In this wonderful country of ours we still have freedom of speech and, many times, folks think that such freedom automatically translates to truth. We live in a world where absolute truths are becoming more and more rare. Folks can invent their own truths as they go, without allowing their opinions to even be challenged. Perhaps we fail to understand that, even as we can be free to say whatever we want, that does not make it truth. Everything MUST be challenge because we live in a world that is filled with lies. That should not surprise us because the god of this world system is Satan himself and he is the father of all lies (John 8:44) Furthermore, 2 Corinthians 4:4 tells us,
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (NIV)
Notice on this verse that this world system is designed to blind the minds of unbelievers; in other words, to keep people lost. Notice also that the focus of Satan’s attack is against the Gospel. The word Gospel here is the Greek Word euaggélion; meaning, “good news.” However, the secular world make it look like that the gospel is the worse news in the world.
Everybody is lost without Jesus; that is because everybody carries the seed of sin from Adam and Eve (Genesis 3). Romans 3:23 tells us, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (NIV). Paul started this chapter with even tougher words as he states,
As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” Romans 3:10-12
There is no room in Christianity for self-righteousness. Show me a self-righteous person and I will show you a person that is not save. Without Jesus we are ALL guilty of sin. All through church history the devil has done a great job in attacking, disrupting, and twisting the simple message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In Acts 15:1-2 we see the first massive attack against the doctrine of salvation,
Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” (NIV)
This was totally contrary to the message of the Gospel, why? Because we are saved by grace. Grace means an undeserved favor. We don’t add works to be save, we don’t even choose God, He chooses us. In Ephesian 2:8-9 the Apostle Paul tells us, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.” (NIV) The Apostle Peter have something to say about this also when he states, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” I Peter 2:9 (NIV)
Back to Acts 15, as you read the story; there was a great argument concerning this issue of forcing the gentiles to be circumcise and add works to be save. Back in those days, these folks debated. This was an amazing debate where the Apostle Peter and the Apostle Paul spoke against this doctrine. It was indeed a massive debate! Thankfully the apostles successfully protected the doctrine of salvation and the purity of the message of the gospel stating that we are save by grace.
This same attack against the Gospel continues all through church history and to this very day. The Bible encourages us as believers to not play around when it comes down to the Gospel. In 2 Corinthians 11:3-4 Paul tells the Corinthians church,
But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. (NIV)
We, as believers are not called, in our gatherings to put up with a different Gospel. As a matter fact, the same Apostle Paul tells us that “…even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!” Galatians 1:8 (NIV)
From Constantine, 300 hundred years after Christ, the Gospel message have been twisted and corrupted in different ways. The Catholic Church have been guilty of twisting this beautiful message. However, they are not the only once guilty of such heresy.
The great United States of America had a great deal of contribution in spreading a false gospel. From the justification of slavery, to looking at blacks as less than humans, to the so called third great awakening, there is plenty of guilt to go around. I think the explosion of false gospels started in the 1850s and took off all the way to the early 20th century.
This period refers to a historical period proposed by William G. McLoughlin that was marked by religious activism in American history and spans the late 1850s to the early 20th century. It influenced pietistic Protestant denominations and had a strong element of social activism. It gathered strength from the postmillennial belief that the Second Coming of Christ would occur after mankind had reformed the entire earth. It was affiliated with the Social Gospel Movement, which applied Christianity to social issues and gained its force from the awakening, as did the worldwide missionary movement. New groupings emerged, such as the Holiness movement and Nazarene and Pentecostal movements, and also Jehovah’s Witnesses, Spiritualism, Theosophy, Thelema, and Christian Science.
So, from 1850 all the way to the 20th century and, even today, it has been free for all in terms of coming up with ideas of corrupting the gospel. Mormons, Jehovah witness, the legalistic holiness movement, the focus on social gospel and many others were born during this period. As I said many times, every time we ignore, add or twist Scripture to support man-made agendas, we get in trouble. All the movements William G. McLoughlin pointed out in our quote either adds or take away from the message of the Gospel; it is Jesus plus something else. Beloved, Jesus is all powerful all by HIMSELF; the message of the Gospel is more than enough… all by itself.
In Luke 16 we see the story of a rich man and a man name Lazarus, who was a beggar. They both died: Lazarus when to Abraham’s bosom and the rich man went to hell. From hell the rich man spoke to Abraham, and they had a fascinating discussion,
“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ 30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’” Luke 19:27-31 (NIV)
I read this story because Abraham also establishes what the apostles and the theme of the New Testament establishes… “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” The message is all that is needed for the chosen to be saved; no manipulation, no fancy buildings, no fancy lights, no fancy preachers with skinny jean… just… the MESSAGE.
I used to work in a “Christian Homeless Shelter” that, to this date, places more emphasis on feeding people food while neglecting the message of the Gospel and the making of disciples. Don’t get me wrong, it is important to feed the hungry, but is it more important to share the gospel. Sadly, the sandwich or the soup or, whatever food they are serving that day becomes, more important than the gospel in the opinion of these for this cheeseballs christians. This way of “ministering” is spreading all over and, without knowing, they are stumbling right into the hands of Satan. They are allowing Satan to do his work of blinding the eyes of the lost from the Gospel Message. Our very lives are not only dependent on food; Jesus tells us “…Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Matthew 4:4 (KJV) The Apostle John has something to say about this when he states,
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. Revelation 22:18-19 (ESV)
So, a word of advice, don’t mess with the gospel.
 Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).