The Gospel Doesn’t Change
by Jacob Hudgins
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change”(James 1:17).
Our age is addicted to change. Technology must update. Scientific knowledge must be current or it is worthless. One of the greatest insults in our time is to be called “outdated” or “old-fashioned.” So it will require a good deal of courage to base our lives, thinking, families, and moral choices on a book that is old. It is in the face of this dilemma that we need to be reminded: the gospel doesn’t change!
When teachers came to the churches of Galatia to convince them to follow the Mosaic Law, Paul emphasized that the gospel is not a changing one. “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed”(Gal 1:6-8). No matter who preaches—even an apostle or an angel!—the gospel cannot change! This verse leaves us with the impression that we are not waiting for Gospel 2.0 because the first edition is perfect!
Jude had to change the topic and tone of his letter. “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints”(Jude 3). The false teachers who had crept in among his audience were not bringing “gospel updates” but perverting the gospel. Instead of looking for new revelations, he taught that God’s people should “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered.” The gospel has been delivered “once for all” and doesn’t change.
The message of Jesus was intended to be the last message of God. “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son”(Heb 1:1-2). In Jesus’ parable of the vinedressers, God sends servants (prophets) until “he had still one another, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them”(Mark 12:6). “Finally” here means “last”(NKJV). After the message of Jesus has been delivered (through the apostles and prophets), there is no need for a further revelation and no expectation of it.
To put it another way, what has truly changed since the time of the apostles? Man hasn’t changed. He still has the same tendencies and weaknesses, the same strengths and problems. He still needs forgiveness and direction. God hasn’t changed. He still loves man and wants to save and help him. He still has standards that man still does not attain. Man’s great need and God’s great offer still stand. They don’t need to update with the times.
Yes, I follow a book that is almost two millennia old! But I serve a God who exists outside of time and I know that his words are true! Society will run along at a breakneck clip, but the gospel doesn’t change.