I recently listened to a sermon with the above title by Dr. Curt Daniel, of Faith Bible Church in Springfield Illinois, courtesy of Sermon Audio. It was part of a series presented at the Contending for the Faith conference, at Dr. Daniel’s church.
Dr. Daniel presented 4 basic tendencies of pseudo, or false Christianity and drew comparisons between false Judaism of Jesus’ day and the false Christianity of our day:
1. Adding to the Gospel
2. Subtracting from the Gospel
3. Substituting other doctrines for the true Gospel
4. Watering down the Gospel while maintaining some truth
Adding to the Gospel
In Jesus’ day the primary Jewish religious group that added something to God’s requirement for faith were the Pharisees, who added works (strict law keeping) to faith in order to be right with God. According to Dr. Daniel the prime example of adding works to faith in the world of Christianity is the Roman Catholic Church, by far the largest ‘Christian’ religion on the planet. In Roman Catholicism, salvation is eventually earned by observing certain sacraments, having faith, and performing works (with a side trip to Purgatory on the way to Heaven for most Roman Catholics. In the religious system of the Pharisees and within Roman Catholicism ultimate truth is found in scripture and in religious/church tradition.
Subtracting from the Gospel
The best example of subtracting from true faith in Jesus’ time was the other main sect with Judaism, the Sadducees, who denied both the resurrection and the doctrine of hell, or eternal punishment. The Sadducees of old can be compared to the liberal Christianity of today, which denies one of more of the following:
· Substitutionary atonement
· The inerrancy and infallibity of Scripture
· The exclusivity of Christ as the only way to God
· The doctrine of Hell
Substitution of Other Doctrines
In Jesus’ day there were Jewish groups or sects that were neither Pharisees nor Sadducees, but instead had their own doctrines which they claimed to be TRUE doctrine. They can be compared to any number of ‘Christian cults’ today such as the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science, and others.
Watered Down Religion
In Jesus’ day as well as in our day there are those who claim to adhere to or follow a religion, but really don’t know what they believe or why they believe it. Ask then about their religion and they become really vague really quickly. Dr. Daniel termed today’s brand of this sort of religion as ‘pseudo-evangelicalism’. It is characterized by downplaying the need for repentance of sin (if not omitting it altogether), downplaying the holiness of God and requirements for holiness/sanctification of the believer, and what can be called ‘easy believism’. Rather than using the example of Jesus and the Apostles and keeping the gospel of salvation a matter of repentance from sin and believing in Christ’s substitutionary atonement, salvation is obtained by asking Jesus into one’s heart, opening one’s heart to Jesus, saying a special prayer, going forward in a meeting, or signing a card, NONE of which can be found in Scripture. It was quite interesting to note that when Billy Graham was once asked how many of those who came forward at one of his evangelistic meetings remained steadfast Christians, Rev. Graham’s answer was ‘around 4%’.
The second earmark of today’s pseudo-Christianity is the idea that a sinner can accept Jesus as Savior but NOT as Lord. One can be a Christian bound for Heaven and yet never experience a truly changed life in which sinful tendencies and behaviors give way to the indwelling Holy Spirit’s work of sanctification. In simple terms, you can be a ‘carnal’ Christian, a concept a cursory reading of Romans, Chapter 8 should dispel rather resoundingly.
What does all of this mean in terms of “Contending for the Faith’? Dr. Daniel urges us to
- KNOW the true Gospel
- DEFEND the true Gospel
- DON’T add to it, subtract from it, substitute other doctrines, or water it down
Great advice, don’t you think?
Again, if you are interested in listening to the entire series of messages, go HERE.