It seems that the ‘once delivered’ Gospel has been lost in today’s morass of supposedly evangelical Churches.
You will find it occasionally if you look hard enough, usually in a large city, but if you live someplace where a drive of 30 minutes or more is out of the question, then you may be in trouble.
I have been reading some of H.A. Ironside’s writings recently. He wrote in the 1950’s, and the things he had to say have been proven to be prophetic, when he deplored the movements he could see already developing.
I am not just referring to the sub-Christian sects and heresies like the JW’s, Mormons, Christadelphians and Christian Science, but to those who still call themselves Christian – the hyper-charismatics, the money preachers, the word-faith gospelers, the extreme Calvinists, the legalists and the modern-days modernists who de-mythologise the Scriptures and create a god in their own image.
In this issue I am going to quote Ironside to show his attitude to those who water down the Gospel, reduce the Scriptures to 21st century cultural expectations and who in the end have nothing.
There are those who say that salvation is by obedience to God’s holy law. Now there is nothing wrong with sincerely trying to live a life obedient to God’s commands. In fact Jesus tells us this is what we are to aim for.
But only one Man has ever succeeded in doing so. That is why He was able to save us.
The whole point of the real Gospel as taught by the Apostles is that salvation only comes through faith in Christ. The sincere obedience to our Saviour is what follows our acceptance of the generous grace of God. If we do not live a life characterised by a sincere and ongoing change of heart and belief in Christ’s sacrifice we cannot claim to have ever been saved.
But trying to live in obedience to Him without first accepting his free salvation is like putting the cart before the horse.
Unfortunately many people don’t get it, and lots of Baptists, as well as many in all the other denominations as well as most Catholics, are completely misled in this regard.
Ironside said: ‘When the legalist comes insisting that salvation is by obedience to God’s holy law … he is preaching another gospel.’
Paul’s letter to the Galations [1:6-9] comes to mind. ‘If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that you have received, let him be accursed.’ Pretty strong words, these.
The Word-Faith Artists
Those who preach that God’s material blessings on earth will grow in direct proportion to the amount of faith you exhibit, or to the amounts of money you give to their ministries, are the wolves to avoid if you are seeking to obey God’s original Gospel.
I would advise that we steer clear of such teachings by Brian Houston, Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen to name just a few.
As Ironside again says: ‘ The Gospel is God’s wonderful story of His beloved Son. It is a message of grace to be received in faith. It is not a code of laws to be obeyed or good advice to be followed. It is not a system of ritual observances or a call to submit to certain ordinances … nor does it exhort men to seek after experiences, however remarkable.’
The trouble seems to be that people find it too hard to have faith in God’s salvation precisely because it is free.
Satan blinds their eyes so they think nothing in life is free – and the word-faith preachers are pandering to that belief.
They haven’t read the Book of Job, for a start.
The Modern Day Modernists
These people were called ‘modernists’ in the 1950’s. They tried to cater to scientific age thought and embraced evolution, miracle-free Scriptures and spiritualised the Old Testament promises to Israel.
They now include most emergent Churches, those promoting intellectual freedom at the expense of the clear words of their Creator, and most of the Protestant denominations.
Ironside declared: ‘The modernist prates in glowing terms … in honeyed phrases of salvation by character [and] salvation by [doing good] … He too is proclaiming another gospel, for if character could have saved, Christ need not have died; if altruism would have fitted sinful men for heaven, the Lord Jesus would surely have told us so; if ethical culture could deliver from the wrath of God, what place would Gethsemane, Calvary and the empty tomb have in the divine economy?’
Every pretended new way of changing the gospel into a system more acceptable to mankind is a delusion, devised by the enemy, to turn people away from the narrow gate onto the broad way that leads to destruction. Let us never forget it.
There Is No Other Gospel
H.A. used to say ‘Another gospel – whatever its outward form – will always be found to centre in something that man can be or do in order to obtain merit. The Gospel of God declares what Christ has done in order that the salvation purchased may be justly offered to sinners. Another gospel presupposes some strength, some ability to please God, in the natural man.’
God’s Gospel declares that when ‘we were yet sinners, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.’
God’s gospel, believed and obeyed, will bring us safe to heaven; any other gospel will land you in hell. In other words, we should stick to this gospel as taught by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.