The Gospel is Not the Gospel When Works Are Added

Paul said, “I declare to you the gospel” (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). It seems reasonable to assume that what follows from his pen is the gospel – the good news. Yesterday we looked at the little phrase “by which you are saved.” Today we move a little further in the passage. “If you hold fast that word which I preached to you” (1 Corinthians 15:2).

This “if” word brings the possibility that some of the Corinthian believers may not have been holding firm to the true gospel. Galatians believers found themselves in this same category. They became deceived by false teachers who were perverting the true gospel so much, that it became a different gospel – a gospel that could not save (Galatians 1:6).

How were these deceivers twisting the gospel? They were adding human works to the finished work of Christ, teaching that unless the Galatians were circumcised and keeping the law, they could not be saved (Galatians 5:2). They were saying that God who took on flesh – “God” who took on flesh – and died on the cross, did not do enough to save all who trust in Him by faith alone. That Jesus Christ really did not finish the work that His Father sent Him to do. . . but the Bible says He did (John 19:30). That His cross work really did not satisfy forever the Father’s demand of death for sin. . .but the Bible says it did (Romans 3:24-26).

At the moment that we add any human work – however small – to the finished work of Christ, we no longer have grace. Paul says that if being saved is truly by grace, then it is no longer of works, otherwise, grace is no more grace (Romans 11:6). That is crystal clear. Salvation must be all of grace or it is not grace at all.

So many times the gospel is presented, and then human works of every kind are tagged on at the end in order to receive its benefits. Additions like turning from sin, getting baptized, joining the church, giving money, walking an aisle, the list goes on and on – all good things to do, but after one is saved – not before. Before salvation comes, one does not have the power to do anything for God – I mean anything. These additions are the subtle work of Satan destroying the saving power of the gospel.  He does so by fueling the pride of those who make these changes, adding the works of man to the finished work of God. 

Through the gospel dead people are made alive (Ephesians 2:1-6). How can a dead person be asked to change before life comes? Satan blinds people to the truth of the gospel (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). How can a blind person be asked to see before the scales of blindness are removed? Jesus Christ did enough on the cross to save us and to keep us saved. “I once was lost but now I’m found, ‘twas blind but now I see.” I truly love these words, don’t you? Stay safe and stay tuned.