|Vol. 13 No. 9 September 2011||
J.C. Choate (deceased)
Paul knew what the Gospel was because he had preached that Gospel. It was the good news of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), along with the commands that one must obey to be saved (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38). In believing in the Lord, repenting of one’s sins, confessing Christ to be the Son of God and being buried in the waters of baptism, one would not only be obeying the Gospel (2 Peter 4:17), but he would also be picturing the Lord’s death, burial and resurrection through his obedience (Romans 6:3-6). What a wonderful plan for bringing about the salvation of obedient believers!
In writing to the Galatians, Paul said, “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 to you than that ye have received, 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” (Galatians l:6-9).
Now, did you hear and understand what Paul said? He said that even though the Christians at Galatia had heard the one and only Gospel of Christ, he was surprised that they had so quickly left the truth to accept another so-called gospel. That “gospel” would have been a perverted message, a false gospel, one that would not save their souls. Paul warned sternly that even though he, himself, or even an angel from heaven should preach any other gospel than the one they had already received, that false teacher would be accursed. To add emphasis to what he had said, Paul repeated, “As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”
My friends, how much plainer could the warning be than that? How much more emphasis could be placed on the necessity of preaching the one Gospel? What greater penalty could be placed on a teacher for presuming to change the truth of God into “another gospel” than to actually be cursed of God? Further, Paul said that even he, as an apostle of Christ, or even an angel from heaven, would not escape this curse — this terrible punishment — if daring to preach another gospel. Of course, God did not commission angels to be the messengers to impart the Gospel — that responsibility was given to men — but Paul used an angel, a heavenly being, as an extreme example of what would happen even to such an exalted being if he should dare to come and preach a gospel different from the one that had already been preached.
All of this serves to emphasize the importance, the seriousness and the necessity of staying with the Lord’s teaching and not changing it or perverting it in any way. The truth will save one’s soul, but error will condemn. The Lord’s way will lead one to heaven, but the ways of men lead to eternal destruction.
This warning in the Scripture alerts us to the fact that there were false teachers, and false gospels being preached, even in the days of Paul. The same problem continues to this day! As a matter of fact, men will tell you dozens of ways to be saved, which means that they are teaching dozens of different gospels!
The sad part is that even though the true Gospel, and all that the Lord wants one to know and to do to be saved and to go to heaven, is clearly revealed in His Word, along with the consequences for accepting error, still most people go blindly on and follow the teachings of men in preference to the Lord’s will. Not only is that a fact in the religious world, but even some of our own brethren have begun to join the enemy, accepting their false teachings and proclaiming those “gospels” as “truth.” All of these stand accursed before God for preaching another gospel.
How can people be comfortable in following the doctrines of men? There is a simple explanation: Most people do not study the Bible. They have no understanding of what God has asked them to be or to do. Many reassure themselves with the thought that “What I do not know won’t hurt me.” They believe that God will not condemn them for not obeying Him, if they do not know what He says. The Scriptures give no such comfort for ignorance.
The Lord himself condemns those who teach the doctrines of men: “And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9). He says that not everyone who says Lord, Lord shall go to heaven: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21-23).
Again, He says that the majority are on the broad way, but that only a few are on the narrow way that leads to life: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Beware of false prophets…” (Matthew 7:13-14).
Paul says that we are to avoid those who cause divisions among you: “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:17-18). John wrote that those who abide not in the doctrine of Christ have not God (2 John 9). Please do not ignore this warning and dare to preach another Gospel.