Oswald Chambers warned lest, in our zeal to get people to accept the gospel, we manufacture a gospel acceptable to people and produce “converts” who are not saved. Today’s most popular perversion is the “positive” gospel, which is designed to offend no one with truth. One of our most popular televangelists, for example, has said that it is demeaning to call anyone a sinner and that Christ died to restore human dignity and self-esteem. This televangelist claims to win many to Christ with that seductive message—but such a gospel does not save sinners.
Evangelistic appeals to “come to Christ” are often made for the wrong reasons: in order to be healthy, happy or successful; to restore a marriage; or to handle stress. Christ dies to rescue us from the penalty of sin, not to make us successful. Those who do not admit that they desperately need God’s forgiveness in Christ, and thus do not accept His salvation, are not saved but lost eternally.
Others preach a gospel that is so diluted or perverted that it deceives many into thinking they are saved, when in fact they are not. No fraud could be worse, for the consequences are eternal!
Religion, not atheism, is Satan’s main weapon. “The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ…should shine unto them” (2 Corinthians:4:4). To pervert “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts:20:24), the great deceiver offers many false gospels, but they all, as we have seen, have two subtle rejections of grace in common: ritual and/or self-effort.
Ritual makes redemption an ongoing process (unfinished by Christ) performed by a special priesthood, and self-effort gives man a part to play in earning his salvation. The one denies the finality of the cross; the other denies its sufficiency. Either one robs God of the uniqueness of the gift He wishes to bestow upon fallen man: “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans:6:23).
One can only receive a gift. Any attempt to earn, merit, or pay for a gift, even in part, is to reject it. Furthermore, God wants to personally give us this gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. To look to a church, organization, or some religious leader to dispense God’s gift is to reject it from His hand. Jesus said, “Come unto me…I give [my sheep] eternal life…I am the door; by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved…” (Matthew:11:28; John:10:9, 27-28).
Faith must be in God and in Christ alone. To place it anywhere else is to admit a lack of faith in Him. Let us get serious about faith by believing what God has said. Therein lies our only authority and assurance.