Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

   by Jeannette Haley

“For if he that cometh preacheth
another Jesus whom we have not preached,
or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have
not received, or another gospel, which ye have
not accepted, ye might well bear with him.”
2 Corinthians 11:4 

Does it really matter what a person believes in order to gain an entrance into heaven? After all, everybody has their own opinion and “interpretation” of the Bible, so what’s the big deal?

The “big deal” is the difference between heaven and hell. It’s that simple. Tragically, simplicity is all but obsolete in our high-tech, humanistic, worldly, self-centered, immoral, and highly complicated Western culture. Simplicity is disdained by the liberal intelligentsia, repudiated by those with a tainted conscience, and viewed with suspicion by those who have something to hide. However, simplicity and truth walk hand in hand, and are the delight of the pure in heart.

God’s Word outlines the true Gospel in the simplest of terms. And, while the simplicity of God’s Word is also profound, living and eternal, it is also simple enough that a child can understand and receive it. The question is if this is true, then why are there so many different gospels being presented (and believed) today?

The answer to that question comes down to what the Gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ is and how a person approaches it. Since the true Gospel is a fact that rests upon the foundation of Spirit and Truth, it can only be distorted by presenting it, or perceiving it, through a perverted reality. Perversion of Spirit and Truth can result from the wrong foundation which is set in place through subtle indoctrination, or by assumptions based upon conclusions from sources other than revealed truths by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. In other words, people who have bought into another gospel have done so because of religious indoctrination of man, or because they have complacently neglected their spiritual well-being by failing to seek out the truth for themselves through prayer and a careful study God’s Word. (“But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him” 1 John 2:27.) The Holy Spirit will confirm the truth, and bear witness to your spirit that which is true. He is also faithful to “check” your spirit when things are not true or right.

It is important to remember that the Gospel is a fact, not a doctrine. (Not everything in Scripture is doctrine!) Doctrine is our responsibility before God. It is how we live the Christian life, walking out the commandments of Jesus. Therefore, in order to present a false gospel, it must be reduced to the form of a man-made doctrine that, although stripped of Spirit and Truth, has enough “Christian veneer” in it to be saleable.

Contrary to the popular emphasis on us today, it may surprise you that the true Gospel is not man-centered, but rather centered on the Godhead. Consider God the Father in 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.” Consider also the Gospel in light of Jesus in this verse: “God…Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom, also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” Hebrews 1:1a-3.  And, reflect upon the Holy Spirit’s part in our salvation in Titus 3:5, 6 which says: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour.”

While man receives the benefit of the Gospel, there is nothing man-centered (man-exalting) about the Apostle Paul’s declaration of the Gospel: “Moreover, brethren I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. The Apostle Peter wrote this revealing verse about the involvement of the Godhead in the Gospel: “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.”

Who raised Jesus from the dead, the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit? Jesus told the Jews in John 2:19-21 that He would raise Himself up from the dead. In Romans 4:24; 6:4, Hebrews 13:20, 1 Peter 1:21; 3:18, Galatians 1:1and Colossians 2:12 we read that God raised Him from the dead. Romans 8:11 and 1 Peter 3:18 declare that the Spirit raised up Christ from the dead. Here again we see the Godhead in operation in the true Gospel.

False Gospels promote another Jesus, another spirit, and another gospel, usually quoting passages from the Bible out of context to deceive the unwary. Remember, Satan himself quotes the Word of God when it serves his purpose. So, how can a person discern which gospel is the one that leads to salvation?

For starters, one must keep in mind that if another Jesus is preached, then it follows that there will always be “another spirit” and “another gospel.” Anyone who receives this false presentation of Jesus will also receive a wrong spirit and will accept (believe) a false gospel that cannot save his or her soul. A counterfeit gospel may, from all appearances, seem to be legitimate, but the end result is deception, delusion and destruction. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” Proverbs 14:12.

A simple tool to use in testing some of the popular false gospels can be made from the word FALSE as follows:

            F – Fun, Fantasy, Feel-good “gospel”

            A – Antichrist spirit; apostles and prophets of the Manifest Sons of God, Kingdom Now “gospel”

            L – Love, love, love, man-centered “gospel” and Latter Rain gospel

            S – Self-centered, self-esteem, self-exalting, (“selfisms”) and sinless “gospel”

            E – Easy-believism, emergent church “gospels”

Following this guideline, we will begin with the “fun, feel-good “gospel.” A short time ago a certain local “fun” and “feel-good” church in our community put up numerous signs on all of the main roads that read: “Thou shalt have fun.” To me this bordered on blasphemy. Rayola summed up this false presentation of God’s Word well, and I quote: “Let me state my concern is not whether people are having fun in church, but whether the integrity of truth is being properly represented and maintained when it comes to the character and word of God. Without a proper environment, God is unable to move and impact lives for His eternal purpose. I believe misrepresentation of His name, character and word is a serious matter. According to Romans 1:18 to handle truth in unrighteousness will result in God’s wrath. My first test in regard to fun is quite simple. Is it found in the Word of God? Words such as joy, delight, happy, and pleasure are found in Scripture, but the real meaning behind these words has nothing to do with the concept or ideal of fun. As you study joy, you will realize that it points to how one must regard the matters of life in light of God and His Word. In fact, it serves as an abiding confidence in one’s soul. As declared: “The joy of the Lord is my strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). Obviously, true joy originates in unfeigned dependency on God.

Delight is not an emotional experience; rather it is an exercise or choice when it comes to God. Ps. 37:4 states: “Delight thyself also in the LORD, and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”

Happiness is an attitude. According to Strong’s Concordance, the word blessed in the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount means ‘happy’ is the person. As you study the intent of the Sermon on the Mount, one must acknowledge that satisfying happiness hinges on having an upright disposition before God. Proverbs 28:14 tells us what kind of attitude will ensure our happiness before God: “Happy is the man that feareth always, but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.” [Emphasis mine.]

Pleasure is the word that comes close to the idea of “fun.” It involves experiencing a certain sense, feeling or environment. However, the Word of God clearly tells us where we will find real pleasure when it comes to God: “Thou wilt shew me the path of life. In thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures evermore” (Psalm 16:11). Clearly, pleasure is found in the presence, Person and purpose of God.

Now as you study the Word of God as to the goal of all religion, it comes down to one experiencing communion with God. It is in communion that we enjoy God. However, this communion can only occur when one possesses the right disposition and attitude towards God. God will have nothing to do with fleshly, worldly, sensual activities. To take the things of the present world and mix it with the things of God is to defile those things that are holy. This principle can be found in Haggai 2:10-13 as well as in the rest of the Bible. We are told to come out and be separate from unholy alliances, such as with the world, which includes its influences and activities (John 17:13-16; 1 Corinthians 6:13-10; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18; James 4:4; 1 John 2:15-17). Obviously, as servants of God, we need to be teaching people the difference between the holy and the profane as a means of calling them to separate unto God. The question I now have is how does the concept of fun relate to the type of environment that encourages sweet communion with a Holy God?

The Word clearly talks about approaching God in reverent fear because He is a consuming fire. Paul admonished us to be sober-minded about God. Jesus called His disciples to deny self, pick up the cross and follow Him. We are told we can only enter the kingdom of God through much tribulation (Matthew 16:24-25; Acts 14:22; 1 Thessalonians 5:6; Hebrews 12:28-29).

When you study the meaning of “fun,” you realize it is a practice of the world. It is man-centered, not God-centered. In other words, it has nothing to do with God, but rather with man’s fleshly appetites being stirred up and fed under the guise of religion. It actually creates an environment that is indifferent to reality, and insensitive towards the gentleness of God’s Spirit. Let me ask, where are those who tremble before God’s Word in [such a] church, including [the] leadership? Where are those who mourn their sin, as well as for the sin that abounds around them? Where are those who walk in fear before their holy God? Where is God in all of [this] fun?

I have heard the logic of using the activities of the world to attract people to church, so they can hear the Gospel and get saved. However, such logic is delusional at best. Only the people of the world will be attracted to such activities. All you will develop in such an atmosphere are worldly people who are still on their way to hell, but now they are feeling good about it because they are hiding behind a religious cloak, with a “Jesus” tacked on to their lifestyle. They will feel good about themselves in this present world, but on judgment day they will stand up and curse those who encouraged a faulty foundation under them. The Word is clear, it is the Father who draws heirs of salvation to Jesus’ redemption, and the Lord who adds their souls to His Body (John 6:44; 16:7-13; Acts 2:47).  Our responsibilities as leaders are simple: We are to teach the truth, uphold the character of God, preach the Gospel in power, and make followers of Christ. As you can see entertaining people to simply ensure they are having fun is missing from these godly responsibilities. The reality of salvation, along with the life of Christ being realized in us is God’s doing and work. As a result, He alone will receive glory.”

Marching in step with the “fun gospel” are the “fantasy” and “feel-good” gospels. The former is sought after and maintained by people who, seeing themselves as always “positive,” choose to live in a fairy-tale land that rejects any perceived “negative” truth that threatens to pop their bubble. These people come across as experts in spiritual matters, while tacking on a Jesus who is always “sweet” and teddy-bear loveable. This highly defended false gospel strips Jesus of His deity, authority, power and glory by substituting a harmless, cuddly Jesus who bears no resemblance whatsoever to the Jesus of the Bible.

The “feel-good” gospel crosses all denominational lines, and can be discovered in any church where the leadership is dedicated to insuring that everyone who comes through the door leaves feeling good about him or herself. Great care is given to maintain a politically correct atmosphere so that no one is convicted of sin, or held accountable for their attitudes and actions. Obviously, the true Gospel cannot be fully preached in such a setting because truth is a two-edged sword that brings division between the holy and the profane. The true Gospel exposes sin, pride and rebellion and definitely does not leave people feeling good about themselves as they are in their fallen condition. But, the true Gospel is the only gospel that offers deliverance, hope and healing for the sin-sick soul. Brokenness and repentance, judgment and hell are topics that you won’t hear preached in a “feel-good” church.

This month we have taken a brief look at some of the false gospels under the letter “F” of the word “F-A-L-S-E.” Next month we will continue our discussion of some of the other popular false gospels and doctrines of demons blowing through the world and the church in these end days.

“Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity

 of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the

engrafted word, which is able to save your souls”

James 1:21.