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What Are the Marks of A False Gospel?


What are the marks of a false Gospel?

The Bible clearly shares what the true Gospel is and any teaching that does not share the same message is a false Gospel. How can you know if a church or a preacher is teaching and peddling a false Gospel? Let's discuss the following marks to help you catch false teaching early on. Read on to know more.

1. A false Gospel asks for works or human efforts.

Ephsians 2:8 says that we are saved by grace, through faith, not of ourselves. It is a gift of God. It is not of works so that no man can boast. No good work can buy you salvation or guarantee heaven. No human effort can bridge the gap or separation which sin has placed between you and God.

What are good works and human efforts that a false Gospel often require of you?
  1. charitable contribution
  2. donation to the church or organization
  3. changing your ways or repentance that shows through a change of lifestyle
  4. surrendering your past and pet sins
  5. surrendering your life to Christ
As a child of God, all these good works and human efforts should come eventually. You should be keen to do good and to live a new life in Christ. Surrendering to God all that you are, were, and have is a natural response to your desire to glorify your God, Father, and Savior. But, these are not a requirement for you to secure a relationship with God and a place in heaven. It is not a requirement at the point of salvation.

John 3:16 says it clearly and simply.
For God so loved the world 
that he gave his one and only Son, 
that whoever believes in him 
shall not perish but have eternal life.

The actual or root word of "believe" here means 'to entrust". When you place your faith, your trust in Jesus, in the ultimate and perfect sin sacrifice that God the Son made for you, you are freed from the consequence or penalty of sin. You have eternal life, a life to spend united, reconciled with God for eternity.

2. A false Gospel downplays or ignores your sinfulness and need for a Savior to redeem you from the penalty of sin.

A false Gospel doesn't point you to your hopeless sinful state and need for Christ to save you.  It talks about securing a better life, a changed life. It talks about being new, being different. It talks about salvation from your current circumstances and problems. While these are true needs and true issues that we need "saving from", it's not our immediate need, our most important need.

Romans 6:23 says that the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ. Sin has broken our relationship with God. When man sinned, He rejected God and rebelled against Him. Our sinful nature has doomed us to hell and anytime we die, we face immediate judgment. Paul says that when a Christian dies, he will be absent from his body and will be present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8) Thus, when a non-believer dies, he will be absent from his body and face judgment.

A false Gospel often mainly focuses on how good man is, how sin and sinning are all the devil's doing and fault. The right Gospel understands that man is ultimately responsible for sin in his nature. The right Gospel understands that man is doomed to hell because of sin. And, the right Gospel realizes that man needs God to rescue Him from his hopeless state and certain doom to hell.

With salvation, a growing Christian will be led by the Spirit towards a better life. He will be guided into making the right choices. Through intimacy and dependence on Christ, He will be strengthened to make the right changes so he can start living a righteous and fruitful life. But that comes after salvation. First, we need Christ to save us from our sins not just our circumstances.

3. A false Gospel teaches that there are many ways to God, to earn salvation, and to secure a place in heaven one day.

In John 14:6, Jesus Himself already says that He is the only way, Truth, and Life. No one comes to the Father except through Him.  Romans 10:9 further clarifies that in order to be saved, one must understand and recognize that Jesus is God and believe [place faith] in the truth of Christ's sacrifice on Calvary and His Resurrection.

Remember the thief who recognized Jesus as God and placed his trust and hope in Him? He had no time to alter his lifestyle, to prove his faith, or to live out his repentance. But Jesus assured him that he will be with Him that very day. Luke 23.


*photo credit to James Chan

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