No Other Gospel

by Mike Ratliff

For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed–God is witness. (1 Thessalonians 2:1-5 ESV)

The rebellion against God is alive and well…for now. This rebellion began before the fall of Man into sin (Genesis 3). It began when Lucifer attempted to overthrow God and ascend to the throne himself. Because of this, he lost his place in Heaven and became Satan. When he deceived Eve in the Garden and Adam followed her into sin, they actually became recruits in his continual war against God. All of their descendents were born into this army as children of wrath. After God interceded after the fall, He prophesied that there would be a seed of the woman who would be bruised by the serpent, but He would, in turn, crush his head.

Satan held power over God’s creation, Man, after this. He made it known to God that for Him to pardon the iniquity of Man would violate His Justice, which God would never do. It was as if Satan held some sort of ‘deed,’ which eternally condemned Men to sin and death.  However, at the Cross, Christ nailed this ‘deed’ to it and, in turn, crushed Satan’s power and hold over Man. He suffered and died under God’s justice against His elect’s sins. He paid the price. All those whom God elected before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1) were redeemed by the Saviour at the Cross as all of the elect’s sin were imputed to Him. When God saves a person by drawing them to the Son, regenerating him or her, then justifying them as they believe and repent, He imputes Christ’s perfect righteousness to their account.

However, the rebellion against God is still going on and it has overrun the visible Church on many fronts. There are many false gospels out there, but they all have one thing in common. They are, in varying degrees, focused on the sovereignty of Man’s Free Will. This is just another part of the rebellion. My friends, my brethren, God is Sovereign and He has never relinquished any of it to His creation. He knows that the Fall of Man caused our race to become spiritually dead and unable to know Him or choose Him. Not one of us deserves salvation. We are all children of wrath. However, those whom He saves from the wrath to come are new creations. They can know Him because they are righteous in His eyes and He makes Himself known to them through the Son, the Holy Spirit, and His Word.

The Gospel is quite simple. However, at its center is something called the Cross, which is an offense to many. It also makes it known to all the hopelessly reprobate state of Man. This is not popular. Therefore, the Free Will version of the gospel removes the offense in order to make it more palatable to people. This is done in order to get them to become part of a local church body. They can attend, but never be confronted by the reality that they are sinners in desperate need of a Saviour. No, instead, they become part of just another works righteousness religious system that is a ‘different gospel.’

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:6-10 ESV)

This should be obvious to all my brethren. All false gospels have one commonality according this passage. What is it? They all are designed to please man. In other words, they in one way or another encompass the sovereignty of Man’s Free Will. This is just another form of the rebellion against God. These false gospels will always substitute some form of ‘works’ that are required in order to be justified by God. Paul tells us here that those who preach and teach this sort of thing are ‘not servants of Christ.’

Remember, my brethren, those still in the rebellion may indeed want to spend eternity in Heaven with Christ and love the Jesus that they hear about in their religiosity, but they are trusting in their own actions or works to save them. Our Lord gave us a look into the final judgment during His Sermon on the Mount as he spoke of false prophets.

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'”(Matthew 7:13-23 ESV)

The key to being part of the Kingdom of God is to be known by the Saviour. No one becomes one of His through self-effort, self-righteousness, or any other form of unbelief. No, the only ones who come to the Saviour are those given to the Son by the Father (John 6). These believe, repent, and become part of God’s Kingdom by His grace through the faith of regeneration.

Some reading this are rejoicing right now because you know the Saviour and He knows you. Amen! Yes, rejoice! However, some of you right now are in a state of fear or dread or doubt. You are not sure if you are part of the Kingdom of God and since no one can become part of it through works then you find yourself in this state of perplexity. Well, fear not! If you know you are a sinner and you recognize that there is nothing you can do to save yourself then you are right where God wants you. You are being drawn to the Son in humility. I counsel you right now to fall before the Lord in prayer and plead with Him for your Soul. Believe that He has died for your sins as you confess that you are a sinner to Him. Then forsake those sins as you receive Him as Lord and Saviour. God is working in your heart right now to bring you into His Kingdom.

On the other hand, some reading this are still in unbelief and you resent this message. You are convinced that you are saved because of some choice you made and that you are a Christian and you prove it by your religiosity. Well, I counsel you to repent of this. Until you understand that not one of us can do one thing to save ourselves then you are still part of the rebellion. I take no joy in saying this and I pray that you will repent and come to the Saviour in humility as He draws you to the Son.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Addendum: I originally posted No Other Gospel December 7, 2008. Given the rapid apostatizing of the visible church and the immense willingness in so many professing Christians to see God’s Truth, such as the Gospel, in a post-modern or relativistic light, this message is more needed than ever. – Mike Ratliff

 

16 thoughts on “No Other Gospel

  1. Mike,

    I am so grateful for this post; the gospel of free will is an accursed gospel. Why do so many embrace those who teach it as ‘brothers’? Jim McClarty is not afraid to call arminianism heresy {see http://youtu.be/7gNmFc2uZoo}

    We desperately need brothers in Christ to stand in the pulpit and proclaim the doctrines of grace as well as denounce the accursed gospel of free will. Praise God for your biblically correct stance brother.

  2. A couple years ago I purchased a DVD from a reformed web store – a debate between a couple Arminians and a couple Calvinists. It was not a very good debate, but the worst of it was the Calvinists declared the debate to be an “in-house” debate among Christian brothers. Now I don’t go around calling Methodists and so forth heretics – most of them don’t enough about their theology to be called such. But anyone who holds to the 5 points of the Arminian Remonstrance is a heretic. That theology is heresy. The Truth of God’s Word is the best defense against such tripe.

  3. Lyn and Manfred, thanks. I was not Reformed in my theology for many years even though I was certainly a believer. However, it was as I grasped the length, depth, and breadth of God’s love for his elect and what a magnificent and incredible gift our salvation is as I did become Reformed that I began to grow more and more mature as a believer. To have our theology God-centered rather than man-centered makes all the difference.

  4. “I was not Reformed in my theology for many years even though I was certainly a believer.” And there is the rub. If you believed in the “free-will” gospel, how is it that you can claim to be saved? Was it not “another gospel” that you heard? How is one saved by listening to an accursed gospel?
    I do not seek a fight, but answers to hard questions.
    Thanks, Darrel

  5. Mike, it seems as though God usually takes his children away from the Arminian view and plants them in His word. It might take several years as it did with Phil Johnson. But as more light is shed and revealed and verses prick their hearts, Believers usually leave the Arminian views behind.
    Would you say that someone who is staunch in their Arminian views might not be saved? I know that’s a very BOLD claim. But I cannot understand how anyone who has truly been given God’s GRACE can NOT see that the Arminian view steals God of all the glory with “free will”. The reformers even said To God ALONE be all the glory. The Arminian view doesn’t give God all the glory ALONE..

    One of the greatest verses that show us that God is the first cause and not man is 1 John 4:19 “We love because he first loved us.”

  6. Linda, I would say that those who are so staunch in the Arminianism that they OPPOSE Reformed Theology at every turn would be comparable to those in the New Testament who think they are serving God, but are in fact persecuting Christ. They have made their traditions into an idol. On the other hand, those who are so in love with their Reformed Theology who go out of their way to attack every Arminian they find should be very careful as well. I like how Dr. James White does it. He is gracious and seeks to teach the truth rather than belittle those who are in disagreement. It is those who dig in their heels and refuse to hear the truth who are proving their disingenuousness.

  7. Thanks for the link, but that really does not address the question. Can a person be saved by listening to a catholic priest, or a JW or a mormon? So how can the false gospel of the free-will Arminians produce a saved individual? [It's just a question, Mike, so don't take it personally.] Isn’t the root of most those who are deceived into thinking they are saved, when they are not, found in the ‘decision for Christ’ theology?

  8. Oh I agree with you Darryl. I was trying to make it clear to you that I was not attempting to make the claim that I was saved that way. I like the example of the Ethiopian Eunuch or Lydia and the Jailor at Philippi in the book of Acts. All of them were saved because God drew them to the truth, not them seeking the truth. This is why we must oppose those who preach what they say is the gospel, but it isn’t. God will still save his elect, he will lose none of them. I shudder as I go back and reread what I wrote about 10 years ago as I was coming out of that mess. God is good and has grown me up and cleansed me of so much, that is, he has given me a much clearer understanding of what is going on so that I am able to teach others.

  9. Hi Mike,
    Great post. Thanks for the link to your testimony. I treasured reading it again. Reading Darryl questions made me think of my own conversion or moment of salvation. It was not by the words of a great preacher but the the simple love of a friend sharing the very little of what he knew of the Gospel.
    I was visiting my buddy in his home who a few months earlier became religious and started telling me “Peter, you need Jesus” This was in the late 70’s and we (there were 4 of us who got saved during those days) were in our late 20’s early 30’s and I don’t recall my friend’s theological expertise but I venture to say it was… lacking. However as he kept bugging me about “Jesus” and “you need to be saved,” something happened that I can only describe as the Presence of The Lord entered the room. He spoke to me, not in audible words to hear with the ears but directly into my heart or my mind. To make a long story short, I had to surrender all that was precious to me, all my idols. I remember having a fleeting thought during our dialog “oh no, He’s going to want to go to Africa to be a missionary.” I no sooner had I that thought and He said “yes that too, If I want you to go to Africa, you will go,” I did not want to go to Africa to be a missionary. But He said ” you come to me on my terms.” I surrendered to HIS WILL. There were a number of things that had to go. The last thing He said was “even if I want your life.” I was empty! I had nothing! I had surrendered ALL to Him. And I thought a couple of thugs with guns blazing were ready to come throughout the door. But I had nothing to live for and replied “Yes, even if you want my life!” And then He left. It was a total capitulation to Him. I was once more aware of my friend and his wife, I had a river of tears in my face, I was broken, an empty shell. I asked my friend “what do I need to do?” The three of us got on our knees and he led me through a “sinners prayer.” I don’t remember the exact words but basically “Jesus, forgive me, come into my life and be MY GOD.”

    It was a real prayer to a real Person. I had just met Him! Well, come into my life He did! Such joy is impossible to describe. And I was clean. I had never before or ever since felt so CLEAN! We got off our knees and were singing and dancing and worshipping God Almighty! But yet in the midst of this celebration there was a sudden sadness also for those other souls “out there” who did not know this Mighty, Awesome, Holy God. I picked up a bible to read and the words were alive. I could read it now and it made sense! The next day was Sunday and we all went to this tiny church in a remote logging community where my friend lived at the time. The church building could hold maybe 30 people. Tiny. But full of love.

    The point I want to make is that our God is a loving gracious God. As Mike said, “God will still save his elect, he will lose none of them.” When the Apostle Peter preached that first sermon at Pentecost, what happened? “They were cut to the heart,” Acts 2:37. Peter knew the gospel, he preached Christ. Paul preached Christ crucified. How many present day preachers preach Christ crucified?

    My friend also preached Christ, probably very imperfectly but The Holy Spirit still used that. I’m sorry to admit that for 30 years I didn’t do much with my gift and had some bad theology due to ??? I’m not sure whether I can lay the blame at the churches I have belonged to/attended or was I not diligent (probably) . I thought the emphasis had to be on getting the lost to say the sinners prayer, making a “decision” for Jesus. It wasn’t until My Father led me to this site and a few others that has corrected my theology by helping me dig deeper into God’s Word to discover His Truths. I admit I haven’t read much about arminianism and reformed theology but am trying to focus on the scriptures instead. Time is short. I have much of God’s Word I need to absorb, to feed upon. I have wasted too much time. I am most thankful for Christ’s work recently in eliminating much accumulated junk in my walk.

    Keep up the good fight Mike. This old soul is very thankful for… YOU.

    Glory to God in the highest!

  10. Peter-amazing Testimony.. I can relate to how God “spoke” or as I call it a deep impression placed on my heart. That’s what happened to me but different circumstances..

    The Gospel was presented to me by one of my brothers when I was growing up. I prayed the “sinners prayer” many, many times but NOTHING ever happened. I always was back to my normal self and life. I understood the Gospel and was brought up in Church.

    When I truly was saved, I know because for the first time in my life, God reached down to me and offered me his Son. I wasn’t trying to reach up to him. In fact I was so abject with my life that I was at a dead end road. I was so empty that I had nothing to lose and everything to gain by surrendering to Christ. It was my last HOPE. When I did pray, I meant it for the first time and was changed like this huge burden was gone off my shoulders. Then God’s love flooded my heart-so pure and clean. I was eager to make wrongs right and to forgive those who had hurt me. I had been sexually abuse and for the first time was able to forgive -truly forgive that person. THAT to me was evidence of God’s salvation in my life. I could have NEVER in a million years forgive before I was saved.

    Anyways, I truly believe that many who have “prayed the sinners prayer” are basing their salvation on this one act. That’s a very scary basis. So when we challenge them that it is GOD who does it all and not some magical prayer, it scares the dickens out of them and they cling onto that act of their “free will” with all their might.

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