By Jack Weaver and our friend, John
Are we able to assess the motive of those false teachers/prophets who preach “another gospel”? Galatians 1:6-8
We can certainly assess and discern a false “gospel” message. That would be adding anything to the Gospel of salvation by Grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. If we see or hear ANY teacher, Pastor, CD — or read any books, web sites or articles that tell you any of the following are requirements for eternal life, “the performance of any works, the promise of any future works, or the evidence of any works,” (to quote our friend John), such are teaching a false “gospel,” which is no Gospel at all. (Examples: Repent, turn from sins to be saved, Turn or burn, make Jesus the “Lord of your life” or commit your life to Christ to be saved, persevere to the end, etc.) These are all Satan’s add-on to the precious Gospel of God’s Grace and totally pervert the Gospel (Good News).
We came up with at least four general categories of people teaching false gospels:
- Believers who still believe the gospel, but teach error out of a personal motive.
- Believers who no longer believe that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone (Luke 8:13, Galatians 5:4).
- Non-believers, who are counting on their own righteousness to get into heaven (Matthew 7:15 and Matthew 23:15).
- Satan’s ministers, disguised as ministers of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:15).
While the first and second groups are saved, and therefore eternally secure, all who preach false gospels are under a curse (Galatians 1:8-9).
To even attempt to discern the motives behind the person doing the false preaching, we must carefully analyze them, their behavior and their statements.
Following are some of the reasons that believers may teach false gospels:
- Ignorance or misuse of scripture – includes use of “proof texts”, always out of context, as well as use of poor or plainly false Bible translations.
- Sense of belonging – desires to be part of something big and exciting, with lots of structured programs for kids, etc. Willfully blind to obvious error.
- Respect for authority – putting the doctrine of men on par with, or above, the word of God.
- Social pressure – a desire to hold a position of honor, even it requires compromise.
- Financial allure – big churchs, big money, lucrative demand for books, etc.
- Family legacy - “my Daddy’s Daddy’s Daddy believes that, and so do I.”
- Eat the meat and spit out the bones “theology” – disregarding the Biblical warnings to separate from false teachers/teaching.
- Ecumenism – going along to get along.
- Fear of “failure” – desiring the praise of men above the praise of God.
- Hero-worship – reverence for icons of evangelicalism, such as Calvin, Spurgeon, Billy Graham, etc.
- Gatekeeping – They don’t want “nominal Christians” in their midst, so they change the Gospel from Grace to fit their own rules of behavior.
- A Feeling of Spiritual Invincibility – Failure to separate from false doctrine – as if they are not susceptible to being misled by false teaching – thus they let down their guard and find no need to put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:11).
It should come as no big surprise that non-believers also teach false gospels for many of the same reasons as those who purport to be believers in Christ — even so, each of them manage to slip in a teaching of Lordship “salvation” (probation).
If anyone claims to believe in a false gospel of works, we should take him at his word. He needs to be treated as an unbeliever, since simultaneous belief in a false gospel and the real Gospel of Christ is impossible! We should lovingly confront such a religious “professor” of faith in Christ with his disbelief. We must proclaim the Gospel, and if possible, show him from the Bible why his false gospel is false. The Lord does not require ANY works to acquire His gift of salvation – it is FREE. Grace and Works are polar opposites and CANNOT coexist as a means of salvation! (Romans 11:6)