Today as we launched our new sermon series from the Book of Galatians, we compared the true gospel with false gospels. The true gospel is Jesus plus nothing. A false gospel is Jesus plus something. Sometimes the something is a requirement to be forgiven by God. Sometimes it is a promise added to the person and work of Jesus. Other times it is an emphasis on something other than Christ. No matter what, a false gospel is man-centered while the true gospel is Christ-centered!
A great resource for being aware of the errant gospels and rediscovering the true gospel is Trevin Wax’s book, “Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False Hope.” You can see a good summary of his book at his Gospel Coalition blog by CLICKING HERE.
11 False Gospels
Below are the 11 False Gospels I shared during this weekend’s message from Galatians chapter 1.
11 False Gospels
Each false gospel is man-centered, not Christ-centered.
The Good Works Gospel – We have to stack up more good deeds than bad deeds to be accepted by God. Jesus showed us the way. Now, we have to do enough to measure up.
The Legalistic Gospel – Once we are truly a follower of Christ we will live up to certain standards set out by religious influencers. The church helps us know what those standards are by giving us the religious rituals to keep, the moral codes to follow, and the divine expectations to fulfill.
The Universal Gospel – We don’t have any personal responsibility in terms of responding to the finished work of Jesus. We will all ultimately be saved because of Jesus. So, just do the best you can in life to be kind to others and leave this planet a better place than when you arrived. God will reward all and judge no one – except maybe the Adolf Hitlers, Charles Mansons, and Bernie Madoffs.
The Spirituality Gospel – As long as we have a sincere faith in something and follow a spiritual path of some kind, God will accept us. All spiritual paths lead to God and heaven. It’s just better if we make Jesus a part of the path since He is such a good example and heroic martyr.
The Historical Gospel – We find solace in our connection to the centuries-old Christian tradition as opposed to other faith systems. Christianity makes sense. We know its tenets and can express them logically and defend them heartily.
The Fire Escape Gospel – As long as we prayed the “sinner’s prayer” at some point to be saved, we won’t go to hell. Being saved may or may not impact how we live life today, but we are safe from eternal damnation.
The Prosperity Gospel – We will always live a life of health and wealth if we truly have faith in Jesus. When we really believe we are then untouched by the brokenness of this world. God wants us to be successful, rich, powerful, and experience his special favor compared to others.
The Poverty Gospel – As followers of Christ, we can never possess or enjoy anything in this world. A true faith relationship with Jesus results in choosing to be poor in terms of material things, but rich in terms of the spiritual. You cannot be a Christian and enjoy material things.
The Moral Society Gospel – We strive to make others in our culture follow the righteous standards of the Bible so they and all in society will be blessed by God. Usually, this involves a great emphasis on legislating morality about the sanctity of life and standards of human sexuality through political engagement. Whether or not people come to Jesus as their personal Savior, they at least live like Christians in a “Christian” culture.
The Social Justice Gospel – We seek an end to systemic injustice. We believe God calls us to resolve social issues like poverty, racism, income inequality, human trafficking and all of its effects on individuals, families, and people groups. Individuals hearing about the person and work of Jesus Christ is not as important as our efforts to bring social justice and peace to a society.
The Self-Help Gospel – We are our own worst problem and our negativity about ourselves hinders us from fully achieving all that we are and can be. Jesus wants us to see how great we really are and then pursue letting that greatness out. The solution to our problems is already within us and He is there to cheer us on.