Sunday, July 15, 2012

Identifying the marks of a different gospel

Galatians 1:6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel

Debates about cars - differences of degree or kind?
I recall as a kid getting in friendly debates over which was better: Ford or Chevy.  We would banter back and forth for hours - extolling the merits of Mustangs versus Camaros.  We had our differences, however these were differences of degree.

Now what would had happened if in the midst of our friendly skirmishes I would had blurted out: "Well I know one thing, a Stealth Bomber is better than Ford or Chevy", then the conversation would had come to an abrupt end.  Why?  Because the Stealth Bomber is a different kind of machine.  It has no business in the discussion, since our conversation is about cars.  That would had been an example of being a "difference of kind". 

Now that simple illustration points out what is meant when we say "differences of degree" versus "differences of kind".  When Paul states here in Galatians about a "different Gospel", the Greek word for different is speaking of a "difference of kind".  In other words, the message being touted about at the church of Galatia was not really a Gospel at all.

What constitutes a "different Gospel"
Yesterday we noted three marks of the True Gospel: namely its necessity, sufficiency and exclusivity.  In noting five particular elements: Grace, Faith, Christ, Scripture and God's Glory - we used the word "alone" after each.  Each of these are necessary for salvation.  Each one is also sufficient by itself and each one is exclusively declared by God as fundamental to the Spirit's work of applying the work of Christ to the unbeliever. 

Whether we are speaking of particular parts of the Gospel, or the whole message, the True Gospel will consistently bear these three marks.  A false or "different" gospel will fall short in at least one, if not all of these areas.  Any group that promotes a false gospel cannot be considered part of true biblical Christianity as so defined by Galatians and the other 65 books of the Bible.   Three examples below will be given:

1. Mormonism is a false or "different" gospel.  It claims faith is necessary, but not sufficient.  The Bible's sufficiency as divine revelation is denied, since it adds three other sets of writings by Joseph Smith.  Christ is not viewed as Divine nor is salvation received by grace alone through faith alone.  1 

2. Paganism, Witchcraft or Paranormalism is a false or "different" gospel.  In all three of these areas it overtly demonstrates its non-saving value.  It denies the need for any centralized writing, let alone scripture.  It believes that human beings, with the potential to harness the forces of nature, are sufficient in and of themselves to discover their ultimate purpose.  It denies the existence of an all powerful God, who is Triune in His identity and the source of salvation.  Christ of course is not even a factor in this belief system, since no sin is viewed as having been done.2 

3. Jehovah Witness is a false or "different" Gospel.  It claims that the Bible is the Word of God, however by attaching so much prominence to the authority of its headquarters - the Watch Tower and Tract Society, it renders the Bible to be less necessary and insufficient.  Faith is rendered insufficient, since one must witness and do good works to maintain assurance of being included in the final tally of the redeemed.  As much as Jehovah witnesses claim to be exclusive in their teaching, they have cut themselves off from the True Gospel, rehashing an ancient heresy that denies the Deity of Jesus Christ and His physical bodily resurrection and return. 3


1. The Mormons have three other writings other than the Bible that they claim to be equally inspired: "The Book of Mormon"; "The Doctrine and Covenants"; "The Pearl of Great Price". 

2. This is a worldview that is popularly known by the name "Wicca" and is popularized in movies and T.V shows

3. Jehovah Witnesses are a modern day revival of a 4th century heresy called Arianism, which was condemned as heretical in 325 A.D.  

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