Beware Of A False Gospel
By Arthur W. Pink (1886 – 1952)
Satan is busy at work in the same field which the Lord sowed the good seed. He is seeking to prevent the growth of the wheat by another plant, the tare, which closely resembles the wheat in appearance. By a process of imitation he is aiming to neutralize the work of Christ. Therefore, as Christ has a Gospel, Satan has a gospel too, the latter being a clever counterfeit of the former. So closely does the gospel of Satan resemble that which it parodies, multitudes of the unsaved are deceived by it.
It is to this gospel of Satan the apostle refers when he says to the Galatians, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ” (1:6-7).
This false gospel was being heralded even in the days of the apostle, and a most awful curse was called down upon those who preached it. The apostle continues, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (v. 8).
The gospel of Satan is not a system of revolutionary principles, nor yet a program of anarchy. It does not promote strife and war, but aims at peace and unity. It seeks not to set the mother against her daughter nor the father against his son, but fosters the fraternal spirit whereby the human race is regarded as one great “brotherhood.” It does not seek to drag down the natural man, but to improve and uplift him. It advocates education and cultivation and appeals to “the best that is within us.”
It aims to make this world such a comfortable and congenial habitat that Christ’s absence from it will not be felt and God will not be needed. It endeavors to occupy man so much with this world that he has no time or inclination to think of the world to come. It propagates the principles of self-sacrifice, charity and benevolence, and teaches us to live for the good of others, and to be kind to all. It appeals strongly to the carnal mind and is popular with the masses, because it ignores the solemn facts that by nature man is a fallen creature, alienated from the life of God, and dead in trespasses and sins, and that his only hope lies in being born again.
In contradistinction to the Gospel of Christ, the gospel of Satan teaches salvation by works and justification before God on the ground of human merits. Its sacramental phrase is “Be good and do good”; but it fails to recognize that in the flesh there dwelleth no good thing. It announces salvation by character, which reverses the order of God’s Word – character by, as the fruit of, salvation.
Thousands of those who occupy our modern pulpits are no longer engaged in presenting the fundamentals of the Christian faith, but have turned aside from the truth and have given heed unto fables. Instead of magnifying the enormity of sin and setting forth its eternal consequences, they minimize it by declaring that sin is merely ignorance or the absence of good.
Instead of warning their hearers to “flee from the wrath to come” they make God a liar by declaring that He is too loving and merciful to send any of His own creatures to eternal torment. Instead of declaring that “without shedding of blood is no remission,” they merely hold up Christ as the great Example and exhort their hearers to “follow in His steps.” Of them it must be said, “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God” (Rom. 10:3).
Their message may sound very plausible and their aim appear very praiseworthy, yet we read of them – “for such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves [imitating] into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore, it is no great thing [not to be wondered at] if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (2 Cor. 11:13-15).
In addition to the fact that today hundreds of churches are without a leader who faithfully declares the whole counsel of God and presents His way of salvation, we also have to face the additional fact that the majority of people in these churches are very unlikely to learn the truth themselves. The family altar, where a portion of God’s Word was usually read daily is now, even in the homes of nominal Christians, largely a thing of the past.
The Bible is not expounded in the pulpit and is not read in the pew. The demands of this rushing age are so numerous, that multitudes have little time and still less inclination to make preparation for the meeting with God. Hence the majority who are too indolent to search for themselves, are left at the mercy of those whom they pay to search for them, many of whom betray their trust by studying and expounding economic and social problems rather than the oracles of God.
In Proverbs 14:12 we read, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man; but the end thereof are the ways of death.” This “way” which ends in “death” is the devil’s delusion – the gospel of Satan – a way of salvation by human attainment. It is a way which “seemeth right,” that is to say, it is presented in such a plausible way that it appeals to the natural man: it is set forth in such a subtle and attractive manner, that it commends itself to the intelligence of its hearers.
By virtue of the fact that it appropriates to itself religious terminology, sometimes appeals to the Bible for its support (whenever this suits its purpose), holds up before men lofty ideals, and is proclaimed by those who have graduated from our theological institutions, countless multitudes are decoyed and deceived by it.
Perversion of Truth
Heresy is not so much the total denial of the truth as a perversion of it. That is why half a lie is always more dangerous than a complete repudiation. Hence when the father of lies enters the pulpit it is not his custom to flatly deny the fundamental truths of Christianity, rather does he quietly acknowledge them, and then proceed to give an erroneous interpretation and a false application.
For example: he would not be so foolish as to boldly announce his disbelief in a personal God; he takes His existence for granted and then gives a false description of His character. He announces that God is the spiritual Father of all men, when the Scriptures plainly tell us that we are “the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:26), and that “as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God” (John 1:12).
Further, he declares that God is far too merciful to ever send any member of the human race to hell, when God Himself has said, “Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:15).
Again, Satan would not be so foolish as to ignore the central figure of human history – the Lord Jesus Christ; on the contrary, his gospel acknowledges Him to be the best man that ever lived. Attention is drawn to His deeds of compassion and works of mercy, the beauty of His character and the sublimity of His teaching.
His life is eulogized, but His vicarious death is ignored, the all-important atoning work of the Cross is never mentioned, while His triumphant and bodily resurrection from the grave is regarded as one of the credulities of a superstitious age. It is a bloodless gospel, and presents a crossless Christ, who is received not as God magnified in the flesh, but merely as the Ideal Man.
It has been said with considerable truth that the way to hell is paved with good intentions. There will be many in the lake of fire who commended life with good intentions, honest resolutions and exalted ideals – those who were just in their dealings, fair in their transactions and charitable in all their ways; men who prided themselves in their integrity but who sought to justify themselves before God by their own righteousness; men who were moral, merciful and magnanimous, but who never saw themselves as guilty, lost, hell-deserving sinners needing a Savior.
Such is the way which “seemeth right.” Such is the way that commends itself to the carnal mind and recommends itself to the multitudes of deluded ones today. The devil’s delusion is that we can be saved by our own works, and justified by our own deeds; whereas, God tells us in His Word – “...By grace are ye saved through faith.... Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). And again, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us...” (Titus 3:5).
There are thousands who, perhaps, have been brought up in Sunday School, taught about the birth, life and teachings of Jesus Christ, who believe in the historicity of His person, who spasmodically endeavor to practice His precepts, and who think that that is all that is necessary for their salvation. Frequently, this class when they reach manhood go out into the world, encounter the attacks of atheists and infidels and are told that such a person as Jesus of Nazareth never lived. But the impressions of early days cannot be easily erased, and they remain steadfast in their declaration that they “believe in Jesus Christ.”
Yet when their faith is examined, only too often it is found that though they believe many things about Jesus Christ they do not really believe in Him. They believe with the head that such a person lived (and because they believe this imagine that therefore they are saved), but they have never thrown down the weapons of their warfare against Him, yielded themselves to Him, nor truly believed with their heart in Him.
The bare acceptance of an orthodox doctrine about the person of Christ without the heart being won by Him and the life devoted to Him, is another phase of that way “which seemeth right unto a man” but of which the end thereof “are the ways of death.”
Where Do You Stand?
Have you truly forsaken the Broad Road which leadeth to death? Has the love of Christ created in your heart a hatred and horror of all that is displeasing to Him? Are you desirous that He should “reign over” you (Luke 19:14)? Are you relying wholly on His righteousness and blood for your acceptance with God?
A yet more specious form of Satan’s gospel is to move preachers to present the atoning sacrifice of Christ and then tell their hearers that all God requires from them is to “believe” in His Son. Thereby thousands of impenitent souls are deluded into thinking they have been saved.
But Christ said, “...Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). To “repent” is to hate sin, to sorrow over it, to turn from it. It is the result of the Spirit’s making the heart contrite before God. None except a broken heart can savingly believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Son of God did not come here to save His people in their sin, but “from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). To be saved from sins, is to be saved from ignoring and despising the authority of God, it is to abandon the course of self-will and self-pleasing, it is to forsake our way (Isa. 55:7). It is to surrender to God’s authority, to yield to His dominion, to give ourselves over to be ruled by Him. The one who has never taken Christ’s “yoke” upon him, who is not truly and diligently seeking to please Him in all the details of life, and yet supposes that he is “resting on the Finished Work of Christ” is deluded by the devil.
In the seventh chapter of Matthew there are two scriptures which give us approximate results of Christ’s Gospel and Satan’s counterfeit. First, in verses 13 and 14, “Enter ye in at the straight gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat. Because straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”
Second, in verses 22 and 23, “Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied [preached] in Thy name? And in Thy name cast out devils, and in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.”
My reader, it is possible to work in the name of Christ, and even to preach in His name, and though the world knows us, the church knows us, yet to be unknown to the Lord! How necessary is it then to find out where we really are; to examine ourselves and see whether we be in the faith; to measure ourselves by the Word of God and see if we are being deceived by our subtle enemy; to find out whether we are building our house upon the sand, or whether it is erected on the Rock which is Jesus Christ. May the Holy Spirit search our hearts, break our wills, slay our enmity against God, work in us a deep and true repentance, and direct our gaze to the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.