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Discerning False Teaching

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Jesus Calling

Discernment - A False Gospel

But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!. - Galatians 1:8-9

Paul is so emphatic about the evil of preaching a false gospel that he repeats his warning. When something is repeated in scripture, you know it is important.

How can you identify a false gospel?

You need to know the true gospel. What we are talking about here is the gospel of salvation. So in order to know the false, you need to know the true gospel of salvation:

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. - Ephesians 2:8-9

Some of the more obvious signs of a false gospel are:

  • When works are added: In other words you need to believe in Jesus, plus do certain things. Catholics, for example, believe that we are saved through Jesus Christ, plus we must have repented our sin; plus we must be baptized; plus more. For the Catholic faith in Christ is the beginning of our journey to salvation.

  • When you must be a part of a certain "church" in order to be saved. Or you must give money to your church in order to be saved.

  • When everyone goes to heaven. For example, this is what Mormon's believe, with the exception that Mormons who leave the faith go to outer darkness.

  • When no one except a special few go to heaven. This is what the Jehovah's Witnesses believe; only 144,000 go to heaven, everyone else either lives on earth or is annihilated.

  • When the existence of hell is denied. Jesus talked about hell more than twice as much as He talked about heaven.

  • Whenever any type of a different path to salvation is presented. For exqample, Jesus Calling (July 3rd) talks about Jesus acquitting us. What that means is that it has been determined we are innocent... we never sinned. That is a very different gospel.

In many cases a false gospel can be difficult to discern. The false gospel will be close, many times very close, to the real gospel. Many times it is not what is stated, but what is left out that makes it false gospel.

Here's an example: Someone might quote John 3:16, and tell you to believe. What's wrong with that?

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. - John 3:16

To be discerning, you might then ask questions such as: Who is God? Decribe Him to me. Who is the Son? Descibe the Son. What do you need to believe? What does it mean to have eternal life?

In other words they are quoting the appropriate scripture, but they have redefined one or more words. What has been left out is agreeing on the definition of words. For example, if the Son they are talking about is not God -- one of the persons of the triune God of the Bible -- then it is a false gospel.

Go to table of contents - Next: False Prophets

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