I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the Good News I have spread is not a human message. I did not receive it from any person. I was not taught it, but Jesus Christ revealed it to me. (Galatians 1:11-12)
Suppose you wanted to buy an ice cream cone. You might take a couple of dollars and go to the store that sells ice cream. You would pay for it and enjoy it. Simple, right?
Now suppose that you gave the clerk some play money? You would not get the ice cream. The play money might work for you if you were playing a game like Monopoly. But that is because it is part of a game of pretend. But buying real ice cream cone at a real store is not a game. If you want real ice cream, you need real money.
In the Bible passage, Paul warns us against having a pretend Gospel. The Good News I have spread is not a human message. Paul goes on to say, I did not receive it from any person. I was not taught it, but Jesus Christ revealed it to me. The real Gospel is the good news that Christ died for us and rose again from the dead. His death paid for our sins. Since we have real sins, we need a real payment – not a pretend one. Jesus rose from the dead to give us a new life. If we want a real eternal life, not a pretend one, we need a real resurrection.
But just as we can make play money, we can also make a play gospel. One pretend gospel says: If you are good and do the best you can, you will go to heaven. That says you have to save yourself. People who believe that pretend gospel comfort each other when someone dies by saying, He was such a good person; then they tell us all the good things the dead person did.
But that is a pretend gospel. The real Gospel says we are saved not because we are good but because Christ was good for us.
Another pretend gospel says: If God is good, He will not let anyone go to Hell. I cannot imagine God wanting anyone to suffer; so He will take care of us all.
True, God tells us that He does not want anyone to go to Hell. And God prepared a way for all people to be saved through Jesus. But His way is not to ignore our sins. His way is to pay for our sins. It is a pretend gospel that says God will just forget about our evil.
Another pretend gospel is the idea that there is no Heaven or Hell. As long as we think there is no life after death, we can also think we do not need a Savior. But God did not make us to be throw away people. He made us to live forever. And He gave us a way to have eternal life through Christ.
We can think of other pretend gospels. To check if the message we hear is real, ask yourself, Who made it? The difference between real and pretend money is in who made it and why it was made. The same is true about messages that tell us about eternal life. When people make up their own gospels, they always have to depend on themselves. When God gives us His Gospel, He let’s us depend on Him.
– Reverend Joel Holls