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