How Can We Distinguish False Gospels from the Real Thing?

The apostle Paul showed us the importance of understanding and guarding your beliefs when he told Timothy, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16 NIV).

Paul also strongly urged his fellow believers to stay away from false or counterfeit gospels. “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel, which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from Heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!” (Galatians 1:6–8 NIV).

False gospels usually fall into one of two categories:

The watered-down gospel

  • It offers God’s forgiveness, telling you that all you must do is believe, without any mention of repentance.
  • It presents Jesus Christ as though He were some mere additive to make one’s life a little better.
  • It tells you about Heaven, but leaves out the message of Hell.

The rule-laden or overly complex gospel

  • It strips the true gospel of its simplicity and power.
  • It comes laden with rules and regulations that we must keep to find forgiveness.
  • It is so complex that no one can unravel it.

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