What Is “A Different Gospel?”

by Jefferson David Tant

In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatian churches, in the beginning, he deals with a serious problem in the churches concerning which he has knowledge, and that is “a different gospel.”

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. As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ" (Galatians 1:6-9).

The question is, just what is this “different gospel?”

Consider the fact that these were Christians, having been baptized into Christ (Gal. 3:27). They were members of the Lord’s church, the only one you read about in the New Testament, for there were no denominations then. They were believers in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and their savior. They were not worshipping the idols of the pagan religions surrounding them.

But a problem was arising among them, and evidently, it had something to do with changing something about the simple message of the gospel. As we read further in the letter, we learn that they were binding circumcision, a part of the Law of Moses that was no longer binding under the New Covenant. Note Paul’s words in the 5th chapter.

Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:2-4).

Why were they doing this? There may have been various reasons, but something Paul wrote suggests at least one reason. “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).

There gives a strong hint that the Galatians were seeking “to please men.” In what way? By appealing to the Jews, who had lived under the Law of Moses for many centuries. Some may have thought, “If we will include circumcision in our appeal, perhaps we can make the gospel more appealing to the Jews, and thus convert more of them.”

Please note that the Galatians still believed in Christ and the gospel, but they are changing something in order to “please men,” i.e., to make the gospel more appealing.

And what does Paul say about this? He wrote that he didn’t care if an apostle or even an angel arrived from heaven saying something different, he is to be “accursed.” That word in Greek is extremely strong in its meaning. In fact, the translators of the American Standard Version (1901), did not feel they could find an English word that adequately translated the full force of the Greek word, so they just used the original Greek word. Thus the phrase reads “if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be anathema.”

Is there an application us for today? It cannot be denied.

For one thing, we live in the “politically correct” age. We don’t want anyone to be offended, and our government seeks to control what is deemed “offensive,” even going so far as to prohibit military chaplains from saying anything that might offend Muslims, homosexuals, or whoever. (Well, there is pretty much freedom to “offend” those who believe the Bible, though.)

But let us look at the situation in the “Christian” religious world where an application can be made from what Paul wrote.

According to some studies, there are some 42,000 different “Christian” denominations. While claiming that they believe in Christ, as did the Galatians, they all teach something different about the gospel, about the message in the New Testament.

To illustrate this problem of a “different gospel” (NASV) or “another gospel,” (ASV) please consider carefully some examples of this.

The Mormons

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, otherwise known as Mormons, will serve as the first example. In addition to the Bible, they have The Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants. These are official books of doctrine for the followers of that denomination.

Consider the claim that is made for the Book of Mormon:

“The Book of Mormon is another witness of Jesus and a divinely revealed guide to the purpose-filled life…it only makes sense that a loving God would continue counseling His children with additional messages of hope and wisdom applicable to their lives. The Book of Mormon is exactly that: continued revelation from God that serves as witness to the truths in the Bible and to the divinity and teachings of Jesus Christ” [From the church’s website].

Thus we have “another witness” or “another gospel” that came to light 1,800 years after the first gospel. Joseph Smith claimed an angel revealed to him this “witness,” which was published in 1830. This raises questions. If “another witness” is needed for our salvation, why did God leave the world in darkness for those 1,800 years? Furthermore, how is it that Jesus didn’t fulfill the promise made to the disciples while he was with them?

"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (John 14:26).

"But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come” (John 16:13).

Did the Holy Spirit fulfill that promise in the first century, and guide them “into all the truth?” If so, there is no new truth to be revealed in the Book of Mormon. If not, then God did not fulfill his promise, and we are in big trouble! He is either a liar or not all-powerful. Who can believe it?
Jude “felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). If “the faith” has been “once for all delivered,” then there is no “new faith,” nor “another gospel” to be delivered.

In considering a multitude of conflicts between the Bible and Mormon teaching and practice, one noticeable conflict has to do with the young men that go door to door spreading the gospel of the Mormon Church. These young people are to be admired for their dedication and manner of life. But you will notice the name tag that they wear. They are identified as “elder” so-and-so. I have had many conversations with these good young men, and have asked a question that they have never been able to answer. I ask if they are married and if they have believing children. Obviously, they always reply “No.” Then I read to them from Titus chapter one.

For this reason I left you in Crete, that you might set in order what remains, and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, namely, if any man be above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion” (Titus 1:5-6).

Thus God’s Word says that elders must be married, and must have believing children. In discussing this with one pair of young "elders,” I said, “So you are in open violation of what the Bible plainly teaches.” They agreed that they were. But it made no difference to them because they had a testimony to their heart that they were OK.

That’s how Satan deceives people — with “another gospel.”

The Jehovah's Witnesses

Another group of people that are to be admired for their devotion to their cause, and their desire to share their gospel with the world are Jehovah’s Witnesses. And these are familiar to us as those who also go door to door and often stand in various places handing out literature.

"In 1878 the stewardship of the things of God, the teaching of the Bible truths were taken from the clergy, unfaithful to their age-long stewardship, and given to Pastor Russell." [Studies In The Scriptures, Vol. 7, p. 377]. Thus the claim is that truths that had been hidden for ages were now given to Charles Taze Russell.

Consider some claims that are made concerning the Watchtower Organization, the Witnesses governing body.

"The Watchtower Organization is the only way to understand the Bible. Only this
organization functions for Jehovah's purpose and to his praise. To it alone God's Sacred Word, the Bible, is not a sealed book" [The Watchtower; July 1, 1973, pp. 402].

"We all need help to understand the Bible, and we cannot find the Scriptural
guidance we need outside the ‘faithful and discreet slave' organization" [The
Watchtower, Feb. 15, 1981].

"... people cannot see the Divine Plan in studying the Bible by itself ... if he then
lays them [Scripture Studies] aside and ignores them and goes to the bible
alone, though he has understood his Bible for ten years, our experience that
within two years he goes into darkness. On the other hand, if he had merely
read the Scripture Studies with their references, and had not read a page of
the Bible, as such, he would be in the light at the end of the two years,
because he would have the light of the Scriptures." [The Watchtower, Sept.
15, 1910, p. 298].

This outrageous claim says the Bible leads to darkness, but the Scripture Studies lead to light. The conclusion must be that the Bible is an instrument of Satan! Who can believe it? Consider what God’s inspired messenger Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus, as he explains how “that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. And by referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ” (Ephesians 3:4-5).

Paul told the Christians at Ephesus that when they read what he wrote, they could have the same understanding that he, the divinely inspired apostle had! And yet men today have the audacity to claim that when we read what Paul wrote, we would be in darkness! Who can believe it?

Another problem, among many, is the matter of the setting of dates—false prophecies. In Studies In The Scriptures, Volume 2, pages 76-77 Russell said: "In this chapter we present the Bible evidence proving that the full end of the times of the Gentiles -- i.e., the full end of their lease of dominion --will be reached in A.D. 1914; and that date will be the farthest limit of the rule of imperfect men." It is quite evident at this point over 100 years later, that “the full end” has not come.

In 1917, Joseph Franklin Rutherford became the leader of the Watchtower organization, and in 1920 he wrote a book entitled “Millions Now Living Will Never Die.” On page 97 he said: "Heretofore set forth the old order of things, the old world is ending and is therefore passing away, that the new order is coming in, and that 1925 marks the resurrection of the faithful, worthy of old." In the book, he told of the resurrection of Abraham, David, Daniel, and others of the ancients, and said they would reside in San Diego, California, and rule the world. A dwelling was built for them, called Beth Sarim.
Of course, that never happened. These are but two of several prophecies the organization has made, that never came to pass. Consider two passages among many that could be mentioned.

Concerning discerning the veracity of prophecies, God told Moses: "And you may say in your heart, 'How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?' When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him” (Deuteronomy 18:20-21).

With respect to the time of the “end,” which the Jehovah’s Witnesses have prophesied repeatedly, it is interesting to note that Jesus said he didn’t even know when he was coming again. If He doesn’t know, then I wonder where mere men have come with a knowledge greater than that of Christ. In speaking of his final coming, note Christ’s own words: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (Matthew 24:36)

Looking at doctrinal matters, there is a glaring discrepancy between the Bible and the Watch-tower organization on the matter of salvation. Here is a quote from their publication The Truth That Leads To Eternal Life, page 183: “What, then, does Christian baptism signify? It is not a washing away of one’s sins, because cleansing from sin comes only through faith in Jesus Christ.”

Now consider God’s Word on this subject. As Saul of Tarsus came to believe in Christ, Ananias told him: “And now why do you delay? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name” (Acts 22:16). The apostle Peter had something to say about baptism, as well: “And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you--not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience -- through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (I Pet. 3:21).

We will note one other Scripture in response to the Watchtower’s publication, and that is James 2:24: “You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone.”

It is obvious that these Bible verses clearly contradict what the Jehovah’s Witnesses teach, and thus it is obvious that they are teaching “a different gospel.”

The Christian Science Church

Mary Baker Eddy founded this denomination in 1879. She wrote their creed called “Science and Health With a Key to the Scriptures.” She claimed it was a divine revelation, and said her religion was a “higher, clearer and more permanent revelation than that given 18 centuries ago!” which was an obvious reference to the Bible which was 18 centuries old when she wrote that.

In making such a statement, she is claiming superiority over the Holy Spirit, who guided the apostles into “all the truth” (John 16:13). And how can something be more permanent than that which is eternal, as Christ said "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away” (Luke 21:33). Peter made a similar statement concerning God’s Word. “For, All flesh is as grass, And all the glory thereof as the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls: But the word of the Lord abides forever. And this is the word of good tidings which was preached unto you” (I Peter 1:24-25).

Concerning the partaking of the Lord’s Supper, as Christ taught, one of the notable things about the Mother Church in Boston is that partaking of the Lord’s Supper is forbidden. “Article XVIII. COMMUNION. No more Communion. Section I. The Mother Church of Christ, Scientist, shall observe no more Communion Seasons” [Church Manual, p. 61].

In observing the Passover meal with his disciples, Jesus gave a new meaning to it: “And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, 'This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me'" (Luke 22:19). And true disciples of Christ have been observing this memorial each first day of the week in the following centuries. But a “different gospel” forbids its observance.

The Baptist Church

The several different Baptist denominations have some different views on some matters but are in general agreement on the most important matters. They are to be commended for their conservative stance on many issues. But there are some questions that need to be considered.

Membership is determined by vote: “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 (made) him a member of the church … Now it is different … Candidates … make their statement, give their ‘experience,’ and then their reception is decided by a vote of the members” [Standard Manual for Baptist Churches, Hiscox, p. 22].

When we turn to the Bible, we find a different procedure. On the Day of Pentecost, as Peter and the others were preaching to the multitude gathered on that day, many were convinced that the man they had crucified just seven weeks before was actually the Messiah.

Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls…And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:41, 47).

No one took a vote. It was God who “decided their reception.” By what authority do men today take it upon themselves to say “Now it is different”? My Bible reads the same as it always has.
Another problem arises concerning the Baptist Church’s teaching on baptism.

Baptism is not necessary for salvation: “Baptism is not essential to salvation, for our church-es utterly repudiate the dogma of ‘baptismal regeneration’; but it is essential to obedience, since Christ has commanded it.” [Standard Manual for Baptist Churches, Hiscox, 20-21].

The Bible teaches:

He that believes and is baptized shall be saved, but he that disbelieves shall be
condemned” (Jesus Christ, Mark 16:16).

Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you -- not the removal of dirt from the
flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience -- through the resurrection of Jesus
Christ” (The Apostle Peter, I Peter 3:21).

Thus we have a clear choice. We can either accept the Baptist Manual’s teaching that “baptism is not essential to our salvation,” or the words of Christ when he said belief plus baptism equals salvation. And Peter agreed with Christ when he placed baptism and salvation together. In these matters, it is clear that there are two gospels — the gospel of the Baptist Manual, and the gospel of the Bible.

The Methodist Church

The Methodist Church had its beginning through the influence of John and Charles Wesley in England. The efforts of the Wesleys, and others, to reform the Church of England, resulted in the formation of several societies of "Methodists." John Wesley, himself, gives 1739 as the date of the origin of the "United Societies of the People called Methodists."

The Methodist doctrines are outlined in “The Methodist Discipline,” which carries the designation “The Constitution of the Methodist Church” (page 9). (Note: it would seem best for the Bible to be a church’s constitution, rather than a document written by men, as a constitution is regarded as the highest law of any organization, political or religious.)

Consider a statement from my copy of the church creed: “We, have, therefore expected that the Discipline would be administered, not merely as a legal document, but ss a revelation of the Holy Spirit, working in and through our people” [Discipline of the Methodist Church, 1940]. Could there be any clearer claim that this is “another gospel?” If it is the same gospel revealed by the Holy Spirit in the 1st Century, then why do we need the Discipline? It is blatantly obvious that this is “another gospel.”

And if this is truly a new revelation by the Holy Spirit, why was it given only to the Methodist Church? Isn’t God concerned about all people, and not just Methodists?

We take notice of a prominent doctrine of the church: “Wherefore, that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine and very full of comfort” [Methodist Discipline, p. 27].

But when we turn to God’s Word, we see a different teaching: “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (James 2:24). It is not that by works we earn our salvation, but the context in the chapter shows that it is an obedient faith that God takes into consideration, for “faith without works is dead.” “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself, But someone may well say, ‘You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works’” (James 2:17-18).

Another aspect of the “different gospel” is the ordination of women pastors in the Methodist church. This is a phenomenon of fairly recent history among Methodists and is a well-recognized and accepted practice.

When we turn to the gospel of Jesus Christ, we get a different view, as the apostle Paul wrote his first letter to his son in the gospel, Timothy. “But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet” (I Timothy 2:12). This does not place women of less importance than men, for we are all equal in Christ. But God does have different roles and responsibilities for men and women. Paul goes on to explain that this arrangement goes back to the beginning when Eve was deceived by Satan.

Thus, the gospel of Christ teaches one thing, but a different gospel, the gospel of the Methodist church, teaches something contrary.

Roman Catholicism

The Catholic Church is the largest denomination in the world among religious groups that believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. The Catholic Catechism contains teaching and doctrines that distinguish the church from other religious bodies. There are numerous differences between Bible teaching and Catholic teaching, but we will notice only a few.

It is well known that among the clergy in the Catholic Church, marriage is forbidden. They take a vow to live a celibate life.

But what does the Bible have to say about those who serve the church? “Faithful is the saying, If a man seeks the office of a bishop, he desires a good work. The bishop therefore must be without reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, orderly, given to hospitality, apt to teach” (I Timothy 3:1-2). Why did God give this stipulation? Obviously, this is how one could prove himself to be a spiritual leader.

Notice that the text says a bishop must be married and must have believing children. It is thus evident that the Catholic teaching and practice is clearly “a different gospel.”

Paul further told Timothy that there would be a departure from the faith, from the true gospel.
But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth” (I Timothy 4:1-3).

Paul is making a prophecy that there will come a time in the future when there will be some who will forbid some to marry. It is obvious that his prophecy came true.

Furthermore, all are aware that the priests and others in the Catholic Church are to be addressed as “Father” so-and-so. And I have known of situations where an employee for a company was reprimanded for not addressing a customer by that title after the customer complained.
But what does the true gospel say about giving titles of honor which set some above others?
"But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men. But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven” (Matthew 23:5-9).

In this passage, Christ is rebuking the scribes and Pharisees, the religious leaders of his day. He said they dressed in a special way, and wanted to be called by special titles, among which was “Father.” Obviously, Christ does not forbid that term in family relationships, for we are told to “honor your father and mother,” but in a religious context, to set one man above others, the gospel of Christ says “No.”

Now, with that as a background, I want to call the reader’s attention to some words spoken by and concerning some of the popes as well as other church authorities. Following are direct quotes from Roman Catholic sources.

“The Roman Pontiff judges all men, but is judged by no one.” “We declare, assert, define and pronounce: To be subject to the Roman Pontiff is to every human creature altogether necessary for salvation” [Boniface VIII, 14th Century]. (Their contention is that no one can be saved unless they are members of the Roman Catholic Church.)

But God long ago determined who would be our judge — Jesus Christ. “…because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead" (Acts 17:31). That judge is none other than Jesus Christ. Even the pope will be judged by Christ. “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy” (James 4:12) “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22).

Accepting the Bible as true, we see that the Roman Pontiff will not judge all men and that he himself will be judged, contrary to the assertion of Boniface VIII. If God “has given all judgment to the Son,” then that leaves the pope out, regardless of his claims to the contrary.

“That which was spoken of Christ, ‘Thou hast subdued all things under His feet,’ may well seem verified in me. I have the authority of the King of kings. I am all in all and above all, so that God, Himself and I, the Vicar of God, have but one consistory, and I am able to do al-most all that God can do. What therefore, can you make of me but God?” [The Bull Sanctum, Nov. 18, 1302, found in the registers of Boniface VIII in the Vatican archives, “Reg. Vatic.,” L, Fol. 387, The Catholic Encyclopedia, © 1913 by the Encyclopedia Press, Inc.]

If Boniface VIII had the “authority of the King of kings,” then that places him on the same level as Jesus Christ, who was Divine, God in the flesh. The Bible would identify that as blasphemy. The Catholic Church obviously follows another gospel.

The Presbyterian Church

The Presbyterian Church began with the teachings of John Calvin about 1536, as he was among those in the Reformation who were protesting against the excesses of the Catholic Church.

Among their various doctrines cited in their book of doctrine is the matter of sprinkling for baptism. Note the following quote.

“III. Dipping of the person into water is not necessary; but baptism is rightly administered by pouring or sprinkling water upon the person.” [The Confession of Faith of the Presbyterian Church, p. 161].

But when we look into the true gospel, it is clear that the baptism which was taught and practiced was by immersion in water. John the Baptist “was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there; and people were coming and were being baptized” (John 3:23).

Paul makes the matter very clear in his letter to the church in Rome.

Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection” (Romans 6:3-5).

In this passage, baptism is likened to the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. The believer dies to sin and is buried, and then raised to a new life. Other passages present the same picture.

The New Testament was written in the Greek language, so it would be helpful to note the Greek definition of the word for baptism:

baptizw baptizo, bap-tid'-zo -- from a derivative of 911; to immerse, submerge; to make whelmed (i.e. fully wet); used only (in the New Testament) of ceremonial ablution, especially (technically) of the ordinance of Christian baptism:--Baptist, baptize, wash. [Strong’s Greek Dictionary].

In fact, all Bible scholars, whether Methodist, Catholic, Presbyterian, Lutheran, or what have you, all agree that the early church practiced baptism and that the meaning of the word does mean to dip or immerse.

A recent development in the Presbyterian Church is the ordaining of homosexuals into the ministry. A newspaper clipping of May 11, 2011, states: “Yesterday, the Presbyterian Church (USA) presbytery of the Twin Cities in Minnesota voted to approve a change to the church’s constitution that will allow the denomination’s 173 presbyteries to ordain persons without regard to sexual orientation.”
That is clear evidence of “a different gospel.” But looking to the true gospel, we see these words:
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (I Corinthians 6:9-11).

It is worth noting that those who practiced these sins — thieves, drunkards, homosexuals, etc. — were (past tense) practicing the various sins described, but they had been washed, sanctified, and justified, and thus no longer practiced their sinful behavior. Obviously, thieves and drunkards had changed their behavior, and just as obviously, homosexuals had also changed their behavior. Many today maintain that cannot be done, but God said otherwise. I’ll choose to believe him.

The Episcopal Church

A dispute between King Henry VIII and the pope of Rome resulted in separating the Church of England from Papal authority. In 1531 a Convocation proclaimed the king of England "only and supreme lord, and, as far as the law of Christ permits, even the supreme head of the Church of England." In the year 1534, Henry VIII caused Parliament "to abolish all papal authority in England, and to stop all payments to the Roman exchequer." The "Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America" had its rise and origin in the Church of England.

This is clearly a different gospel than found in the pages of the New Testament, where Christ is the head of his church, not England’s ruler, whoever he or she might be. “He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything” (Col. 1:18). Furthermore, Christ is designated as “the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords” (I Timothy 6:15).

How can Christ be the “only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords,” while England’s ruler is the "only and supreme lord, and, as far as the law of Christ permits, even the supreme head of the Church of England." The truth is, “the law of Christ” does not permit such!

A 2006 news report included the following words: “An historic milestone for the Anglican Communion on November 4 when Katharine Jefferts Schori, a Bishop from Nevada, will become the leader of the Anglican Church in America.... The Episcopal Church’s Office of Communication, in collaboration with Washington National Cathedral, will webcast the investiture live on www.episcopalchurch.org. The matter of having a female bishop was mentioned under the Methodist Church section, and related to I Timothy 2:12, which forbids such. Then God’s gospel says that “The bishop therefore must be without reproach, the husband of one wife…” (I Timothy 3:2), not “the wife of one husband…”

Furthermore, the Episcopal Church has ordained Eugene Robinson as a bishop. The unusual thing about this is the fact that Robinson had abandoned his wife and three children, and was living with his male lover at the time he was ordained. Thus he was an adulterer according to Matthew 15:9, where Christ is answering the Pharisees who were seeking to trap him. “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery." In all the words covering Robinson, there was no suggestion that his wife had committed adultery, thus Christ says Robinson is living in adultery and homosexuality, which are both clearly forbidden in Scripture.
Thus the church has “sanctified and honored” a man who the Apostle Paul described:
For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error” (Romans 1:26-27).

Consider also the church’s practice of sprinkling in the place of the Bible’s teaching that immersion is what constitutes baptism.

A little-known (yet documented) fact of history is that the Church of England (1534), the Presbyterian (c. 1540), and the Congregational (soon after) churches all practiced immersion until the Westminster assembly in 1643. At that time, a number of bishops, seeing how much more convenient sprinkling was, came before Parliament insisting that “the devil of immersion ought to be legislated out of the realm it is so troublesome.” In 1644, Parliament acted upon this, repealing the laws enjoining immersion, enacting in their place laws enjoining sprinkling. Those who were not sprinkled were to be treated as outlaws. [Edinburgh Encyclopaedia, Vol. 3, p 236].

As always, we have a choice—the gospel of Christ or “a different gospel.”

On and On and On

We could go on for countless pages, but there is not enough ink or paper to cover 42,000 different denominations that exist, including the Church of Daniel’s Band, the Nudist Christian Church of the Blessed Virgin Jesus, the Church of Gloom or the Church of Body Modification, His Hands Church (all registered churches), etc. But they would all fall under the same scrutiny as to whether they are following the gospel of Christ or “a different gospel.” Notice just a few quotes from some popular so-called “inter-denominational” or “non-denominational” churches.

Victory World Church, with Pastors Dennis and Colleen Rouse: “Now it should be obvious that it is impossible for an infant to grasp this significance. The decision to get baptized must be made consciously after you have received salvation and been ‘born again’ by making Jesus Christ Lord of your life.”

Notice two things: (1) A woman pastor, and (2) salvation before baptism. As noted before, both of those items are contrary to the gospel record.

Northpoint Community Church on baptism: “Because Jesus instructed us to be baptized, baptism is an act of obedience. While it is not necessary for salvation, it demonstrates submission to God. We immerse at North Point Community Church because we believe Scripture shows that Jesus modeled that for us as the way to publicly acknowledge our faith in Him.”

But the gospel of Christ quotes Jesus as saying: “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved…” (Mark 16:16). The “different gospel” says, “He that believes shall be saved, and then shall be baptized.”

Passion City Church on salvation: “Salvation is obtained by grace through faith In Jesus Christ. All who repent of their sins and receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord are born again to eternal life as children of God.”

Once again, there is no mention of baptism, which Christ commanded and the apostles taught and administered. It is worthy of note that baptism in water is mentioned 77 times in the Bible.

Fellowship Bible Church on baptism: “The Sacrament of Baptism -- External symbol of what has happened internally at salvation -- Baptism doesn't save you.”

The inference is that baptism is merely a symbol of what has already happened—salvation. That is believed to be true because “baptism doesn’t save you,” according to Fellowship.

Then we turn to Christ’s gospel and read what the apostle Peter wrote in I Peter 3:21: “Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you--not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience--through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Peter’s point is that the water in baptism does not wash away our sins, but when we are baptized, we appeal to God in our obedience to his clear command, for it is when we are buried in baptism, we are buried in the likeness of Christ. As he shed his blood in his death, when we thus die, his blood then cleanses us from sin.

Furthermore, we would agree that salvation is “in Christ,” for so Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.

Consider some conclusions we draw from this passage. (1) All spiritual blessings are in Christ. Obviously, that would include our salvation. (2) Thus, we must be “in Christ,” in a relationship with him in order to obtain salvation. (3) What does it mean to be “in Christ?” It means that we are in his fellowship, in his spiritual body, which is his church, as Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:22-23: “And He (the Father) put all things in subjection under His (Christ’s) feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

Now, the question is, “How do we become a member of his body, his church?” We are baptized into Christ, into his body, the church. Note Paul’s statement in Galatians 3:27: “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

This presents a problem. If, as most denominations teach, we are saved before we are baptized, and therefore in Christ, how is it that we can be baptized into Christ if we are already in him? This is the dilemma we face when we follow a “different gospel” rather than the gospel of Christ.

The reader can check the creedal statements of the Church of God, the Assembly of God, World Changers Ministry, the Primitive Baptist Church, the World Harvest Church, and virtually every denomination in the world, and you will find similar statements that have been discussed in the points made earlier.

So, why do men follow after “a different gospel?” There are various reasons.

  1. As Paul suggested in our text in Galatians, some want to be “men-pleasers.” Whatever people want, denominations are eager to provide. Whether it’s fun and games, entertainment, fewer commandments to follow, health and wealth gospel, or whatever.
  2. Satan is still alive and well, and continues his work of deceiving people. That is why the apostle John warns us: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (I John 4:1).
    Just who are these false prophets? They are men and women who claim to preach the Word of God, but who distort, change and water down what the true gospel says. They are agents of Satan who stand in church pulpits from Sunday to Sunday. Some may be quite sincere, but have been deceived themselves. Some may be seeking to enrich themselves with material gain. But whatever their motives may be, if they are preaching “another gospel,” they are servants of Satan.

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 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 will be according to their deeds” (II Corinthians. 11:13-15).

In rebuking the Pharisees, who had added their doctrines to what God had given through Moses, he said: “But in vain do they worship me, Teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men” (Matthew 15:9). The text shows that they worshipped God and kept the commandments, but they had added their own doctrines to what God had given. Could we compare that to men today, who claim they believe the Bible, but have added their additional books of doctrines, catechisms, manuals, and creeds? Christ continues in the same passage and says in verse 13: “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted.” Does this mean that a denomination that was unknown in the 1st century, but was established in 1536, or 1700, or 2013, etc., will be “rooted up?” Evidently so, for if it follows a “different gospel,” then it doesn’t belong to Christ.

Note what Paul said about the word revealed in the 1st century: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (I Timothy 3:16-17). If the writings of the apostles furnished the 1st century Christians with all they needed, then why do we need the multitude of denominational books of doctrine? All of these books contradict one another, or else all groups would be united as one, and as we have shown they all contradict the Bible because they are “the precepts of men.” Did God not have enough wisdom to provide just what we needed in the first century that would also be good for the 21st century? Obviously not, according to some. We are reminded of Mary Baker Eddy’s claim that her revelation was “higher, clearer and more permanent revelation than that given 18 centuries ago!” Is it possible that the creators of the various denominational creeds think their doctrines are higher and clearer than God’s Word? If the revelation given in the first century was sufficient for God’s people then, why isn’t that revelation sufficient for people today? Times may change, but God does not change. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

The Scriptures give a clear vision of what God has revealed in Ephesians 4:4-6: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.”

How many Gods are there? One! How many Lords are there? One! How many faiths are there? One! (Not many.) How many bodies (churches) are there? ONE! (Not thousands.) Have you ever heard a preacher tell people to worship the God of their choice? But the same preacher will tell you to go to the church of your choice. How about the church of God’s choice? After all, Christ promised, “I will build my church” (not churches) (Matthew 16:18). The emergence of denominations did not begin until centuries after Christ established his church.

Shortly before Christ was to be crucified, he prayed concerning his disciples. “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:20-21).

What we have in “Christendom” is not what Christ prayed for. We have division, and this division is not the work of God but is the work of Satan. Why can’t we understand that?

If we seek to alter the gospel God has given in order to make it more pleasing or palatable to men, God has warned us about that.

I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will 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 will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book” (Revelation 22:18-19).

In closing, let us be reminded of what Paul said as he wrote to the churches of 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. As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ" (Galatians 1:6-9).

Dear reader, God has given us the freedom of choice, and we can either choose the gospel of Christ or a different gospel. If you choose a different gospel, a distorted gospel, the Word of God says, “let him be accursed.” Literally, that expression carries the idea of being “devoted to destruction.”

Which do you choose?

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