HOW MANY GOSPELS?
According to this ecumenically minded world, there are many paths one can travel that will lead one to God. It is naively assumed that the varying, vastly different and often contradictory teachings about God that people abide in will nevertheless all lead to the same God, and what’s more, the true God. In no other area of life is this same mode of thinking adopted, or attitude taken, where things that differ and contradict one another are believed to lead one and all to the same conclusion, the same end. No one in their right mind says that any and every answer given to a particular equation is the right answer, or that every number can be reached mathematically by one equation. 4 + 4 does not equal anything but 8 and it never will equal anything but 8. The world responds by saying, ‘Yes, 4 + 4 does equal 8 but there are many other equations that also equal 8', hence the logic behind the ecumenical mind-set that says that all religions lead to the same God. For example, ‘You can get to 8 by adding 4 + 4 or 3 + 5 or 2 x 4', and so the world is convinced that people can believe anything about God and still be believing in the same God. ‘Elohim, God or Allah, the name doesn’t matter’—such is the mind-set. Even the President of the United States, George W. Bush, recently stated that he believes Christians and Muslims are worshipping the same God. Disturbingly, this same mode of thinking pervades the minds of many who profess to be born again Christians. They say, ‘Doctrine is not the be all and end all of one’s search for truth but is something for theologians to argue over'. Simple faith just ‘believes and loves God’ they say, and all are encouraged not to get too involved in doctrinal controversies but to just ‘Believe Jesus’ and ‘spread the love’. ‘Doctrine divides, love unites,’ ‘love embraces all and does not discriminate’, are just some of the popular catch phrases of our day.
Some say that the Gospel cannot be known and to argue over its particulars is a fruitless exercise. Others believe the Gospel to be the simple message of Jesus going to the cross to pay the penalty for the sins of mankind. Whatever that might mean and entail exactly is not too important, at least not essential to one’s salvation, according to these pseudo-christians who say that just believing it happened makes one a Christian. What is important, we are told, is that one rightly confesses that one is a sinner in need of a Savior, that Jesus is Lord and that God is love. Some even say that as long as a person does not have anything bad to say about God, it is enough to show that God is on their side and that they have a good chance of being saved! The doctrines of Christianity are something that one comes to learn correctly about gradually over many, many years, they say. That one begins one’s Christian life in virtual ignorance, believing in many errors which are gradually corrected over time. Though one person’s beliefs about Who Christ is and what He has done may differ greatly from his neighbour’s, the important thing is, we are told, that one ‘believes in Jesus’. However, some on both sides of the fence have recognized that what differs from their own beliefs about the Gospel of Christ constitutes another gospel. Many Arminians believe that Calvinists are believing and promoting another gospel and likewise, many Calvinists believe that Arminians are promoters of a false gospel. Yet to the minds of those in both parties who see the other’s as a false gospel, this does not mean that the other is not saved! Those who do conclude that the other is in fact lost due to their favoring a false gospel are labelled as extremists. But is it extremist to hold to the view that if a person believes the answer to 4 + 4 is 9, that such a person does not have the right answer, that they are just plain wrong? Is it extremist to believe that there is only ONE correct answer and that ALL other answers to this equation are wrong? This book will investigate the claim that virtually no matter what doctrine a person holds to, if they ‘believe’ in the historical Jesus who went to the cross on Calvary’s hill and live a Christian lifestyle, they are saved nonetheless, whether they are doctrinally accurate or not. All roads may indeed lead to Rome, but only one Road will lead you to God.
How many Gospels? Just how many gospels are there that a person can believe, safely place their trust in, and rightly consider themselves saved of God? Five? Ten? Twenty? Or perhaps hundreds? Just how many gospels are there that God will lead a person to believe ie. grant the gift of faith to believe? How many gospels are there to which God signs His name and calls ‘My power unto salvation’? These are questions that strike right at the heart of the whole issue of doctrine, of what the true Gospel is, and who it is that can rightly judge themselves saved. It is important to realise at the outset that what a person believes about Jesus provides an immediate indication of which jesus they believe in, and therefore which gospel they hold to. What a person has been taught, via the gospel presented to them, and has accepted about God is what a person believes about God: what He is like and how He saves. Going by these two simple statements, we learn a basic principle and that is that we all believe what we have been taught and consider to be ‘the Gospel’. A person rejects or accepts a particular gospel based on the specific doctrines which go to making up that individual message. Some do themselves an injustice by accepting a gospel as truth based on who, or how many, believe it. What a person believes about God will reveal what that person says is the Gospel of God. As is often the case, most people’s introduction to things religious begins with what their parents tell them. And as they grow into adulthood, many continue to be flooded with a multitude of tenets from various sources concerning life and love including religion—what God is like. When it comes to the matter of religion, and more specifically the life and death issue of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, what we are taught or what we have come to believe from our private studies, are doctrines that we trust and believe are the true doctrines of God. We do not accept every doctrine we come across, especially those which clash with the teachings we believe to be the correct ones. We call them false doctrines. No one believes something because they think it to be wrong, and especially no one believes anything about God because they think that particular teaching is erroneous. So everyone believes what they believe because they believe it to be right. Yet this can never change the fact that no matter how much a person may believe what they believe to be right, their conviction, in and of itself, is no guarantee that they are right. Simply because a person knows that there is only one correct answer to an equation does not necessarily mean they have it. So, too, concluding that one has the true Gospel simply because one is firmly convinced that there is only one true Savior and that only one Gospel is the one true Gospel of God, is the height of presumption. In light of this, does it not appear strange to the reader that anyone, let alone the majority, could ever conceive of the idea and, what’s worse, hold fast to it, that two people can believe diametrically opposing doctrines about God and yet view both as holding to the right teachings about the one true God! It must be established at the outset that no one can have the true God if they have been taught, and believe, lies about God. No one in a right state of mind would dare for a moment even contemplate the ridiculous assertion that the person who believes 4+4=8 and the one who believes the answer to be 9 are both right. That they both have the right answer. That which proceeds from the mouth of God, is an exact science, if you will, just like mathematics. It is precise, unchallengeable and unchangeable. If God has said something, then that is what’s right. If God has taught one Gospel, then THAT is the Gospel that saves and no other. Devise any other gospel you like, make it sound as sweet and inviting as you can and believe it with every fibre of your being, it is simply not right. It is not the true Gospel if it is not God’s Gospel! God says that the Gospel teaches ‘this’ and so we must understand and come to terms with the fact that the Gospel of God could not possibly be teaching ‘that’. The following illustration is not a Gospel issue however it will illustrate my point of how important it is to believe what God says about a matter. If God has said that He gave ten Commandments to Moses then ten is the correct number of commandments written on those stone tablets. Ten is the truth when it comes to the number of commandments God gave Moses. It is the only amount that God will agree with you over the number of Commandments that were issued. If you believe with all sincerity that God gave nine commandments, then you are wrong. Even the fact that you believe God gave Moses commandments is not enough if you believe He gave any less or more than ten. You are not right at all but in gross error when it comes to the issue of how many commandments God gave. The reason you are wrong is that you do not agree with what God says. You have decided to side with what a man says or what you have concluded in your own mind regardless, or in ignorance, of what God says in His Holy Word. Using this same and simple rule of logic, we declare unto you that when it comes to the issue of how many gospels there are that can save, there is only ONE Gospel that complies with what God has said in His Holy Scriptures and therefore only ONE GOSPEL that can save. There are no other gospels, no other plans of salvation, which are contained in false gospels, that can point one to the true God but ONLY ONE plan of salvation, ONE Gospel, leads to the true God and it is the only one God has ever and will ever claim as His own.
To commence our scriptural examination of the question posed, ‘How many Gospels?, we immediately bring to the reader’s attention perhaps the clearest teaching in God’s Word about just how many different and specific gospels there are that a person can believe and be saved by, that though differing in their content, will equally carry people through the gates of heaven. Paul the apostle wrote a letter to the believers in Galatia in which he stated most emphatically, without wavering and from which he did not vacillate for the remainder of his life, that what he had been taught by God was the actual and only Gospel of God. As far as Paul was concerned, it was the only Gospel that people were to believe in order to be saved. Anything short of this Gospel or anything that exceeded it, Paul termed another gospel—something that was separate from, and different to, what God’s Gospel said and therefore something that did not have the power to save. Also recorded for us in the same Letter was Paul’s Holy Spirit-inspired view of those who brought a gospel different to that which the Holy Spirit had taught him. Were they who believed these other gospels as saved as Paul was, to whom had been given the Faith to believe God’s Gospel and thus reject all others? Would there be room, after the true Gospel had been revealed to Paul by Jesus Christ the Lord, for belief in any other gospel as acceptable in God’s eyes that a person was to be saved? Let us see what Paul’s simple, straightforward and succinct answer to these questions is. Paul wrote: "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. 1:8,9). Here we have a declaration that not only blows every gospel, other than the right and true Gospel of God, out of the water, but shatters them to smithereens!! In light of Paul’s words, it would not be presumptive, or highbrowed, to say that someone who believes that one can be in a saved, justified state before or without the revelation knowledge contained in God’s only Gospel, which reveals this single message to be the ONLY power of God unto salvation, is a person who is in a state of accursedness. This is God’s Word on the matter, and not man’s opinion. Nor is it something new or that has recently been added to the Scriptures. Observe, if you will, how utterly and completely convinced Paul was that what he had preached to the Galatians as the great power of God unto salvation—the Gospel—was as a matter of actual fact the only Gospel that God would ever sign, or put, His name to. Not one of the plethora of false gospels, which all bear the signature of men, have ever been countersigned by God! So convinced was Paul that he was not in error over the Gospel, or that he had not misinterpreted this most vital of God’s revelations to him, that he went so far as to tell the Galatians in no uncertain terms that even if he or those who were with him were to return to Galatia at a later date or write to them claiming that what they had preached to them was not the Gospel of God, and then proceeded to inform the Galatians of a different gospel that Paul now believed was THE Gospel, they were to count even Paul and his associates as accursed men! Not just men in error not just men who required a little correction, a little more teaching but who were nonetheless saved, NOT AS MEN OF GOD but MEN CURSED OF GOD! According to the apostle, anyone preaching a different gospel to his was a clear indication that they were in a lost state. Therefore it is safe, right and proper to infer from this that no saved person would ever preach or believe a different gospel to the one preached by Paul. There were many false teachers in Paul’s day, as there are today, some who even claimed to be Paul and who wrote fraudulent letters to try and promote their false teachings. Paul was not only saying not to believe anyone claiming to be him or a letter claiming to be from him, that taught a different gospel, but that even if he himself, Paul, actually stood there in the flesh face to face with them disowning the Gospel he had taught them and trying to present them with one that differed in any way from it, they should not hesitate in counting even Paul an accursed man! In addition, if this were not enough evidence for the Galatians of the veracity of the Gospel Paul had given them, and that there is no other gospel that can save, Paul then told the Galatians that even if one of God’s angels from heaven, not some demonic entity masquerading as an angel of God mind you but a real bona fide angel from God’s heaven, were to come and deliver to them, with all the seeming authority of God and with trumpet blasts, a gospel that differed from the one Paul the apostle had already taught them, that angel, too, was to be counted as an accursed being. There is no stronger language than this that Paul could have used to make his point any clearer.
Now, how do you think Paul arrived at such a conclusion? What made him so definite in his conviction that if a man taught or believed a gospel that differed from his, it would give him license to pronounce such a man accursed? Do you think Paul reasoned this out with his mind after the Lord had delivered him His Gospel? Perhaps. Even if he did he would have been right because what other gospel could possibly save apart from the one the Lord had told him. God did not reveal to him any other plan of salvation for He has only one plan and it is revealed in one Gospel. Doesn’t it sound reasonable to conclude though that the Lord Himself told Paul that there was no other gospel that could save; that there is no other message that any man could come up with that would be God’s message and therefore that was worthy of belief and that could save. After all, what Paul wrote on the matter was to become Holy Scripture. Now, I am not saying God did say this to Paul, or that He even had to say it, but just that it surely must be considered a possibility if not a probability. One thing is certain, the Lord most assuredly inspired Paul by the Holy Spirit to write such a thing and made sure that no man tampered with or removed this from Paul’s letter, which was later to become Holy Scripture. God not only wanted Paul and those in Galatia to know this but as many as would read it, that as far as God was concerned there was only ONE Gospel. God is not aware of any gospel other than His own that can save so how could any man come up with one! There is no better authority on the matter than God. Remember, Paul is here writing not his own words but words inspired by God Himself. EVERYTHING PAUL SAID WAS BACKED 100% BY GOD BECAUSE IT WAS HIS WORD TO BEGIN WITH!! IT WAS GOD’S THOUGHTS THAT PAUL RECORDED IN HIS LETTER TO THE GALATIANS. It was in fact God Who was saying, ‘Anyone who preaches or believes any other gospel than My Gospel is an accursed person'. What Paul wrote was and is GOD’S Word on the matter, that is why it is part of the Holy Scriptures.
Can you imagine the amount and variety of opposition Paul was confronted with from those unregenerate religious leaders of his day? And how that the bulk of resistance Paul met with came not from the irreligious, not from the secular world, but from the religious community and perhaps the worst of it from false brethren (see 2 Cor. 11:26). Just like today’s Gospel preachers, Paul would have been accused of being extremist, elitist, a cult leader and an intellectual who conditioned salvation on knowledge (see Acts 24:5). An arrogant, unloving man who cruelly and dispassionately ruled out the possibility of a man being saved, who denied a man his ‘hope of salvation’, of being a true child of God, simply by the fact he believed incorrectly about a doctrine or two; that his knowledge of the truth was not on a par with Paul’s. And more than likely, Paul would have been accused of being one who dared to ‘play God’ by judging a man saved or lost because he did not believe what Paul believed despite a man’s adherence to God’s law and sincere devotion and faithfulness in worship. Perhaps their opposition was worded, as one man has supposed, as follows: "Dear Paul...we find your language to be somewhat intemperate. In your letter, after a brief greeting to the Galatians, you immediately attack your opponents by claiming they want to ‘pervert the Gospel of Christ’ (see Gal. 1:7). You then say that such men should be regarded as ‘accursed’; and in another place, you make reference to ‘false brethren’ (see Gal. 2:4). Wouldn’t it be more charitable to give them the benefit of the doubt—at least until the General Assembly has investigated and adjudicated the matter? To make the situation worse, you later say, ‘I would that they were even cut off which trouble you’ (see Gal. 5:12). Is such a statement really fitting for a Christian minister? The remark seems quite harsh and unloving....Besides, Paul, we need to maintain unity among those who profess a belief in Christ. The Judaizers at least stand with us as we confront the surrounding paganism and humanism..." Isn’t this the kind of language and attitude that is popular today? That mealy-mouthed, soft, ‘We don’t want to offend anyone so don’t tread on anyone’s toes’ kind of attitude? The kind of non-judgemental attitude prevalent among the ‘churches’ that keeps the people coming through the doors every Sunday, that in fact attracted them there in the first place, and the offering plates full? Paul would not have blinked an eye or thought twice about what he had said, in the face of such ignorant criticism. Paul was not moved by what men said about him, but what God had declared to him. Paul was a "minister of God" and a steward "of the mysteries of God" (1 Cor 4:1) and foremost in his mind was the fact that "...it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful" (1 Cor. 4:2). "Paul was not insensible to the good opinion of men. He did not despise their favor, or court their contempt. But this was not the principal thing which he regarded; and we have here a noble elevation of purpose and of aim, which shows how direct was his design to serve and please the Master Who had appointed him to his office." He knew what he believed and he knew Who he believed and he knew that he’d been given the only Gospel of salvation God had ever designed. The Gospel Paul preached was no private theory of his, it was the very Truth of God, it was the very mystery of God now revealed to him, which Paul said was "...the glorious Gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust" (1 Tim. 1:11 cf. Titus 1:3). The ministry that Paul received was "...to testify the Gospel of the grace of God" (Acts 20:24). What Paul believed was what God had said and not merely something he was convinced of. If Paul had been wrong, if this was not the only Gospel of God, his words would never have been recorded as part of Holy Scripture. At the least they would have been qualified. Imagine also the religious leaders of Paul’s day who opposed him by pointing to the fact that none of the great leaders of the Pharisees believed what Paul believed. Religious traditionalists who hold more fervently to the traditions of men rather than of God’s Word, in order to prove their teachings right, always refer their opponents to the testament of the history of their denomination or organization and their confessions of faith, their creeds, where it cannot be found that any of their forbears taught or believed the kind of things Paul and his successors were saying. The same attitude is most prevalent today in those who oppose our Gospel and the ramifications that come with it, ‘Which of the great reformers of the past said, and which of the great theologians, teachers and biblical scholars of today say, what you are saying?’ Such statements provide absolutely no proof whatsoever that those who subscribe to them are bearers of the true Gospel, but are actually a confession, an admittance, that that particular group does not, and never has, preached THE Gospel. Such a fleshly attitude is not without biblical precedence, for the religiously hypocritical Pharisees of Jesus’ day exclaimed "...are ye also deceived? Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on Him?" (Jn. 7:47,48). Any teaching that is perceived to be new or that has not been part of a religious institution’s teaching manual, is labelled as false and that which causes division. So many believe this especially when it comes from long established religious institutions—as if no such group could have things so wrong for so long! "An old error is more popular than a new truth!" Now, the Gospel is not a new truth but it is ‘new’ to those who hear it for the first time. These people are not interested in truth; they are not interested in what the Scriptures say but only in what ‘great teachers of the past’ say. Their unquestioning subservience to such men, rather than the Truth of God, is detestable. These traditionalists need to leave their traditions behind and come to the Truth! They need to abandon their veneration of men’s words and start paying homage to God’s Word. Interestingly, it is not the Scriptures which these modern-day Pharisees immediately point to as not teaching the things that oppose what they say, but the traditions of the institution and their past ‘great teachers’ that are immediately called in as support. Imagine what these institutions would say if one taught independently of them, and something which it did not promote, who sought refuge in tradition rather than go immediately to the Scriptures for support! They would immediately cry out ‘CULT!’
Paul was not an unloving, arrogant or uncaring elitist and neither are today’s Gospel preachers who preach the same Gospel Paul preached and who insist, as vehemently as he did, and with as much right and authority as he did, that any who bring or believe another gospel are among the accursed. Paul preached the true Gospel, the only one given to him by his Lord and which He called ‘My Gospel’, so it made perfect sense, perfect biblical sense, or the Holy Spirit would never have inspired Paul to write what he wrote, that any who believed not that Gospel were lost. Speaking through Paul, God was not only saying, ‘This is My Gospel’, but also, ‘THIS IS THE ONLY GOSPEL THAT SAVES!’ Those who fail to believe this, fail to believe Him by not trusting in the only plan of salvation that actually works! Why would God have bothered to provide His Gospel AND define it as that which must be believed in, if belief in any gospel could save just as well? Respect of persons or traditions just did not figure in Paul’s reasoning at all. What was important was what God had said. It was, and still is, a black and white issue with no gray areas. God’s Truth, God’s Gospel, was all that mattered. Can you see how simple and basic Paul’s reasoning was and how perfectly it matches the logic behind the only proper conclusion that can be reached—that when a man answers 4 + 4 with the number 9, 10, 6, or any number other than the right number—he is a man who is in error, a man who does not have the only correct answer and is therefore not to be grouped with those who do.
In order to demonstrate the vital importance of this issue of how many gospels there are which save and can be safely believed in, Paul emphasized his previous statement to the Galatians by declaring in the following verse that it did not matter who it was that came to them. The truth of God, the Gospel of God, was never to be verified by personality! Paul said, "if ANY man..." No matter a man’s eloquent style or manner of preaching, no matter their reputation for holy living, degree of humility and gentleness of manner. No matter their fame, no matter which religious order they belonged to or how long it had been established, no matter how highly respected they might be or how popular they were or how many people were convinced they were authentic religious leaders sent from God. IF THEY PREACHED A GOSPEL WHICH DIFFERED FROM THE GOSPEL THAT PAUL HAD TAUGHT THEM, THEY WERE TO CONSIDER SUCH MEN NOT AS MEN OF GOD BUT AS MEN ACCURSED OF GOD!! It did not matter, it made no difference, how close their gospels came to the true Gospel. It did not sway Paul in the slightest how many truths their gospels contained or how many good works they claimed to have done in the name of Jesus (see Matt. 7:22,23). Paul reiterated, he did not say it once but twice, that if any man’s gospel was not the exact same Gospel as the one he preached, with all its specifics and doctrinal accuracy—for how else could his Gospel be identified—and which the people had received, they were to take this as a clear sign that such a person was not sent to them by God, they were not representing God, nor was their message representative of, or could it be rightly called, the great Gospel of God. This ruled out any possibility whatsoever that any other gospel could ever save, or that this Gospel of Paul’s would ever undergo change or modification authored by God. Paul was saying THIS IS IT! This is God’s Gospel and it will always be God’s Gospel! It will never be any different, it will never change, it will always be recognized by the distinctive doctrines it contains. YES, WHEN GOD CONSTRUCTED HIS GOSPEL, HE INDEED BROKE THE MOLD!!
A Reformed Calvinist pastor once wrote to me saying that he had ‘No idea how much error God is willing to put up with in His people when it comes to the matter of the Gospel’. The answer is: NO error which, by its very nature, contributes to the perversion of the Gospel of Christ, thereby revealing another gospel that God has not declared and another christ that God does not claim to be HIS Son, will be tolerated. And no one who believes in such error can be considered among God’s people. Error is the spoiler. Error is the leaven that leaveneth the whole lump. Error is that which changes truth into a lie and THE Gospel into another gospel. Error is not what God has said but what an unregenerate man believes God has said. Error concerning the Gospel is something that can never be excused, but is always the identifying mark of a false Christian. Far from being something that God will overlook or excuse, error, when it comes to what the Gospel is, is deadly. The word heresies is found under the heading "works of the flesh" in Scripture and is part of a list of things upon which Paul commented: "...they which do such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God" (see Gal. 5:19-21). Heresy is "an opinion, especially a self-willed opinion, which is substituted for submission to the power of truth, and leads to division and the formation of sects". There is no room in the interpretation of the Gospel for any self-willed opinion of man’s, for the Gospel is the Word and Will of God. All man can do with it is believe it or not. No one ever got saved by acknowledging error, or heresy! No one, whilst a child of God, has ever believed error that identifies a false gospel. Heaven is for lovers of the truth, not those who are enamoured with a lie. Those who believe a lie, i.e. another gospel, far from being saved, are under strong delusion (2 Thess. 2:11). There are no allowances made in God’s plan of salvation for those who believe error, for the whole idea of that Great Plan is that IT, and IT alone, be believed because IT, and IT alone, is what God has said MUST be believed in order that people can be saved. Knowledge and belief of God’s Truth, of God’s Gospel, is the fulfilment of God’s Plan for the salvation of His people. Everything has been done to save them and all that remains is that which will assuredly happen— their believing God’s Gospel. GOD SAVES THROUGH BELIEF OF HIS GOSPEL, NOT THROUGH UNBELIEF, OR PARTIAL BELIEF OF IT!
Some 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. Surely you are not of the opinion that there can be salvation without faith? 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 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! 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 that which has strayed from the truth and all who believe it share in its accursedness. We have not been told in Galatians 1 by Paul how large or how small an error would need to be for a gospel to be called a false gospel. And 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, how God saves. 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 was not to be judged so when its errors reached a certain point, but in the fact that it contained any error at all! Paul left his readers with no doubt in their minds, and with nothing else to conclude, that if anyone were to bring a gospel which differed in any way, to any degree, with what Paul had told them, they were accursed people and their gospels spurious. 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 what 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 another gospel. The strongest evidence for this, that even the smallest or slightest deviation from the truth, from what God has said in His Gospel, qualifies a person’s gospel as something other than God’s Gospel, is found further on in Paul’s letter in the following key verse: "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump" (Gal. 5:9). Leaven, as seen in Matthew 16, is symbolical of teaching. "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." What Paul was saying in the context of this fifth chapter was that even if the Galatians claimed to believe the Gospel and yet added, for instance, something as seemingly benign as the doctrine of circumcision as a necessary rite that had to be performed in order for a man to be or remain saved, the Gospel would be perverted, their hearts would belong to another gospel, and Christ would profit them nothing: "Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing" (Gal. 5:2). This shows clearly that even if a person claimed to believe the Gospel, all the right doctrines, yet added anything to it, the true Christ of the true Gospel will be of no advantage to them. An appeal by such people to Christ and what He did on the cross will fall on deaf ears for they have turned their heads and hearts to something in addition to what Christ has done, thereby revealing a lack of confidence in the efficaciousness of what Christ has done to save. This absence of trust in the Savior’s Work is so pronounced that it has convinced them to look to what they do to ensure the completeness of their salvation. A dependence upon anything outside of Christ, including any degree of self-reliance, "...amounts to a rejection of the Savior, and of the doctrine of justification by Him". Christ profits them nothing who believe in anything apart from, less than or in addition to, His Gospel. Paul was saying that they could claim Christ all they wanted to, but if they added circumcision to the Gospel he taught then it was another gospel they had turned to and had abandoned his, showing that they had never savingly believed it. Can you see that Paul is not dealing with the Galatians’ ‘good intentions’ or sincerity of belief, but with the cold hard fact that if they looked to anything other than Christ and His Gospel as that which saves then, whether they believed it or not they held to another gospel, which cannot save. Only Paul’s Gospel demands that a person wholly trust in Christ for their salvation. What the Galatians were being taught was a gospel that claimed to exalt Christ and yet included circumcision as part of, therefore essential to, God’s great plan of salvation. For a person to be circumcised in order to ensure or secure their salvation, they must first have been taught such a thing and then believed in this false doctrine that was part of a false gospel, which dared add this religious work to the glorious Gospel of God. Those who taught, and who even today continue to teach, such things—adding anything to the Gospel message, or modifying it in any way—may not be overtly denying any particular doctrine of the Gospel, or even be aware that they are, but by adding to it, by conditioning any part of salvation on what a man must do, they affect the whole and Christ shall profit them nothing. "He is to be a whole Savior. No one is to share with Him in the honor of saving men; and no rite, no custom, no observance of law, is to divide the honor with His death." By changing even the smallest detail, one does away with what God has said is required for salvation. Its like adding the smallest mark to a beautifully painted white wall. No matter how small the mark, it has spoilt the purity of the whiteness, and the wall can no longer be considered purely white. One’s eyes will virtually always be drawn to the blemish. You see, the Message, or Gospel, of God is so perfect, so pure, so absolutely excellent, that once you change any part of it or fail to believe any part of it, you are left with another gospel and not that Holy Gospel of God. If you go beyond it or fall short of it, if you abide in that which falls either side of what God has said, then you cannot have the Gospel for your faith is found to not be within its boundaries. This is why when there is error concerning the preaching of the Gospel, such erroneous teaching is termed another gospel and is not for a moment to be considered, as we see from Paul’s writings, as God’s Gospel, and therefore as able to save. This is also what lies behind the reasoning in such verses as Proverbs 30:6: "Add thou not unto His words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar" (cf. Rev. 22:18). Liars tell lies, and if the gospel you teach or believe is not God’s Gospel then your message, your hope, is nothing but a lie and when you tell it to others, you are found to be nothing but a liar. So many professing christians would not dare even think to lie to their brethren, yet do not realise that when they share their false gospels with others, they are committing the biggest lie of all. Anything added to what God has already said is His Gospel changes the message into a different gospel, just like adding even the smallest fraction to a correct answer to a mathematical equation changes that answer from being the right one to one of a multitude of wrong ones. For example, 2 + 2 = 4, but if you change that answer ever so slightly by saying that 2 + 2 equals 4¼, you no longer have the truth but are left with a lie. Even though your answer may contain the truth, what you add to it changes the whole into a lie, an untruth. No matter how much you plead your case, no matter how fervently you believe your answer to be right, your answer will be marked WRONG! Those who believe that all religions lead to the same god, or that all gospels lead to the same god, have confused the Gospel as being part of the equation and not the Answer. When it comes to spiritual matters, the equation is: ‘How can I be saved?’ The answer is: ‘By God’s only Gospel!’ THE INDISPENSABLE LINK BETWEEN MAN AND SALVATION IS GOD’S ONLY GOSPEL!! No other gospel can bring or hold the two together. God has only one answer to man’s dilemma and it is revealed only in His Gospel. A gospel preached and believed in that is not God’s Gospel is a denial of God’s Gospel, it is a rebellion against God’s Gospel whether it is intended to be or not, and those who harbor such doctrines do in fact replace the true Gospel with what Paul called another gospel, another message, another plan of salvation that is NOT God’s plan, NOT God’s Message, NOT God’s Gospel. All man has is his version, GOD’S GOT THE TRUTH! All false gospels are merely pale imitations of the true one. A FALSE GOSPEL IS A LOST MAN’S TRUTH. All false gospels are anti-Gospel, for they are preached in its stead and are therefore against it. All false gospels are perversions of the true Gospel and all who preach and believe a perverted gospel have a perverted view of God, and therefore a wrong view about how He saves. They are not true Christians but perverted versions who trust in a different plan of salvation than the one God has revealed in His Gospel. Their hope is in something other than what God has said and is utter vanity. False gospels are man’s attempts at outlining a plan of salvation and they are all miserable failures, for they have never saved anybody. Even one erroneous teaching, one false doctrine, added to the truth affects all of the right doctrines, just like a little leaven will always leaven the whole lump of dough. Just one false teaching will affect the true Gospel doctrines and leave you without God’s Word on the matter. Dough is no longer purely dough if anything is added to it. Here is the essence of what Paul was trying to establish in the minds of those believers in Galatia. Once you have changed the ingredients of the Gospel by either leaving some of them out or by adding to them or perverting them in any way you no longer have THE GOSPEL but ANOTHER gospel, which is not that message, not that recipe for salvation, which God has specified in HIS Gospel. To corrupt is to render a thing "...meaningless or different in meaning from the original by scribal errors or alterations". Remember, only a little leaven is needed to leaven the entire lump! "Erroneous doctrines are like leaven in the following respects: (1) They are, at first, slight and unimportant in appearance. (2) They are insinuated into the soul unawares and silently, and are difficult of detection. (3) They are gradual (4) They act most certainly. (5) They will pervade all the soul, and bring in all the faculties under their control."
To elaborate on what has just been said concerning the addition of a false doctrine to the Gospel message affecting all its doctrines, or removing a certain right doctrine or changing one in any way, we learn that if, for instance, the Gospel doctrine of God sovereignly electing those He chose to salvation according to His will before the creation of the world (see Eph. 1:4) were to be omitted and replaced with the false doctrine of salvation being dependant on a free will choice of man’s, this would necessitate changing the doctrine of who Christ actually died for from those God gave Him (see Jn. 17:2) to every individual ever born. This would in turn necessitate changing the very essence of what atonement is and therefore what Christ actually accomplished by His death. There is no doctrine that Satan has sought to corrupt more than the doctrine of Christ’s atonement. In addition, a gospel which teaches that Christ died for every individual could not logically include within it the doctrine which states that all men by nature are dead in sin, do not seek God, are without God and therefore without hope in this world (see Rom. 3:11; Eph. 2:1,12). The doctrine that salvation is an impossibility with man (see Matt. 19:25,26) would also have to be changed to accommodate the erroneous doctrine that does away with God’s sovereign election and replaces it with man’s free will choice. No doubt the reader can see the domino effect which occurs anytime there is the presence of false doctrine, and the depth to which error changes truth. Just like the leaven affects the whole lump of dough, error affects the whole truth—false doctrine changes the whole Message of God into something which He has not said. Whether you add to it or take away from it, the whole message is affected, which is why Paul did not hesitate to call any gospel that differed to ANY extent from his Gospel another gospel, and those who believed it accursed.
Notice again in our passage from Galatians 1 that Paul did not speak about a man’s ‘good intentions’ when he warned about those who brought with them another gospel. He did not exclude or exonerate people from being among the accursed if it was discerned that they ‘meant well’, as is the intention, no doubt, of most religious teachers when expounding their beliefs. Meaning well is fine. No one is doubting the person’s intention when they unknowingly bring another gospel, but it is what they are saying about God that is the issue. A person may well have good intentions and mean well when they give directions to someone who has lost their way, but if those directions are wrong, then no amount of good intentions is going to get the person to whom they were given to their intended destination! Its just going to confuse them even more. So too, a false gospel, no matter how much it may be accompanied by the good intentions of a well meaning person, has never and will never get anyone to heaven. Paul couldn’t care less what a man’s motive was in preaching the true Gospel (see Phil. 1:18), but it mattered a great deal when they came preaching a different gospel. What do they say His Gospel is? Who do they say Christ is? What do they say Christ did? Do they agree with God? If they do, it will be evidenced by their speaking the same Gospel HE teaches. Does their gospel differ in any way with God’s? If so, they reveal themselves as accursed people, not saved people who have a few errors, but ACCURSED PEOPLE BECAUSE OF THEIR ERROR! People are so often prone to legitimizing that which a person says because of their manner and presentation. No less so in matters spiritual. People give legitimacy to a gospel taught them simply because those who bring it are learned people or respected and recognized ‘ministers’. Because they are such ‘nice’ people. For many, the fact that a man is an ‘ordained minister’ is seen as proof that he has passed through some rigorous series of tests concerning his character, and that he is now somehow beyond repute, and that he was able to retain an accepted level of that which he was taught over several years. All this combines to assure people that we can, and should, trust such men implicity. Remember the old adage, Don’t judge a book by its cover! Someone might say, ‘But they are such lovely people, such God-fearing people'. Yes, but which god are they fearing? If it is not the true God’s Gospel they believe, then it is not the true God they are fearing. Paul spoke not of a man’s reputation or eloquence of speech as being the reliable and verifiable factors we were to look out for before deciding whether or not he was of God and his message true. Not at all. Do not allow yourselves to be moved simply because a preacher sounds good, is easy to listen to and speaks with high reverence and whose voice echoes with authority or who exudes confidence that what he is saying is true. Do not merely believe what a man is saying because of how convinced he seems to be that what he is saying is the truth. The only thing Paul pointed out, the only thing he drew attention to, was the one reliable and verifiable factor to determine whether or not a man was sent from God and preaching the Gospel of God, and that was whether his gospel was the exact same Gospel that Paul had preached to them. The man could be the most respected religious leader on earth, he could be the one who had the greatest reputation, he could be the one who was loved and trusted by all, he could even be a trusted family member such as your father, husband or brother. He could be an extremely and impressively learned man familiar with all the great doctrines, with an extensive knowledge of the history of Israel and of the Old Testament, able to locate any town on any Bible map in an instant, able to recite verbatim any verse of Scripture, renowned for being a fervent and ardent man of prayer, a man who has given up the world and all its pleasures, a man who tirelessly preaches against sin and who encourages holy living. A man who has been able to write great volumes of teaching concerning God and the holy life. Even a man who is now dead, which for many is some unwritten and automatic stamp of approval on just about everything he ever taught. All of this counted for nothing in the mind of Paul the apostle if the man preached any gospel other than the one Paul preached! Is this arrogance on Paul’s part? Is this the most flagrant display of religious pride ever seen? Had Paul been driven mad by power? NOTHING OF THE KIND!! What mattered to Paul was, ‘Is what they are teaching the Gospel of God or the words of men?’ It is wisdom that is in evidence here; wisdom that comes directly from God, which deals in black and white terms, and which is resident in every person who believes in the Gospel of Christ, in turn evidencing that they have the mind of Christ.
In light of his words in Galatians 1:8,9, it is most revealing to see what Paul the apostle wrote in the verses immediately following. In verse 10 we see that Paul’s purpose was to please God, unlike his days prior to his conversion when he sought to please men. The position that Paul took, evidenced in the previous two verses, for as a Christian he could take no other, precluded him as a pleaser of men, for all men by nature would reject Paul’s Gospel and his claim that any religious teaching that contradicted or differed in any way to the doctrines contained in his Gospel, constituted a false teaching and all those who taught and believed it as accursed people. Now, taking the still highly unpopular and frowned upon stand that the Gospel he preached was the only Gospel that saves, Paul showed that it was no longer the teachings of men which he followed but the glorious truth of God. Truth that comes only from God and which man in his natural state knows nothing about. It must be clearly understood that Paul, in preaching the Gospel of God, was not attempting to win the favor of men, for it was completely foreign to natural man, something which by sin he was alienated from (Eph. 4:18; Col. 1:21). If Paul were still seeking to please men, then what was he doing with a Gospel that called all men accursed who did not believe it? That stated that none of their efforts, something which all religions had always taught them, would ever win the favor of God. If he were trying to please men he would not have been advocating an exclusive Gospel, but a popular one. If he were trying to please men, he would not have been advocating and promoting a Gospel that was contrary to the very nature of men and which they would see as foolishness. His reasoning behind all this was: "...for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ" (Gal. 1:10). Conversely, this shows that all those who bring another gospel are pleasers of men rather than God and are therefore not the servants of Christ (cf. Rom. 16:17,18). Is it any wonder then that Paul refers to them as accursed! In Philippians 3, Paul said that the things he thought profited him in his religious heyday before he heard and believed the mighty Gospel of God, he now counted as rubbish: "...I count all things but loss (no profit) for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for Whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and 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. 3:8,9). Paul accounted everything outside the Gospel of Christ as worthless in comparison to the knowledge of Christ as revealed in that Gospel. Paul did not want to be found any longer with his own ‘righteousness’, which he learned from a false gospel and which he had placed his faith in prior to his hearing the Gospel of God, but only upon the merits of Christ did Paul now place his complete trust. Paul once held to a false gospel and now he believed the true Gospel, the only Gospel that conditions salvation from beginning to final glory upon the merits, the righteousness, of Christ alone. "Paul, when he became a Christian, gave up his brilliant prospects in regard to this life, and everything indeed on which his heart had been placed. He abandoned the hope of honor and distinction; he sacrificed every prospect of gain or ease; and he gave up his dearest friends, and separated himself from those whom he tenderly loved. He might have risen to the highest posts of honor in his native land, and the path which an ambitious young man desires was fully open before him. But all this had been cheerfully sacrificed in order that he might obtain an interest in the Savior, and partake of His blessings." Unlike many today, Paul was not moved away from the truth by the cares of this world, by a deep-seated craving for the respect and adulation of friends and family and those who listened to him. He did not compromise the truth because he wanted to hang on to what he’d built up in the world. No, he heard and believed the truth and clung to it even as he saw friends, family, public popularity and all his previous religious fame and prestige drop dramatically away. Paul knew whom he believed and he cared nothing about the cost he would have to pay in believing the Gospel. Paul did not seek to please men or gain their favor by his Gospel for it was God’s Gospel, it was widely unpopular and, needless to say, so was his claim that any who preached anything different were accursed of God despite their religiosity. Paul sought only to please God which, significantly, ties in with why he stated that no gospel other than the one he preached was to be called the Gospel of God. Paul was indeed "...set for the defense of the Gospel" (Phil. 1:17). The fact that Paul now sought to please God is testament to the fact that the only way he could do this was if he only and solely preached and defended God’s Gospel, AND CONDEMNED ALL OTHERS!! Part of believing the Gospel is to reject all others as having any power whatsoever to save. Its part of the package, it comes with the territory, or however you like to put it. This is not something we have to learn but something to which our eyes are opened at the granting of Faith.
The Scriptures say, "...it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe" (1 Cor. 1:21). Believe what exactly? Believe the only kind of preaching that pleases God: the proper and correct preaching of His one and only Gospel! "God was disposed, or well-pleased. The plan of salvation originated in His good pleasure, and was such as His wisdom approved. God chose this plan, so unlike all the plans of men....Not by ‘foolish preaching,’ but by the preaching of the cross, which was regarded as foolish and absurd by the men of the world. This was the peculiarity and essence of the plan of God; and this has appeared to the mass of men to be a plan devoid of wisdom, and unworthy of God. The preaching of the cross (see 1 Cor. 1:17,18), which is thus esteemed foolishness, is made the means of saving them, because it sets forth God’s only plan of mercy, and states the way in which lost sinners may become reconciled to God." A refutation of the Gospel is a rejection of the God of the Gospel. If preaching is so important to God, don’t you think WHAT is preached is equally as important? Of course it is. God is not pleased simply because someone is preaching but only when they are preaching His Truth. The Scriptures say that God has "...manifested His Word through preaching..." (Titus 1:3). "The meaning here is, that He has made known His eternal purpose through the preaching of the Gospel." GOD IS NOT PLEASED WHEN A PERSON PREACHES OR BELIEVES A GOSPEL, BUT ONLY WHEN THEY PREACH AND BELIEVE HIS GOSPEL! Those who believe in a false gospel and then hear the true Gospel, acknowledging it’s doctrines and yet resisting it’s attempts to convince them that they could not have been saved whilst under a counterfeit gospel, are playing with fire and there is no way you can play with fire and not get burnt, and false gospels will burn you to a crisp! Such people, unlike Paul, are not willing to give up their current comforts, friends, religious position and the respect they have gained over the years. They do not want to stand out from the crowd, preferring to remain one of the crowd rather than risk losing everyone’s respect and admiration. And, quite frankly, they simply do not want to admit, not even to themselves, that they have been deceived. Such people really have no love for God or His truth but are in love with themselves and anything religious that they can utilize to make themselves more comfortable in this world. MAKE NO MISTAKE—THE TRUTH WILL FIND YOU OUT! They show that despite all their claims to the opposite, "There is NO fear of God before their eyes" (Rom. 3:18 cf. Psa. 36:1). The fear of God, meaning to truly reverence God, to worship Him, does not merely concern our conduct but begins with a recognition of, and a reverence towards, His Gospel and no other. COMPROMISE IS FOR THOSE WHO SEEK THE LOVE OF MAN MORE THAN THE LOVE OF GOD! Such people compromise the Truth by saying they were saved before knowing it, thus subscribing to the unbiblical claim that a man can be just as saved whilst in ignorance of the Gospel as one who believes it. If this were so, if it were possible for a man who was in ignorance of the Gospel to be just as saved as the man who knows and believes it, WHAT THEN WOULD BE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SAVED AND LOST? It could no longer be the gift of Faith, by the grace of God, in the Gospel of God. It could not even be a religious lifestyle, for that would mean that all religious people would be saved despite what they believed. Even not believing in Christ would not warrant a person’s exclusion from being numbered among the chosen!! Can you see the kind of madness one would be left with if belief of God’s Gospel was not the yardstick of salvation?
In verse 11 of Galatians 1, Paul states: "But I certify you, brethren, that the Gospel which was preached of me is not after man". Paul is here declaring to the Galatians that the Gospel which he preached was not taught to him by man, it was not according to man, did not originate with man and therefore he could not rightly be accused of seeking to please men. "He had neither received it from man, nor had it been debased or adulterated by any human admixtures." The true Gospel of God, when preached by His people, never has error mixed in with it. If it were possible for even God’s own people to preach an erroneous gospel, then it would not be God’s Gospel that was being preached, for all false gospels are identified by the errors, the ‘human admixtures’ and ‘adulterations’, which pervade them. "Paul had received it directly from the Lord Jesus," as the following verse shows: "For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ" (Gal. 1:12). What Paul had conveyed to them was the Gospel of God, not one that came from the imagination of men. If the sequence of events had been that Paul asked God what the Gospel was, God would have answered him with exactly the same Gospel He had given him. To ask, ‘What is the Gospel’, is to ask, ‘What is God’s plan of salvation? How does He save?’ If what you have been told differs in any way, to any degree, with what God told Paul, then it is incumbent upon this author to tell you that you have been fed a false gospel, another gospel, different and distinguishable from the Gospel of God by it’s doctrines. You have not a right knowledge of God’s plan of salvation but have placed your trust in another’s plan, a different plan, a different gospel, which teaches a different christ and is promoted by a different spirit. You have no biblical right to call yourself a Christian, and stand at this moment as accursed as those Paul called accursed who brought with them another gospel. I do not say this to condemn you but to alert you to what the Scriptures teach and that you urgently need to examine what you believe with what the Scriptures say. To claim that one cannot know the Gospel exactly makes as much sense as telling the person who has asked for directions to Sydney, ‘Sorry, you can’t get there from here'. The precious Gospel that Paul received through revelation from Jesus Christ is the only one Christ committed to his trust and the only Gospel Paul defended and promoted as the one that can rightly be called the Gospel of God. This Gospel was given, not so it would one day be forgotten or unknowable, but that it would be preached and believed. The Gospel is not some indefinable thing, something which is far off in the distance that no one can quite make out, but is as clear today as when God revealed it to His apostle, Paul. This great Gospel is recognized by the doctrines which comprise it, doctrines which are clearly taught in the pages of the Bible, and any doctrines which differ in the slightest degree from the glorious Doctrine of Christ is enough to call the gospel they are a part of another gospel and the people who believe them accursed.
Notice, too, the standard which Paul the apostle used to make his declaration that any gospel that differs from his is a false gospel. In order to know what any type of counterfeit is, be it currency, stamp or document, we need to compare that which is claimed to be authentic with the genuine article. How can one know that what is presented is a fake, if one does not have a rule by which the fake can be tested or measured? One cannot have something that is false if there is not a genuine to compare it with. And, when you have an original of anything, there invariably will be fakes, counterfeit versions of it. How could Paul warn of false gospels if there was no such thing as the true Gospel, and if he did not know what that true Gospel was? How could we today reject and flee from false gospels if God had not assured that all His people would know what the true Gospel is? Just as God has said, "...I am God, and there is none else; I am God and there is none like Me" (Isa. 46:9), so too, He says in His Word that His Gospel is THE Gospel and there are none others true; His Gospel is THE Gospel and there is none other like it. There are none others like it because no other speaks the same message; there are none others like it because only it can save. It is the only one that has ever proceeded out of the mouth of God. Just like there is no other god like God, there is no other gospel like His Gospel.