True vs. False (IV)
TRUE AND FALSE GOSPEL
(from a transcript of a sermon preached on 12/3/00 at Sovereign Redeemer Assembly)
Today, the Lord willing, I'm going to be talking about the true gospel versus false gospels. You may be wondering why I'm doing this, because not too long ago I preached a ten-part series on the gospel, and for the past three sermons, I've preached on the true God versus false gods, the true Christ versus false christs, and the true Holy Spirit versus false spirits. But what I'd like to do today is something a little bit different. I'd like to address this sermon specifically to lost people. Hopefully, this is a sermon you can give to your lost friends and relatives and anybody else who's willing to listen. I pray that God will use this to bring His lost sheep unto Himself.
So now I'm going to address the lost people who are hearing this sermon. By "lost," I mean people who have not been given new life. When I say that a person is "lost," I don't mean that this person will necessarily be damned to hell. I'm saying that the person's present spiritual state is death. The person is not saved. Okay?
So how many of you people listening to this sermon think you're lost? How many of you think that if you continue in your present spiritual state until you die, or if you die right now, you will go to hell? Well, I don't know who will be listening to this sermon, so I can't address you individually, but I would be very surprised if any of you who are listening to this sermon will say that you are lost and that you will go to hell if you died believing what you do now. So even though I'm preaching this sermon to the lost, you don't know it. What I hope to do is show you, by God's infallible and inerrant Word, that you are lost, and show you by this same Word of God the only way of salvation. So I want you to listen very closely, even if you think everything's okay between you and God.
Let's turn to Romans 9, and I'll begin reading with verse 30, and I'll go through chapter 10 and verse 15:
Romans 9: (30) What then shall we say? That [the] nations not following after righteousness have taken on righteousness, but a righteousness of faith; (31) but Israel following after a Law of righteousness did not arrive at a Law of righteousness? (32) Why? Because [it was] not of faith, but as of works of Law. For they stumbled at the Stone-of-stumbling, (33) as it has been written, "Behold, I place in" "Zion a Stone-of-stumbling," "and a Rock-of-offense," "and everyone believing on Him will not be shamed." (10:1) Brothers, truly my heart's pleasure and supplication to God on behalf of Israel is for [it] to be saved. (2) For I testify to them that they have zeal to God, but not according to knowledge. (3) For being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, they did not submit to the righteousness of God. (4) For Christ [is] the end of Law for righteousness to everyone that believes. (5) For Moses writes [of] the righteousness [which is] of the Law: "The man doing these things shall live by them." (6) But the righteousness of faith says this: "Do not say in your heart, Who will go up into Heaven?" (that is, to bring down Christ); (7) or, "Who will go down into the abyss?" (that is, to bring Christ up from [the] dead.) (8) But what does it say? "The Word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the Word of faith which we proclaim) (9) Because if you confess [the] Lord Jesus with your mouth, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from [the] dead, you will be saved. (10) For with [the] heart [one] believes unto righteousness, and with [the] mouth [one] confesses unto salvation. (11) For the Scripture says, "Everyone believing on Him will not be put to shame." (12) For there is no difference both of Jew and of Greek, for the same Lord of all is rich toward all the ones calling on Him. (13) For everyone, "whoever may call on the name of [the] Lord will be saved." (14) How then may they call on [One] into whom they have not believed? And how may they believe [One] of whom they have not heard? And how may they hear without preaching? (15) And how may they preach if they are not sent? Even as it has been written, "How beautiful" "the feet of those preaching the gospel of peace, of those preaching the gospel of good things."
The apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, first speaks about the Jews and compares them to the Gentiles. He said that although the Jews were FOLLOWING AFTER a law of righteousness, they DID NOT ARRIVE at righteousness. Yet the Gentiles, who did NOT FOLLOW AFTER righteousness have TAKEN ON righteousness. How can this be? It is because the lost Jews thought that their own personal righteousness gained them acceptance before God, while the believing Gentiles believed that their acceptance before God was based on the merits of the obedience and death of the Messiah. The Jews stumbled at Jesus Christ. What exactly does "stumbling at Jesus Christ" mean? It means that they were not submitted to Jesus Christ as the only ground of acceptance before God. They did not believe that salvation is conditioned on the work of Jesus Christ alone, with no contribution AT ALL from the sinner's best efforts. They wanted to hold onto their own righteousness. They thought that their own works made the difference between heaven and hell. They did not believe that the work of Christ demanded and ensured the salvation of all whom Christ represented. They still wanted a piece of the glory.
Now were these Jews immoral or insincere? Look at chapter 10, verse 2. They have a ZEAL TO GOD! These people were DOING THEIR BEST to serve God and to keep His commandments! So what's wrong with that? Well, look at the second half of verse 2. They were missing some KNOWLEDGE. Paul clearly shows here that zeal without this specific knowledge means death. So what IS this specific knowledge? We see it in verses 3 and 4. The knowledge that the Jews were ignorant of was the knowledge of the RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD. Now does this mean that they didn't profess that God was holy and just? No - that's not what the righteousness of God means here. Look at verse 4:
Romans 10: (4) For Christ [is] the end of Law for righteousness to everyone that believes.
The righteousness of God is revealed in Christ, and not just Christ as the God-man born of a virgin - it is Christ as the END OF THE LAW for RIGHTEOUSNESS. Romans 1:16-17 states that the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel. So Christ as the end of the law for righteousness must be talking about the gospel. And anything that is opposed to Christ as the end of the law for righteousness must be a false gospel. And notice back in verse three that those who are IGNORANT of the righteousness of God are AUTOMATICALLY, whether they know it or not, they are AUTOMATICALLY seeking to establish their own righteousness and not submitting to the righteousness of God. You don't necessarily have to be in open rebellion against God to be lost. All you have to be is IGNORANT of the righteousness of God that is revealed in the gospel, and if you are IGNORANT of this righteousness, then you MUST be going about to establish your own righteousness, and you MUST be unsubmitted to the righteousness of God. You can't be submitted to what you don't know.
So what does it mean that Christ is the end of the law for righteousness? It means that the work of Christ is the ONLY ground of acceptance before God, and that law-keeping or doing your best to please God and to be good to others DOES NOT MAKE YOU acceptable before God. Do you stumble over that? Are you offended by that? Well, let's see about that when we get to specifics about what some of you listening to this might believe. Before we do that, I want to go over to another Scripture passage that explains the fact that Christ is the end of the law for righteousness. Let's turn over to Romans chapter 3 and read verses 19 through 28:
Romans 3: (19) But we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those within the Law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world be under judgment to God. (20) Because by works of Law not one of all flesh will be justified before Him, for through Law [is] full knowledge of sin. (21) But now a righteousness of God has been revealed apart from Law, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, (22) even the righteousness of God through faith of Jesus Christ toward all and upon all those believing; for there is no difference, (23) for all sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (24) being justified freely by His grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus, (25) whom God set forth [as] a propitiation through faith in His blood, as a demonstration of His righteousness through the passing over of the sins that had taken place before, in the forbearance of God, (26) for a demonstration of His righteousness in the present time, for His being just and justifying the [one] that [is] of the faith of Jesus. (27) Then where [is] the boasting? It was excluded. Through what law? Of works? No, but through a Law of faith. (28) Then we conclude a man to be justified by faith without works of Law.
What do you see first about the works of the law? Look at verse 20. NO ONE will be justified before God by the works of the law. And in verse 21, we see that the righteousness of God is revealed APART FROM the law. Doesn't this sound like Romans 10:4? Christ is the END OF THE LAW. And in verses 22 through 26, we see that justification is through the work of Christ alone, so there is no boasting in our own works. In verse 25, we see that the blood of Jesus Christ was the propitiation. That means that Jesus Christ's blood TOTALLY APPEASED the wrath of God the Father for EVERY ONE for whom Christ died. The sins of God's people were imputed, or legally charged to, Christ, and Christ paid the full penalty for those sins. NO ONE for whom Christ died will pay the penalty that his sins deserved. NONE OF THEM will go to hell. And further down, in chapter 4, we see that the righteousness of Christ - the perfect law-keeping of Christ - is imputed to His people apart from works. THIS is what the righteousness of God is - it is the end of the law for righteousness through Christ.
Do you believe this? Back in Romans 10, we see in several places that Paul talks about believing. What does it mean to believe? It means to believe the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel - it means to believe that salvation is conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ ALONE. It means to believe that Christ's work ALONE demands and ensures the salvation of all whom He represented, and Christ's work ALONE is what makes the difference between heaven and hell. Do you believe this?
I'd like to first talk to you who don't believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to God. If you say this, then you should just come out and admit that you do not believe the Bible, because Jesus Himself said in John 14:6, "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." So if you think that Buddhism is a path to God, or meditation or some kind of spirituality devoid of Christ is a path to God, you believe a false gospel. You believe that your own works can get you closer to God and put you in communion with God. But here's the truth for all of you who will listen: The ONLY way that a man can be in communion with God is that God's wrath must be appeased toward that person, and that this person must have a perfect righteousness. The ONLY WAY is through the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ. Christ was punished for the sins of His people, and Christ's perfect righteousness is imputed to His people. The ONLY ones who have communion with God are the ones for whom Christ died and to whom God imputes Christ's righteousness. There is no other way.
I'd now like to talk to you who say you believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to God, but you also believe that Jesus Christ died for every single person without exception. You may be a zealous, sincere, conservative church-goer. You may despise immorality. Yet you're lost. You're just as lost as the person who follows the Buddhist path to god, or even the atheist who's a god unto himself. You believe a false gospel of works salvation. You might protest, "I despise works-salvation! I believe in salvation by grace alone!" Yet what you believe about the work of Christ shows that you are still not submitted to the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel. Let me explain. You believe that Jesus Christ died for every single person without exception. Thus, you believe that Jesus Christ died for those who are in heaven as well as those who are in hell. So what do you believe makes the ultimate difference between heaven and hell? Before you say, "Jesus Christ," think about it. You believe that Jesus Christ died for those in hell. So did the death of Christ make the difference for these people? You might say, "they rejected Christ." So their rejection of Christ is what overrides the death of Christ for them, right? The death of Christ had no effect for them, because the death of Christ did not actually secure ANYTHING for them. So what about those in heaven? Did the death of Christ make the ultimate difference between them and those in hell? Think about it. You believe that Christ died for those in heaven AND those in hell. Thus, you must believe that it is NOT the work of Christ that makes the difference between heaven and hell, since Christ did the same thing for those in heaven as he did for those in hell. So what makes the ultimate difference is what? It is the WORK OF THE PERSON. This is the epitome of the false gospel. You believe that your FAITH is what makes the difference between your going to heaven and your going to hell. You believe that Jesus Christ did all he could do on the cross for everyone without exception, and now it's up to YOU to make the difference. This is absolute blasphemy against God. Do you know how much you trample on the blood of Christ? Do you really know how much you make the blood of Christ of no effect? Think about it! What did the blood of Christ actually ACCOMPLISH? What did it DO, in and of itself? Did it really do ANYTHING? We're talking about the precious blood of Christ here! And you're saying that it did not actually accomplish salvation for all for whom it was intended? What VALUE do you put on the blood of Christ? You put on it no value at all. You spit in the face of Christ and trample on His blood as if it were nothing. You believe in a God who is a liar - who said that his wrath was appeased at the cross, but yet sends to hell some of those for whom his wrath was appeased. Your God punishes the same sins twice - first in the person of Christ and then in the sinner in hell. You also believe in a weak Christ who wishes that everyone without exception would be saved but who is thwarted by the work of mortal man. What a horrendous blasphemy.
The TRUE GOSPEL is one of Christ's EFFECTUAL WORK. Christ's blood DID accomplish something. It accomplished what Christ intended to accomplish - the salvation of ALL for whom He died on the cross. It is the work of Christ ALONE that makes the only difference between heaven and hell. It is the work of Christ ALONE that appeases God's wrath so that NOT ONE PERSON for whom Christ died will end up in hell. It is the work of Christ ALONE that MAKES SALVATION TOTALLY SURE AND CERTAIN for ALL whom Christ represented on the cross. Anything less is a hellish false gospel - a doctrine of demons. I hope you will see this. I hope you will see how much your gospel casts shame and reproach on the one true gospel of Jesus Christ.
Lastly, I'd like to address those who say that Jesus Christ is the only way to God and that Christ's death actually accomplished salvation for all whom He represented, yet you say that some who believe that Christ died for everyone are your brothers in Christ. You, too, are lost. 2 John 9-11 says that when you speak peace to such a person, you are a participant in the evil deeds of the one who believes the blasphemy of the false gospel. You are as much a blasphemer as the one who tramples the blood of Christ underfoot. You say you believe the true gospel of sovereign grace, but you do not value it. You do not value it because you do not judge by it. You actually believe that the gospel of universal atonement is the same gospel you believe, even though it might be a little less consistent. You have not yet repented of dead works and idolatry, because what God calls dead works and idolatry, you call works of a believer. You are yet dead in your sins.
Now whatever category you fit under, or even if you don't neatly fit into one of these categories but believe that salvation is conditioned on the sinner in ANY way, to ANY degree, or believe that you believe the same gospel as those who believe that salvation is conditioned on the sinner, you are in need of a righteousness that you can't produce. You can't even take the first step in producing it. In order for you to have peace with God, you need to be reconciled with God. But how can you, who cannot produce a righteousness that God requires, be reconciled to God? It is through the work of Jesus Christ alone. You don't have a righteousness that answers the demands of God's law and justice. Jesus Christ does. And the only way that any person can obtain that righteousness is by imputation. Imputation is something you have nothing to do with. The righteousness of Christ is imputed freely, without any work of the sinner. But once this righteousness is imputed to a person, that person will immediately receive it and rest in it by faith.
If you believe that there are many paths to God, or if you believe that Jesus Christ died for everyone without exception, or if you believe that those who believe universal atonement are your brothers in Christ, or if you believe in any other form of salvation conditioned on the sinner, then you're not resting in the righteousness of Christ as the only ground of salvation. God commands you to REPENT of your blasphemy and idolatry and to BELIEVE in the gospel of salvation conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ alone.
But perhaps one of you or some of you have just been awakened to the realization that when you believed that there were many paths to God, or when you believed that Jesus Christ died for everyone without exception, or when you believed that those who hold to universal atonement are saved, or when you believed in any other form of salvation conditioned on the sinner, you were lost. Perhaps you've just been awakened to the realization that it is the work of Christ ALONE that makes the only difference between saved and lost, that the work of Christ ALONE demands and ensures the salvation of EVERYONE for whom Christ lived and died. Perhaps you've just been awakened to the realization that you'd been participating in the evil deeds of those who hold to universal atonement and you were thus lost. If this is the case, then PLEASE, PLEASE contact someone who believes the same thing. If you don't know anyone who believes the true gospel, please contact me at the address on the tape label.
It is my prayer and desire that God will use this to bring His lost sheep to Himself. We who believe the true gospel would rejoice with immeasurable joy. If you're not sure about all this, listen to the tape again, and ask me or the person who gave you this to send you more gospel tapes. I'm always happy to answer your questions. If you're within driving distance of an assembly that believes the true gospel, go there and listen and learn. As Romans 10:14 says, "How then may they call on the [One] in whom they have not believed? And how may they believe [One] of whom they have not heard? And how may they hear without preaching?" Put yourself under the preaching of those who say what I've just said in this sermon. Listen to what God has to say.
Let's turn to 2 Corinthians 5:18-21:
2 Corinthians 5: (18) And all things [are] from God, the [One] having reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and having given to us the ministry of reconciliation, (19) as, that God was in Christ reconciling [the] world to Himself, not charging their deviations to them, and having put the Word of reconciliation in us. (20) Then on behalf of Christ, we are ambassadors, as God [is] exhorting through us, we beseech on behalf of Christ, Be reconciled to God. (21) For He made the [One] who knew no sin [to be] sin for us, that we might become [the] righteousness of God in Him.
As an ambassador of Christ, I exhort you to be reconciled to God. And the only way one can be reconciled to God is through the unilateral and unconditional work of Christ, who lived a righteous life for His people and became sin for His people, to make TOTALLY CERTAIN that ALL for whom He lived and died would be saved. Believe in the TRUE Christ, and reject all counterfeit christs. Believe in the TRUE gospel and reject all counterfeit gospels. No one comes to the TRUE God except through the TRUE Christ, who is revealed in the DOCTRINE of Christ, which is the gospel. Amen.