The True Gospel

 

COPYRIGHT © 2016 - James M. Frye

 

All scripture quotations are taken from the Authorized King James Bible. Any deviations are not intentional. All underlines, bold and words within brackets are the author's.

For more articles on other issues, please visit our website at: www.seekingfortruth.com .

 

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One True Biblical Gospel

 

How can I be saved? That is the most important question in the world. Jesus said, “… what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36-37) I would imagine that a man might offer everything he has and promise to pay much more in order to avoid being cast into hell.

But salvation can’t be purchased nor earned. It is the free gift of God given to those who believe the gospel (Eph. 2:8-9). But which gospel? There any many different versions of the gospel being preached in our day. Which of them is the true gospel by which we are saved? Which is the true gospel of Jesus Christ?

First, it must be understood that no one can be saved by believing a false gospel. Let me illustrate. Suppose I come to you and tell you about a man named Jesus who was a fruit farmer from Florida who taught that if you could pick 100 oranges in an hour, you would then be saved. Could you be saved by believing in such a Jesus, or by believing in such a gospel? No, of course not. We must not only believe in the true Biblical Jesus, we must also believe in the true Biblical gospel.

Galatians 1:6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

Galatians 1:7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

Galatians 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

Galatians 1:9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

Any gospel, other than that which was preached by Jesus and the apostles, can’t save anyone. And those who pervert the true gospel by preaching false gospels are accursed by God. Scripture couldn’t be any clearer. If we are going to be saved, we can only be saved by believing the one true Biblical gospel.

 

Salvation in Jesus Christ Alone

 

The Bible teaches that salvation is found in Jesus Christ alone.

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

When Jesus speaks of “coming to the father”, He is referring to coming to God in salvation. And as He points out, no one can come to God in salvation, except through Him. According to Jesus Christ’s own words, a person can’t be saved through Buddha, Muhammad, or any of the world’s other religious leaders (or their religions), but only through Him. Jesus said that He is the only way to God.

Acts 4:10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead …

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

It is through the name of Jesus Christ alone that people must be saved. In other words, if anyone is going to be saved, they must be saved through Jesus and in His name. There is no other way to be saved.

1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

The only mediator (go-between) between God and man (mankind) is Jesus Christ. According to the Bible, Jesus is both a man (human) and God (divine). Because of this, He is the only one who can with one hand reach out and touch man, and with the other touch God in order to bring both together. For more on Jesus being divine, see my article entitled “Is Jesus Christ God?”.

 

Repentance

 

As I mentioned above, man and God are brought together in salvation by Jesus Christ. The reason this must be so, is that people’s sins have separated them from God.

Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God …

Scripture makes it clear that everyone has sinned.

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

Because everyone has sinned, everyone has been separated from God because of their sins. It is through salvation that a person’s sins are forgiven and they are reconciled with God. But to be saved, we must not only acknowledge that we have sinned, we must also be willing to repent and turn from living in sin. The Bible makes it clear that those who continue to live a life of sin won’t be saved, nor go to heaven.

1 Corinthians 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

1 Corinthians 6:10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

Fornicators are those who have sexual relations with those to whom they are not married. Adulterers are those who are married, but have sexual relations with someone other than their spouse. Effeminate are males who act, dress, or behave like females. Abusers of themselves with mankind are homosexuals. Homosexuality is condemned as sinful in the Bible in many places (Lev: 18:22, Rom. 1:26-27, etc.). Drunkards are those who make a practice of getting drunk (becoming intoxicated). This would also apply to those who become intoxicated through drugs.

The above scripture passage makes it very clear that those who live in such sinful behavior won’t inherit the kingdom of God. They won’t be saved, nor will they go to heaven when they die. But, the very next verse says this.

1 Corinthians 6:11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

The people to whom this verse was originally written had, in the past, been living in many of the sins listed in the passage. But now, they had changed. Notice the verb tenses. They were living that way, but they are not living that way any longer. They had repented and been saved. They had turned from their lives of living in sin in order to live new lives for God. When they did this, they had their sins washed away. Now, they are justified (declared righteous in God’s sight). Now, they are sanctified (set apart from sin to live holy lives unto God).

No sin is too great to be forgiven by God, and some of the strongest Christians are those who once lived very sinful lives. Take the apostle Paul for an example. Before his conversion, he persecuted Christians wherever he found them, punished them often, compelled them to blaspheme God, hunted them down from city to city casting them into prison, and aided in their being put to death (Act 26:9-11).

In first Timothy 1:15-16, Paul refers to himself as the chief (foremost) of sinners and says that God forgave him to show that he would also forgive others. Regardless of what you have done, it can be forgiven and washed away, if you repent of your sins and believe in Christ for salvation.

Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

 

Repentance (turning from sin) goes along with believing the gospel.

Mark 1:14-15 Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

Jesus also connected repentance to having ones sins remitted (forgiven), and said that this should be preached. He said.

Luke 24:47 that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

The following verse makes it even more clear.

Acts 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;

There is no salvation without repentance. It is part of the one true Biblical gospel. Those who profess to be saved (be Christians) but are still living in sin are deceiving themselves.

James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

 

Faith

 

There are three words that are used interchangeably in the Bible. Those words are faith, belief, and trust. To believe in God is to have faith in Him, and to have faith in Him is to trust Him. Scripture is clear that salvation is through faith.

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

2 Timothy 3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

We are saved by having faith in Jesus Christ, but what is it that we are to believe about Him?

1 Corinthians 15:1-4

1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

The gospel includes the facts that Jesus Christ died upon the cross for the sins of those who believe in Him for salvation, that he was buried, and that He rose from the dead the third day. We must believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ to be saved. That is part of the gospel. We must also believe that Jesus died for our sins.

Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

1 Corinthians 15:3 Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Romans 10:9-10,13 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Whosoever believes in their heart that Jesus died for their sins, whosoever openly confesses the Lord with their mouth before men, and whosoever calls upon the Lord for salvation shall be saved.

Having faith (being a believer) also means that a person believes whatever God says in the Bible.

Psalms 119:128 Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.

A believer is just that “a believer”. They believe that all of God’s precepts (everything in the Bible) which God says about all things to be right.

Acts 24:14 … so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:

A believer is one who believes all things which are written in scripture.

1 John 5:10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar

To disbelieve God’s word, is to make Him out to be a liar, and no true believer would make God out to be a liar. Those who are truly saved will hear the truth of God's words. Those who won’t hear the truth of the Bible only manifest that they are not truly saved.

John 8:47 He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.

John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

We will look more at this second verse in our next section.

 

 

The Call to Follow Christ

 

Jesus calls people to follow Him.

John 10:27-28 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

Jesus says that those to whom He gives eternal life (His sheep/the saved) not only hear His voice (listen to the Bible), but they also follow Him with their lives. In scripture, Jesus’ followers are referred to as His disciples.

Matthew 8:23 … his disciples followed him.

Luke 22:39 and his disciples also followed him.

Jesus called people to follow Him (become His disciples) as part of His gospel.

Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Matthew 16:25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

Matthew 16:26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

It is clear that Jesus is speaking of salvation here, for he speaks of the saving or losing of souls. Taking up ones cross, speaks of enduring persecution and suffering as the result of one’s faith (John 15:18-21). Denying one’s self, speaks of the loss of control over one’s life. The term "life" is used in the way we often use the term. Someone will say, "It’s my life, and I will live it however I want." That is the way Jesus is using the term. Those who will keep (or save) "their life" to live it for themselves however they want, will lose it for all eternity. But those who will lose (give up) their life by surrendering it to Christ in order to live that life for Him, will keep it for all eternity (gain eternal life).

A disciple and a Christian are one in the same. That is what the word Christian means. The word “Christian” means follower of Christ. The two terms are used interchangeably in scripture.

Acts 11:26 … And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

Those who had previously been referred to as “disciples”, were now (from this point on) also being called Christians. The two terms refer to the same people. To become a Christian is to become a disciple. There is no such thing as a Christian who is not also a disciple (follower of Christ). People may refer to themselves as Christians, but according to the Bible, if they aren’t also following Christ by believing and obeying His teachings in scripture, they aren’t truly a Christian. Nor are they saved. This is what the Bible teaches.

 

 

Surrender to Christ’s Lordship

 

Becoming a disciple/follower of Christ implies that a person must surrender themselves to the Lordship of Christ.

Matthew 11:28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Notice that Jesus, in inviting people to come and partake of the spiritual rest of salvation, is also inviting them to take his yoke of control over their lives. In that day, a yoke was something that was placed over the necks of animals in order to guide and control them. What if people don’t want His yoke of control over their lives? Then they can’t partake of the rest of his salvation. It’s a package deal. Jesus’ yoke is easy and His burden is light because the things He tells us to do are always right and for our own good. Our life is made better, and many pitfalls and problems are avoided simply by doing things His way instead of our own. We will still have difficulties to overcome, but Jesus will be with us through them all.

Many in our day refer to having Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior, and it is true, Jesus is indeed both Lord and savior. But Jesus asked a very important question concerning this.

Luke 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

What is the point of calling Jesus Lord when one doesn’t obey Him as Lord? Jesus made it clear that faith and obedience go hand in hand.

Matthew 7:21-23 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

As I mentioned earlier in this article, Jesus is both man and God. Since Jesus is God, we must relate to Him as our God by obeying Him. Jesus didn’t give up His right to reign over us by dying on the cross to becoming our savior; He demonstrated His worthiness to do so. 

Philippians 2:5-11

5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

The fact that Jesus died to save those who believe in Him by suffering for their sins upon the cross, doesn’t set aside His deity, nor the need to obey Him. It rather affirms it, showing that He is worthy of our obedience.

 

The Fruit of Faith

 

As we learned earlier, salvation can’t be purchased nor earned, but is the gift of God given to those who believe the gospel. But we have also discussed repentance, the call to follow Christ, and the need to surrender to Christ’s Lordship. These are not “works” which are done in addition to faith in order to be saved, but are rather the fruits (results) of true saving faith. Those who truly believe the gospel, will as a result of that faith, recognize that they have sinned against God and repent. They will also heed the call to follow Christ and surrender to His Lordship.

In scripture, the gospel call often includes, not only the call to faith (to believe the gospel), but also the fruit of it as well. For example, the gospel, as it sometimes appears in scripture, not only calls people to believe on Christ for the forgiveness of sins, but also calls them to be baptized (Mark 16:16). Does this mean that a person is saved by faith plus baptism? No, of course not. Scripture is clear that salvation is by faith alone. Being baptized is a fruit of true saving faith. Those who truly believe will desire to be baptized in obedience to scripture. 

Let me give you another example. Earlier we saw that Rom. 10:9-10 calls a person not only to have faith (believe) for salvation, but also to confess Christ as Lord. Does that mean that a person is saved by faith plus confession? No, confession is a fruit of faith. Those who truly believe in Jesus Christ will confess him outwardly (Matt. 10:32). So, once again we see that the gospel, as it’s presented in scripture, often mixes faith with the fruit of that faith together in the call to salvation.

A person is not saved by following Christ. They are saved by faith. But true genuine faith heeds the call to follow Christ. Nor are people saved by surrendering to Christ’s Lordship. But those who have true genuine faith will surrender to His Lordship. This is the relationship between faith and works (deeds, actions). James chapter 2 explains this truth.

James 2:14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

Can a “faith” that does not also produce works (results) save a person? No.

James 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

Faith that does not also produce works is dead (not true saving faith).

James 2:18 ... shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

True faith is seen by the works it produces in a person’s life. Remember when we were discussing repentance and saw how people who had once been living very sinful lives were changed and no longer lived that way? They were not saved by the changes they made in their lives, but by faith. The changes were simply the result of the true faith which they had.

James 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

The devil believes the facts that Jesus died and rose again for sinners, but He is not saved. Neither is a person who merely believes the facts of the gospel saved, if that person’s life doesn’t also manifest the fruit of genuine faith.

James 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

A faith that doesn’t produce works is not true Biblical faith but merely mental assent to a set of facts. This sort of “faith” is not what the Bible is speaking of when it speaks of saving faith. We are indeed saved by faith alone, but true faith is never alone. It is always accompanied by works which are the fruit of that genuine faith. Hebrews chapter 11 speaks of the works which many believers in the Old Testament did as a result of their faith. It says things like, “By faith ______ did this”, “By faith _____ did that”, etc. Why did each of these people do the things which they did? They all did them because of their faith. We could refer to their deeds as “faith works” or works which were done as a result of their faith.

Obedience to God is also a fruit of true saving faith. Earlier we read in Matthew chapter 7 of those whom Jesus will turn away on the Day of Judgment. Although they had called Jesus Lord, they didn’t do God’s revealed will in scripture by obeying Him as Lord. Jesus told these people to depart from Him for He never knew them, meaning that He never knew them savingly. The Bible declares this same truth elsewhere.

1 John 2:3-4 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

How can we know that we know God savingly? We can know because we keep His commandments. Once again, we are not saved by keeping His commandments. We are saved by faith alone. But those who have true faith will make a practice of obeying God by keeping His commandments.

 

Judgment Day

 

At the beginning of this article, I mentioned that on judgment day an unsaved person would be willing to give anything in order to avoid being cast into hell. But as we have seen, salvation can’t be earned nor purchased, so no amount of pleading, begging, or bargaining will save a person from hell on that day. On judgment day, it will be too late. The time to be saved is now!

2 Corinthians 6:2 … behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

Now, in this life before a person dies is the time to be saved. Once a person dies, it is too late. There is no such thing as reincarnation, and there are no second chances.

Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

Jesus died for the sins of those who believe on Him for salvation, but those who don’t believe are still in their sins (have no forgiveness for their sins) and are still responsible for them.

John 8:24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

Those who die without being saved won’t be greeted by the mercy, love, and forgiveness of God. The time for mercy and forgiveness is now, before one dies. No, they will be met with the wrath of a holy God who justly punishes sin.

Hebrews 10:31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

2 Corinthians 5:11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men …

God is merciful and forgiving and demonstrated that fact by sending Jesus to die upon the cross for the sins of those who would believe on Him for salvation. But He is also a holy and just God who can’t and won’t overlook sin (not and remain just).

Numbers 14:18 The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty

If a person doesn’t have Jesus as their savior, then their sins aren’t forgiven. They won’t be justified (declared righteous) before God, but will be judged guilty before Him for their sins. And since Jesus only died for the sins of those who believe in Him, they must bear the just punishment for their sins themselves. The following passage tells us what judgment day will be like for both believers and unbelievers.

Matthew 25:31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:

Matthew 25:32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

Matthew 25:33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

As we saw earlier, “sheep” is a reference to true believers who hear Jesus’ voice through His word and follow Him in obedience to it as His disciples. These sheep are set at His right hand. What happens to them?

Matthew 25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

True believers will inherit the kingdom of God. Remember that earlier we read how those who don’t truly repent of their sins, but continue to live in sin, won’t inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-10). These unbelievers are referred to as “goats” here and are set at His left hand. What happens to them?

Matthew 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

These who didn’t repent and become true believers are cast into hell fire. The passage goes on to speak of both groups.

Matthew 25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Just as eternal life will be of unending duration for those who are saved, so also will the punishments of hell be of unending duration for unbelievers. The Bible is clear on this.

Now is the time of salvation. After death, a person’s destiny is sealed and it’s too late.

 

False Gospels

 

There are many false gospels being preached in our day which fly in the face of the true gospel which has been presented in this article. We will take a brief look at a few of the more common ones.

 

False Gospel #1 - Salvation by good works

 

I have spoken to many church-going people who have bought into this false gospel. Apparently, they have been taught this in their church. When I ask them on what basis they should be allowed into heaven when they die, they will answer about how they are a good person and have done more good than bad. They think that God will let them into heaven because they have supposedly done more good things than bad things. What does the Bible have to say about this?

James 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

What they don’t realize is that God’s law demands absolute perfection. If a person ever sins once, they are judged guilty by God’s law of having failed it all.

Matthew 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Has any man ever lived a perfectly sinless life like God has, other than Jesus Christ? No, all men have sinned and fallen short (Rom. 3:23).

Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

As we discussed earlier, the word justified refers to being declared righteous before God. According to the above verse, no flesh (not one single human being) will be declared righteous before God by their works/deeds. Why? Because the law demanded absolute perfection and all have sinned. God’s law (commandments of right and wrong) was never given to save people. It was given to show them their sin, that they couldn’t save themselves, and that they needed a savior. That is what this verse means by “the law is the knowledge of sin”.

Galatians 3:22, 24 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

God’s law was given to show people that they couldn’t be saved by “doing good”. In that way, it was our schoolmaster to teach us that we could only be saved by faith.

 

False Gospel #2 - Salvation by faith plus works

 

One of the most common false gospels in our day is the teaching that a person is saved by faith plus works. Those who hold to this teaching, rightly affirm that no one can be saved by works. But they add to this fact the error that neither can a person be saved by faith alone. Scripture itself says in many places that people are saved simply by faith without any works/deeds added by man. Here are just a few verses.

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Romans 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

Romans 4:5-6 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,

Scripture is very clear. Salvation is by faith alone apart from any works/deeds that man might seek to add to it. Earlier we saw what God’s word says in Galatians about those who preach a false gospel. It was the false gospel of “salvation by faith plus works” which led to the penning of that very letter. After Paul had gone about the region of Galatia preaching the gospel of salvation by faith alone and setting up churches in that area, false teachers came along saying that what Paul was teaching was not true. They said that men could only be saved by faith plus works. The particular work they had in mind was circumcision.

Acts 15:1-2 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them … 

Paul and Barnabas disputed with them greatly over this. This led to Paul’s writing the book of Galatians, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, in order to warn them about this false gospel. He begins the letter by what we read earlier.

Galatians 1:6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

Galatians 1:7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

Galatians 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

Galatians 1:9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

Again, the above passage was written in condemnation of the false gospel of salvation by faith plus works. Paul goes on to say the following.

Galatians 5:2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.

Galatians 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

Paul says that if they get circumcised as “a work” done in addition to faith for salvation that Christ (and His sacrifice upon the cross for sin) would profit them nothing. Christ’s sacrifice for sin would become of no effect unto them. In other words, they would not be saved. As I pointed out earlier, a false gospel can’t save anyone.

Unfortunately, this false gospel of salvation by faith plus works is being taught in many churches in our day. The most common version of it is the teaching that a person is saved by faith plus water baptism. But it doesn’t matter what work a person chooses that must be done in addition to faith for salvation, all are false gospels.

Being baptized is just a fruit of faith. Those who truly believe will want to be baptized in obedience to scripture. One particular denomination teaches that salvation comes by hearing, plus believing, plus repenting, plus confessing, plus being baptized. This is clearly a false gospel which comes under the condemnation of the scriptures. It turns the fruits of true genuine faith into works which must be done in addition to faith for salvation. It is beyond the scope of this article to deal with that particular version of this false gospel in detail. Perhaps, we will do so later in a separate article.

 

False Gospel #3 – Easy Believism & The Lukewarm Gospel

 

This false gospel is by far the most common in our day. There are many different versions of this false gospel, but what they all have in common is that they water down one or more elements of the true Biblical gospel.

Repentance is often turned into nothing more than a change of one’s mind which may or may not result in the change of one’s behavior. Faith is often relegated to little more than mental assent to a set of facts. Personal sin and God’s judgment is often so downplayed that one is hardly aware of what they are being saved from. But please understand, a person can’t become saved unless they first come under the conviction that they are lost.

It is all too common in our day for people to protest against the Biblical teaching that people must surrender their lives to the Lordship or Christ. It is also common to reject the Biblical teaching that people must heed the call to follow Christ and become His disciple. Instead they say that being a disciple and being a Christian are two different things. We have already seen from the Bible that it is not true (Acts 11:26). They say that a person can come to know Christ as savior all the while refusing to submit to Him as Lord. But, Christ is both Lord and savior and we can’t split Him apart into two people. Those who refuse to submit to His Lordship can’t have Him as savior either.

These people often refer to the true Biblical gospel as “Lordship salvation” and say that those who teach it are teaching a false gospel of salvation by faith plus works. But as we saw earlier, surrendering to the Lordship of Christ is a fruit of true saving faith, not a work done in addition to faith for salvation.

The Bible says that true repentance does result in a change of one’s behavior.

Luke 3:7 Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

Luke 3:8 Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

Luke 3:9 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

Here we see the preaching of John the Baptist. Notice that he tells people that just “saying” they repented wasn’t good enough. He says that true repentance is evidenced by the fruit of changed behavior. This is the same thing we have been saying all along about the fruit of faith. True Biblical repentance is not just a change of one’s mind, but also results in the change of a person’s actions. If a person truly repents and truly becomes saved, their life will change as a result (fruit) of it.

Some, who hold to this false lukewarm gospel, say that Jesus and Paul taught two entirely separate gospels. They say that Jesus taught one gospel for the Jews, which they refer to as “the gospel of the kingdom”. But Paul, they say, taught a separate gospel for the gentiles (those of other nations) which they refer to as “the Gospel of Grace”. Their supposed evidence for this hangs primarily upon the misinterpretation of the following two scriptures.

Matthew 4:23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.

Acts 20:24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

Does the fact that the gospel is referred to in a slightly different way in these two passages mean that Jesus and Paul taught two separate gospels? Not unless you think that referring to the same device as both “a refrigerator” and as “an ice box” makes that device into two separate devices. What faulty reasoning! Such an interpretation requires yanking the second passage from its context entirely. What was Paul preaching about when he was speaking of preaching the gospel here? Let’s read that verse along with the verse that follows it.

Acts 20:24-25 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.

According to this very passage, which they twist and misuse, when Paul was preaching the gospel of grace, he was in fact preaching the Kingdom of God (the gospel of the kingdom). It’s hard to see how anyone could come up with this false teaching without purposely setting out to distort the scriptures (2 Cor. 4:2; 2 Pet. 3:16).

Not only this. We saw earlier that Paul penned the book of Galatians via the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We also saw in that book, that Paul pronounced a curse upon anyone who preached a different gospel than the one he was preaching. Is the Holy Spirit condemning Jesus for preaching a different gospel than Paul? Of course not! But, He would be, if you believe what these people are teaching about Jesus supposedly preaching a different gospel than Paul. But that is impossible.

In that very passage, Paul refers to the gospel he is preaching as “the gospel of Christ”.

Galatians 1:7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

Galatians 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

Paul says that anyone who preaches any other gospel than the one he has been preaching is accursed, and refers to that gospel as “the gospel of Christ” (the gospel Christ preached). Paul says, via the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that he and Christ both preached the same gospel. But these people tell us that is not so. Whose word should we accept, God’s or man’s?

Also, by saying that Jesus’ gospel is just for the Jews and not for the gentiles (other nations), they are invalidating Jesus’ own great commission.

Matthew 28:19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Jesus said that we are to teach all nations the same things He taught His disciples. This would include the gospel of the kingdom which He spent so much time teaching them (including the call to surrender to His Lordship and follow Him as His disciple). But these people teach that Jesus’ gospel was just for the Jews and we shouldn’t teach these things as part of the gospel to non-Jews. The Bible says the exact opposite. Again, who should we believe, God or man? God doesn’t have one plan of salvation for Jews and another for gentiles.

Romans 10:12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.

Acts 10:34 … God is no respecter of persons:

This is why I hate false teaching so much. It perverts the words of the living God.

Jeremiah 23:36 … for ye have perverted the words of the living God, of the LORD of hosts our God.

Psalms 119:104 Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.

As we have seen throughout this entire article, faith is not just mere mental assent to a set of facts. True genuine faith results in changed lives and actions.

1 Thessalonians 1:9 For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

People turned from idolatry, false religions, and lives of sin when they came to believe. But many in our day profess to be saved while continuing to live in sin. The Bible warns these people not to be deceived into thinking they are saved. If you profess to have gotten saved but your life hasn’t changed since, you need to ask yourself if you were ever truly saved in the first place.

2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves …

The gospel, as it is often presented today is watered down and incomplete. People are told if they will just pray a prayer, or walk an aisle they are saved and should never doubt it. But many of these same people refuse to surrender to Christ as Lord. Many of them refuse to believe and/or obey what the Bible says in many places. What does the Bible say regarding such people?

Luke 19:27 But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.

The above verse is part of a parable Jesus gave concerning using our gifts and abilities to serve Him. The people in the parable who refused to have the King (Jesus) reign over them were killed because of it. Can anyone seriously read this passage and think that Jesus’ followers are free to reject His Lordship over their lives?

What about those who reject what the Bible says and/or refuse to obey what it says?

John 8:47 He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.

1 John 2:3-4 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

We looked at both of these passages earlier. Scripture clearly says that those who won’t hear what the Bible says, and those who won’t do what it says are not saved. No one ever lives a perfectly sinless life in this world, before or after salvation. But the Bible clearly teaches that those who are truly saved will make a practice of believing and obeying God’s word. Hearing and submitting to God’s word are both fruits of true saving faith.

Many, who are supposedly being saved by the lukewarm watered-down gospel of our day, will reject the true gospel when it’s given to them. Watering down the gospel in order to get more converts doesn’t result in more people getting saved. It results in multitudes of people being deceiving into thinking they are saved when they are not.

Ask yourself, why does the Bible contain all of these warnings regarding who is actually saved and who isn’t? Could it be that the Bible really is warning people not to be deceived into falsely thinking they are saved when in fact they are not?