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A Different Gospel?

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Today, many assume that the "gospel" is simply about Jesus—that He loves us and died for us, and that those who give their hearts to Him will go to heaven. This "good news" is presumed to be the essence of Christianity. Yet this is not the same "gospel" that we find Jesus preaching in the Scriptures. In fact, the New Testament is replete with prophetic warnings about false teachers who would come preaching a "different gospel."


Today, many assume that the "gospel" is simply about Jesus—that He loves us and died for us, and that those who give their hearts to Him will go to heaven. This "good news" is presumed to be the essence of Christianity. Yet this is not the same "gospel" that we find Jesus preaching in the Scriptures. In fact, the New Testament is replete with prophetic warnings about false teachers who would come preaching a "different gospel."

Forgotten Warnings

At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus warned His disciples: "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves" (Matthew 7:15–20). Christ was speaking of smooth-talking ministers who would beguile their followers by preaching a false gospel. At the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus again warned: "Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name… and will deceive many… For false christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, to deceive, if possible, even the elect" (Matthew 24:4–5, 24). Jesus foretold that a widespread religious deception, distorting His message, would be a key sign that the end of the age was near.

The Apostle Paul added another dimension to these warnings when he advised first century Christians not to be deceived by false teachers who preach "another Jesus whom we have not preached… or a different gospel" (2 Corinthians 11:1–4). Paul admonished the Galatians for "turning away so soon… to a different gospel" preached by those who wanted "to pervert the gospel of Christ" (Galatians 1:6–9). The Apostle Peter warned that "there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies… and many will follow their destructive ways… they will exploit you with deceptive words" (2 Peter 2:1–3).

Looking ahead to our time today, Paul issued this prophetic warning: "In the last days perilous times will come… men will… be lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power… from such people turn away!" (2 Timothy 3:1–5). Paul foresaw the rise of a false "Christianity" that would twist and deny the very teachings of Jesus Christ. If you compare the doctrines and teachings of "modern Christianity" with what is written in your Bible, you will find some startling differences!

Defining the Gospel

Many wrongly assume that when Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:1–4 of Christ's life, death and resurrection, he was providing a complete definition of the gospel, rather than addressing a specific misunderstanding about the resurrection. In fact, however, we cannot understand the One who proclaimed the gospel unless we understand His message.

Many who recognize the need for Christ's life, death and resurrection fail to understand why Christ lived, died and rose from the dead. The very first chapter of Mark records the thrust of Jesus' preaching: "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ… Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God" (Mark 1:1, 14). In the book of Matthew, Jesus referred to His own death and resurrection (which is part of the gospel) only three times, yet He referred more than 30 times to the coming Kingdom of God (e.g. Matthew 4:17, 23; 5:3, 19; 6:33; 10:7; 24:14). Bible scholars admit that "there is clear agreement among the synoptic Gospels [Matthew, Mark, Luke] that the kingdom of God was the principal theme within Jesus' message… the kingdom of God constituted a primary focus of Jesus' theology" (Oxford Companion to the Bible, p. 408). The apostles continued that emphasis (see Acts 8:12; 28:23, 31)—but we rarely hear that message preached today.

Instead, many hear that the "good news" (the gospel) is that we will go to heaven if we accept Jesus as our Savior. However, the Bible contradicts this teaching, plainly stating that "no one has ascended to heaven but He [Jesus] who came down from heaven" (John 3:13). Not even David went to heaven (Acts 2:29, 34; 13:36)! The true gospel, as explained in Scripture, reveals that the reward of the saints will be to reign on this earth as kings and priests, in God's coming Kingdom, under Jesus Christ (see Daniel 2:44; 7:27; Revelation 1:4–6; 5:10). Jesus told His twelve disciples that they would "sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:24–30). Jesus taught that Christians who bear much fruit will be given authority over cities in the Kingdom of God (Luke 19:11–19). Bible prophecies reveal that the saints will be teachers in the Kingdom of God, explaining to all mankind the laws of God and the way to peace (see Isaiah 30:20–21; Psalm 119:165). This re-educational process will begin in Jerusalem, and will spread over the entire earth (Isaiah 2:2–4; 11:6–9). The Bible calls this the "times of restoration of all things" (Acts 3:21).

Cause of Deception

But why do "mainstream Christian" churches fail to teach this exciting aspect of the true gospel? The answer is found in the prophetic warnings given by Jesus and the apostles, who foretold that false teachers would come with deceptive words and a different gospel. Historian Edward Gibbon described how the true gospel, with its message of the Kingdom of God, was changed: "The assurance of such a Millennium was carefully inculcated by… [those] who conversed with the immediate disciples of the apostles.… But when the edifice of the church was almost completed, the temporary support was laid aside. The doctrine of Christ's reign upon earth was at first treated as a profound allegory, was considered by degrees as a doubtful and useless opinion, and was at length rejected as the absurd invention of heresy and fanaticism" (Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 1, ch. 15).

Gibbon's account is correct; false teachers came into the early Church and gradually began to teach a different gospel—emphasizing the person of Jesus, but altering His message and denying the literal meaning of scriptures about the Kingdom of God. These false teachers either ignored or attempted to explain away clear prophecies that describe the good news about what will take place in the coming Kingdom of God (see Isaiah 35, Jeremiah 33, Amos 9:11–15). This is why we do not hear the true gospel being proclaimed today. In its place, "mainstream Christianity" teaches a "gospel" that has been corrupted by elements taken from pre-Christian religions—even the invented birthdate of Jesus Christ (supported nowhere in Scripture, nor ever observed by Christ or His apostles) on December 25 is an anti-historical borrowing from sun-worshiping pre-Christian sects.

The New Testament writers explain that the widespread dissemination of a different gospel is the result of Satan's deliberate efforts, over the centuries, to deceive Christians. The Bible clearly teaches that there is a devil (Satan), and that he is a liar and the "father of lies" (John 8:44, KJV) "who deceives the whole world" (Revelation 12:9). The Apostle Paul taught that "if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them" (2 Corinthians 4:3–4). Paul understood that even in the first century after Christ, many were already being misled into believing a different gospel. Bible prophecies indicate that many will continue to be deceived in the "last days"—but you do not need to be misled when you see the exciting prophecies of the Kingdom of God begin to come alive.

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