A Perverted Gospel...
by Pastor Steve Brown
Master of Divinity, Asbury Seminary
One of the main reasons there are so many false conversions in the organized church is that the true Gospel of Jesus Christ has been changed by the organized Church and preachers to make it more acceptable and popular with sinners and the world. The gospel has been so oversimplified it has been reduced to an easy believism that requires no true repentance but rather mental acceptance in a mechanical religious formula that ends in a rote sinner's prayer that's recited by someone else. God help us. This is so different from the conversions of great saints.
The gospel has been reduced to a rote religious formula that is punched out like a quick mechanical process. If the hearer simply nods in mental affirmation without any heart conviction he is ready to be saved. He simply repeats the sinner's prayer, and presto magic - without any feeling or spiritual experience, or deep conviction, a person is declared saved. How silly and how shallow. Mental acceptance of biblical truth and a rote prayer does not a Christian make.
There is no salvation in getting people to mentally accept some gospel truths. Even the demons believe the Gospel truths but they aren’t saved. God does not answer rote recited sinner's prayers without a deep conviction of sin and a broken heart of repentance. I believe the four spiritual laws of the gospel have done more harm than good. Why? Because they have over simplified the gospel way too much. Plus, the way it is presented is far too shallow and rote with a terrible misunderstanding of the process of salvation and the state of mind and heart a person must be in to let God save him. A simple rote prayer, no matter how theologically correct, will never save anyone. ONLY Jesus Christ can save a soul, no religious formula or prayer.
...Causes False Conversions
Another reason the four spiritual laws have done much harm is because the true gospel says a person must be born again to enter the kingdom of God (John 3). He must be born of the Spirit and also by the word of God (the gospel of Christ -- I Peter 1:23-25). The new birth or salvation is the work of the Holy Spirit and comes with the hearing and understanding of God’s word through the gospel of Christ. Unless a person is drawn to Christ by being awakened to God, a person cannot get saved (John 6:44). Unless a person being drawn hears the Gospel of Christ and feels convicted and understands God’s word, they can’t get saved (Romans 10).
Christians must work with the Holy Spirit to help people get saved. Too often people work against the Spirit because of the rote shallow methods of evangelism. People can actually quench God’s Spirit working in a person’s life by pushing for a false decision before one is ready. It’s like plucking fruit before it’s ripe. So if a person pushes an awakened soul into a premature decision before the spirit has finished his work, the soul has a false conversion.
Coercing a person to pray after an oversimplified presentation of Gospel truth does not save anyone. A sinner's prayer will not save anyone. It is not magic. If a person prays and then is told they are saved before rebirth of the Spirit takes place, it can cause a false conversion. The person will quench the Holy Spirit convictions and wooing that bring salvation because he thinks he already is saved by a false faith. There are many who have been awakened by the Spirit only to be cut short before being saved by someone telling them they got saved by praying some rote prayer.
There are too many oversimplified doctrines told to a person and other important Gospel truths are left out completely. The four spiritual laws are :
1. Man is a sinner - All have sinned.
2. The wages of sin is death.
3. Christ died to save from our sins and gives us eternal life.
4. Confess your sin and accept Christ by faith by saying the sinner’s prayer.
At first glance this looks like the simple Gospel. On further evaluation we realize that it is over simplified. Why? Because the terms are not defined and are left open to be interpreted anyway one chooses.
What does it mean - Man is a sinner? Is he basically good, but once in a while makes mistakes or is he so sinful that even his nature is corruptible and vile that there is no good in him apart from God? Is man good enough to chose God without God’s help?
What is this death that sin causes? Is it physical or spiritual. Is it eternal hell or just separation from God? Does it happen now or in the future after death?
The death of Christ - how does it atone for sins? Is this atonement earned by good works or certain acts? Or is it a gift? If it is a gift are all men saved then?
What does confess sin mean? Just admit you’ve sinned at times. Most will do that already. Why is the command to repent omitted?
How does one receive Christ? What kind of faith is involved? Who is Jesus Christ and what happened at his death?
As you can see, an oversimplified Gospel is open to so much interpretation people can define these terms as they will, which leads to great misunderstanding and even many false conclusions.
A sinner does not have to totally understand everything about the Gospel to get saved. He must have a basic understanding of its’ truths and commands. Without it how can one truly repent and deeply believe the truth. A over simplified Gospel robs people of a basic needed understanding of the Gospel that is vital to true salvation.