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. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
Galatians 1:8, 9 ESV
Over the course of the last decade, since Jesus exploded my heart with His love, I have found that my understanding of theology and the Bible and God’s nature and character have not been static. There has been a theological evolution that I’ve actively participated in throughout my entire Christian life. At times, I’ll admit, that it frightens me a bit to think back at some of the things that I used to hold so tightly to, arrogantly and immaturely believing that I had “figured” out the Faith. These intermittent moments of reflection have proved to be good for me diagnostically as I am forced to look at my present beliefs, assumptions, and questions and see if they are looking and sounding as goofy as some did in the past.
The “older” I grow in the faith, and the more mature I hopefully am becoming, the more I resonate with what Paul says to the Galatian church in the beginning of his letter to them. Despite the restless nature of my understanding of peripheral and esoteric truths and teachings, I am stalwart in my belief in the core reality of the Gospel. In fact, by the grace of God, I can look back over the course of the last decade (plus a little more) and watch the thread of the cross and empty tomb survive all of my questions, all of my doubts, all of my misunderstandings, and all of my theological flip-flops. The essence of my hope, the center of my faith, the core of my salvation has not, will not, and can not change. I know that Jesus Christ took my failures to the cross, died in an unimaginably horrendous way both physically and emotionally, and then walked out of a stone tomb to pronounce His un-challengeable supremacy over both life and death, over sin, and over eternity past, present and future. NONE of that has changed, and if any of it ever does I will not have had a “revelation” or a “spiritual awakening”, I will have walked away from the truth.
The French are given credit for the origination of a phrase, though there are two sources that I would prefer to listen to (as I am never fond of listening the French). Both Snake Plissken (Kurt Russel) in the movie, “Escape from L.A.”, as well as the funk band Tower of Power in their phenomenal song, “Diggin on James Brown” said this:
“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
I think that what Paul understood, and what I am leaning day by day, is that this statement captures the essence of the steadfast nature of the Gospel. We orbit the central message of the person and work of Jesus Christ like protons and neutrons around an atom, so it makes sense that our perspectives will be somewhat different depending on where we are in life. But the truth of the crown jewel of the message of the Bible never changes, never evaporates in the flames of scrutiny, never relinquishes it’s grasp on the hearts of the redeemed.
The message of grace will never change. It can be seen close up and far away, it can be illustrated and complicated, but it can never be altered. To alter and change this truth is not only to speak of something other than what it is, it is to put your soul in peril of hopelessness and despondency.
So friends, I encourage you to grow. I encourage you to ask questions. I encourage you to challenge things that you don’t understand. Truly, I’ll be doing the same thing. But in the end, the message that brings us to these questions and challenges and that facilitates all of this movement is a timeless truth of a timely Savior that will never fade or be disproved.