Later this week, on March 22, it is Lynch Syndrome Awareness Day. Lynch Syndrome is a hereditary cancer syndrome that runs in my family. It is associated with several DNA repair genes, especially for repair of high turn over epithelial cells. Epithelial cells are the ones that line the tissues in your body, your skin is a type of epithelium. Because this tissue is all over your body it puts us at risk for many different types of cancer, including colon, endometrial, stomach, ovarian and even the most lethal kind of brain cancer, glioblastoma.
If you’ll indulge me putting my science hat on for a second, let’s have a quick crash course in how DNA works to refresh your high school or college biology lessons.
DNA uses nucleotides adenine, guanine, thymine and cytosine – commonly abbreviated A, G, T and C – to communicate a code to RNA. That string of code is then taken to tiny factories in your cells called ribosomes where the RNA code, transcribed from the DNA, is used to build by proteins by communicating which amino acids should get attached where. (Proteins are long chains of amino acids).
Phew, that was at least 2 lectures cut down to two sentences.
Suffice it to say that mutations that transpose the order of DNA nucleotides can have some very serious effects on the body. If a stretch of DNA needed to make a protein should be AGTCCTGCTAGTTCC and even one letter is out of place the protein might be made with the wrong amino acid, which would alter its function. This is exactly what happens in many diseases, perhaps most vividly in sickle cell anemia, where an inherited gene mutation causes the protein hemoglobin to be malformed causing issues with the blood’s oxygen carrying ability and leading to pain and even organ failure.
In the case of Lynch Syndrome errors in the associated genes lead to the unchecked proliferation of malfunctioning cells that we know as cancer.
So what does any of this lecture on cell biology have to do with the gospel?
Well, we can do the same thing with the truth. We can all too easily transpose the truth of the gospel and trade it for a lie. Even seemingly little errors in the truth can become a cancer to our faith. Paul warns us about exactly this in Galatians 1.
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. 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.
Accursed is some seriously strong language! It is that big of a deal to God.
So what was this potentially cancerous error that the Galatians were being taught? And what is the true gospel we should cling to instead?
It would seem there were teachers Galatia telling the new believers that in order to be saved they had to follow the Jewish laws, including the practice of circumcision. In adding this requirement they transposed the truth of God for a lie. Paul makes clear in his letter to the Ephesians all that is required for salvation – it is by grace alone, through faith alone.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Nothing we can do will add to our salvation. Jesus handled it all on the cross. Nor do we follow the rules in order to gain added blessings, as prosperity preachers might lead you to believe. We already have everything we could possibly need as co-inheritors with Christ. Through sanctification our lives and behaviors are conformed more and more to the likeness of Jesus, but we do not need to add anything to the glory of the cross in order to gain a more secure salvation nor more blessings in this life. The untransposed truth of the gospel is simply this – we are saved by God’s grace through our faith in Christ’s sacrifice. Nothing more, nothing less.
Now that is good news!