“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel…“
The Galatians deserted God Himself. When we defect from the gospel of grace, we defect from more than a doctrine; we desert God.
who called you
God called the Galatians in the sphere of the grace of Christ but they deserted their call (Romans 8:28-30; 1 Corinthians 1:9,23,24; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 4:7; Colossians 3:15; Philippians 3:13,14; Hebrews 3:1; 2 Timothy 1:9; 1 Peter 5:10). Paul says that they are not true to their calling. Their apostasy was from God and His grace, not simply from Paul.
in the grace of Christ,
God called them to a gospel that rested upon the finished work of Christ on the cross (1:4). Christ suffered all that needs to be suffered on the cross. We do not need to suffer for sins because He did the suffering. This is grace. It is a gospel of salvation by what Jesus did, not by what we do. There are no strings attached to this salvation, for it is free because Jesus did all the work. He bore all of our sins in His own body on the cross.
This is the sphere of grace into which God called us. The Galatians did not clearly understand the truth of salvation by grace through faith. Grace is the means of our call. That is, God effectually summons us to salvation only as procured by Christ on the cross. God freely bestows this gift. It comes from the unadulterated generosity of God with no strings attached. Christians are the objects of God’s eternal favor. To revert to law is to miss this truth completely. God saves and sustains us by the finished work of Christ on the cross.
Some Galatians believed that they came to Christ by grace, but works sustained their salvation. This makes salvation dependent upon our works.
to a different gospel
There are two Greek words for “another.” One means another of the same kind, and the other means another of a different kind. The latter idea is our word “different” here. We get the English term “heretic” or “heterodoxy” from this Greek word. The gospel they were buying into was different in its very nature from the gospel of grace. Their new gospel was different by essence. The hazard is high here because the very nature of the gospel is at stake.
“For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it! [a facetious remark]” (2 Corinthians 11:4).
Counterfeiters try to make the fake look as much like the real thing as possible. A gospel with a touch of works seems reasonable to some folk. God views a touch of works as a “heretical” gospel. This is not an orthodox idea but a heterodox idea. It is the polar opposite of orthodoxy. A gospel of justification or sanctification by works is heterodoxy.
The test of the true gospel is the test of grace.
We are under obligation to protect the purity of the gospel of grace. When we defect from the gospel of grace, we defect from God Himself. If we lose sight of the Word of God, we can become turncoats to the true gospel very quickly. This is a deadly issue because we cannot live the Christian life properly without a true understanding of the gospel. Doctrine affects how we live as Christians. We need to restore our capacity for shock at distortions of the gospel.
Have you embraced the gospel of grace and then somewhere along the line defected from it? Everything we have from God comes from pure, unadulterated grace.