BELIEVING HAS A BEGINNING (PART 2)
If you are a true believer in God's one and only Gospel then you automatically believe that no other gospel could be God's Gospel. Just like you believe there is no other god that can save but the true God, no other jesus Who can save but the true Jesus, the One God bears record to in His Gospel, so too, the true believer believes in no other gospel but God's Gospel. ONLY ONE GOD, ONLY ONE JESUS, ONLY ONE GOSPEL. Makes sense doesn't it. Every other god is a false god. Every other jesus is a false jesus. God says of those who pray to another god "Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save" (Isaiah 45:20). Every other gospel is a false gospel that has never saved anyone. Every other gospel is not God's Gospel but a false gospel which has no power to save. No one in their right mind who claims to be a Christian would dare even think to say that salvation is found in whomever a person believes God to be. No one in their right mind who claims to be a Christian would dare even think to say that salvation is found in whomever a person believes is the Lord Jesus Christ. But why is this so? and upon what does this author base such statements?
There is nothing which distinguishes a false god, a false jesus or a false gospel from the true God, the True Jesus or the true Gospel than DOCTRINE! Nothing will more readily and immediately reveal a false christian as what he believes. Tell me a false teaching about the true God and/or the true Jesus and I will show you a false gospel and the one who believes it a false christian. False gospels do not only contain lies. Many of them incorporate many truths. But as the apostle Paul taught, the minutest error, the slightest of false teachings in a gospel renders it a false gospel, a false testimony of Who the true God is, or Who the true Jesus is and what He has done. "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump" (Galatians 5:9). Leaven, as the Lord Jesus explains it in Matthew 16 is symbolical of teaching: "How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Then understood they how that He bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees" (Matthew 16:11,12). "By leaven the Hebrews metaphorically understood whatever had the power of corrupting, whether doctrine, or example or anything else....Leaven is used in making bread. Its use is to pass through the flour, and cause it to ferment or to swell, and become light. It passes secretly, silently, but certainly." Error is the leaven that leaveneth the whole lump. Error is that which changes truth into a lie and transforms THE Gospel into another gospel. Error is not what God has said but what an unregenerate man believes God has said. A false gospel is not what God has said but what lost people believe God has said. Belief in any error concerning the Gospel is something that can never be excused, but is always the identifying mark of a false Christian. Paul warned that a little leaven will leaven the whole lump. The word little here comes from the Greek word mikros from which we get our word micro, meaning very small. This confirms that even the slightest error when it comes to the Gospel is enough to brand that message a false gospel, and anyone who believes it a false christian. How could it not be so? If there is anything different about a gospel, anything in it which differs from that great Gospel of God, it shows conclusively that it is a false gospel that cannot save and God will not tolerate anyone who believes in anything that differs from His Gospel!! ADD ANYTHING TO THE GOSPEL OR LEAVE ANYTHING OUT AND THE RESULT IS A FALSE GOSPEL. God does not stray from His truth, He does not change, nor has His Message of how He saves changed. His Message does not contain error of any size and so any message of salvation, any gospel that contains even the minutest of errors cannot be God’s Gospel. All those, no matter what their appearance or reputation or how respected they are as religious leaders or worshippers, are lost, the Scriptures say, if they do not believe the specific doctrines of that one particular and specific Gospel of God. The Gospel of salvation is NOT what YOU think it is. The Gospel of salvation is NOT what YOU believe it to be. The Gospel of salvation is what GOD says it is and what GOD believes it to be. Say it is anything different, believe in any other gospel, and you are lost.
No true Christian has ever held onto any false gospel they believed in prior to being given the Faith of God to see, understand and believe in God's Gospel. No one who has been in a dark room believing the darkness was light EVER, EVER, EVER continued to believe the darkness was light after someone came in and turned on the light! ONCE THEY SEE THE LIGHT THEY IMMEDIATELY SEE WHAT REAL LIGHT IS AND FOREVER REJECT THE SILLY NOTION THAT THE DARKNESS THEY THOUGHT WAS LIGHT, WAS ALSO LIGHT OR EQUAL TO LIGHT. THEY NOW SEE IT FOR WHAT IT REALLY IS: DARKNESS! No truly saved person who has ever believed in a false gospel thinking it to be the true and only Gospel of God EVER, EVER, EVER continued to believe the false gospel as the true Gospel, or that it is in any way equal to it, after they have been given the Gift of Faith from God that believes only the Gospel of God! ONCE THEY ARE GIVEN THE GIFT OF FAITH FROM GOD THEY IMMEDIATELY SEE WHAT THE REAL GOSPEL IS AND FOREVER REJECT THE SILLY NOTION THAT THE FALSE GOSPEL THEY THOUGHT WAS THE TRUE GOSPEL EVER WAS THE TRUE GOSPEL. THEY SEE IT NOW FOR WHAT IT REALLY IS: A FALSE GOSPEL WHICH HAS NEVER SAVED ANYONE! How can a false gospel save? God didn't write it. It does not tell of the true Jesus and what He did to save His people from their sins and speaks only of a false god to whom some truth has been attached, so how can anyone be saved believing it? How can anyone say that their Christian life began by believing a false gospel which is a mixture of lies and truth. Does Scripture teach you that God speaks forth truth and lies? That His truth contains any lies? That His Gospel contains any error?
If you currently, firmly, believe that you are a true believer in God's one and only Gospel and yet insist that years before you ever heard the Gospel of God, when you believed in what you now recognize is a false gospel, you were nonetheless saved, because you also led a very religious life, attended 'church' and prayed, had experiences with 'God', had answers to prayer and even healings etc., then allow me to state quite clearly to you that you are deceived and currently in a lost state. The Scriptures state clearly and unequivocally that God's Gospel is the power of God unto salvation and that there is no salvation without it: "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: FOR IT IS THE POWER OF GOD UNTO SALVATION to everyone that believeth;...For therein is the Righteousness of God revealed..." (Rom. 1:16,17). It is God's Gospel which has the power to save and not any other gospel. Salvation begins with God's Gospel and so believing God's Gospel is the beginning of salvation, it is the beginning of the Christian life. Those who believe otherwise need to repent of ever having believed they were saved before they saw, understood and believed God's Gospel as being God's only power unto salvation and that a person is saved only after they have heard the Gospel of God and believed it.
Does it matter what doctrines a person believes? Of course it does! It is not the acknowledging of lies which evidences a state of salvation but only the acknowledging of the truth. Only those who abide in the doctrines of Christ are the saved ones and not those who do not: "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 John 9). Despite this many see doctrinal issues as only minor. They say, ‘We can’t know everything when we become a Christian.’ No one is saying that one must know everything there is to know at the outset of one’s Christian life, just the Gospel, which God Himself has said must be believed for a person to be saved. YOUR TRUST MUST BE IN THE TRUE GOD AS HE IS REVEALED IN HIS TRUE AND ONLY GOSPEL! Surely you are not of the opinion that there can be salvation without the Gift of Faith? No? Then why so much resistance to the truth that unless there is faith in God’s one and only Gospel, there can be no salvation? The ignorant say, ‘What does it really matter if one only has a few errors when it comes to the Gospel'. My friend, those ‘few errors’ are precisely what the Word of God tells us are the identifying mark of false gospels! Would it bother you if someone paid for something you were selling them with a $50 counterfeit note that only had a few inaccuracies? Now you understand how it bothers God when people say they love Him and yet believe not His Gospel! HOW ELSE COULD A FALSE GOSPEL BE IDENTIFIED BUT BY ITS ERRORS!! They are the very thing the Bible tells us to watch out for! ERROR IS NOT TRUTH AND ALL WHO BELIEVE IN A FALSE GOSPEL SHARE IN ITS ACCURSEDNESS. "...If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:9). We have not been told by Paul in Galatians 1 just how large or how small an error would need to be for a gospel to qualify as a false gospel. This is something which some have latched onto as being the loophole that will admit into heaven even those who hold to some error when it comes to what the Gospel is, in other words, what they should believe about what God has done to save His people from their sins. But Paul’s silence here on exactly what it is that constitutes a false gospel reveals more than one might think. Paul did not qualify his warning with some line about a person’s message being another gospel only if the error they proclaimed reached a certain level. A false gospel is not to be judged so if its errors reach a certain point, BUT IN THE FACT THAT IT CONTAINS ANY ERROR AT ALL! Paul left his readers with no doubt in their minds, and with nothing else to conclude, but that if anyone were to bring a gospel which differed in ANY way, to ANY degree, with the Gospel Paul had told them, they were accursed people and their gospels damnable. Paul’s succinct statements regarding what the Gospel was and what it was not, shows the simple reasoning of Paul that if what a person presented to the Galatians was not the Gospel he had told them, if they did not agree with Paul’s Gospel or claimed to believe it yet added or took away one jot or tittle from it, it would no longer be what God had told Paul and would therefore qualify as merely another, powerless-to-save, gospel and all those who put their trust in it as lost.
Paul the apostle teaches that a true Christian is one who loves and believes the truth of God: "...according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth..." (Titus 1:1). To acknowledge the truth of the true God is to love the true God and His truth. To not know the truth, or to have heard the truth but not recognize it as the truth is to reject it and to trust in lies. To not recognize the truth is to simply not know God. In his second Letter to the Thessalonians the apostle Paul identifies those who perish as they who "...received not the love of the truth that they might be saved" (2 Thessalonians 2:10). Notice here the connection between being saved and loving the truth. Paul goes on to say "That they all might be damned who believed not the truth..." (2 Thessalonians 2:12). Notice here the inexorable connection between not believing God's truth and being in a damned state. Notice, too, what every Christian, every chosen child of God has been chosen to salvation through: "...God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation THROUGH sanctification of the Spirit and BELIEF of the truth: whereunto He called you through our GOSPEL..." (2 Thessalonians 2:13,14). There is no doubting that salvation cannot be separated from belief of the truth, God's Gospel. SALVATION CANNOT COME BEFORE BELIEF OF THE TRUTH OR WITHOUT BELIEF OF THE TRUTH BUT ONLY THROUGH BELIEF OF THE TRUTH. To resist the truth of God is to resist the true God. To resist the truth, or to claim that any error is as much truth as the truth is, is to not love the truth but to be ignorant of the fact that TRUTH STANDS ALONE just as God does. It is completely pure and independent of error just as God is. To resist the true God is to provide evidence that one has not come to the knowledge of the truth of God. Such people are "Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth...these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith" (2 Timothy 3:7,8).
Only the doctrines which make up the Gospel of God are the power of God unto salvation and no others, for all that false gospels have ever promoted or do promote is a false god. Just take another look at what Paul has to say in his double warning about any false gospel no matter who teaches it, not even if it is an angel sent from God Himself: "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" (Galatians 1:8,9). BELIEF THAT ANY OTHER GOSPEL HAS POWER TO SAVE IS EVIDENCE OF LOSTNESS NOT SALVATION. No matter how much you may profess to love God, no matter your stories of reformation and repentance and perceived answers to prayer. No matter the change that has come over you from the inside out since you began believing your false gospel. If you do not believe the Gospel which contains the record that GOD has given of His Son: YOU ARE NOT SAVED. THIS IS NOT A MATTER OF INTELLIGENCE BUT OF REVELATION! Nor is salvation and what the Gospel of God is, and Who God is, a matter of opinion. Man's opinion does not dictate what the Gospel of God is and for that matter Who God is. GOD DECLARES WHAT HIS GOSPEL IS AND GOD DECLARES THAT HE IS GOD ALONE: "...there is no God else beside Me; a Just God and a Savior; there is none beside Me. Look unto ME, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I AM GOD, and there is NONE ELSE" (Isaiah 45:21,22). This has nothing to do with salvation by knowledge but everything to do with God revealing His truth to you and granting you the Faith to believe it. The beginning of the Christian life.
Has God revealed Himself to you in and by His Gospel? Have you the Faith which comes from God that only believes in the Gospel by which the true God and His Righteousness is revealed? Obviously, the Scripture makes it perfectly clear that one cannot be in a saved state as long as one denies God's Gospel by believing and trusting in another. Do Paul's words in Galatians 1:8,9 imply to you that the Gospel of God would one day be lost? That after approximately 2,000 years some parts of it would become lost or that error would somehow creep in? Does it sound to you like Paul's statement, that anyone preaching, and therefore believing, any other gospel but his Gospel, the one he preached to the Galatians is accursed, makes any allowances for belief in a false gospel today? Not at all. Paul's warning is the same today as it ever was and just as true and important as it ever was. Believe a false gospel and you are accursed. Just like those who do not believe in the existence of God, those who believe in a false god of a false gospel are all just as accursed as each other. Believe the true Gospel, Paul's Gospel, the one and only Gospel God gave to him, the one and only Gospel that God gives to all His people, and you will be saved.
No seriously minded person claiming to be a Christian would ever say that a man is a true Christian if he believes in another jesus and not the True Jesus. Nor would they say that a man is a true Christian if he is guided by another spirit and not the Holy Spirit of God. So why then would anyone say that a man is saved if he believes in another gospel and not the true Gospel of God? Paul said, in his second Letter to the Corinthians: "But I fear, lest by any means, as the Serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 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" (2 Corinthians 11:3,4). There is no better jesus than the real Jesus preached by Paul and the apostles. There is no better spirit than God's Holy Spirit whom His people have received and there is no gospel that can save other than God's Gospel. The Christian's duty is to not tolerate any other jesus but God's Jesus, nor any other spirit but the Spirit of God and no other gospel but the true Gospel of God. God does not tolerate anyone who believes in a false gospel and His people do not tolerate any gospel which is not God's Gospel. Do you think that if Paul were here now he would revoke his statement to the Galatians and say that anyone preaching a gospel that differs from his is just as much a teacher of truth as Paul was and that it is ok to believe his different gospel? There is ONE TRUE Jesus, according to the Scriptures, and ONE TRUE Spirit and therefore only ONE TRUE Gospel of God which is His power unto salvation, "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one Faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all" (Ephesians 4:4-6 cf. 1 Timothy 2:5). The fact that there is only one Gospel that saves and not several is seen clearly in all Scriptures which speak of the Gospel. The word the being an obvious reference to one and only one Gospel. The Christian is told to believe in THE Gospel not A Gospel. The Lord Jesus did not command that A Gospel be preached and believed, but THE Gospel, the one and only Gospel of God, signifying by this that the truth is contained in only ONE Gospel, God's Gospel.
The truth is distinguished from error, or lies, by teachings, doctrines. Therefore what a person believes about God identifies the god they believe in. If a person says that God has no Son, or that His Son is not God, then it is clear they do not have the God of the Gospel. The true God has not revealed Himself to that person; He has not granted them the gift of Faith to believe in His Gospel. If a person believes God teaches that we must all strictly obey the Sabbath then it is clear that god is not the God of the Gospel but the false god of Seventh-Day Adventism. Never more so than in our own day, so many people just take someone who claims to be a Christian at face value. If they say 'I love god', and 'jesus is lord', and 'I believe the gospel', people just believe them. They flock to televangelists and other false gospel teachers. They think 'This man says he loves god so he must love god; he says that he loves the gospel so he must love the gospel and he says he is a christian so he must be a christian'. If it looks like a duck, and smells like a duck and quacks like a duck WATCHOUT! it may be a decoy. Probability is not certainty. Anyone who comes to you proclaiming to be a Christian must be initially judged in light of the Gospel he brings and nothing else.
Salvation cannot come before one hears, understands and believes the Gospel of Almighty God wherein His Righteousness is revealed. Paul the apostle makes this abundantly clear in his Letter to the saints at Ephesus: "That we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ. In Whom ye also trusted, AFTER that ye heard the Word of Truth, the GOSPEL of your salvation: in Whom also AFTER that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of Promise" (Ephesians 1:12,13). Notice Paul says that trusting in the true Christ can only come after one has heard the Gospel of Christ and not before. Clearly, salvation cannot come before one has heard the Gospel or without ever having heard the Gospel. And, only after we have believed are we sealed with the Holy Spirit of God. Notice, too, that Paul did not say that trusting in Christ comes while a person is being taught the Gospel but only AFTER they have heard it. No one is sealed with that Holy Spirit of Promise while they are being taught the Gospel but only AFTER they have believed it. So, then, if one trusts in any other gospel apart from God's Gospel it is clear that they are not trusting in the Christ of God's Gospel. Nor is a person sealed with the Holy Spirit of Promise who does not believe the Gospel of God. There can be no trusting in Christ if there is no hearing of the Gospel, and if there is no hearing of the Gospel there can be no believing in the Gospel and therefore no Christian life.
A man once said to me concerning two elderly ladies he knew who were very religious and yet did not believe the Gospel, but in another, 'You can't tell me they're not saved'. Yes I can! I cannot tell you that they will never be saved but I can tell you what the Scriptures say and that is that if they have not heard the Gospel or do not believe the Gospel, then clearly the Gospel is hidden from them (they cannot see it and therefore do not know it, they do not recognize it as God's salvation truth) and they are currently in a lost state. "But if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost" (2 Cor. 4:3). How in the world can those two little ladies possibly be calling upon the true God when they do not believe in, and therefore do not trust in, God's Gospel, His salvation plan? The ONLY plan whereby a man is saved. How can these two elderly ladies, as sweet and as lovely as they might be, possibly be in a saved state when they do not believe the Gospel which is actually hid from them? The word hid here means 'to cover', 'to veil' or 'to hinder the knowledge of a thing'. In other words, Paul is saying, How can anyone believe the Gospel when they do not know it? What is so difficult to understand about a person being lost if they do not know and believe the Gospel of God, in light of what Paul says in this verse? How can one believe in something they have no knowledge of? How then can these two ladies be in a saved state when Paul clearly teaches that all such people to whom the Gospel of God is hid, whether they be young or old, rich or poor, sweet and nice, are lost? A person's character and conduct does not enter into the equation which is obviously what swayed this gentleman into believing they were saved. Of course one would naturally assume these two elderly ladies are saved by looking at their lives etc., but no amount of 'goodness', church attendance and hymn singing is going to get them saved. That is NOT the evidence which reveals a saved life. If one does not know, love and believe the Gospel of God to the exclusion of all others one is simply not saved. BELIEF OF THE GOSPEL=SALVATION! UNBELIEF=LOSTNESS! Belief of the Gospel comes when God grants a person His Faith to believe His Gospel. Salvation comes by Grace through Faith and not because of who a person is or what they do.
Paul asks the following rhetorical and legitimate question TO WHICH, incidentally, I HAVE NEVER HEARD AN ANSWER FROM THOSE WHO OPPOSE GOD'S GOSPEL: "...How shall they believe in Him of Whom they have not heard?..." (Rom. 10:14). It needs to be pointed out here that the question 'How shall they believe in Him' may also be phrased as follows, 'How can anyone actually be believing in God, in His Gospel, if they have not heard of Him as He is revealed in His Gospel?' How can anyone presently believe in the true God if they have never heard the true Gospel wherein the truth of God is revealed? Even the world has heard about God and Jesus Who went to the cross but does this mean they are all saved, all believers in God's Gospel? Certainly not. It means that they have heard some things about the true God, they have some cursory knowledge about God, but they do not know or believe the truth about Him and His salvation plan for most have never heard it. Moreover, how can anyone be believing in the true God when all they believe and all they have ever believed in is a false gospel? How can anyone be living the Christian life when they do not know or believe the Christian Gospel? This writer at various times believed in the Roman Catholic Gospel, the Arminian gospel, the Word of Faith gospel, the Charismatic gospel, the Baptist gospel, the Presbyterian gospel, and the Calvinist gospel. NEVER WAS I SAVED WHILST BELIEVING ANY OF THESE FALSE GOSPELS! How could I have been? God certainly did not author any of those gospels and His Holy Spirit assuredly did not guide me to those gospels for He is the Spirit of Truth: "Howbeit when He the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth..." (John 16:13). Why would I in light of the fact that God has now revealed Himself to me through His Gospel, a man chosen by God through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of HIS Gospel want to hang onto what I now know to be false gospels? Why would a man who now knows the truth want to hold on to error? And how could I possibly justify in my own mind counting myself saved then as much as I am now? "We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the Spirit of truth, and the spirit of error" (1 John 4:6). Christ said "...and the sheep follow Him: for they know His voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers...My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me" (John 10:4,5,27). Those who are currently in a lost state do not hear the Gospel, they do not recognize it as God's Gospel. God's people do hear the Gospel, they recognize and believe only it as the real Gospel of God. "And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us AN UNDERSTANDING, THAT WE MAY KNOW HIM that is true..." (1 John 5:19,20). John states clearly here that one cannot know God without first being given an understanding that we may know Him and that only such people are of God and the rest lie in wickedness. Gospels containing lies about the true God which are NOT HIS RECORD of HIS SON: Who He is, what He has done and for whom He has done it, are mere imitations. False gospels do not promote an understanding of the true God but only a rejection of Him. So how can anyone be saved believing a false gospel? Never has a false gospel kick-started a single person's Christian life. Salvation only ever became part of my life when the Gift of Faith was given to me after I had heard the TRUE GOSPEL and saw IT as God's only power unto salvation and rejected all others. Salvation only ever came to me when I was given an understanding that I may know God and His Gospel. Obviously, according to the Word of God, none can believe in the true God who have not heard of Him. Paul is not talking about some false god who goes by the name God, not some phony jesus but the TRUE Jesus, the TRUE God revealed ONLY in His Gospel. Anyone who brings, preaches, teaches or believes in a false gospel believes in and promotes a false god no matter how much truth they attach to him. No matter how much truth is begged, borrowed, stolen, kidnapped or hijacked from the true Gospel to promote their false god!