In writing to the churches of Galatia, the apostle Paul said, "I marvel that ye are so quickly removing from Him that called thee in the grace of Christ unto a different gospel; which is not another gospel only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ" (Gal. 1:6,7). Isn't it strange that some would hear the gospel of Jesus Christ in its pristine purity, and then pervert it? Yet it had happened.
The word "pervert" is defined this way: "To turn from its right purpose, use, or meaning. To alter for the worse. To turn away, avert, divert." It's synonyms are: "Corrupt, distort, falsify, garble, misquote, misrepresent, misstate, stretch, twist." This may show you the sordid behavior of one who would pervert the gospel of Christ. The gospel is turned from its right purpose its proper use and its true meaning. It is no longer uncorrupted as God gave it in the first century. And it will no longer accomplish that purpose which God intended that it should .
The Evils Of A Perverted Gospel: -- Notice an example of perversion. Water is a God-given power for quenching thirst. But you can add a saline solution to water, without even changing its appearance, and it will no longer quench the thirst, but will make one even more thirsty. Bread is referred to as "the staff of life." Yet if you add a little arsenic to that bread, it will destroy life. Now, in the spiritual realm, we are to "hunger and thirst after righteousness" (Matt. 5:6). But if God's Word has been diluted and perverted, it will eternally condemn us. Therefore, the Word of God must be accepted in its original purity -- uncorrupted.
Multitudes follow men today who pervert the gospel of Christ, and they will staunchly defend these spiritual perverts, even when shown by the inspired Scriptures that they do not serve the Christ. Many feel that a pious demeanor and a sepulcuhral tone makes it impossible for damnable error to be fostered. But our attitude should be that expressed in Isa. 8:20, "To the law and to the testimony! If they speak not according to this Word, surely there is no light in them." The preaching of each doctrine must be weighed in exactly this manner!
The Subject Of The Gospel Is Perverted: -- The apostle Paul declared, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek" (Rom. 1:16). This is a flat declaration of the gospel and its power. But even this was soon perverted, as Paul warned the elders of Ephesus: "I know that after my depart ing grievous wolves shall enter in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them" (Acts 20:29,30).
Those false teachers would be speaking a perverted gospel to "draw away the disciples after them." Again the apostle wrote "Some shall fall away from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons, through the hypocrisy of men that speak lies, branded in their own conscience as with a hot iron" (1 Tim. 4:1,2). Yet this was to emanate from religious leaders. To warn against this perversion of the gospel, Paul told Timothy, "For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts; and will turn away thier ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables" (2 Tim. 4:3,4). We now live in such a time. The gospel is warped, twisted, wrested and perverted by men who claim to preach it, but who actually don't even believe it.
The Subject Of Faith Is Perverted: -- All too often you hear the expression, "But my faith is this -- ", and there follows a fanciful idea or opinion that is foreign to the Scriptures. Yet we are told, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Rom. 10:17). If it is not in the Word of God, it is not scriptural faith. It is when each one formulates his "own faith" that the worth of the Bible is entirely discounted. Just recently one was declaring his belief in God, yet was strongly arguing, "God is dead." He began with scriptural faith, and then perverted it to his own selfish end, striving to make himself a god.
Modernists extol their faith, but at the very same time pervert it to suit their fancy. They claim to believe in Jesus Christ, but deny that He was the "only begotten Son of God" according to the record God gives us. Rather, they confess Him to be a great teacher and moral leader, but deny His deity. They reject the virgin birth, discount His miracles, scoff at His vicarious death for us, and ridicule the thought of a bodily resurrection. Yet they profess faith in Christ! It is a faith perverted to their own egotistcal reasoning, with all saving power drained from the gospel they preach.
Sectarians profess faith in Christ, but they then pervert that faith to their own desires. They extol the Bible as the Word of God, but then dilute it with their "Book of Mormon," "Key to the Scriptures," "Pendleton's Manual," "Articles of Faith," "Discipline," "Augsbury Confession" "Catechism" or other church creed books. The simplicity and purity of the faith is thus destroyed. The Lord Jesus said, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4). We cannot add to, or take from, that Word without perverting and corrupting it (Deut. 4:2; Prov. 30:6; Rev. 22:18). A simple, trusting faith accepts ALL God has said, and will not fashion a creed on what God has NOT said. it is perversion to acknowledge Jesus as Christ and Lord, and then minimize His authority by refusal to accept His Word and obey His commandments.
The Subject Of Baptism Is Perverted: -- All religious groups who claim to follow Christ teach and practice baptism. But there is as much perversion in this area as found in any field. The matter of infant baptism has from the first been recognized as being without any Scriptural foundation. This matter had forced a drastic change in Martin Luther's thinking in the beginning of the Reformation movement. He had been going on the basis that he would follow God's Word in every detail. But when he confronted the matter of infant baptism, his prior training triumphed. He then took the position that he would accept any practice which the Word of God did not specifically condemn. Of course, that would have prevented his every effort at reformation. The Bible doesn't mention the sale of indulgences, but that was a practice that Luther originally opposed that started the whole Reformation movement! But from its innovation, no Scripture has been cited to substantiate infant baptism. Penitent believers were to be baptized -- not those incapable of believing. This is a perversion that is still in existence.
Baptism has been taught by many as being essential to church membership, but not essential to salvation. This perverts the statement of the Lord Jesus, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mk. 16:16) and Peter's sermon on Pentecost, "Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, unto the remission of your sins" (Acts 2: 38). Saul was told, "Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on His name" (Acts 22:16), and Peter declares that "baptism doth also now save us" (1 Pet. 3:21).
The Scriptures plainly reveal that baptism brings us "into Christ" (Rom. 6:3). It is in baptism that we are united with Christ "For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ" (Gal. 3:26,27). We are saved by the blood of Christ, shed in His death, and, "Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?" (Rom. 6:3). It is by this baptism that we enter into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). Any alteration of this doctrine destroys the very purpose of the baptism of the gospel of Christ.
The Subject Of The Church Is Perverted: -- The true picture of the church is obtained in looking to it as it is revealed on the pages of God's Word. Jesus said, "I will build My church" (Matt. 16:18). He gave Himself for the church (Eph. 5:25), He purchased it with His own blood (Acts 20:28), He is the Savior of the church (the body, Eph. 5:23) and He adds the saved to His church (Acts 2:47). The church of Jesus Christ is unique and complete. There was and is no other existing by divine authority, nor shall there ever be!
That church housed all the saved during the days of the apostles, and for every subsequent age and time. To be saved is to be in that body of saved people, the church. Paul exclaimed, "Unto Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations for ever and ever. Amen." (Eph. 3:21).
When false prophets declare salvation can be outside that church, or in any other, they have perverted the gospel of Christ Every man-made church stands in open competition to that church which Jesus built, and He has prayed against all of them: "Neither for these only do I pray, but for them also that beleive on Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they may be in Us: that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me" (Jno. 17:20, 21). When men plead, "Accept Christ, then join the church of your choice," they pervert the gospel. God never has, and never will, give man a choice regarding churches in which he may be saved. This is a perverted and corrupt gospel that blights the religious world with discord, disunity and factionism.
The Pure Worship Of God Is Perverted: -- The church fo the New Testament had a very simple pattern of worship which God accepted and blessed. But that worship has also been perverted by unholy men. Of the first disciples we read, "They continued stedfastly in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the prayers" (Acts 2:42). Still later, "And upon the first day of the week let each one of you lay by him in store, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come" (1 Cor. 16:2). Still later, "And upon the first day of the week when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul discoursed with them" (Acts 20:7). And again, "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto God" (Col. 3:16). As long as men accepted the full and complete authority of the Scriptures, we had no discord regarding New Testament worship.
First of all, there was no gradation of any priestly honor in worship. There were not clergy ranks to lord it over the laity. There was no wearing of special robes, nor ecclesiastical honors. They were all merely children of God, brethren, who had fellowship in common worship. The Lord's Supper was never used to elevate priests. From the time of its institution, it was spiritual and simple. There were no instruments of music, no prayer wheels, no candles -- although one is as scriptural as the others.
The only way to overcome a perverted gospel is to reject those who pervert it. You aid and abet the works of Satan when you support and endorse false teachers (2 Jno. 9-11). Follow the Lord Jesus Christ and serve Him only.
By Dillard Thurman in Gospel Minutes, May 2, 1969, reprinted in Gospel Minutes,
57, No. 31, Aug. 1, 2008.
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