Fake Gospel/Fake Ministry
FAKE GOSPEL/FAKE MINISTERS
A man who claimed to be an evangelist from Africa came to me seeking a platform and other things. He flattered me and even prophesied how I would have a world changing ministry. I was swayed to give him some money and take his materials. But something in my spirit just felt wrong. I remember him sending me a gift from Africa. It was huge gold earrings. He said they were from a gold mine there, worth thousands of dollars. But it wasn’t long until “the paint began coming off” and I, again realized “all that glitters isn’t gold”. He turned out to be a fraudulent minister.
Paul warned of this again and again. In Galatians 1:6-8 (NIV) he says, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!
Pretty strong words! Why? This is a significant matter. All of us will experience the enemy’s planned attempt to get us to listen to a false minister and believe a false doctrine. The good news is we don’t have to be fooled. I like what I heard about our Department of Treasury’s training for detecting counterfeits. They don’t focus on studying counterfeits. Instead, their employees spend hours handling and studying the real thing, so they will detect a counterfeit automatically.
Warren Wiersby wrote, “Satan is the counterfeiter… He has a false gospel (Galatians 1:6-9), preached by false ministers (2 Corinthians 11:13-12), producing false Christians (2 Corinthians 11:26) …Satan plants his counterfeits wherever God plants true believers (Matthew 13:38)” -the parable of the wheat and the tares.
Below is a list of warning signs to help detect a counterfeit. I urge you, if you have a check in your spirit to seek the input of church elders, who are called to help you test these things. Don’t swallow what you sense may have error in it.
SIGNS OF A FAKE GOSPEL
1. Any teaching that diminishes the historical reality of the physical death and physical resurrection of Jesus. Jehovah Witnesses, for example, don’t believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus, just a “spiritual resurrection”. Many liberal teachers question whether Jesus historically died and rose and took our punishment for our sin. They make it a symbolic or legendary story.
2. Any teaching that diminishes the fact that anything but the blood of Jesus can atone for our sin. If there was any possibility of salvation apart from the death of Jesus then Christ wouldn’t have died. Also, if there is any suggestion that people might go to Heaven in some way other than faith and repentance, rooted in the death and resurrection of Jesus, it is a false gospel. Universalism says that God in the end will save everyone. That is a lie!
3. Any teaching that takes away or diminishes what Jesus did for us is enough and completely sufficient for our salvation. Anything that would indicate that you need Jesus “plus” something to really be saved is a fake
gospel. Jesus plus getting baptized, joining a certain church, Jesus plus works or keeping rules (like the Mormons), are all fake gospels. What Jesus did and receiving it by faith through grace alone is enough. Beware of any airs or vibes you get that suggest “their religion” has a higher truth and that there is more to it than what you received. This is what the Judaizers did in Paul’s day. They tried to add to the gospel saying you needed to become a Jew and follow their rituals.
The Bible makes it clear, “IT IS FINISHED.” There is nothing that I “do” that makes me saved. It is completely based on what Jesus has “DONE.” If people think that because they are Baptist or Catholic or follow any religion, or belong to any certain group, they will be saved, then they believe a false gospel.
4. Anything that suggests you need to grow and improve yourself by self- effort to really prove you are a Christian. Paul asks in Galatians 3:3 (NKJV), that “having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” We grow in Christ the same way we receive Christ, by grace through faith (Colossians 2:6). Christianity is not about us getting help to be a better version of ourselves. We grow by allowing the fruit of the Holy Spirit to appear in our lives, as we abide in Christ. The false gospel puts burdens on us to improve ourselves; while the gospel of Jesus Christ transforms us by faith from the inside out.
It is very important that we are careful about receiving the ministry of a person who claims to be a minister of the gospel. Jesus made it clear, we are to test the fruit of all ministers and ministries. We are not to be quickly swayed to come under someone’s teaching or to begin quickly following the guidance and suggestions of a spiritual leader.
The Bible tells us that there will be many false teachers who will masquerade as true apostles, pastors, teachers, or evangelists. They will appear as “angels of light”, when in fact, they are messengers of demons. Some will even have ministries of miracles and false signs and wonders, fabricated by the devil to deceive. People who are false teachers may actually know the Bible thoroughly. Remember, Satan knows all the verses in the Bible but twists and distorts their meaning for devious ends.
HERE ARE SOME WAYS TO TEST THEM.
1. They despise authority (2 Peter 2:10). False teachers have a problem being under authority, receiving correction, recognizing their responsibility to answer to a Biblically recognized spiritual authority. We use the word “covering” to describe someone who has spiritual leadership over their life that can tell them, “No, you are wrong or you shouldn’t do that”. Peter says, they will slander and constantly have stories of how other spiritual leaders are wrong.
2. They draw people away unto themselves. Any ministry that pulls you away from fellowship and honoring your family or other brothers and sisters in Christ is a warning sign. People who are deceivers always seek to isolate and limit you from checking on them or listening to other voices.
3. Some form of secret sin will eventually be exposed. In 2 Peter 2:14 (NIV), it says, “they have eyes full of adultery, they seduce the unstable, and they are experts in greed”.
4. They claim superior knowledge, power, or rewards for following them and their teaching. Like the snake oil salesman, they have stories and offers that are too good to be true. You remember the saying, “If it seems too good to be true, you better check it out to see if it is too good to be true”. 2 Peter 2:17(NIV) says, “They are springs without water driven by a storm”. In other words, they promise the world to you but are driven by wrong motives and can’t really produce what they promise.
5. They have a religious spirit. By that I mean they use scripture, spiritual language, and false forms of supernatural claims to control people. A religious spirit is a spirit that seeks to control people through religious fear, guilt, and condemnation. They will either seduce with words that appeal to ego, sympathy, or sincerity, or turn around and use intimidation of different kinds to control. They love to play on our self-doubts and insecurities. We must know that God leads by hope and love. He doesn’t intimidate or control. I was deceived on a couple of occasions to allow a false prophet to stay in the church too long because they actually pretended to repent. In both cases, they ended up stumbling and seducing others into sin. I regret that I wasn’t more discerning.
Finally, I just want to encourage you; God will move Heaven and Earth to protect you if you will be on guard. In I John 2:20 (NIV), we are told that we “have an anointing from the Holy One and (we) know the truth.” The Holy Spirit jealously watches over us. He wants to alert us and prepare us to overcome spiritual danger. One of the best ways is to have a solid connection with a strong Bible based evangelical Christian church and have mature brothers and sisters in Christ, that you can bounce things off of and learn from. Be like the Christians in Acts 17:11, who searched daily to test what they heard to confirm what was true.
As a pastor, I can tell you that we are passionate about protecting God’s “flock” from the tragedy of false teachings and teachers. The fact you are reading this article proves you are a person who loves the truth. I believe you will overcome and at HFTW, we are here to stand with you for the truth, In Jesus’ name. Amen