True Gospel vs Other Gospels
The word, “gospel,” appears in the New Testament a total of 101 times. 83 times it is preceded by the article “the.” 3 times it is referred to as “my gospel.” 3 times it is referred to as “this gospel.” 3 times it is referred to as “our gospel.” Twice it is called the “glorious gospel.” Once each it is referred to as “Christ’s gospel,” “that gospel,” and “everlasting gospel.” It is very apparent that there is only one true gospel and not a myriad of gospels. In the Christian religious world there are many ideas put forth to represent each particular groups representation of the gospel. Yet, there is only one true gospel and the scriptures are very specific as to what constitutes the true gospel.
True gospel evangelism is characterized by three things: the true gospel; the true motive for preaching the gospel; and the true method for delivering the gospel. If one has a false gospel, or an improper motive for preaching the gospel, or uses some method to deliver the gospel than that which is taught in the scriptures then true gospel evangelism has not taken place.
In the early church there arose a group of men, of the sect of the Pharisees, in Jerusalem that taught it was necessary that one be circumcised in order to be saved. Now up to that point, the preaching and teaching of the gospel had been that one is saved from sin by grace alone through the atoning blood of Christ. In the 15th chapter of the book of Acts we read about a council that was held at Jerusalem that considered of this matter and the conclusion was stated in v. 11: “But we believe that through grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.”
The false teaching that salvation was only effective if one is circumcised was a carry-over of “the Jews religion.” The “Jews religion” is not to be mistaken with the Old Testament service given to the nation of Israel by God. God had given the commandments and ordinances of the Old Testament to teach the people they were sinners and to show them that they had a need of a Savior and only through the work of that Savior would they be made righteous. By the time Christ came and established the church kingdom, the Jews, especially the sect of the Pharisees had perverted the old law covenant to make it a system to establish their righteousness through the individuals keeping of the law. It was never designed for that. In the 10th chapter of Romans Paul prayed that they might be delivered from going about trying to establish their own righteousness and submit their selves to the righteousness of God.
The theme of the book of Galatians is primarily to deliver the churches of Galatia from the error of trying to establish ones righteousness through the keeping of a set of rules. If you had asked these Pharisaical Jews in the church if they believed in salvation by grace, they would have no doubt said “yes, but you must be circumcised.” This is what I call the “yes, but doctrine.” The same theme is carried forth in most denominational churches today. If you ask them if they believe if salvation is by grace, they will almost all of them say yes, but...
Some say, “you are saved by grace, but you must hear the gospel and believe.” Others say, “you are saved by grace, but you must hear the gospel and believe and accept the Lord as your personal savior.” Still others say, “you are saved by grace, but you must believe, accept the Lord as your personal savior and be baptized in water.” Still others say, “salvation is by grace, but you must hear and believe and accept and be baptized and pray through and get the second gift and speak in tongues.” There are still many, many other similar type belief systems in the denominational world. They all have the same theme and that is “you are saved by grace, but…"
Paul rejected this departure from the true gospel and wrote of the great seriousness of this departure as follows: Gal. 1:6 “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 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. 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. 10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”
Based on the above, we can draw the following conclusions:
1. The “grace of Christ” is the true and only gospel.
2. Any departure from teaching salvation from sin by grace alone through the atoning blood of Christ is labeled as another gospel which Paul said is a perversion of the gospel of Christ.
3. Paul said that any man who would teach any other gospel other than the grace of Christ should be accursed. The word accursed means to be excommunicated or excluded from the church.
4. Paul inferred that those who preached another gospel were seeking to please men and were therefore not the servants of Christ.
The true gospel of the grace of Christ is a very simple gospel and gives all the praise to God for our salvation from sin. The “grace, but…” doctrine says that man has a role to play in getting himself saved from sin and therefore gives some praise to God and some praise to men. This takes away from God’s glory and gives some of the glory for their salvation to themselves. While this may be pleasing to the flesh, which desires to think that he can do something to get right with God, yet it dishonors the finished work of Christ which he accomplished on the cross.
Paul went further to teach in the book of 2 Corinthians: 2 Cor. 11:3 “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 4 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.” The “grace, but doctrine” preaches another Jesus that is different from the Jesus of the scriptures. We make the following comparisons between the Jesus of the scriptures and the Jesus of the “grace, but doctrine:”
1. The true “Jesus” said on the cross of the work of salvation from sin that “it is finished.” The grace, but doctrine says that “Jesus” did all that he can do and now it is up to you to finish the work.
2. The true “Jesus” we are told came to “save his people from their sins.” Also, he said, John 6:38 “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. 39 And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.” Thus, the true “Jesus” had a specific people that he came to save and of course he cannot fail. The grace, but “Jesus” is begging and pleading for people to let him save them.
3. The true “Jesus” gives eternal life: John 17:2 “As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.” The grace, but “Jesus” grants eternal life only to those who will accept him.
4. The true “Jesus” died for the sins of all the elect and all the elect are saved because of his atoning sacrifice as we read in Rom. 8:33 “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. 34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” The grace, but Jesus died for all mankind and offers salvation to all that will let him save them. Thus, the grace, but “Jesus” died in vain in his offering for the vast majority of humanity.
While there are many other ways in which the true “Jesus” of the bible is different from the grace, but Jesus this is sufficient to show that the “Jesus” being taught by the vast majority of the denominational world is “another Jesus.”
True gospel evangelism requires that the true gospel of the grace of Christ be preached in any true evangelistic effort.
In our previous studies we noted that there are two gospels taught by the religious world known as Christianity. Paul declared that “salvation from sin by grace alone” is the true gospel of the grace of Christ. The scriptures teach that this is a finished work that Christ finished upon the cross. Paul also taught in Galatians chapter 1 and II Corinthians chapter 11 that there was another false gospel being taught. This gospel Paul said was a perverted gospel. This perverted gospel teaches that salvation from sin is an ongoing work and is dependant upon the actions of men to complete.
Based on these two divergent beliefs, the motive for evangelism is different for each camp. Those who believe in salvation from sin by grace alone have a different motive for preaching the gospel and going forth with the gospel than those who believe that salvation from sin is conditioned upon the actions of the hearers.
Those who believe that salvation from sin is conditioned upon the actions of the hearers have as their motive for preaching the gospel and going forth with it the desire to populate heaven. In their belief system, heaven will be populated by people who had heard the gospel, believed the gospel, and accepted the Lord as their personal savior. Moreover, they believe that you cannot be saved from your sins unless you hear the gospel, believe the gospel, and accept the Lord as your personal savior. Thus, their motive is to take the gospel to what they believe is a perishing world and give people a chance to be saved from their sins and go to heaven. This motive drives their fund raising campaigns and drives their missionary plans and missionary system.
In contrast to the above, Paul taught a different motive for preaching the gospel and gospel evangelism. Paul stated in 2 Tim. 2:10 “Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” This one verse of scripture makes several vital points about gospel evangelism and the motive for gospel evangelism:
1. Paul endured a lot for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ as he stated in
Paul said that he endured all things for the elect’s sake. He did not endure one thing for the non-elect’s sake. All that Paul endured; he endured for those who were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world (the elect).
The following scriptures show us that Paul wanted to be delivered from the non-elect: Rom. 15:30 “Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; 31 That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints;”
2. The word, “also,” teaches us that there is more than one type of salvation taught in the scriptures. “Also,” means “in addition to.” Thus, Paul wanted the elect to obtain a salvation in addition to or “with” a salvation they already had. The salvation which they already had was eternal glory. Eternal glory is sure to all the elect. However, the salvation in which Paul endured all things was conditioned upon the preaching of the gospel and the elect believing the gospel.
3. Paul did not endure one thing that the elect obtain eternal glory. They already had eternal glory and Paul stated that he endured all things that the elect may obtain another salvation in addition to eternal glory.
4. The elect may or may not obtain this additional salvation. Yet they are still the elect of God. Eternal glory will be theirs whether they obtain this additional salvation or not.
The motive for those who believe in salvation from sin by grace alone is the same motive Paul expressed in 2 Tim. 2:10. The motive is not to make children of God or to populate heaven, but to bring to the elect the gospel of the grace of Christ that they may obtain this additional salvation. There are several places this additional type of salvation is taught:
1. Rom. 10:1 “Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. 2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” In this passage we learn that Paul desired and pray that Israel be saved from her ignorance and from going about trying to establish their own righteousness through the works of the law. Moreover, he taught that Christ has already completed the law for righteousness. Thus, God’s people in ignorance were not submitting themselves to the truth of salvation by grace.
2. Acts 2:40 “And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.” We are living in a wicked and ungodly world. We need to save ourselves from this living our lives after the whims of this wicked and ungodly world. We do this through knowledge of the truth and living after the laws, commandments, and teachings of God found in his word and preached to us by God’s ministers.
3. Is. 40:1 “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. 2 Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins.” This verse speaks of the Lord’s people engaged in fighting in a war, but unable to conquer. This is the case with the Lord’s people who thru the conviction of sin try so hard to establish their righteousness by whatever means they can. The message here is one of comfort brought about by the messenger declaring to the Lord’s people that the war is over and that their iniquity is pardoned. This is, of course, the true gospel message. Christ has died for the sins of his elect people and their sins have been pardoned. The efforts to try to establish ones righteousness are in vain as they have already been made righteous with God through the atoning blood of Christ.
4. Matt. 9:35 “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. 36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. 37 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; 38 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” The purpose of a laborer in harvest is not to make the harvest, but to gather the harvest into the barn or bin. In the above passage, the Lord is exhorting his disciples to pray that He will send forth laborers to gather his scattered flock into the proper location for them. The best and safest location for sheep is in the holding pen under a shepherd’s care. Of course, this points us to the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. When we preach the gospel we are encouraging people to join the church and become disciples of Christ. This is consistent with the teaching of Acts chapter 2 when it told us that the Lord added to the church daily those that should be saved.
5. Through the teaching of God’s people of the word of God, they can save themselves from many errors, pitfalls, false worship, broken relationships, addictions to many harmful things, etc.
In this essay we are not focusing on the general leadership of the Holy Spirit in the lives of God’s people in general, but rather we are looking more specifically at the leadership of Holy Spirit provided to gospel ministers in their ministry of the gospel. Like other children of God, they have the leadership of the Spirit in their personal lives. This subject we address in a later essay.
There are three major areas in which each true minister of the gospel needs direction in ministering the gospel to God’s children:
1. They need direction as to where and to whom they are to go and preach the gospel.
2. Pastors and teachers need direction as to where and to whom they are to serve as overseers or pastors.
3. All gospel ministers need direction as to what they are to preach each time they preach.
When the Lord was with the apostles and other seventy he sent forth, he gave them specific direction as to where they were to go and preach the gospel, where not to go, and what to preach:
1. Matt. 10:5 “These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Here the Lord told the twelve that they were not to go into the way of the Gentiles nor into any city of the Samaritans. They were to go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. In addition, he told them what to preach: they were to preach that the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
2. Luke 10:1 “After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.” Here the Lord sent the ministers forth by twos into the cities that he himself would come. Each pair was to go to a particular city that the Lord directed them to.
3. Luke 10:9 “And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.” Here the Lord gives the seventy the message they were to bring to the ones they were to preach unto. That message was that the kingdom of God was come unto them.
Today, we do not have the Lord in a human body on earth directing the gospel ministers. However, the Lord promised that when he departed he would send another Comforter which is the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit which now gives direction to his messengers as to where they are to go, what they are to preach, and where their field of labor is to be. The following verses illustrate these principles:
1. Acts 8:26 “And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. 27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, 28 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. 29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.” Here the Holy Spirit directed Philip unto where he was to go and to whom he was to preach.
2. Acts 10:9
3. Acts 16:6
4. Acts 20:28 “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” In the instruction to the elders of the church at Ephesus, Paul told them that it is the Holy Spirit that established their field of labor. It was the Holy Spirit that made them overseers (pastors).
Based on the above examples, we learn that the Holy Spirit directs us as to where we are to go and preach the gospel, to whom we are to preach the gospel, and to where our field of labor is, and what we are to preach on any particular occasion. From this, we learn that it is not up to the minister or up to a church to direct the ministry as to where he is to go, to whom he is to preach, where he is to pastor, or what his message will be each time he preaches. In all these things he has the direction of the Holy Spirit. Church plans and planning boards to direct the spread of the gospel are foreign to the scriptures and really are an affront to God because it says that we do not believe the Lord is able to direct us or that he will not direct us or it says that we believe we know better as to where we should go than the Lord does.
Elder Vernon Johnson