A Different Gospel

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.

  1. “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
  2. “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
  3. “A third requirement is that we be associated with God’s channel, his organization.” The Watchtower February 15, 1983 p.12
  4. “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
  5. The Watchtower November 15, 1981
  6. The Council of Trent, The Sixth Session – Justification Canons; http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/counciltrent.html
  7. Catechism of the Catholic Church, Latin text copyright 1994 Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Citta del Vaticano; (United State Catholic Conference, Washington, DC); p48

Comments

A Different Gospel — 5 Comments

  1. This is all very interesting. I can understand where you are coming from, and I get it. However, it will take more time and space than I have to truly do justice to what needs to be said about it. For one thing, Gentile”churchianity” continues to focus on everything and everyone who is, according to them, wrong. But why not focus on what is right/eous? It makes more sense. First of all, what part of “I came not to abolish the Law and the Prophets…” don’t any of you understand? Secondly, “faith without works is dead”, and “not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the Kingdom…in that day, I will say to them “Get away from Me, you lawless ones”. As well as, “work out your salvation with fear and trembling”. When Paul wrote to Timothy saying, “for all Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for instruction, correction, reproof, and teaching in righteousness”, there were NO New Covenant Scriptures…there were just the Gospel accounts and some letters of Paul’s which had been not been compiled into a book of Writings, which is what “scripture” means. Paul’s letters circulated among various fellowships in that era. Also, in Galatians, which you use to tell everyone that those who came to Galatia and wanted the believers there to be circumcised, become ethnic “jews”, to be saved, and to return to the Temple, and participate in the required Temple sacrifices, which ethnic, unbelieving Jews would have been still doing, the Temple was still standing at that time. So, those who became circumcise would have had to keep ALL of Torah, ie, the sacrifices, etc. Abraham was NOT a Jew, he was a Goyim, and the promise to him was that YHVH would make of him, a “melo ha goyim”, a “fulness of Gentiles”. That happened when the 10 tribes were taken captive by the Assyrians and then scattered in the nations that they nor their fathers knew, and lost their identity. The Tribe of Yehudah never lost its identity. The reason there were still 10 tribes, as well as Yehudah and Levi, with some of Benjamin, is because the Tribe of Joseph was split in two, Manasseh and Ephraim, or House of Israel/Ephraim…as opposed to the House of Yehudah. Torah never was intended to “save” anyone, as Galatians states. It was a tutor/pedagogue to lead the Jews to Messiah, but what they are NOT under is the “curse” of Torah, the death penalty for disobedience. The Law is NOT a curse, Paul states that explicitly elsewhere! The sacrifices of Torah were temporal and temporary, until the ultimate sacrifice was made for the whole world, the Gentiles do not have to be circumcised and become ethnic “jews”, and for the Pharisaical Jews, who also added the “traditions of men”, which is opposed to part of what Torah requires, not to add to nor take away from the Law. The Rabbinic Jews add to Torah, and the Gentiles take away from! We obey the Law because we ARE SAVED, NOT to GET SAVED! The pre-incarnate Messiah spoke the 10 Commandments from the smoking mountain! Those are HIS Commandments! And He said, “If you love Me, obey My commandments”. But we do not participate in Temple sacrifices, for two reasons, after Messiah Yeshua’s “once for all sacrifice”, which was permanent and eternal, there is “of necessity, a change in the priesthood”. Yeshua’s priesthood is “according to the Order of Melchitzedek. He is the Great High Priest forever! He went into the heavenly Temple and offered His own blood in our behalf! There is so much more. BTW, the Roman Catholic system has to keep replacing priests/popes, and there is no evidence that they are of the order of Aaron, but supposedly of Peter, of which there never was an earthly, temporal requirement for. Please use the Scriptures in context! A text, taken out of context is a pretext! I could go on and on and on…for instance, the only reason we know some of the Law of YHVH as the “Law of Moses”, is because the ancient Israelites told YHVH not to speak to them directly, but to tell His servant, Moses, and Moses taught the people what YHVH had given to him. And don’t forget Moab, which has been totally ignored in modern Gentile “churchianity”! Gentile Jesus did NOT come to start a “new religion”, with it’s own venerable day of the sun, (Mithrah), in place of the day of the SON, 7th day Sabbath…it’s own festivals…(and the “weak and poor” elementary things of the world are NOT the Feasts of YHVH! They are most likely the solstices, the equinoxes, the days and months and years of pagan religion, ie, the “venerable day of the Sun”, “Moonday”, “Wodensday”, “Thorsday”, “Fryaday”, “Saturnsday”, and “January”, for Janus, “March”, for Mars, “June” for Juno, “August” for Augustus Caesar, and September as the 9th moonth, even though sep, in Latin, means seven, October is the 8th moonth, NOT the 10th, (an octagon has 8 sides, not 10) November is actually the 9th moonth, not the 11th, and December is the 10th moonth, NOT the 12th! (a decimeter is 1/10th of a meter, not 1/12th) Do you suppose these Galatians, who had been scattered there had been keeping all of the pagan festivals/dates? There is so much more! Even Jews need to embrace their Messiah Yeshua, they can’t expect a pass for keeping Torah, because no one keeps it perfectly, but we are told elsewhere in Scripture that “sin is transgression of the Law”, and “anyone who is born of God does NOT sin”, and “if we sin willfully, after we have received the Truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sin”, which means that if we deliberately and purposefully and repeatedly rebel against the Law of YHVH, then we have rejected the sacrifice of Messiah Yeshua, and it has no efficacy for us then. And in Galatians, we are told that Gentiles do not need to be circumcised and go through a ritual conversion, become ethnic “jews” in order to be saved, because as we are told, then if they do, they must obey the whole Law, Torah, “a debtor to do the entire Torah”, which required sacrifice, and in Gal. 5:4, we are told “you who are declared right/eous by Torah, have severed yourselves from Messiah, you have fallen from favor…” It is circumcision that is in question here. Gentiles continue to be Gentiles, although redeemed Gentiles, and we are “grafted into redeemed, believing remnant Israel”, so there are Jews and Gentiles who make up the One Body of Messiah! Jews can and do continue to be circumcised, as Paul had Timothy circumcised, who had a Jewish heritage. He was of mixed genealogy. And we are told in the New Covenant Scriptures that “food must be sanctified, (set apart) by the Word and by prayer”. It’s not just a hocus pocus magic prayer that sets apart, sanctifies, food, that makes unclean meat clean…it also must be set apart by the Word, and which Word is that? For “ALL SCRIPTURE is inspired by YHVH, and given for instruction, correction, reproof, teaching in righteousness, etc., …” On my own, keeping Torah and a fur coat make me King Kong in the Kingdom of YHVH! There won’t be any “Childmass” celebration at the winter solstice, with Santa, and no Ishtar celebration at the Spring Equinox, with Ishtar bunnies and eggs…no Halloween, no 4th of July at the Mall in Washington, D.C., below the phallic symbol of the Washington Monument, the graven images of old, dead white men, Lincoln, Jefferson, nor Lady Liberty in New York, and no Mount Rushmore homage, in the Millennial Kingdom…but we will be celebrating/keeping/observing the Feast of Sukkot, and we are told that those of the nations who refuse to participate in that celebration, God will withhold rain from their land. As well as “from one Sabbath to another and from one New Moon to another”, God’s Covenant people will come to worship Him! We won’t be eating ribs from hogs there! I won’t offer that to my Savior and Messiah! Why did Jeremiah 31:31-33/34, Hebrews 8:8-10, and Hebrews 10:16 tell us that YHVH would make, and did make, a new covenant with the House of Yehudah and with the House of Israel, and that part of that New Covenant, in Messiah’s blood, is that He would write His Law on our hearts and put it in our minds”, if He didn’t want/expect us to keep/observe it?! That doesn’t make sense! And we, as Gentiles, are grafted into that new covenant that was made with the House of Israel and with the House of Yehudah! Gentiles do NOT have their own “new covenant”, unless, of course, they are of the “lost 10 Tribes”. (which many of them probably are) Which is why Messiah Yeshua, Himself, said, “I came only for the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel”…which we have been told are the “Jews”, but that is NOT true! The Jews never lost their identity. Read the book of Hosea! Read what was to become of House of Israel! Read the names of the children of Hosea and Gomer! And then read Ezekiel! Read about the “Two Sticks” prophesy! When the House of Yehudah and the House of Israel/Ephraim, become one stick in the hand of YHVH! Go online, and read about Two House theology! We are missing out on so much! And I can’t stand it anymore! Okay, I’m finished with this for now. I have been told that I should write a book, or start my own blog…but it takes so much time, and too many people are already doing that! And “of the making of books, there is not end, it is as weariness to the bones”. But too many people would rather write books ABOUT the Bible, than just study and learn from Scripture, which is the ONE BOOK that we really need! And we need to get it right! What I see today is NOT “the faith once delivered”. Not even close! Okay, close. But just a good counterfeit! I am so earnest and passionate about this, I can hardly stand it! I can’t go back into Gentile “churchianity”…no way! I am interested in some of the critiques of the many “movements”, but the only way to counteract them is to embrace the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth! We don’t just get saved and go to heaven to be with Yeshua! We have to walk it out here! This is where the rubber meets the road! There are a lot of nice Gentile Christians, but “nice” doesn’t cut it! And we may be able to critique many fake movements…but that doesn’t mean that we are walking in the Truth of the “faith once delivered”. It’s not as Ann Graham Lotz said, “Just give me Jesus”. Especially NOT Gentile Jesus! Messiah truly is the “Lion of the Tribe of Yehudah”! He is a Hebrew! Paul was a “Hebrew of Hebrews”, of the Tribe of Benjamin. He was NOT a Jew, but a Judaizer, which meant that He, as a “Pharisee of Pharisees”, kept the “traditions of men”, which is what the Pharisees added to Torah! The Oral Law! And that is what Paul didn’t want people to do! Why are we told, by Peter, that some things that Paul says are “hard to understand”? Because we are so far removed from the culture and context of that time! And we do not know better now what was hard to understand then! I’ve gotta go! I hope someone, somewhere, gets something out of this! I haven’t put it together well, but perhaps God, YHVH, can take my mess and turn it into a message! That is what He did with my life…He took my mess, turned it into a message, and gave me a ministry!
    Halleluyah! (There was NO “J” in Hebrew) “Gentile churchianity Anglicized it.” Because, didn’t you know, the Scriptures were written in English? Hmmm… Blessing and Peace and Wisdom and Discernment, Jennifer

  2. Obviously, the issues you raise cannot be fully address in a short comment. I am at a conference and when I return will be in long enough to get repacked and head to anther conference but a brief reply for the moment seems appropriate.

    This is all very interesting. I can understand where you are coming from, and I get it. However, it will take more time and space than I have to truly do justice to what needs to be said about it. For one thing, Gentile”churchianity” continues to focus on everything and everyone who is, according to them, wrong. But why not focus on what is right/eous? It makes more sense.

    First, we address false teaching because Scripture commands it. Acts 20:28-30 as well as at length in 1 and 2 Timothy, Galatians and other Scripture including, by the way, the Old Testament. Second, your contempt for non-Jewish believers is unfortunate. Although I enjoy a bit of snarkiness myself the inaccurate name calling does little as a defense of your position in addition it demonstrates that you are spending your time where you think we are wrong instead of focusing on what it is “right/eous”. It strikes me as self-refuting.

    For now, for those who are interested, the article by our friends at Jew for Jesus, “The Jewish Roots Movement: Flowers and Thorns ,” can be helpful.

  3. This video technique with JW’s seems based on suppositions similar to those underlying D. James Kennedy’s diagnostic question in “Evangelism Explosion”. (i.e., “If you died tonight and God said, ‘Why should I let you into my Heaven?’ how would you answer?”) Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this (formulaic, confrontational) approach to explaining the “gospel” conspicuous by its absence from the NT?

    This video presentation also seems to lend itself to the impression that salvation is a matter of rational assent to a particular teaching about Christ, and that God can’t or won’t forgive the person who in response to the conviction of the Holy Spirit in their heart of right and wrong and of the existence of God and life after death may be genuinely repentant and has an instinctive realization of the holiness of God and of their own sin, and reaches out to God for forgiveness hoping in God’s goodness and love, but who dies in ignorance of the events of the Gospel (or the orthodox Christian interpretation of them). Is this a fair assessment?

  4. I don’t find the style of the individual in the short video or the questions used in Evangelism Explosion necessarily unbiblical. I don’t really use EE or this more confrontational approach but generally try to figure out what someone believes and start from there. As it happens I am not really an evangelist though but more of a pastor/teacher and I tend to disciple people into the faith. Evangelists tend to have a more narrow focus and are often more confrontational. We do find this with Peter in some cases in his preaching and interactions with the Jewish leadership. The point of the video though is simple. Is the gospel long, complicated and based on works or is it simple to understand and salvation a free gift to those who call on the name of the Lord? The point of the article is also fairly straightforward. Is calling on a false Jesus just as acceptable as calling on Jesus as He has revealed Himself (what you term, “rational assent”)? Is conviction of our sinfulness and the belief in an afterlife and existence of some form of god sufficient if the god who can deliver us is a tree or is discovered through sexual acts in some sort of pagan ritual (like the temple of Diana)? In other words, at least some elemental understanding of Who God is and Who we are calling on for salvation is necessary.

  5. Don, I appreciate your approach to sharing the gospel (discipleship model). And, I appreciate for Evangelists/Apostles there will be times that sharing the gospel involves a confrontation with opposition. What I notice in the NT, however, is that there seems to be a pattern of: 1) preaching/teaching the gospel that the Kingdom has come in Christ and He is the Resurrected Lord of all in what are the normal forums for this sort of public presentation in the culture, or occasionally situational, precipitated by the needs of an individual (e.g., the Philip preaching to the Ethiopian Eunuch), 2) opposition/confrontation to, or questions about, the message is initiated by those to whom the gospel is preached, 3) response (which can involve persecution of the messenger or acceptance on the part of the hearers and often mixed. To me context is everything, and I see some real differences from this NT pattern and the video above, and EE’s formulaic approach.

    My question about those who may be implicitly open to Christ (recognizing there is a continuum for all in terms of ability/sensitivity to the truth revealed through conscience and nature, including within those who are consciously believers in the facts of the Gospels) was very carefully worded to rule out equating “conviction of our sinfulness and the belief in an afterlife and existence of some form of god” with a concept that our instinctive “numinous” awareness (to use a C.S. Lewis term for this spiritual awareness which the Scriptures affirm for all–Romans 2:14-15, Ecclesiastes 3:11, Romans 1:20-21) is equivalent to a “god who can deliver us is a tree or is discovered through sexual acts in some sort of pagan ritual (like the temple of Diana)”. What is at the bottom of my question is the conviction that the God to whom all hearts are open knows who are His, regardless of their awareness of the facts about Christ’s life (which is to a great extent–looking at the full context of history–outside of their control), and He is able to save (we don’t necessarily know how or when, except that it will be through Christ) all those who turn to Him in repentance and faith (whether they know him by the Name of Jesus Christ or not). I don’t know whether you have ever read the books by missionary Don Richardson, Peace Child and Eternity in their Hearts, but his discoveries recorded in those books are also behind what I am talking about here. What I am NOT saying is that all roads and methods lead to Christ or that we need not be concerned to get the gospel message out to those who have not heard it.

    I am also suggesting that those who know the facts of the Gospels and have gone through motions of “accepting” this message according to what they have been taught is necessary to that (e.g., praying a prayer, raising a hand, walking up a church aisle, being baptized, certain changes in external lifestyle, etc.)–what I meant by “rational assent”–are also on a continuum with respect to a genuine inner repentance and living faith in God. I believe it is also true that despite their awareness of the facts of the Gospels, their understanding of God and HIs nature may still not exactly correspond to the Reality of God as He is truly revealed in Christ, and it is faith in the Reality, not what we understand by the words of the Gospels (which is also shaped by what we are taught those words mean) that results in our transformation into the image of Christ.

    I also agree that the gospel message is quite simple, but also for that reason it is easy to have a very nominal understanding of it, to distort it, and to miss the Reality it communicates, when it is not contextualized within its concrete expression in the life of the Church throughout history and in the holiness of life of those who have been most fully transformed by its message.

    I hope this clarifies what is at the root of my observations and concerns in my initial comment.

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