The term “Gospel” simply means “good news.” But most often when we hear or read the term “gospel,” the word has great religious significance. I have been working on updating older Journals from pdf to individual word searchable articles, and as I worked on an older article, “An Examination and Evaluation of the Brownsville Revival,” I was again reminded of the importance of defining terms, specifically concerning such an essential teaching as “the gospel.” The “gospel” of the Brownsville Revival, which purports to be a Christian movement, is remarkably similar to the “gospel” of Mormonism. As I read Steve Hill’s words “God wants to set you free but you have to do your part” I immediately thought of the faith plus works “gospel” found in the 1992 LDS evangelism film, “On the Way Home”
The LDS “gospel” in the film is simple:
Jesus Christ was the one that made it possible for us to be together forever as a family…if we did our part. We had to improve our lives. We had to change.
The fact that the LDS preaches “another gospel” makes perfect sense when you remember that they have “another Jesus” as well. The two go hand in hand. The Apostle Paul takes the church in Galatia to task for allowing the gospel to be distorted by outsiders who came in and added law keeping and circumcision to the gospel of grace:
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel — not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ (Galatians 1:6-7)
A different gospel, of course, isn’t really a gospel at all. It is a fraud being perpetrated on the unwary – accepted because it appeals to human nature, and the pride that tells us we can “do our part” to save ourselves. The Jesus of Brownsville is the Jesus of the Word Faith Movement. Their “Jesus” is a limited being who, as Paul Youngii-Cho claims in his book, The Fourth Dimension, is a servant of and hostage to your spoken word:
“There is a reason to use the power of the spoken word: through it you create and release the presence of Jesus Christ. Jesus is bound to what you speak forth. You create the presence of Jesus with your mouth. He is bound by your lips and your words.”
So, a limited Jesus creates another gospel of limited grace, one in which you must “do your part.” Both Paul Youngii-Cho and Joseph Smith claim they received their “gospel” from a spirit, or angel. The Apostle Paul spoke directly to this in the very next verse in Galatians 1:8:
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.
The Watchtower Society (JWs) also preaches “another gospel,” and not surprisingly, their second president Judge Rutherford claimed to have communed with angels. The JW “gospel” has 4 requirements.
1) Taking in knowledge about God1
2) Keeping God’s Laws2
3) Associating with God’s organization3
4) Going door to door4
In the end though, according to the Watchtower, the most important factor is how one treats the “anointed class,” the bigwigs in Brooklyn that run the whole show:
“Your attitude toward the wheatlike anointed ‘brothers’ of Christ and the treatment you accord them will be the determining factor as to whether you go into ‘everlasting cutting-off’ or receive ‘everlasting-life’”5
Swell. Just imagine how you’d feel if you did all that work and knocked on all those doors, went to all those meetings, and then missed the boat because you had the “wrong attitude” towards the big cheese! Some gospel!
The “gospel” of Rome is also about the good works that one exhibits. It is most definitely not about receiving grace through faith. For anyone to say that he has been justified by the favor (or grace) of God is anathema:
CANON XI.-If any one saith that men are justified, either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ, or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and is inherent in them; or even that the grace, whereby we are justified, is only the favour of God; let him be anathema. 6
And similar to the Watchtower Society, Rome’s “gospel” is about organizational affiliation.
¶181 “…The Church is the mother of all believers. “No one can have God as Father who does not have the Church as Mother.”7
The Roman Catholic Church is our mother? That’s strange, because the Watchtower Society claims that IT is our mother! And I’m sure there are other “mothers” out there, demanding our unwavering loyalty before we can be saved! Try this on for size – NONE of them is our mother!
As we look at the myriad “gospels” preached by various groups, including Islam, many of the Eastern religions, liberation and liberal theology, we find a common theme. Their good news – their “gospel” – is that through serious strenuous self-effort and prescribed rituals we may make ourselves good enough to connect with, become one of, or be consumed into god, as the group defines that term. There are no guarantees, however, because who, after all, knows when he or she has done enough!
The fundamental difference between the biblical gospel and all the other gospels is really summed in two words. All the different gospels are about “doing.” “Do” the right works. “Do” associate with the right organization. “Do” your part and god will feel obliged to do his part. The word that describes the biblical faith is, “Done.” Our salvation is a GIFT of God! Paul describes the Gospel in Ephesians 2:3b-9.
Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.
The gospel is about God’s love, his grace towards us, and His completely undeserved kindness. There is nothing we can do to add to it. Now that really is Good News. Payment has been made, and forgiveness is available. How can a person accept God’s forgiveness?
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. We are to confess with our mouth that Jesus is YHWH and believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead, we will be saved…for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Romans 10:9-10 & 13)
When we realize our sinfulness and utter inability to save ourselves, we call upon God Who saves us! A personal relationship is established, and we are adopted into God’s family as His child. It’s GOOD NEWS indeed!
© 2015, Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc. All rights reserved. Excerpts and links may be used if full and clear credit is given with specific direction to the original content.
- “Jesus Christ identified a first requirement when he said in prayer to his Father: ‘This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you send forth, Jesus Christ.’ (John 17:3) The Watchtower February 15, 1983 p.12 ↩
- “Many have found the second requirement more difficult. It is to obey God’s laws, yes, to conform one’s life to the moral requirements set out in the Bible.” The Watchtower February 15, 1983 p.12 ↩
- “A third requirement is that we be associated with God’s channel, his organization.” The Watchtower February 15, 1983 p.12 ↩
- “The fourth requirement is connected with loyalty. God requires that prospective subjects of his Kingdom support his government by loyally advocating his Kingdom rule to others. ” The Watchtower February 15, 1983 p.12 – 13 ↩
- The Watchtower November 15, 1981 ↩
- The Council of Trent, The Sixth Session – Justification Canons; http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/counciltrent.html ↩
- Catechism of the Catholic Church, Latin text copyright 1994 Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Citta del Vaticano; (United State Catholic Conference, Washington, DC); p48 ↩