Galatians 1:8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed
In this modern age there can be a confusion as to what is a false gospel. If you are holding to Scripture, the confusion should cease. Unfortunately, internet pastors, YouTube legalists and others will try to declare a false gospel on false pretenses. There are however in my view some non-negotiable tenants to the Gospel, and one preaching and believing these tenants can be discerned as a false teacher, unsaved, and must repent.
I have listed briefly below some of the main false gospels which are commonly being taught.
Doubt The main tenant of a false gospel is the teaching of doubt in salvation assurance. That salvation is dependent on self instead of Jesus Christ. Roman Catholicism among other world religions preach this false tenant exposing it as a false gospel. It will teach that Jesus PLUS your cooperation, your exertion, your “goodness, your works are needed to complete your salvation equation. That Jesus Christ’s atonement was far from sufficient, His death and resurrection only provided a possibility you could be saved, it was not the saving event as this false gospel will teach. The gist of it is “Jesus only opened the door to heaven, now it is your job to get through the door”. Salvation is doubted because you are relying and depending on the one in the mirror instead of the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Denial of God’s Grace Another tenant is the denial of salvation being by grace alone through saving faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone. Again, tied to doubt, it will preach the sovereignty of man rather than sovereignty of God, that salvation is up to you as the sinner. It will pervert God’s grace into a meaningless coined phrase. This false gospel will try to say “by God’s grace your works are being counted in your salvation”. It nullifies God’s grace by attaching human achievement and conditions to His grace. It will pervert God’s grace into claiming it powerless against a sinner’s will, and must always take a backseat to the choice of the sinner. It makes grace into some type of cosmic karma, a quid pro quo system of which God never entertains while giving His grace.
Saved by the Law A false gospel will preach that one is saved by commandment keeping. And by this a subjective keeping, meaning imperfect. Galatians 3:10 and James 2:10 both indicate that if you are trying to be saved by the law, if you break any point of the law you are guilty of breaking the ENTIRE law. This is called an objective truth, so if one desires to be saved by commandment keeping, they must never break any of God’s laws. Romans 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. Paul says here that you are either under the law, or you are under grace meaning saved. You will find Roman Catholicism, Mormonism, Islam, and many other false world religions using legalism as their main tenant.
Repentance is Not a Necessary Fruit of Salvation A false gospel preached is called the hyper-grace gospel. All one needs to do is profess their so-called belief in Jesus Christ and claim salvation. Name it and claim it. The resultant repentance of sin, the actual evidence of salvation is not required according to this false gospel. The sinner can go merrily along there way as if nothing changed, no sign of a new life in Christ, keep their sins in tow without any desire to repent. I call it the TARE PLANTING gospel, as these individuals show no life in Christ but claim to be Christians, tares among the wheat just as Jesus promised. Finneyism, hyper-dispensationalists, some IFB churches, and other hyper-grace preaching will show this tenant of their false gospel. Note: there are some who also falsely teach that repentance is a precursor to salvation, no! Repentance is always the result of justification. Like all good things, this comes from the granting by God. We repent in thanksgiving for the salvation that was granted, not as a work to secure our salvation!
Sacraments – Rituals Required This false gospel will require work from a sinner to be saved and the demand for grace comes through a ritual nullifying the grace proving this is also a false gospel. Roman Catholics for example believe that they are being saved through their sacraments, they aren’t. God looks at these works as “filthy rags”, because you are not believing in the One who can save you, but in the ritual.
Other Intercessors When others are needed outside of Jesus Christ to help save you, it shows a false gospel. Roman Catholicism will say Mary and their saints help save them for example. Some will believe their parents can save them by infant baptism. When anyone is added to Jesus Christ’s person and work, it exposes the false gospel. The attempt here is by idolatry is to reduce the person and work of Jesus Christ and give His deserved glory to others.
Scripture Attacked A false gospel will always attack the total sufficiency of Scripture, calling into doubt the revealed word of God. It will say “it is not enough”, so other doctrines are employed in this false gospel to satisfy the doubt of the sinner. The placing of doubt that Scripture is NOT enough, it is NOT sufficient is done by many cults, as they feed their congregation falsehoods while claiming Scripture is some sort of juggernaut only the top echelon of the church can understand. “Where in the Bible does it say it is the ultimate authority” is the booming cry of this false tenant, with its attack on Scripture, the very revealed word of God.
The Goodness Doctrine This false gospel will say that God being a loving God must save anyone who was a “good person” according to worldly standards. It dismisses sin and God’s holiness as standards, and employ the “goodness doctrine”. First of all there is no one who is truly “good” outside of Jesus Christ, and second of all no one enters heaven without their sins being forgiven. The “goodness doctrine” will dismiss the Gospel as the power unto salvation, and claim God must save everyone who did more good things as opposed to bad things. The “goodness doctrine” is the most prominent false gospel being taught by so-called believers and unbelievers alike. It attempts to forgo judgment on sin, legalizing all sin or rationalizing it while giving the terms to God that by His love, He MUST overlook the rebellion and the enemy to Him if the person was subjectively “good”.
The Oprah Doctrine This doctrine I call the “many roads to heaven” false gospel. It promotes interfaith dialogue, searches for ecumenism, searches for common ground when there is no common ground. It will employ the “goodness doctrine” previously mentioned as a key tenant. With this false gospel, it will claim Muslims, Mormons, Catholics, even Wiccans and Atheists will be saved, they just have different ideologies. Again demanding that God overlook His command for the actual Gospel, and take into account the individual and their devotion no matter if it goes against His will or not.