by Jefferson David Tant
We have all faced certain times when we had to make some tough decisions, with no option of going “halfway” in what we chose. It was either “all” or “none.” There was no “middle ground.” Now, allow me to make a spiritual application, in that with respect to believing in God and following his commandments, there is no middle ground. It is “all or none.” We either follow God and respect His will for us or we don’t. Consider King David’s advice to his son Solomon, as Solomon was soon to become Israel’s king.
"As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever” (I Chronicles 18:9). In a sense, David was telling his son, “It’s all or none.” No lip service, no half-hearted obedience, no picking or choosing what you like or dislike.
In the daily Bible reading that my wife and I are doing, we are currently going through God’s commands to Israel as they are about to enter the Promised Land after wandering for 40 years. Time after time God speaks through Moses to the people about obeying God’s commandments. Many detailed instructions are given, and they have an application to us today, many centuries later. Some wonder why we need the Old Testament writings today since we live under a New Covenant, and no longer observe the sacrifices and rituals of the laws given to Israel. Paul tells us why God has preserved the Old Testament for us.
“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).
Now consider a few verses that carry this idea of “all or none.”
“And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I am teaching you to perform, in order that you may live and go in and take possession of the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you” (Deuteronomy 4:1-2).
“Then Moses summoned all Israel, and said to them, "Hear, O Israel, the statutes and the ordinances which I am speaking today in your hearing, that you may learn them and observe them carefully” (Deuteronomy 5:1).
“And it will be righteousness for us if we are careful to observe all this commandment before the LORD our God, just as He commanded us” (Deuteronomy 6:25).
Then in Proverbs 30:5-6: “Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words lest He reprove you, and you be proved a liar."
In the New Testament, we find the same message, in that we don’t have the choice about which of God’s instructions we are to obey. It’s “all or none.” Christ continues this train of thought in Luke 16:17: "But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.” In other words, even the crossing of a “t” or the dot above the “i” is important.
Consider what Paul wrote to the churches in Galatia: “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is [really] not another; only there are some who are disturbing you, and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:6-8).
And what is “another gospel?” It is any doctrine that changes anything that the Bible says. As an example, here’s q quote: “It is most likely that in the Apostolic age when there was but "one Lord, one faith, and one baptism, and no differing denominations existed, the baptism of a convert by that very act constituted him a member of the church, and at once endowed him with all the rights and privileges of full membership. In that sense, ‘baptism was the door into the church.' Now, it is different..." [The Standard Manual For Baptist Churches, Edward T. Hiscox, pg. 22]. Note that the Baptist Manual admits what the Bible says, but then goes on to say, “Now, it is different.” Wouldn’t that be “another gospel?”
And so it is with the 42,000 denominations today that claim they are “Christian.” They all teach things that are different from Bible teaching. Consider that many have women pastors, while the Bible forbids such. Church leaders are to be men. (I Timothy 3:1-6, I Timothy 2:11-12) The Catholic Church forbids church leaders to be married, but these passages teach they must be married, along with I Tim. 4:2-3. There is nothing clearer in the Bible than the prohibition of the practice of homosexuality, as seen in Romans 1:26-28, Leviticus 18:22-23. Thus the Episcopalian denomination and the others that ordain homosexuals into the ministry are following “another gospel.”
I remember studying with some denominational men when we were discussing some Bible matter, and I turned to the passage that dealt with it. I merely read the passage and made no comment. One of the men then said, “I don’t believe that.” What didn’t he believe? It was not what I said, but what God had said. Then there was the time when a church visitor made a comment to my father after she heard his sermon. My father had quoted Mark 16:16 at the close of his lesson. The visitor told my father, “That’s not in my Bible.” My father insisted it was until she gave him her Bible. He turned to the passage, and sure enough, it wasn’t there. She had cut it out! So she had created “another gospel.” Do you think God accepted that?
So, why do we have all these “different gospels?” The “cause” is Satan and his ministers. “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their deeds.” (II Cor. 11:13-15) These false teachers may be deceived themselves.
Consider that in the first century and for some time after, all the Christians had was the Bible, and they were the “one body” (church) mentioned in Ephesians 4:4-6. But in time men began to write creeds that differed in various respects from the Bible. These were “other gospels.”
The New Testament closes with a warning in Revelation 22:18-19: “I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.”
Dear reader, if your church manual, creed, catechism, or whatever, teaches anything different than what is in the Bible, it is a “different gospel,” and thus will not be accepted by God. Consider that Christ prayed that all his followers might be “one” as he and the Father were “one” in John 17:21-23: "I do not ask in behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me.” Dear reader, it’s all or none. The choice is yours.
There are churches that do take only the Bible as their guide. They are known as “churches of Christ” (Romans 16:16) If you are interested in the pure gospel, you might check one out. But understand that just because the “name” is right doesn’t make their teaching right. It needs to be checked out.