If you were to ask 100 secular people what the gospel is, you would likely get 100 answers. If you asked 100 religious people you may get 1,000. The reason I say this is because over the last 2,000 years (and particularly the last 100) mankind have been coming up with all sorts of gospels. Which are not other gospels, but a perversion of the one Gospel.
“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” [Gal 1:8].
The recent past is nothing new, we can read about men replacing God’s word in the Bible and it was going on long before the 1st century. Turn in your Bible to 1 Kings 12:26-33 and you’ll see a story of one man changing the worship of God for his own purposes.
“If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me,” [v27]
In this story we can identify 5 steps in which Jeroboam was able to pervert the truth of God’s word so that he could have control over the population…
FIRST, he found counselors who would tell him what he wanted to hear [v28a, cr. 2Tim 4:3].
NEXT, they used a well known biblical story and altered it for their own purposes [v28b]. It was true that Aaron made some golden calves and said, “These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” But this too was a perversion of the truth to control the people. This perversion would be easy if you kept people from reading the word for themselves and proving all things [1Thess 5:21].
THEN, he placed the two calves at biblically significant places, Bethel and Dan [v29. cf. Ge 28:19; Jg 18:29;].
AFTER THIS, he perverted the teachers of the people by replacing the authorized priests with teachers of his own choosing whom he could control, not being guided by God’s word. [cf. 3John 1:9]
LASTLY, he set up special days, again, like the feasts authorized by God with just a subtle change. “And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made” [v32 cf. Lev 23:33-34; Rom 14:5-6].
It didn’t take much to convince the people especially if they didn’t take the perversions of Jeroboam and compare it to God’s word. Sound familiar? We must be careful not to repeat the mistakes of the past in allowing the subtle trickery of error to creep into the church that Jesus Himself built. Paul warned the church;
“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” [Eph 4:14].
WHAT IS THE GOSPEL? We find the answer in God’s word [1Cor 15:1-4], “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ DIED for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was BURIED, and that he ROSE AGAIN the third day according to the scriptures:” (emph. seb)
The Gospel is to be obeyed [2Thess 1:8; Heb 5:9] and is obeyed when a person HEARS, BELIEVES, REPENTS, CONFESSES and is BAPTIZED [Rom 6:3-4].
The record of history is clear, men have and continue to pervert the Good News of God drawing men away from obeying the truth [Gal 5:7; cr. 2Tim 3:1-7]. Don’t be one of them.