By Lewis Willis
On this subject there are as many ideas as on any other one subject which would enter into a religious discussion. One man contends that what he teaches is the GOSPEL, while another says the same thing about his teaching, even though each of these doctrines are in conflict with the other, AS WELL AS THE WORD. The preacher, in whom you have the greatest confidence, may be one who leads you astray. He may be teaching something, calling it the GOSPEL, which he could not, with many years, prove to be true from the Bible. He may also be adverse to anyone who is interested enough to ask him questions. I think one of the remarkable things about Christ was his readiness to answer the questions asked him (those which were worthy of answers), for the benefit of his followers. Therefore, it is quite difficult to understand a man who does not welcome questions that pertain to the doctrine he believes and teaches. Let us now examine the GOSPEL, to note the different characteristics of it. If you read this honestly, you will see the amazing difference in the GOSPEL OF CHRIST and the varied creeds of men. We welcome your questions.
In analyzing the GOSPEL, we notice three distinct characteristics and we wish to notice them in this article.
1. There are many facts about the GOSPEL that we must believe. They are the (a) death, (b) burial, and (c) the resurrection of Christ. “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the GOSPEL which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all, that which I also received, how that CHRIST DIED for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that HE WAS BURIED and that HE ROSE AGAIN the third day according to the Scriptures.” (1 Cor. 15:1-4) These facts, preached by Paul, are basic facts that every honest person must accept in accepting the GOSPEL.2. In addition to facts, there are certain commands that must be obeyed. Acceptance of the GOSPEL is more than mental assent, it involves some definite action; that of ascertaining responsibility and fulfilling it. We list these commands, citing passages that prove their validity. We urge you to refer to the scriptures cited to see that we are not leading you astray.a. One must believe in Christ. (Jno. 8: 24.)
b. One must repent of sins. (Lk. 13:3.)
c. One must confess Christ as God’s Son. (Acts 8:31.)
d. One must be baptized that sins be washed away. (Acts 22:16.)
e. One must continue to live faithfully before God. (Rev. 2:10.)
3. The GOSPEL makes certain provisions for the person who has believed the facts and obeyed the commands. These are called promises.
a. The first of these promises we mention is remission of sins. (Acts 2:38.)
b. This same passage teaches us that one shall receive the gif t of the Holy Spirit. While this may be difficult to define, one who believes the Bible will not doubt its being given to the obedient. (Acts 2: 38.)
c. The last of these we mention is the promise of eternal life. (1 Jno. 5: 11) After all, is not this the ultimate end we all seek?
This is the GOSPEL! It is the “good news” that is to be proclaimed unto all men today. With Christ’s coming, death, burial and resurrection, there was made possible certain blessings which exceed any other blessings of all time. We are recipients of these blessings. It is, therefore, a great question in the minds of faithful men as to why some people seek to change the GOSPEL.
Hear this warning from the apostle Paul: “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Gal. 1:6-9.) There are many points of great value to be gleaned from these verses, and for our purposes just here, notice that some were turning away from the GOSPEL OF CHRIST and were turned to another GOSPEL. Paul said that this was not actually another GOSPEL, but some were PERVERTING THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST. Some were changing the GOSPEL that was delivered to the world by the Spirit of God. Paul further said that he had PREACHED THE GOSPEL and that the Galatians had RECEIVED it. If there came any man or angel, preaching any perverted GOSPEL, that man stood condemned; he is destined to receive the eternal curse of God.
The problem referred to by Paul is one that we face today. There are many men who are actively teaching a PERVERTED GOSPEL. In many respects, the truthfulness of their teaching is not so much as challenged, and thus, many honest men believe the corrupt doctrine. The purpose now is to show the existence of some perversions of the GOSPEL that all may ever be on guard lest they become the victims of these false teachers. Let us notice the teaching of one prominent denomination on the:
Justification of Man
“We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, by faith, and not for our own works or deservings; wherefore, THAT WE ARE JUSTIFIED BY FAITH ONLY, IS A MOST WHOLESOME DOCTRINE, AND VERY FULL OF COMFORT.” (My Emp., LW. Articles of Religion; Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1914; Edited by Gross Alexander. If some would question the validity of this statement today, it might be of interest to know that this was checked with the Methodist minister, Greencastle, Indiana, who read this identical statement from the latest Methodist Discipline, 1960.) The doctrine is that man is justified before God, and that by FAITH ONLY.
How many times have you seen checks marked “only 50 cents?” I doubt that anyone misunderstands this statement. We would not expect to receive 59″: ONLY the 50″. In regard to this Methodist doctrine, we notice that Methodists teach that man is justified by “faith only.” It would be a misinterpretation of their doctrine to include repentance or confession; for “faith only” excludes anything else.
There are examples in the New Testament of men who believed but those who teach the afore-mentioned doctrine will not agree that they were justified. John 12:42 tells of rulers of the synagogue that believed but would not confess Him. They loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. James 2:19 tells of demons that believed and trembled. Is there anyone who believes that these were justified? (Notice point No. 2 above – “Commands.” There you will see other things that one must do in addition to faith.)
This is a perversion of the GOSPEL OF CHRIST for it alters the commandments. No man will ever be justified until he obeys, not part, but all the commands of God. Thus we see that the doctrine of justification by faith only is not nearly as “full of comfort” as some preacher would have you believe.
To further illustrate the different perversions of the GOSPEL, we direct your attention to one doctrine on the subject:
“It is most likely that in the apostolic age when there was but ‘one Lord, one faith, and one baptism,’ and no differing denominations existed, the baptism of a convert by that very act constituted him a member of the church, and at once endowed him with all the rights and privileges of full membership. In that sense, ‘baptism was a door into the church.’ NOW, IT IS DIFFERENT . . .” (My Emp., LW; Standard Manual for Baptist Churches by Edward T. Hiscox, D. D., 1890. This statement is found in the 1951 copies of this manual) Here, in regard to church-membership, we see that some would change the manner practiced in the early church. At that time, one who was obedient to the Lord in baptism, was immediately granted the blessings that accompany membership in the Lord’s body. However, according to the creed of the Baptist Church, now it is different. BY WHOSE AUTHORITY IS IT NOW DIFFERENT??? With Christ and the apostles, one situation prevailed; with this modern-day denomination, another. Christ and the apostles accomplished their work and there were no denominations, only the unique body of Christ. Now, after the mind of man has become so corrupted that he thinks he can improve upon the Word of God, there are many different and conflicting denominations, some of which, would have us to believe that somewhere down through the years, Christ altered the laws governing the church and its membership. This is, by no means, the only difference present among the religious minds of the day, but it does serve to illustrate our point. Here is a perversion, A CHANGE, in the GOSPEL that was presented to mankind by an Almighty God. The Baptist creed leaves positive evidence of this in saying: “Now, it is different . . .”
I think it meet that we notice what the Bible says about this most important subject. There were 12 disciples of the Lord, divinely appointed, who began, on the day of Pentecost, the great task of spreading the Kingdom over the world. These apostles spoke to a great multitude of Jews, speaking the GOSPEL, and these Jews were the first to hear it. Hear Luke’s account of the events of that day. “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” (Acts 2:41.) Here were some who were baptized and added to the disciples back when “no differing denominations existed.” These people were extremely happy over the fact that they now enjoyed salvation. so much so that they were “praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (Acts 2:47.)
What was the manner of becoming a member of that church of the New Testament?
It was: hearing the GOSPEL ( the death, burial and resurrection) proclaimed; obeying it; and being added, by the Lord, to the church. These additions being day by day as others were being saved. Are we going to adhere to the teachings of fallible men and say that now the manner of entrance into the church is different? The honest man will not. He will be content to simply obey the GOSPEL as it is recorded.
Man’s Great Mistake
One of man’s greatest failings is the attitude of heart that leads him.to think that he has the wisdom to improve upon God’s law. “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” (Jer. 10: 23.) Thus we see that man does not have the ability or authority to alter, in any respect, the law of God. WE MUST BE CONCERNED WITH OBEYING THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST, nothing more or nothing less. This GOSPEL is found only in the New Testament. Sinner friend, forget your creed, manual, confession of faith, etc. STUDY THE BIBLE. You will find life beautiful, and after this life, eternity that is beyond description by man. YOU ARE THE ONE WHO MUST DECIDE.
Truth Magazine VI: 7, pp. 1, 3-4