The false gospels of our time

There is a blindness so insidious that we may believe we are seeing clearly when, in truth, we cannot see at all. This is the Laodicean blindness we read of in the seven Letters to the Churches in Revelation 1-3. Visual Agnosia and Anton’s syndrome are only two types of blindness that are mental impairments. The patient sees his or her environment but either cannot interpret it (VA) or sees nothing and is hallucinating everything (AS). 

Raised on a lifetime of media images constantly shaping our perceptions, we must assume our own blindness may be twisting our version of the Gospel of Christ. Simply put, the True Gospel is, as Paul said, Christ and Him crucified, His Resurrection power to all the saints, and the life-long pursuit of intimate knowledge of Him in order to comprehend His Love for us. He is our Righteousness, and there is no other. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the True and Living God.” His sacrifice grants us this period of Grace, His Grace, to come to Him and be changed. “Be Ye Transformed,” Paul tells us. But we are not changed by our own acts, by doctrine, by a philosophy or a movement. He abides in us and we abide in Him. He is our supply. Accepting the Gospel of Christ requires all that we are, given to Him, because it required everything He is to save us. The Gospel asks for our total commitment: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind,” and “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:37-40).

The seduction of the Church into false gospels has gone unchecked for so long that many people who say they are believers are caught in the trap of false teachings, only they don’t know it. Jesus made it clear. The Gate is narrow. A remnant few find it. Popular doctrines attracting followers and crowds before the pandemic promised great things, but Yeshua Hamashiach clearly contrasts the false gospel with the Way, the Truth, and the Life, that narrow gate  few recognize or find. All salvation– deliverance, fellowship, sanctification, communion, and unity with the Father — comes through abiding in Christ. 

Some call quarantine a “forced sabbatical.” Did your life become narrower? Did time open up that work didn’t fill? Did church teachings from seminary trained professional clergy become hollow, even shallow?Perhaps following the crowd to a popular message is not the way to revelation of who Christ is. Knowing Him is the only way to transformation. But many are selling false gospels like drug companies peddle compounds. They treat the symptoms but never heal the root sickness. Are you trusting in a false gospel? Am I? Here are the 10 most popular false gospels.

1. The Selfish gospel: It is “me” centered. It mirrors what I find important. It offers comfort in success and material goods with my desires at center. God revolves around me: His concern? Keeping me happy. Doesn’t He give me the desires of my heart? My time is spent asking Him for happiness and prosperity. My prayer life is me centered. I don’t pray much for others unless there is a crisis. I am crisis oriented in my own life. Good things in my life I credit to God. Bad things I blame on the enemy, even inconveniences like flat tires or late planes. I often have too much confusion in my own life to pray much for others. I am emotionally driven and have often mistaken emotion for the feeling that God is or isn’t with me.

2. The exception gospel: It is obsessive, most often exclusive, and identity-oriented, meaning it substitutes a worldly identity for our relationship with Christ. It becomes more important, for example, to become identified politically with a group. It becomes more important to maintain the status quo, keep our lives comfortable, or rally supporters for a cause, our cause. My identity as a boss, a professional, a Democrat, a woman, a fraternity or sorority member, as a sick and suffering example, my cultural identity, my nationality, my addiction, my knowledge becomes more important than knowing the heart of God. I am led by my emotion and I become an evangelist for a movement or a poster child for part of my identity rather than a living sacrifice for the Gospel of Christ. I might also be trapped in my past. This gospel often concentrates on Christ’s call to action without a call to repentance.

3. Problem Child gospel: This gospel is problem-oriented. What passes for a prayer life is gossip, complaining, whining, depression, deception, unforgiveness, giving up. I am often negative. I tell people I’m praying but I pray the problem. I rarely consult the Word. I do all the talking in prayer. I use prayer as an opportunity to get people to accept me and my life the way it is. I don’t want change, so I often use prayer as an excuse to showcase my faith but I know I’m not in the will of God. I don’t feel His heart. I am conservative where the power of the Holy Spirit is concerned. I don’t believe the spiritual gifts operate today. I say a lot of right words but I don’t know the Truth or even how God operates in my life today. I have a vague perception that we’re supposed to be growing in Christ. But I’m not growing. 

4. Idol Shepherd gospel: It presents an idol we must bow to or a theology or doctrine we must trust in above, or else equal to, trusting in Christ. Ex: the Book of Mormon, “holy” wardrobe for women, world peace, unity through compromise, praying to saints or to Mary, a human mediator between the believer and Christ, or water baptism as a primary doctrine. However, relationships, careers, anything can become an idol. Sadly, this kind of blindness is hard to beat. The only way to fight it is to hear God, be intimate with His Son, Yeshua Hamashiach, and ensure that someone else doesn’t lead us down a path of error. This falsehood often requires deliverance. Watch out for popular doctrines.  

5. Self-help gospel: It promotes a self-help message rather than the power of God. Under the banner of “best life,” it is based on media portrayals of wealthy celebrity lives, touting strategies to achieve guiltless, consequence-free, imitation lives reflecting the wisdom of the famous in a how-to format as a basis of philosophy. It often mixes various religions, psychology, and philosophy with a nod to Christ’s teachings, easy grace, and reality television. This self-help message has many followers.

6. My Righteousness gospel:  This gospel brings down others to lift up my cause. Disagreements are personal affronts. It is founded on offense. To feel better about me, I have to be seen being better than you. These people are always giving you their resume. They often live much of their lives on social media. They judge everyone around them, holding others to a standard they could not meet themselves. Righteousness is based on their “pet peeves,” preferences, and past experiences or abuse. They are like the Pharisees who thanked God for not making them women. In this case, My Righteousness says, “Since I am not violating my own code, I am better than you. But whoa to you for breaking my code.” Rather than discerning the spiritual warfare around us, we look for groups to blame, encourage stereotypes, and believe hype. The supreme follower of her own righteousness loves to be right. Being right is everything. Most other people are idiots, according to him or her. This is often a reaction to a life spinning out of control. 

 7. The Martyr’s gospel: It is based on paganism. The concept of the Marked Man is very Greek and says that man is singled out to suffer, and those to whom God gives the most suffering are chosen worthy of suffering as God’s will. The Martyr gospel has bestowed upon us the phrases, ” God doesn’t give us more than we can handle,” and “Everything happens for a reason.” Neither of these martyrs’ mantras is in the Bible. All of life’s events are seen as coming from God. God is exterior to me and practically unknowable except for the messages I get from what happens to me personally. He is very busy shaping me via multiple tragedies! In reality, what happens to us is usually the result of our smallest decisions, our blindness, living in this present darkness, and our stupidity. We complicate our lives thru lack of hearing. Rather than blaming God, these people believe they are chosen to suffer. What happens to my loved one is viewed only in terms of how the circumstances affect me personally. Martyrs love the role of silent sufferer, the prospect of winding up as the widow or widower left behind. They sometimes envision the death of a spouse and fantasize about how others will see them “bearing up.” Life is like a movie starring me. How many tragedies can our suffering leading actor face? And they are actors, playing a role. Very little true loyalty. When things get tough, they often bail.

8. Legalism: This gospel acknowledges Christ’s sacrificial death but not His Resurrection. Somehow, He didn’t complete the whole work, and we must add our own works. There is a list of rules to follow that seem much like status-quo norms reeking of conformity, and we are charged to remain in busy-ness aimed at impressing God and others. These people confuse the business of church office and missions with a relationship with Christ. They seem always to strive for a gold star. 

9. Nicolaitan gospel is the basis of the division and distinction between the Clergy and the laity. Clerical privilege is the foundation for celebrity preachers who refuse to live by the precepts they teach their parishioners. This gospel goes against the Bible’s assertion that all believers in the Body of Christ are kings and priests. Paul’s assertion that the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of thee,’ goes against clerical superiority. This gospel was already alive and well in the first 75 years of Christianity, and Jesus hated this error above most others. It is the foundation of countless violations of human will and the justification for everything from cheap grace teachings to sex trafficking.

10. God in a Box gospel: This gospel fails to acknowledge or discern any teaching or doctrine that surpasses what I have learned or believed. This one is popular with ultra-conservatives and ultra-liberals alike. In the name of Jesus, we expect Bible doctrine to fit a mold limited to our perceptions based on our individual interpretation of the Word, cherry-picking our way through the Gospel of Christ. We may ignore Paul’s claim that he spoke in tongues more than anyone in the congregation at Corinth while we assert that prayer language ended at Pentecost. These people often downplay Greek and Hebrew studies while they promote an English-only position in Bible study and in predominantly English speaking nations. Jesus is often seen as White, Anglo, Protestant, Middle Class. This believer would say, “I support doctrines as long as they reinforce the norms that make me comfortable.”

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Writer, mom, reformed culinary disaster. Maker of legendary potato salad.

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