That’s Why They Call It “Gospel”
Categories: Tuck's Blog
In today’s reading (Acts 16:1-3), Paul meets Timothy and wants to take him along on his missionary journey, but he first has him circumcised. This at first surprises us, knowing Paul’s staunch refusal to do the same for Titus (Gal 2:3). Paul wrote constantly to condemn those who preached circumcision, at one point saying that if you insist on cutting, don’t stop at just circumcision (Gal 5:12). Ouch! Timothy is Jewish through his mother, and he would not have access to Jewish synagogues (where much of Paul’s preaching was done) until he was circumcised. This was about access, not about piety.
Paul fought the false gospel that we can save ourselves through our good works. He said this was “no gospel at all” (Gal 1:7). The idea that we can be good enough morally or smart enough theologically or do enough spiritually to earn our salvation is heresy! If we really think that is what saves us, then we really can’t win. Really.
- Think you must do enough or know enough… and you have? The result of that is PRIDE! You’ll judge those haven’t reached your level of spirituality and you’ll stagnate at that point because there’s no reason to grow further. Just look up the Pharisees.
- Think you must do enough and know enough… and haven’t yet? The result of that is FEAR. You’ll never be confident in God’s love or be joyful in your Christian life. You’ll live in the shadowland of fear, forever doubting your status before God.
Pride or Fear? You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. And that is why Paul says that this gospel of works is no gospel at all. No matter how hard you look, there is just no good news to to be seen here. Move along.
The message of the gospel is that I’ll never be good enough and I’ll never know enough. At some point in my life, I chose to become a sinner and sinner is what I will always be. I am not good, but I have come to know Someone who is good. At the cross, Jesus took my sin upon Himself and destroyed it. And He took His perfect goodness and righteousness and placed it upon me. He placed His Spirit within me and called me to live a holy life, and empowered me to do that in ways I could never do without His help. He has forever destroyed the power of sin and death for all time.
Now that is good news. And that’s why they call it the gospel!