The Gospel Perverted

by Terry Wane Benton

It wasn’t that the Judaizing teachers did not believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. They did. So, how were they “perverting the gospel” (Galatians1:6-10)? They were adding to what the apostles preached. They demanded that circumcision and old law typology be brought in with what the apostles preached (since the apostles had not been mindful to include these issues in their preaching). The gospel was complete in the apostolic preaching. It needed nothing else. The apostles were guided by the Spirit into all truth (John 16:13). They were preaching “the whole counsel” (Acts 20:27) and had “held back nothing that was helpful” (Acts 20:20). But they held back from preaching circumcision and keeping the law of Moses, so these were additions or “perversions” of all that was helpful to preach. They were not part of the whole counsel of what should be preached in this “time of reformation” (Hebrews 9:1-11). Adding these things is like adding a little strychnine to a glass of pure water. Adding the doctrines of men, things like denominational names, creeds, infant baptism, once-saved-always-saved, faith-only-salvation, etc. (things not found in the New Testament pattern of sound words) is likewise preaching a perverted gospel. There is serious danger of being “accursed” if you support and maintain approval of these things.

Another serious perversion is when we delete from our preaching everything but the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. What if we delete part of the “whole counsel?” Did Paul not talk about moral issues (I Corinthians 5-6), correct observance of the Lord’s Supper (I Corinthians 10-11), qualification of elders (I Timothy 3; Titus 1), proper order in assemblies (I Corinthians 14; I Timothy 2:8-12), and about the future coming and resurrection (I Corinthians 15; I Thessalonians 4-5)? Was he “perverting” the gospel by bringing up such matters? Of course not! These are not additions to the gospel but part of the pure gospel and the whole counsel of God.

Can we imagine that in Acts 20:7ff, as Paul preached till midnight, all focus was on the death of Christ, like an entire service needs to be focused only on the Lord’s Supper and none of the other matters listed above? Are we perverting the gospel when we want less preaching about these other matters and only want a lesson focusing all attention on the death of Jesus? When you neglect these other matters, you are neglecting to declare the whole counsel of God, and that is also a perversion of the gospel. If it is in the New Testament, it is part of the whole counsel of God and must not be neglected in our preaching; otherwise, we, too, can be accursed for preaching a gospel the apostles did not preach. Trends toward all emotional services focusing only on the Lord’s Supper and cutting out opportunities to preach the whole counsel of God on these other divinely revealed matters of divine authority can become a dangerous trend that also perverts the gospel of Christ. Let us seek a balance that does not neglect to preach all the needed elements of the whole counsel of God!

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