The Gospel of Jesus Christ and How Man Perverts It
|By: Mike Gendron; ©2001|
|In September, 2000, Pope John Paul II announced the Roman Catholic Church is necessary for salvation. Three months later he declared: “All the righteous on earth, even those who do not know Christ and his Church… are called to build the Kingdom of God.” Which of these statements are Catholics to believe? They stand in direct opposition to one another and to the Bible. Maybe it is time for Catholics to go to the only infallible source for truth—the written word of God.|
The Gospel of Jesus Christ and How Man Perverts It
The glorious Gospel of God is the greatest news ever told about the greatest man who ever lived who offers the greatest gift anyone could ever receive! It reveals an amazing love story that was written in blood, on a wooden cross, two thousand years ago. God’s perfect man and man’s perfect God became sin for us, bearing our shame, guilt and punishment so that we could be forgiven and receive the gift of eternal life. This Gospel of peace is universal in its invitation but exclusive in its acceptance. Only unworthy sinners, who come to the cross of Christ with empty hands of faith, can receive this precious gift. Only those who believe the Lord Jesus Christ is necessary and sufficient to save them, completely and forever, can be reconciled to God.
The Gospel was first announced in the Garden of Eden and yet it is eternal and unchangeable (Gen. 3:15; Rev. 14:6). Every Christian has a duty to earnestly contend for it (Jude 3). It is simple enough for all to understand and everything we need to know to be saved is found in the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:3-4). The Gospel is the very power of God for the salvation of all who believe it (Rom. 1:16). Yet the greatest obstacle to believing the Gospel is pride. This is because very few people are ever humbled with their true condition—they are sinners deserving of hell and are unworthy of heaven.
There are also few people who believe there is only one way to heaven. But the Bible is clear—there is only one Gospel. Any other gospel or perversion of the true Gospel is powerless to save sinners (1 Cor. 15:1-2). In fact, those who dare preach another gospel are accursed. The most condemning words ever written by the Apostle Paul are addressed to those who distort and preach another gospel. He wrote: “if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:9). This curse or anathema should cause anyone who perverts the Gospel of grace to tremble with fear. Yet there are many who deliberately distort the Gospel by adding or removing requirements for salvation.
The Roman Catholic Church has removed the essential requirement that is necessary for salvation—personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. On December 6, 2000, Pope John Paul II addressed some 20,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square with these words: “All the righteous on earth, even those who do not know Christ and his Church…are called to build the Kingdom of God.” These words from the “infallible” pope teach that salvation can be gained by living a righteous life without faith in Jesus Christ. The Vatican also teaches that infants can be saved without personal faith. In place of faith, water baptism is said to purify sin and make them new creatures in Christ. Not only has the Roman Catholic Church declared that faith is not necessary, it further perverts the Gospel by adding its own requirements for salvation. The Catechism teaches that baptism, receiving the sacraments, performing good works, obtaining indulgences, church membership, and meriting grace are all necessary to be saved from the punishment of sin.
Motivations for Preaching Another Gospel
Why would anyone deliberately corrupt the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Paul answers this question in Acts 20:30. He said, “from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.” Many false teachers build their own
kingdoms because of their desire to gain power, prestige, influence and riches. By adding requirements to the Gospel they are able to control people, keep them coming back week after week, and hold them captive in legalistic bondage. Other preachers gain popularity and favor by tickling ears and appealing to fleshly desires (2 Tim. 4:3). They turn away from sound doctrine and, in doing so, dilute the Gospel of its power. They use man-made traditions and unbiblical methods to produce “converts” instead of relying solely upon the Word and Spirit of God. Some of these ministers may be motivated by a noble desire to bring the lost to Christ but the kingdom of God can only be built God’s way, according to His unique plan.
Perverted Gospels Produce Spurious Faith
Tragically, there are many professing Christians who are victims of these faulty methods. Many believe they are right with God but don’t know Jesus or the Gospel. They may have given lip service to God by repeating a “sinners prayer” or by responding to an altar call without ever being enlightened with a clear understanding of the Gospel by the Holy Spirit. Others may have “converted” for the wrong motives—to gain wealth, health, self esteem, worldly benefits or a better life. Still others may believe in Jesus but rely on their good works to gain entrance into heaven. Heretical religious traditions may cause some to embrace “another Jesus” who is unable to save them completely or forever. Many professing Christians have a spurious faith because they “accepted” Jesus, but with certain restrictions. They “accepted” Him as Savior but not as Lord. They want Him only as a Priest to procure pardon and peace, but not as a Prophet to instruct them or as a King to rule over them. They may call Jesus Savior and Lord, but continually reject His authority and promises. Some want to be saved from the punishment of sin, but not from the power or attraction of sin. Others may want the blessings of Christ, but not a relationship with Him.
The only way anyone can know the truth and avoid deception is to turn to the one mediator between God and man—the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5). All these false beliefs and false gospels can be corrected only by using the supreme authority we have for absolute truth—the Word of God. One day we will all stand before the Lord Jesus Christ and be responsible for what is written in His word. There will be no excuse (Rom. 1:20). Anyone who ignores the Word of God or resists the Will of God is fertile soil for seeds of deception.
Let us proclaim the truth—the Gospel reveals what God has done not what we must do to finish the job. The Lord Jesus Christ is able to save completely those who come to God through Him (Heb. 7:25). May all who hear this good news receive it with gladness and joy for the glory of God! For all who have come to believe the good news of Jesus Christ might we be exhorted by the tender words of the Apostle Paul. He said we “must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will” (2 Tim. 2:24-26).
- Catholic Information Network, Dec. 6, 2000
- Catechism of the Catholic Church (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1994) para. 1265-1266
- Ibid., para. 1129, 1471, 1815, 2010, 2027