— WHAT A TRUE CHRISTIAN BELIEVES —
The jailer in Acts 16, asked the apostle Paul and Silas a most critical, perhaps the most critical question anyone can ask: “…what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). The answer he received remains as pertinent today as it was when it was first spoken: “BELIEVE”. Of course, the immediate thought which springs to mind is, Believe what? Paul’s reply was as succinct as it was inflexible: “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…” (Acts 16:31 cf. Acts 4:10-12). The answer which the jailer received can only correctly be understood to mean: believing the truth about the Lord Jesus Christ. Surely Paul and Silas did not mean to convey to the jailer that he could believe anything he wanted to believe about the Lord Jesus Christ. That he could fabricate his own ideas about Jesus Christ, or follow one who was teaching inaccuracies, and, therefore, lies about Him. Surely they did not mean to imply that believing on who the Lord Jesus Christ is and what He has done is somehow open to interpretation. Definitely not. There is nothing ambiguous in Paul and Silas’ answer to the jailer’s question. “What must I do”, was promptly met with “Believe”. Believe who? “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ”. Believe what? Believe what about the Lord Jesus Christ? BELIEVE THE TRUTH ABOUT HIM! BELIEVE THE ONLY GOSPEL WHICH REVEALS HIM! “And they spake unto him the Word of the Lord…” (Acts 16:32 cf. Acts 16:10). And what word might that be? “…the Word of the Truth of the Gospel” (Col. 1:5). The only way a man is saved is by being born again (see Jn. 3:3), and the only way to be born again is: “Being born again…by the Word of God…And this is the Word which by the Gospel is preached unto you” (1 Pet. 1:23,25 cf. Rom. 1:16,17; Eph. 2:5,8).
The evidence that a man has been chosen by God to be saved is not only revealed in the fact that he is sanctified of the Spirit of God, but most revealingly that he is also a believer of the truth of God, and, therefore, a believer in the true and only God. To believe in lies about who God is and what God has done, equates to not believing in Him at all. To believe in God is to believe what God has said about who He is and what He has done. “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto He called you by our Gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 2:13,14). Where there is no belief in the Gospel of God, there is no proof that one is elect. Those who believe in false gospels have “…received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thess. 2:10), “That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thess. 2:12). Those who believe not the Gospel of Christ will be damned, for their pleasure lies in unrighteousness, and not the truth. Believing in lies about the Lord Jesus Christ amounts to nothing more than believing another jesus and not THE Jesus. Believing in false doctrine is believing in another gospel and not THE Gospel which is the only record God has given which testifies to the truth about His only begotten Son the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation…For therein is the Righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:16,17).
Believing in a false gospel, far from being insignificant, reveals the fact that one is not being led by the Spirit of God. Jesus said, “…when He, the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all truth…” (Jn. 16:13). “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:14 cf. Rom. 8:9; Gal 5:18). In other words, Christians are those who are led by the Spirit of God to believe the truth of God. The sons of God are all believers in the truth of God, for they are all led by the Spirit of God. The link between truth, and the belief of it, and being a born again Christian, is inextricable. You are not a Christian if you do not believe the truth, for you have not the evidence that God has revealed Himself to you. If you have not the truth you are not a Christian. “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17). “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jn. 8:32). Clearly those who are led by the spirit of error (lies), are not the sons of God, they have not the truth, and, therefore, cannot be born again. They are not being led by the Spirit of God, but by another spirit, which is why they believe in another jesus found only in another gospel and not God’s Gospel. Believing in false doctrine is believing in that which misrepresents the true Jesus, conversely presenting you with a false Jesus, a myth, a fantasy, a figment of lost man’s religious imagination. As we shall see, this is all spelled out clearly throughout the pages of Scripture.
“He that believeth on the Son of God hath the Witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made Him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of His Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 Jn. 5:10-12). What exactly is it to not believe God? To not believe in the true and only God is to not believe in what He has said. If it is the only true God Who has revealed Himself to you, you will believe His Word, the Gospel. You will believe that salvation can only come via God’s Gospel and no other. If you do not believe the Gospel of God as His only power to save His people from their sins, then it is not the true God but a false god who is leading you. What God has said about Himself, what He has said about His Son and what He has said about mankind is encapsulated in His Holy Word and specifically in His one and only Gospel. If you do not believe what God has said, as revealed in the Bible, particularly what He has said concerning His Son—Who He is, what He has done and for whom He has done it—then it cannot be the true God you have placed your trust in. To believe not the truth is to deny the truth. You cannot have the true God if you do not believe the truth of God. To believe not the truth is to deny the God of truth. If you do not believe the truth, but in man-made traditions, or what you feel the truth is, you have not God. If your faith is not exclusively in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, the record that God has given concerning Him, you simply do not have the Lord Jesus Christ. If you do not believe the truth, you do not know Him. If you do not believe the truth, you do not have the Jesus Whom God testifies to in His Gospel. Notice, in our passage from 1 John 5, that the apostle is talking about the record that God Himself has given of His Son Jesus, and not some fanciful, mythical fantasy concocted by some religious man or group. The man who believes not God’s Gospel, but rather insists that what he believes is the record that the true God has given of His Son, has not God, he has not eternal life abiding in him. “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son” (2 Jn. 9 cf. 1 Jn. 2:22,23).
Believing the record that God has given is believing the only Gospel which carries His Signature. Believing ONLY the record that God has given is believing ONLY HIS Gospel. Believing the record of Jesus which God has not given, is not believing in the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Lord. People say, ‘I believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and Him crucified’. That’s all well and good, but crucified for whom? Whom do you believe Christ died for? The reason why it is so vitally important as to who Christ died for, is because who you believe Christ laid down His life for immediately and categorically identifies the Christ you believe in. Any gospel which strays, even in the minutest detail, is not what God has said. If you believe in the words of another, you are not believing in the Word of God. If you are believing in words which God has not said, you are believing in another god, a false god that cannot save you. If you do not believe in what God has said, then what you do believe cannot possibly be describing and defining His only Begotten Son. Lost man draws comfort, not from the truth, but from his misunderstanding, his perversions of it. ERROR IS A LOST MAN’S COMFORT ZONE. To believe just anything about anyone is not believing the truth about them. A false description, whether it involves a person’s physical appearance or that which contradicts factual information concerning what the person is like and what they have done, etc., can never be rightly viewed as a true description. A man will never reach his intended destination if he follows the wrong directions. Good intentions can never be fulfilled by following wrong directions. We may both know a man named John, however, your description of the John you know clearly does not identify the John I know. Likewise, if your description of the John you know is similar, even identical to the John I know, but your John lives in another state and drives trucks, this, too, shows that the John you know is not the John I know who lives next door to me and is an accountant. It’s the details that define and distinguish one person from another. Details are the DNA of definition.
For the Christian, his God-given ability to readily recognize a false jesus by comparing the jesus of a false gospel's doctrines with the Jesus of the doctrines of the true Gospel of God is just as reliable as if he had a photo of the True Messiah. There may not have been cameras available in Biblical times, but God has recorded Christ's Image in doctrinal form, which He calls, the Gospel. A digital photo is made up of a series of pixels (short for picture elements). These pixels are what constitute and define pictures. Pixels are what gives a picture its individuality, its distinctive appearance. So too, the doctrines of the Gospel of God are the unchangeable and defining 'pixels' of what God's Gospel is made up of, and are what differentiates God's Gospel from every other gospel. Only the pixels/doctrines which are exclusive to God's Gospel are able to accurately portray the Gospel of God. It’s the details that define and distinguish the true Lord Jesus from all imposters. The distinguishing features of one person can never accurately define another.
You cannot be describing one person by the deeds of another. You cannot be describing one person by what another person has done. Believing on the Lord Jesus Christ is believing the truth about Him: who He is and what He has done, for you cannot separate the Person Jesus from what He has done. You cannot define the Person Jesus by what He has not done. This would be like attempting to define the Mona Lisa with the pixels that go to make up a portrait of Fred Flintstone. If you believe in lies about Jesus you are not believing in Him, but in another. If you believe in what the true Jesus has not done, then you will always run to a false jesus instead of the true. Imagine there are several men standing in front of you all claiming to be Jesus. Above them is written information as to what they have done and for whom they claim to have done it. They all go by the same name, and they all look identical, but what distinguishes them from each other is the details of who they are, what they have done and for whom they have done it. These three factors will always separate the true Jesus from the myriad of false jesuses which are believed in today. You ‘select’ the ‘Jesus’ you want by the doctrines that define him, and so you run to him and no other. The fact of the matter is lost men choose the god they want, whereas the true God elects the people He wants. If what the ‘Jesus’ you believe in has done is not what the true Jesus has done, then you have run to a charlatan, an imposter, and you are not saved. You are not merely wrong, you are lost. You have rejected the true and unknowingly, yet very willingly embraced the false, and thus will be damned. How could this not be so?
The true Jesus is only and definitively identified not only by the doctrines which teach who He is—the Son of God and God the Son—but importantly by the doctrines which signify what He has done. Significantly, the doctrines which identify who Jesus is and what He has done simultaneously define who He is not and what He has not done. The Gospel of God reveals the true Jesus by revealing who He is what He has done and for whom He has done it. The true Gospel stands eternally against every false gospel, for by its very doctrines, its DNA, its pixels, it not only shows what it is, but also WHAT IT IS NOT! Every false gospel teaches who the true Jesus is not, and what the true Jesus has not done. Jesus Christ is the unique Saviour—He is the unique God. God says of Himself: “…there is no God else beside Me; a Just God and a Saviour; there is none beside Me…I am God and there is none like Me” (Isa. 45:21; 46:9). What you believe Jesus has done will reveal whom you believe He has done it for. Likewise, whom you believe Jesus died for will reveal exactly what you believe Jesus did and what He accomplished on the cross. The reality of the situation is Jesus Christ is the Saviour Who has saved His people by what He has done, not by what He has not done, nor by anything they have done. The true Jesus, and no other, is the Saviour of His people. If you believe the truth you have the true Jesus. Jesus said, “…I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me” (Jn. 14:6 cf. Jn. 6:44,63,65). If you believe in lies, then you have a false jesus. All who believe in false information about the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ will be damned, for they are not believing in the record of information—the Gospel—which God Himself has given and by grace reveals to all His chosen ones. You cannot be a true believer if you are not saved, likewise, you cannot be saved without being a true believer in God’s unique and only Gospel. You cannot be a true believer in the one and only God if you do not believe exclusively in His Gospel alone. There are a billion wrong answers to a question, but there is only one truth. 2 + 2 only equals 4. If you add the smallest fraction to, or take away the smallest fraction from the true and only answer, then you simply do not have the truth. You cannot believe in the true while your hope is in the false, for if you really believed in the truth you would not also be believing in any falsehood. Such a person provides no evidence that they have been saved by the grace of God through the gift of Faith to believe in His Gospel to the exclusion of all others. The Gospel of God does not corroborate what they believe. The Gospel of God—the record that He has borne of His own Son—does not validate the beliefs of the unsaved. Those that believe in lies about what Jesus has done, are not believing in the true Jesus. They remain in a cursed state without God without Christ and, therefore, without hope in the world. Being wrong about what God has done reveals the undeniable fact that you do not know Him, and that the faith you are believing with is your own and not that gift of faith which God gives by grace to all His people so that they will all believe only in His Son: the One Whom the Father has testified of in His Gospel.
Most people who claim to be Christian believe in a jesus who died for everyone who was ever born, and that it is now up to each individual to choose Him. This is a colossal lie and if it is what you have been taught, then you are not believing on the Lord Jesus Christ Who died exclusively for the people God the Father chose before the foundation of the world and gave to His Son. This is not some insignificant debate which exists among Christians, it is that which separates the true Christian from the false. Listen to the Word of God: “According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved. In Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:4-7); “As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him” (Jn. 17:2), not to as many as have chosen Him; “…And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given Me” (Heb. 2:13); Scripture refers to God’s people as a chosen generation, not a generation of choosers: “…ye are a chosen generation…” (1 Pet. 2:9); Jesus also said: “I am the good Shepherd: the good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep. I am the good Shepherd, and know My sheep, and am known of Mine. As the Father knoweth Me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down My life for the sheep…ye believe not, because ye are not of My sheep…My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish…” (Jn. 10:11,14,15,26-28). To follow the true Jesus is to literally follow the Truth. To not know or believe the truth is to not know or believe in Him. Clearly, those who do not believe are not the sheep of the good Shepherd, they are not the ones whom the good Shepherd laid down His life for. In Scripture people are metaphorically identified as either sheep or goats. Jesus says: “And before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:…And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal” (Matt. 25:32-34,41,46 cf. Matt. 7:21-23).
Jesus could not and did not accomplish two deaths. He did not die for all and exclusively for those whom the Father gave Him. He did not die sufficiently for all and effectively for some. The two teachings present two totally different saviours: One is false and the other true. One is real while the other does not even exist. The pattern, or shadow, of what Christ would do is laid out in the Old Testament. God instructed the high priest, who was a shadow of the Great High Priest, Jesus Christ, to make sacrifice exclusively for His people the nation of Israel, and no other (see Lev. 16:34 cf. Isa. 53; Col. 2:17; Heb. 8:5; 10:1). False gospels teach that one sacrifice was alleged to have occurred for all, leaving salvation dependant on a person’s choice, their will, rather than something that is exclusively the domain of God’s Sovereign will, love, grace, mercy and purpose. Christ’s sacrifice was for His sheep, His people, and not for all. God says, “…for the transgression of MY people was He stricken” (Isa. 53:8). If you believe Jesus died for all, then you believe that Christ not only died for His people, His sheep, but also for the goats, those who were not His people, which He knew His Father would one day cast into Hell. If you believe Jesus died for all, then you make way for a host of doctrines which are militantly opposed to those of Scripture. The false gospel which teaches Christ died for all, and that salvation is dependent upon each person’s individual will is predicated on the satanic lie that man would not/did not die upon having eaten the forbidden fruit, and, therefore, the choice for salvation resides within man’s own will. God told Adam: “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2:17). Satan lied to Eve by insisting she would not die: “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die” (Gen. 3:4). This lie of Satan’s eliminates the doctrine of salvation by grace alone thus destroying the central tenet of the Gospel which is that a Saviour needed to be provided by God in order for any to be saved, and that a man has to be born again, born from above, made spiritually alive unto God by God (see Jn. 3). “And you hath He quickened (made alive), who were dead in trespasses and sins…But God, Who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)” (Eph. 2:1,5). A man who needs to be made spiritually alive cannot prior to that re-birth already be alive. The prerequisite to being made alive is that you first be spiritually dead, and that you have been chosen by God unto salvation (see 2 Thess. 2:13). Those who claim that they are not, and never were, spiritually dead can never lay any legitimate claim to being made alive, to being born again, to being Christians.
Scripture clearly teaches that by his very nature man is dead in sins and needs to be miraculously brought back to spiritual life by Almighty God. It then stands to Biblical reason, therefore, that nothing man can do can ever bring about his own spiritual re-birth, for “…EVERY man AT HIS BEST state is altogether VANITY…surely EVERY man IS vanity” (Psa. 39:5,11). “…Who then can be saved?...Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:25,26). How can a man who is lifeless gain life? Even man at his best cannot do the impossible. Writing to Christians, the apostle Paul said, “Even when we were dead in sins (God) hath quickened (made alive) us together with Christ (by grace ye are saved)” (Eph. 2:5 cf. Col. 2:13,14). Being saved by grace means being made alive by the will of God. Man is not saved by his free-will, his own choice, for he is dead in sins. Spiritual death is separation from God (see Gen. 2:17; 3:8). Man is vanity, therefore, he can only be saved by grace. What lost religious man works for, yet can never gain, God has supplied free of charge to His people. Jesus said: “No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him…no man can come unto Me, except it were given unto him of My Father” (Jn. 6:44,65). Salvation is a gift not a choice. Man in his natural, spiritually dead state, is “…without Christ…having no hope, and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12). Being without God is being without hope. If you do not have the Son you do not have the Father. “Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also” (1 Jn. 2:23 cf. Jn. 15:23; 2 Jn. 9). How can you be acknowledging God’s Son, if you believe in a gospel which does not testify of, and, therefore, identify Him? If Christ had died for all He would have had no control over who would be saved, thus changing the effectiveness of His Sacrifice from one which was totally and completely effective to one which was riddled with more ineffectiveness than not. ‘Christ died for you’, means absolutely nothing to those for whom He did not die. Christ dying for a man who would ultimately be cast into Hell is a blasphemous mockery of Jesus’ sacrificial death upon the cross. Leaving salvation contingent upon a man’s choice gives man the power to override what Christ allegedly did on the cross for him. This satanic teaching changes God from being Almighty, one Whose will is always fully effective, to one who feebly waits and hopes that someone will accept what He has ‘done for them’. This pathetic portrait of ‘God’ is in stark contrast to the true God Who “…hath done whatsoever He hath pleased” (Psa. 115:3 cf. Dan 4:35). God says, “…My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure…I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it” (Isa. 46:10,11).
The apostle Paul provides overwhelming evidence that makes it abundantly clear that to believe the truth is far different to believing a lie. Truth and lies take you to vastly different locations. Believing truth and believing error are not the same thing. Believing erroneously cancels out any claim you may make to believing the truth. The popular saying, ‘It doesn’t matter what you believe, but whom you believe’, makes no Biblical sense whatsoever. This would be like saying, ‘No matter what number you believe 2 + 2 adds up to, the fact you believe it adds up to a number is all that matters’, or, ‘The fact you know the equation exists is what’s important’. Surely what you believe defines and identifies whom you believe. Believing the true Jesus, and believing a false jesus is NOT the same thing. Just because you have the name right amounts to nothing but a hill of beans if what you believe about Him is wrong. If you are right then you are not wrong, and if you are wrong then you cannot be right. You cannot simultaneously be right and wrong. If you believe in the true Jesus you are saved, if you believe in another jesus you will be damned, “…whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life…He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (Jn. 3:15,18). His name is who He is and what He has done. “…thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).
Being wrong invariably involves unbelief concerning that which is right. Error is not only ignorance of truth, it is always a denial of truth. Unbelief, whether it is fuelled by error or ignorance, is a rejection of truth. Unbelief is a rejection of God whether one is cognizant of the fact or not. Error cannot be separated from unbelief. The Lord Jesus Himself makes this picture clearer than anyone: “And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mk. 16:15,16). Salvation is believing — damnation is unbelief. Those who believe not the truth will be damned. These are they who have not been saved by grace alone through the gift of faith that believes exclusively in the Son of God Who died for the people His Father gave Him. Believing the Gospel—God’s account of Who His Son is, and what His Son has done—is the evidence that shows one is saved; that one has been chosen by God to be saved through sanctification of His Spirit and belief of His truth. Why else would God give the gift of faith by grace to His people other than to believe the truth—His Gospel—and reject everything that conflicts with it, forever. Not believing THAT Gospel, not believing what God has said about who His Son is and what His Son has done, clearly reveals a state of damnation, “…he that believeth not is condemned already…” (Jn. 3:18). It shows that one has not received the gift of faith given by God through grace to all His chosen people so that they would all believe—TRUST EXCLUSIVELY IN—His only Gospel and His Jesus while simultaneously rejecting all others.
The following verse of Scripture spells out the eternal consequences of not believing the true and only Gospel God has ever authored: “…the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power” (2 Thess. 1:7-9). Notice how not knowing the true God is inextricably linked to, and revealed as, not obeying the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. If you are not obeying it, you are not believing it, and if you are not believing it you are not obeying the true and only God.
The apostle Paul, quite succinctly, emphasizes our Lord’s words, in his second Letter to the Christians at Corinth: “But if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost” (2 Cor. 4:3). Those who do not believe the Gospel are not merely wrong, but, nevertheless, Christian, THEY ARE LOST! They are not Christian. Again we see that not seeing/believing the Gospel of God reveals one to be in a spiritually lost state still dead in their sins. Those who believe not the Gospel—whether they believe another gospel or that there is no need for salvation at all—are in a lost/damned state. Those who claim to believe the Gospel, but insist they were, or that one can be saved believing another gospel are in an equally damned state. Paul the apostle makes it abundantly clear, in his Letter to the Christians at Galatia, that to not believe his Gospel was a sign one was in a lost state, “…there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the Gospel of Christ. 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. 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” (Gal. 1:7-9). Here we see, in no uncertain terms, that if anyone presented to the Galatians anything different to what Paul had said concerning who the Lord Jesus was, what He did and for whom He did it, this should immediately and without reservation be viewed as a perversion of God’s Gospel. A gospel should not be believed, no matter who preaches it, if it is not the Gospel of Almighty God. Listen to the message and do not allow yourself to be swayed, or influenced, by the person preaching it, or the organization they represent. If it is not God’s Gospel IT WILL NOT SAVE YOU! Your faithful and long-term allegiance to a man, or to a denomination does not impress God one iota, but will only serve to doubly condemn you who believe in another gospel. “…repent ye, and believe THE Gospel” (Mk. 1:15); “…except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Lk. 13:3). Preaching a gospel that conflicted with Paul’s Gospel was not only a sign that their gospel was a perversion of the true, but that the person bringing/believing it was indeed a perversion of a true Christian.
The only logical, Biblical, conclusion that can be drawn from Paul’s proclamation is that God has only one Gospel, therefore, God has only one way by which He saves His people from their sins. Jesus Christ is the only Way, therefore, salvation can only be conditioned on Him, only on grace. SALVATION IS ONLY BY THE SUBSTITUTE—JESUS—THEREFORE, SALVATION CAN ONLY BE BY GRACE ALONE. Grace is God’s substitute for a man’s works. Salvation is by substitution: Christ’s Righteousness for His people’s sins. “For He hath made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the Righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). Christ not only takes His people’s worst, He takes their best which is all laced with sin, for they are all sinful by nature, and gives them His perfect Righteousness. The gospels of religion are man’s way to salvation, all include works: man must do or he cannot be saved. This false way to salvation has man at the epicentre of his own salvation, for it is all based on what he does. No matter the situation he may find himself in, man always believes he can extricate himself from any dilemma by what he does, thus confirming the vacuous lie that man is some all-powerful creature that has all the answers within himself. God’s Gospel is the only Gospel which teaches salvation by grace alone. Salvation by grace alone, is salvation only by what God does. Therefore, every gospel which teaches that salvation can only come with the assistance, the obedience, the cooperation of man, is anti-grace. It is a counterfeit gospel which no one can be saved by. Every gospel that includes works as a condition for salvation is NOT God’s Gospel. Every gospel which bases salvation on works, or on a combination of grace and works, cannot save. Grace and works can never amalgamate, they can never gel together for “…if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work” (Rom. 11:6). Those who teach hybrid gospels made up of grace and works, and all those who believe such gospels, are accursed.
Notice also, in the first chapter of Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, how the apostle reiterates the critical importance of what he is saying in the very next verse, and that the Galatian believers should not be in any doubt, whatsoever, as to the severity and gravity of the situation when he mentions the fact that even if an angel from heaven were to bring a gospel which differed from the one Paul had preached to the Galatians, he ought to be, or is deserving of being, cursed. What makes these words of Paul all the more shocking is to realize that the apostle is not speaking of a demon, an angel of the Devil, bringing a false gospel, for no one would believe a demon, but Paul’s warning concerns one of God’s own angels directly sent from heaven. He is not talking about some rebel angel who has decided to break away from God and come to the earth on his own initiative, but one who has been actually, directly sent by God. Importantly, angels who came down from Heaven were always sent to earth by God, never speaking their own words, but only the words of God. So what Paul is saying here, which clearly demonstrates the seriousness, the enormous magnitude of his message, is that even if an angel were to come to us FROM GOD HIMSELF, and yet teach a gospel contrary to the one which God gave Paul, we are not to listen to him! Considering that angels sent to earth were the veritable spokesmen of God, we conclude that Paul was literally saying: ‘EVEN IF GOD HIMSELF WERE TO SPEAK TO US ANOTHER GOSPEL WHICH DIFFERS IN ANY WAY FROM THE ONE HE GAVE ME, WE ARE NOT TO LISTEN TO HIM!!’ Of course, this would and could never happen. What Paul is demonstrating here is the fact that the Gospel he had given the Galatians was the eternal Gospel given by God to him, and that this Gospel would never change, and should not be taken from or added to. The importance of believing God's Gospel and the severe consequences of straying from God's unique Gospel, or rejecting it for another gospel, a false gospel, carries with it dire and eternal consequences. What Paul is also saying is that the Gospel of God is a very tangible, definite and unique statement concerning salvation, otherwise, how could God have ever revealed it to him. The Gospel of God is in no way ambiguous except to those who cannot see it. The apostle encouraged Titus “In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity” (Titus 2:7). The Gospel was to be, is to be and must be taught without any corruptness, it must not be watered down to make it more palatable, otherwise it would cease to be what God has declared it to be and Who His Son is. If it is to be taught without corruptness, then it stands to reason it is to be believed without any corruptness whatsoever. To believe the Gospel is to believe the truth of God. To believe the Gospel is to exclusively believe the Gospel. To believe error, or truth and error, is to deny the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and, to deny the Gospel is to deny Him. We must not add to the Gospel or take away from it, if we are to call ourselves believers in God, and so we are never to believe in a perverted gospel even if it is angel from God Himself who brings it. “Every word of God is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him. Add thou not unto His words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar” (Prov. 30:5,6).
Paul’s warning in Galatians 1 was predicated on the fact that the Gospel he preached was not given to him by man, but revealed to him by God Himself: “But I certify you, brethren, that the Gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1:11,12). The entire basis for Paul’s unwavering confidence that he had the true and only Gospel of God, was in the fact that it was God Himself Who had revealed it to him. Paul was so unshakable, and immovable, from this, that he warned the people that even if he himself was to return at a later date and tell them a gospel which differed from what he had already told them, or even if God via an angel sent from Heaven was to outline a gospel which differed in any way, to the slightest degree, from the Gospel he had given them, they were to consider both Paul and the angel accursed. Anything which even slightly differs from Paul’s Gospel is a perversion of God’s truth. If you add anything to truth or remove any part of it, you no longer have the truth. There are no small insignificant errors, for error corrupts truth. Error eradicates truth. Error changes truth into a lie. Significantly, both before and after Paul’s day, all religious man had/has ever conceived in his mind as to how a man could be saved invariably involved the man doing something to gain salvation or to appease a god enough to save him. The basis of all religion concerning the salvation of a man is based on the character and conduct of the man, and not exclusively upon the grace, mercy and will of Almighty God. Of the over 4,000 religions of the world all have at least one thing in common: they all teach that man must do something in order to gain and/or maintain a state of salvation. That salvation can never be a reality unless the man cooperates via his obedience. In other words, man’s idea of salvation ultimately depends on what he does. He is the master, the controller of his own destiny. The Word of God says the exact opposite: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8,9). “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5). “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Tim. 1:9). “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy” (Rom. 9:16). Even people who have no religious beliefs instinctively live lives filled with good deeds and helping others etc. Being good and doing good will profit a man nothing, insofar as salvation is concerned, if he has not God. “…verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity” (Psa. 39:5). Man’s attempt at doing good and being good may, on the surface appear to be quite commendable, however, it is all a contemptuous attempt to establish a righteousness that will be good enough for God to accept and allow you into Heaven. It is antichrist living to try and usurp Christ’s Righteousness, with one’s own righteousness. Salvation is not about being good, it is about being made alive.
“The Bible is clear that Christians are saved by grace alone through faith alone. In that regard it is unique, for the religions of the world all have some form of works system in order to gain right standing before their god. All the religions of the world dictate one must act a certain way, or do certain things, or commit more good acts than bad acts in order to earn the favor of their deity. Christianity stands alone as a belief system which bases salvation on grace alone without any semblance of works.” “Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works” (Rom. 4:6). “Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith” (Rom. 3:27). Salvation is based on the imputed (charged) Righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, and not upon any works or efforts of a man at all. “…we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags…” (Isa. 64:6). The apostle Paul wanted only to “…be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the Righteousness which is of God by faith” (Phil 3:9). Paul prayed for those Jews who went around trying to get to Heaven via their own righteousness: “Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 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. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (Rom. 10:1-4). Ignorance is not a refuge, but evidence that one is lost. If your zeal for ‘God’ is not in accord with His Holy Word you will invariably try to establish a righteousness of your own. All such people have not submitted themselves unto the Righteousness of God, therefore, all such people are lost. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on Him in Whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in Him of Whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the Gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10:13-17). “Even when we were dead in sins, (God) hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)…For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:5,8,9). “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work” (Rom. 11:6). “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (Gal. 2:16). “For He saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy” (Rom. 9:15,16). Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in the Person and Works (Righteousness) of Jesus Christ alone. Add anything to this, or take away anything from it, and you do not have the Gospel of Christ, you do not have the Gospel of salvation, you are not saved.
There are many books which this author has written which detail the doctrines of the Gospel of the Grace of God in the salvation of His people which the reader is encouraged to study. Suffice it to say, the Gospel of salvation is the Gospel of the grace of God by which He gives the gift of faith to His elect people in order that they believe solely in salvation by grace alone, and trust exclusively in the Righteousness of Christ, and not their own (see Eph 1:2,5,8). To believe in Him is to only believe in Him is to only believe His Gospel.
There is no salvation in believing a false, or perverted gospel. Just like a wrong answer can never be true, a perverted gospel can never be rightly construed as the Gospel of God. What a person believes reveals whether or not they have been taught the true Gospel of God, or one of the many false gospels which come from the mind of Satan, or man.
“Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (2 Jn. 9-11).