The False Gospel of Hyper-Evangelicalism


I. Preaching Christ as Savior, but not Lord

I have noticed a trend in modern evangelicalism to present the gospel as a sort of Pascal's Wager.
"Now you could go through all the trouble of finding some basis to believe in God and studying the Bible to be convinced it is the Word of God and then receive the gift of eternal life by a faith that is fully convinced, but there's an easier way, just pray this prayer, just ask God for the gift (even if you don't believe in God) and see what happens. God will give you the gift of eternal life and you will have peace with God. What have you got to lose?"
What is incorrect about this is that though eternal life is a free gift, it is not unconditional. Those who have any familiarity with the New Testament recognize that salvation is obtained by faith in Christ alone. However, there are three words in this statement that must be understood:
What does it mean by "salvation"?
What does it mean by "faith"?
What does it mean by "in Christ?"
So what really are the conditions under which one obtains the righteousness that comes from God?
  1. To believe in Christ, one must know who Christ is
  2. "Faith" has both an object and a subject.
  • The "quality" of faith that the Bible defines as acceptable to God in obtaining this righteousness
    1. is not one of mere preference or the sort of "experimental faith" as proposed above, but one of unwavering conviction.
    2. Consider, for example, the following
      "They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us." 1Jn 2:19
      John recognized that those who "fall away" were never saved to begin with because "he who endures to the end will be saved" Matt 10:22
    3. Furthermore, the quality of faith that saves inevitably will have outworkings affecting a person's behavior.
    4. Consider the last judgement described in Matt 25 whereby there was a characteristic behavior associated with whether a person was indeed a sheep ("saved").

      Consider also 1Jn 3:9 "No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God."

      "Cannot" in greek indicates one has lost the ability (as opposed to merely permission) to go on sinning. The tense of "sinning" and "continue to sin" indicate "lifestyle" or "profession" as opposed to sinning in the punctual sense. Much of 1John affirms this concept.

    II. Preaching Christ Saves from Circumstances, 
    but not from Sin and the Guilt of Sin

    Here's a gospel preached by a group that calls itself the Local Church or Recovery Movement - actually quoted directly from their site:
    "If you sense the oldness and deadness, the emptiness and vanity, the confusion and frustration, and the tragic destiny of the first life, you need Jesus. Only He can enliven you by bringing the life of God into you to give you a new birth, a new life. Only thus can you be born again to be a Christian, a Christ-man, an adherent of Jesus Christ, full of life, joy, peace, rest, purpose, and fulfillment in God.
     Say to Him boldly, "Lord Jesus, I need You as my Savior. Save me from eternal death. Give me God's life. I want to be born again of God. Make me a Christian." Then you will receive the life of God to make you a born-again Christian."
    Notice the absence of any mention of sin and Christ's atoning work on the cross. The person is portrayed simply as a victim of circumstances rather than guilty of sin and worthy of condemnation as such. And there is no mention of the forgiveness of sins.

    Yet this is quite common in the Evangelical community today. A gospel is preached devoid of mentioning sin or God's judgment. And the requirement to be saved is simply to pray a prayer or say some words. But so little is presented of Jesus in such messages, that the person is left to make up a "Jesus" in their own mind to put their faith in. But such a Jesus often turns out to be simply made in their own image.

    III. Feel-Good Christianity

    An underlying philosophy motivating these false concepts of the gospel is the concept of "feel-good" Christianity. The idea is that you want people to feel good about themselves. And so eliminate from the gospel anything that would make them feel bad. Thus people being guilty for sin and God's judgment of their sin and Christ's atoning work for their sin are eliminated from their gospel. And such people consider anyone with any trivial faith is considered a brother in Christ even if they live a lifestyle of sin. (Contrast this with 1st John) Such churches are anti-judgmental within their churches. To criticize someone in their church or to deal with sin within the church is itself reckoned divisiveness and therefore  sinful. Except for the fact that such people do tend to criticize those who criticize  them and others outside their church.

    At one such church I remember hearing it preached that the way you measure whether a teaching is correct is whether it makes you feel good. An in the more radical of such churches people make a big deal about emotions while suppressing any reasoning or thinking. Such people gullibly open themselves up to accept all kinds of wierd doctrines.

    Possible Motivation behind the False Gospel

    Adding the sort of yeast that the false gospel incorporates to one's doctrine may increase the size of one's church, but only under false pretenses. If I went around telling people that they can have eternal life and it won't cost them anything, that they didn't even have to believe in God, that all they had to do was to pray some prayer, then sure I would get a bigger response than if I actually preached the gospel as defined in the Bible. But what would be the point?

    However, this gospel seems quite popular among evangelical preachers. I was first introduced to the gospel through the navigators the same way. I prayed some prayer and was added on to someone's "how many people did I save" list. I didn't actually believe until about a year later, which is when I actually received the gift of salvation. But does the "ends justify the means"? Is making false claims so as to attract one to one's church or Bible Study justified if inevitably one became a Christian?

    Potential Consequences of the False Gospel

    A down-side of this message, is that it produces a great deal of nominalism. People think they're saved and they're not saved. And people "fall away" left and right because they were never saved to begin with. So then some invent doctrines that you can lose your salvation both to explain and try and prevent this phenomenon introducing one false teaching after another.

    Furthermore, those who consider themselves Christians under such false pretenses figure that they are already saved, so why change their behavior? They were not required to have any particular attitude towards sin, according to the false gospel, to obtain salvation. It's like getting married without the marriage vows.

    And so we find modern churches not taking strong stands against sin within the church (Though they're quick to judge those outside the church), in contrast to 1Cor 5. "But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. Expel the wicked man from among you." Rather, people tend to do according to Col 2:6"As you have receive Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him" And people do exactly that. They receive Him in disbelief without knowing Him, without knowing His attitude towards sin, and so they walk!

    An example of hyper-Evangelicalism is a church that calls itself The Local Chuch, which preaches easy-believism along with "feel-good" Christianity and other deviations from Biblical Christianity, including a purgatory idea.

    The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

    Jul 29,2015