"No Other Gospel" #73-04
Presented on The Lutheran Hour on October 9, 2005
By Dr. Oswald Hoffmann, Guest Speaker
Copyright 2013 Lutheran Hour Ministries
Text: Galatians 1:6-9
Today's message by Dr. Hoffman originally aired on March 28, 1976.
"Gospel is Good News. From beginning to end. Good News from God." (Oswald C. J. Hoffmann)
ANNOUNCER (1967): "Bringing Christ to the Nations, The Lutheran Hour."
This is Reverend Ken Klaus, present speaker of The Lutheran Hour. Regular listeners have already realized that they have tuned into a special broadcast today. I am stepping aside from the microphone and, via a recording from our archives, allowing the Reverend Doctor Oswald C. J. Hoffmann to speak to you today. More than a half-century ago, on September 25, 1955, Dr. Hoffmann stood before the Lutheran Hour microphone for the first time. With his trademarked rolling, rumbling tones, he told this sinful world about its Savior and the salvation which God would give to all who believed on the Christ as their Redeemer. For the next 33 years, he continued to tell those who were in darkness about Jesus, their heaven-sent Light.
During those years, Ozzie, as he was called by the tens of thousands who knew and loved him, took the Lutheran Hour microphone around the world. He visited combat troops in Vietnam; counseled with presidents; interviewed and told the stories of people as diverse as Mother Teresa, Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, and soprano Marian Anderson. Skilled in Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and German, Dr. Hoffmann was the official Lutheran representative to Vatican II. He has rightly been elected to the Religious Broadcaster's Hall of Fame. Still, this day is not about Oswald Hoffmann. Today it is my duty and privilege to tell you that the Lord Jesus, whom Dr. Hoffmann had served so faithfully, has taken him home to heaven. I, like so many others who had received kind words from Ozzie over the years, will miss him. Many will grieve for him. Still, all who know Jesus will give thanks that our friend's fight has been fought and his course is finished. Today we praise God that Jesus has given our friend the crown of life that He has promised to all who love and have been saved by the Christ, the Savior that Dr. Hoffmann served of and preached over The Lutheran Hour for so many years. That is the focus of this message. It is the focus of the message that he shares with you today, the sainted Dr. Oswald C. J. Hoffman:
HOFFMANN: Lord God of Grace, by the power of Your Spirit, put faith into our hearts through the Good News of Jesus, Your Son, that we may trust Him for salvation, accept forgiveness of our sins, and live to righteousness as sons and daughters in Your family. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. This is the Gospel. Saint Paul said, "There is no other Gospel." In Germany, I am told, there is a group in the church proclaiming the slogan, "Kein Anderes Evangelium" - no other Gospel. I don't know anything about this group, who the people are, what their program is, or how they carry it out. But the idea is good. It comes straight out of Saint Paul who wrote to the Galatians, "I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel, not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the Gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone is preaching to you gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed."
There is only one Gospel. There is no other. Just as there is only one God, there is only one Gospel. It's good news from God, and from His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. It's good news about God, and about His unique and eternal Son, Jesus Christ. It's good news for people, all people, in the man, Christ Jesus, the one Mediator between God and all people everywhere.
The Gospel is good news from beginning to end. It's so good as to be almost unbelievable. The fact is that most people don't believe it. Even those people who do believe it find it almost too good to be true. It thwarts all their ideas of self improvement; it challenges the innate feeling of people that somehow there is something they have to do in order to get right with God, some piety they have to perform, some ritual they have to respect, some formulation they have to follow in order to get on the good side of God.
There is only one Gospel, said Saint Paul. He was absolutely uncompromising about that. Paul had great understanding for the spiritual fits and starts of people in their battle against sin, in their conflicts with the devil, in their struggle with themselves in the face of temptations and attractions of the world. But there can be no tampering with the Gospel, pious or otherwise. It's the only power to bring people around, to convert them, to renew them, and to give them life. It's the Gospel of Christ, the Good News of Christ, and of no other. There is simply no other Gospel. "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ," said Saint Paul, "for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes."
There is only one Lord, whom Paul called affectionately the Lord Jesus Christ. There is only one faith, faith in Jesus Christ, by which people are to be saved. There is only one baptism, baptism in the name of the Father who gave His only Son Jesus Christ that people by the power of His Spirit might believe and be saved from the sin and the death that haunt us all.
There is only one message, the message of salvation by the grace of God in Jesus Christ. All is good news from God; there is no other Gospel.
During World War II a new religion was born. It happened in New Guinea as the United States and its allies poured men and materials into New Guinea. Planes landed at Port Moresby on the south coast and at Lae on the north coast, as well as in the highlands. Out of those planes poured all kinds of goodies, not only munitions but food, clothing, building materials, and all kinds of supplies. The people there, who had never had much contact with the outside world, regarded the whole operation as a sort of "miracle." Then and there a new religion was born.
Advocates of the new religion told the people that the gods of the sky would come again if their worship was proper and sincerely intentioned; the planes would once more unload untold riches from above. There and then the "Cargo Cult" was born and still has its worshippers.
Cargo Cults are the vogue all over the world, more sophisticated, perhaps, but no less devoted to the proposition that material possessions are the end goal of all existence, physical health is the world's greatest good and man's worth is to be measured by the number of things that he possesses. At its base is religion, the world's most popular religion, the natural religion of mankind: that if you are good God will reward you. If you are good only a little, he will give you only little rewards. If you are good a lot, you will be rewarded generously. I have heard that religion stated most earnestly by a young man showing me around the most impressive religious establishment in Japan, and just as sincerely by some Christian people who insist upon their rightness with God because of some program they have followed or some form of piety that has characterized their life.
The moment you add some program or some piety to God's plan of salvation, said Saint Paul, you have lost the whole ballgame. You have given up the whole Gospel. You can't just lose a little part of the Gospel, you always lose the whole thing. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is God's grace, the Good News of God's grace, and His alone. "You are saved by grace" Paul kept telling people, "through faith." Neither the grace nor the faith come from you. They come only from God. It is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. It is not of works, however pious or programmed they may be.
The Gospel of Christ is the Good News of God, who will not hold still for anyone to take His place when it comes to salvation. That comes from Him alone. It's received by faith in Him alone. Faith is brought about by the power of God alone through the Gospel. The Gospel is His, the power is His, and there is no other.
The grace is His, and nothing can be added to it. There is no other Gospel. In a rootless and restless age, in a time of rapid change and shifting values, confused and confounded people run here and there in search of something- anything - to hold on to and to cling to. Some seek solace in what one observer of the modern scene has called the "touchy-feely" sort of thing that encourages a person to tell all those around him that they are really "OK" so that others, around will say in return, "You know, you're really 'OK' too:" Others make exotic or ecstatic experiences their thing. Still others turn to the cults of drugs, or sex, or alcohol; some people seek security in the signs of the zodiac, or at least in their daily horoscopes; or in their "religions" that proclaim self-realization, self-awareness, or worldly success as the chief goal of life.
All of these modern "cargo cults" have one feature that is common to them all: they all promise salvation by something you can do to yourself, for yourself, or in yourself. That's true even of those who make a religion out of not having any religion at all. Martin Luther once said that whatever a man puts first in his life, that is his god, his religion. What really matters is not having a religion or getting a religion. The fact is that religion is not the answer to the problems of people. Faith is. As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. If you depend on yourself, that's the kind of person you are going to be. If you depend on God, that's the kind of person you are going to be.
What I am talking about today is not religion, but faith. What I am telling about today doesn't come from me, or from any other human being. It comes from God. What comes from God is the Gospel - the good news - what God did in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and what God does in the hearts of people even today through the good news of His action in Jesus Christ. In Christ! That's the secret of the Gospel.
In Christ the foundation of a new life is laid. There is no other foundation. He is the only Savior of the world. In Him there is forgiveness, and in no other. In Him there is life, and in no other. In Him there is salvation, and in no other. This is the Gospel, and there is no other Gospel. This is what all those frantic and fearful people are looking for, whether they know it or not and it is what they will find only in Jesus Christ. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the test of everything. It's the test of every religion and every denomination, no matter how big, centuries old, or well organized it may be. If the Gospel of Jesus Christ is there, taught and preached in all its glorious, freeing, and redeeming power, that's the main thing, the chief thing, the all important thing, the only thing!
The Bible is a wonderful treasure store of the mind of God. But if you have missed the Gospel of Jesus Christ, you have missed the whole thing. If that Gospel is not proclaimed, taught, believed, and lived, you have just got another religion, that's all. In terms of eternity religion without Christ is worthless.
I am just telling you what Saint Paul said. He was talking to people who had come to know Jesus Christ and the glorious Gospel of God's grace in Jesus Christ. Then some other people came along and added a few things that needed to be done or to be observed or to be carried out if that Gospel was to be truly effective. Paul reacted immediately. He told these people straight out that they were deserting the Gospel of Jesus Christ. "I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel - not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the Gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed." There is no other Gospel but the Gospel of Christ. It is the Gospel of grace, pure and simple. Salvation is absolutely gratis from God, because that's the way grace is.
People have a natural feeling, deeply ingrained in them that they ought to be doing something to win the favor of God. It goes against their grain to hear the news, good as it may be, that God forgives and accepts sinful people like ourselves simply for the sake of Christ. It is hard to believe. It is hard to accept. It goes against everything we have learned, especially the principle that "you get what you pay for." The grace of God is really an affront to the pride of man. A television commercial in the United States has a girl saying to her mother, "I'd rather do it myself." That's human! It's so human that an advertiser latched onto it as a principle of life.
There is another principle: God is still God. He has the right to do what He wants to do. He has decided to do it by grace. He has said, "I'd rather do it Myself.'" He did it Himself in His Son Jesus Christ. It isn't so much that we love God as that He loved us and gave His Son to be a sacrifice in our place. In Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting our sins against us.
Christ died on His cross, and He did it in His own way. When He was reviled, He reviled not in return. When He suffered, He did not spend His time threatening the people who caused Him suffering. He bore in His own body our sins on that cross of His, that we might get the idea of God's grace and might make a clean break with our own sins to take the righteousness He has to give us, His righteousness. It's something you can't buy, no matter how you try. You get it by grace, or you don't get it at all There is no other Gospel.
The true treasure of the church, said Martin Luther, is the Gospel of God's grace and glory. Salvation comes from Him, and from Him alone. Jesus is His Son, and He gave His Son. Jesus died for our sins, and God forgives for the sake of His Son Jesus. God raised His Son from the dead, and declared Him to be the Son of God with power. His Lordship is God's glory. Jesus Christ is good news from God. He is the Gospel of God's grace and glory.
You, my friend, don't have to get right with God. You are made right with Him, put right with Him, justified by Him, and forgiven by Him for the sake of Jesus Christ. You are saved by God through faith in Jesus Christ. All glory belongs to God. There is no other Gospel. "If I should tell you differently," said Saint Paul, "or an angel from heaven, don't believe it. The Gospel of God is in Jesus Christ, and in Him alone. There is no other Gospel"
Saint Paul was so insistent about the Gospel because his life depended upon it. The lives of all those people depended upon it, too. Our life depends upon it, yours and mine. "As we have said before, so now I say again," reiterated Paul "If anyone is teaching to you a Gospel contrary to that which you have received, let him be accursed." That's strong language, like the language of the prophet Malachi "And now, O priest, this command is for you. If you will not listen, if you will not lay at the heart to give glory to My name," says the Lord of hosts, "then I will send a curse upon you and I will curse your blessings. . . for the lips of a priest should guard knowledge and men should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. But you have turned aside from the way; you have caused many to stumble by your instruction. . . so I make you despised and abased before all the people, inasmuch as you have not kept My way!"
Give glory to the name of God, my friend. He is God and there is no other. Give glory to Him and obey the Gospel. Believe in His great Son Jesus Christ and in His grace that God offers you in Jesus Christ. Accept His forgiveness, and live His life. That's the way to salvation. It's the only way to salvation. There is no other.
This is the Gospel - Good News from God! It produces faith! There is no other Gospel. Amen.
ANNOUNCER: You're listening to a special broadcast of The Lutheran Hour in memory of the late Dr. Oswald Hoffmann, Honorary Lutheran Hour Speaker. Dr. Hoffmann passed away on September 8, 2005, after nearly 70 years of ministry in service to Christ and His Gospel.
Dr. Hoffmann was ordained in 1939. During the course of his ministry he was an author, a pastor, broadcaster, choral director, classical scholar, linguist, teacher, translator, public relations director, film production advisor, and a member of various organizational boards. He authored eight books and served as president of the United Bible Societies. Dr. Hoffmann represented the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod at the Second Vatican Council in Rome. In 1969, he chaired the U.S. Congress on Evangelism in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He also served as North American chairman for the 1974 World Congress on Evangelization in Lausanne, Switzerland. He served as Lutheran Hour Speaker for more than 33 years, from 1955 to 1988.
This has been a presentation of Lutheran Hour Ministries.
Music selections from this program:
"Behold a Host, Arrayed in White" by Egil Hovland. From Cramer & Resch at Kramer Chapel by Craig Cramer and Richard Resch (© 2001 Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, Indiana) Harald Lyche & Co. Musikkforlag, Norway
"Lord, Take My Hand and Lead Me" by John Behnke. From For All Seasons, vol. 1 by John Behnke (© 1996 John A. Behnke) Used by permission
"Nunc Dimittis" by Healey Willan. Concordia Publishing House/SESAC
“Christ Is with Me” by Gerald Coleman. From Sing for Joy! by the Concordia Alumni Choir (© 1998 Concordia University, Bronxville, NY) Concordia Publishing House/SESAC
“Herzlich lieb hab’ ich dich” by Johann Krebs. From Cramer & Resch at Kramer Chapel by Craig Cramer and Richard Resch (© 2001 Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, Indiana)
"Children of the Heavenly Father" by John Behnke. From For All Seasons, vol. 3 by John Behnke (© 2004 John Behnke)Concordia Publishing House/SESAC