no "other gospel." Any other message proclaiming salvation any other way that that which the Law and the Prophets proclaimed is a false gospel.
What was this gospel that was being believed by the Galatians? We get a clue about this when we read of the Messiah's confrontations with the Pharisees and teachers of the law. The Pharisaic way of life was taught as one where you are to obey the scribes and elders, who were the sole interpreters of the Scriptures. Thus, to obey the man-made enactments of the Sanhedrin is greater than obedience to what YOU think the written Scriptures say. So the Messiah, on one occasion, strongly rebuked the Pharisees. In answer to their objection to his ignoring of their own traditions, Yahusha responded,
"And why do you disobey the commandment of Elohim because of your tradition? For Elohim said, 'Honor your father and mother' and 'Whoever insults his father or mother must be put to death.' But you say, 'If someone tells his father or mother, "Whatever help you would have received from me is given to Elohim," he does not need to honor his father.' You have nullified the word of Elohim on account of your tradition" (Mattityahu 15:3-6).
Contrary to the opinion of many teachers in the Christian churches, the Pharisees were not teaching and obeying the Law of the Old Testament Scriptures! Messiah was not rebuking them about such obedience. The Pharisees had concocted their own teachings, laws, customs and traditions which contradicted the Instructions of Scripture. So Messiah said, "And why do you disobey the commandment of Elohim because of your tradition? " If they had been obeying and teaching the commandments of Scripture, Messiah would have commended them, just as he proclaimed that "whoever obeys them and teaches others to do so will be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Mattityahu 5:19).
The Pharisees were teaching and enforcing upon the people of Israel "another gospel." This gospel goes something like this: "whoever obeys the Pharisees will enter the kingdom of heaven." But the Scripture teaches the true gospel that "whoever obeys the Covenant of Yahuwah" will find life and peace and blessing (cf. Devarim 30, again).
In his strongest recorded rebuke of the Pharisees as recorded by his followers, Messiah said,
"The experts in the law and the Pharisees sit on Mosheh's seat. Therefore, everything he (Mosheh) says to you, do and keep. But do not do what they (the Pharisees) do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy loads, hard to carry, and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing even to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by people, for they make their phylacteries wide and their tassels long..." (Mattityahu 23:2-5).
The rebuke goes on for most of the rest of chapter 23. What was Messiah accusing them of? They were teaching their own commandments rather than the commandments of Scripture. Messiah taught his followers to "do what Mosheh says to you." But the Pharisees were not to be obeyed because "they do not practice what they teach."
(Note: the rest of the commentary on the book of Galatians deals in greater detail with the question of what is the true gospel and what is "another gospel." So, read on....)
“Another gospel” = “obedience to man-made traditions and teachings," rather than "obedience to Yahuwah." Any modern day proclamation of a gospel other than the one which teaches obedience to Elohim's Laws is a false gospel. What do the Law and the Prophets say about bringing another "way of salvation"? Let's see.... We begin with the definition of the True Gospel and the consequences for teaching anything else. The Torah (Law) teaches that all who teach a message other than what Yahuwah says should be put to death:
But if any prophet presumes to speak anything in my name that I have not authorized him to speak, or speaks in the name of other elohim, that prophet must die. Now if you say to yourselves, 'How can we tell that a message is not from Yahuwah?'-- whenever a prophet speaks in my name and the prediction is not fulfilled, then I have not spoken it; the prophet has presumed to speak it, so you need not fear him. (Devarim 18:20-22).
This is what Sha'ul is alluding to when he says, "even if we, or a messenger out of heaven, bring a ‘Good News’ to you beside what we announced to you, let him be accursed." For Sha'ul, "let him be accursed" = "put him to death." The Torah explicitly instructs the assembly to put to death anyone who brings "another gospel."
Even more to the point, the Torah orders the death sentence to any prophet that teaches men to follow after other gods (i.e. authorities, such as the Pharisees):
Suppose a prophet or one who foretells by dreams should appear among you and show you a sign or wonder, and the sign or wonder should come to pass concerning what he said to you, namely, "Let us follow other elohim"--elohim whom you have not previously known--"and let us serve them." You must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer, for Yahuwah your Elohim will be testing you to see if you love him with all your mind and being. You must follow Yahuwah your Elohim and revere only him; and you must observe his commandments, obey him, serve him, and remain loyal to him. As for that prophet or dreamer, he must be executed (i.e. “accursed”) because he encouraged rebellion against Yahuwah your Elohim who brought you from the land of Egypt, redeeming you from the place of slavery, and because he has tried to entice you from the way Yahuwah your Elohim has commanded you to go. In this way you must purge out evil from within. (Devarim 13:1-5).
We should not tolerate any other gospel other than that which is prescribed by the Torah and the Prophets. Any message proclaiming obedience to any other system other than the commandments of Yahuwah is a false message and those who teach it are sentenced by the Torah to death.
This point is so clear to Sha'ul, who never strays from the Law and the Prophets in his teachings, that he repeats it:
As we have said before, and now I say again, if anyone brings a ‘Good News’ to you beside what you have received, let him be accursed.
There can be no other gospel proclamation than that which reflects the words which proceeded from the mouth of Yahuwah. Any message that teaches another way of salvation may be considered a test from Yahuwah designed to test you as to whether you will love Him with all your mind, heart and strength. We must "revere only him; and you must observe his commandments, obey him, serve him, and remain loyal to him."
For do I now persuade men, or Elohim? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I should not be a servant of Messiah. And I make known to you, brothers, that the Good News announced by me is not according to man. For I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but through a revelation of Yahusha’ Messiah.
People who are in denial about the truthfulness and pertinence of Yahuwah's commandments usually play the game of trying to convince themselves and others and even Elohim that their choices and their opinions have validity. Not so he who remains loyal to Elohim. For it is by faithfulness that the righteous one shall live. Sha'ul is not willing to play that game. He does not try to please men and their opinions by capitulating to their skewed views. He is not willing to accept and promote "another gospel" which is really no gospel at all.
The Pharisees of Sha'ul's day promoted their own authority to make laws that superseded Elohim's word. They used their political and social influence to persuade the masses to follow their rules, customs and laws - even when their ways clearly were in stark contrast to the plain Instruction of Scripture. The one who wants to do the things that please Elohim cannot also do the things that please and affirm men.
The Master Yahusha explained this to his talmidim (disciples):
"No servant can serve two Masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve Elohim and money." The Pharisees (who loved money) heard all this and ridiculed him. But Yahusha said to them, "You are the ones who justify yourselves in men's eyes, but Elohim knows your hearts. For what is highly prized among men is utterly detestable in Elohim's sight. The Law and the prophets (were proclaimed) until Yochanan; since then, the good news of the kingdom of Elohim has been proclaimed, and everyone is forcing his way into it. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tiny stroke of a letter in the Torah to become void" (Luke 16:13-17).
Like those who promote another gospel which declares that one does not have to obey the commandments of Elohim, the Pharisees were always trying to justify themselves in men's eyes. If the theologian, pastor or teacher can convince you by his eloquent oratory or by his credentials (don't they all like to be called "Dr.") that their gospel is correct and that the "Old Testament Law" is wrong, they have justified themselves before men. But Elohim says that the things they seek after (i.e. prestige [call me "Dr. So-and-so"], position, wealth and authority) are abhorrent in His eyes.
In contrast to what men seek after and the false gospel they invariably proclaim, Messiah goes on to instruct his disciples about the true gospel by explaining the utter immutability of the Scriptures: "But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tiny stroke of a letter in the Torah to become void." Which is to say: it doesn't matter what men teach as "gospel." Their teachings are worthless. But what Elohim declares as gospel - the Instructions of Scripture - has eternal validity and relevance. Those things will never pass away.
Many Christian leaders and teachers have misread and mislead in their interpretation of this saying of Messiah. They teach that "the Law and the Prophets...until John" means that the Law and the Prophets are binding until John came with the message of the incoming of the kingdom of heaven. But this is not what Messiah is teaching!! Yahusha is describing the foreshadowing and predictive element of the Torah and the Prophets. They continued to look forward until Yochanan came to introduce Messiah, who was to fulfill all those prophetic utterances. With John's coming, the fulfillment was present, no longer in the past. But Messiah goes on to point out that none of that which is being fulfilled can pass away. What the Law and the Prophets teach is still binding on those who wish to please Elohim and enter into Covenant relationship with Him.
The message which Sha'ul preaches as "gospel" is not the declaration that comes from men or pleases men. Nor did he receive it from man. Sha’ul used to receive his teaching from men – the Pharisees, and he used to be “taught” by men. But not any more. He is no longer a men-pleaser – he does not capitulate to the majority opinion or to the teachings of men which detract from the written word. Those who do so are NOT servants of Messiah.
He insists that he received it "through a revelation of Yahusha’ Messiah." Now the very ultra dispensational Christians (read, "Grace Church") believe that Paul received one or more special and unique revelations from Christ which was the framework of "his gospel." But to hold to such a view broadcasts a profound ignorance of the Scriptures. The reader must understand the history as recorded by Messiah's disciples. We are told that Sha'ul was a Pharisee, taught by the famous Rabbi Gamaliel. Pharisees, as evidenced by Messiah rebuke of said ones, taught a very different message than the Scriptures. Thus, Sha'ul was convinced that Yahusha was a false Messiah.
The "revelation" he received was the appearance of Yahusha to him as he traveled on the road to Damascus to further his persecuting of Yahusha's disciples. When Messiah revealed Himself to Sha'ul, it was a dramatic transformation of his thinking, his beliefs and his lifestyle. When Yahusha revealed Himself, Sha'ul became aware of the error of his ways and the utter absurdity of the lifestyle and teachings of the Pharisees. Returning to the authority of the Scriptures, Sha'ul came to learn the teaching of the Torah of Yahuwah:
Do not add a thing to what I command you nor subtract from it, so that you may keep the commandments of Yahuwah your Elohim that I am delivering to you (Devarim 4:2).
Any attempt to go a different way, to add commands or remove commands, or to alter the way which Yah told us to walk in constitutes rebellion. Sha'ul understood that the Pharisees' teaching was "another gospel" - not the true teaching of Scripture.
So when Sha'ul declares that he learned the gospel by "a revelation of Messiah Yahusha," he means that literally. The true gospel of the Scriptures only became clear to him when he understood who Yahusha is. The gospel is all about showing love to Yahuwah by the fidelity of obeying his eternal commandments, not by obeying and adhering to the commandments of men.