Will the Real Gospel Please Stand Up?
There are a plethora of false gospels running around. We shouldn't be surprised. Satan is the Father of Lies and there is nothing he'd like better than for all of us to believe a false, heretical gospel--anything but the true gospel of Jesus Christ.
So, what exactly is the gospel? The gospel is the good news that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, sinless and perfect, died for our sins and rose again, providing us a way to be saved from condemnation for those who believe. But let's hear it from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul directly:
1 Corinthians 15:1-6
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.
That's the simple gospel–the most important message ever–the good news of God's saving work in Jesus Christ. (Colossians 1:14, Romans 10:9). The main message of the Bible is the declaration that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior and hope of all who put their trust in Him. As Jerry Bridges says, "The Gospel is not only the most important message in history, it is the only essential message in history."
But since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), Satan has been spreading false gospels to lure us all away from the good news of what God has done through His Son, Jesus Christ, with the hope we would believe in "another Jesus," in many ways to heaven, and that somehow we have a part in our own salvation. Consider this. Every world religion in existence offers a way to be saved, and all require something special on our part, whether moral improvements or good deeds. The gospel of Jesus Christ, however, is not about anything we have done. It's completely based on what Christ has done for us. Through the cross, Jesus accomplished what we could never accomplish for ourselves.
We must be aware of those who try and add to the gospel—be aware of those who make it all about us, rather than about our Redeemer.
The gospel has nothing to do with our response to it. Faith and repentance are the proper responses to the gospel, but neither are a part of the gospel.
The gospel doesn't promise us a trouble-free life, health, wealth and happiness. This is a lie from the pit of hell.
The gospel is not a call to social reform, where making the world a better place becomes more important than recognizing our need for reconciliation to a holy God.
We are all sinners and have violated God's standards set forth in the Bible. ("For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23) By nature we are separated from God, for God is holy. And because of our sin, we deserve to spend eternity in hell ("For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord." Romans 6:23) But God offers a solution! 1 Peter 2:24 says, "He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed."
Our response to the gospel, as God draws us, is faith and repentance. All who are justified, experience reconciliation with the Father and the full remission of sins. And this will result in a changed life, one that is now focussed on serving and obeying our Savior.
I'm sure you've heard people say, "But I've tried Jesus. Didn't work for me!" To those people I would say, 'you've never met my Jesus.' Because if they met the real Jesus, and if they understood the real gospel, their lives would be changed. I just can't imagine walking away from the One who has forgiven me, the One who has given me peace, and the One who has promised me eternal life with Him. Don't be deceived by false gospels created to lure you away from the true gospel of Jesus Christ.