Monday, June 28, 2010

Chapter 6 Methods of Deception

Chapter 6


For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. — Matthew 24:24
From my own experience, and in the observation of many others, we all tend to make the same fundamental errors when it comes to the discernment of deceptions. Basic to this is the tendency to believe that God thinks like we do, which He does not. Seeing as we are born with that “stony heart” that has to be replaced, we filter everything through that perspective and interpret everything from that perspective, making the assumption that God’s thought processes are similar. This is a case of making God over into our own image.
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. — Isaiah 55:7-9
Another commonality regarding deceptions is that people believe that they cannot be deceived. Why? Because they believe they are too smart to be deceived. Is there a touch of pride and arrogance in that belief? What, again, did Jesus declare in Matthew chapter 24 as quoted above? That, if it were possible, even the very elect would be deceived. That is how good and how convincing the deceptions really are. Unfortunately, everyone believes they are of this elect, and as such, beyond deception.

I would point out that one needs to only look at the world scene, and see how religion has played a part of some of the most heinous atrocities committed by men, and continues to be so. Try to show those same people the insanity of their actions and beliefs in relation to God whom they claim to serve, and you will find you are wasting your breath and time.

In seeing how others of another religion act and react in regards to their beliefs, one can catch a glimmer of the underlying problem.

Hatred. A heart of stone. These are those who will kill you and believe they do God a service.

When one is possessed by a heart of stone, how can they be expected to perceive things from God’s perspective, and perceive truth from deception? It is not possible, and even given this understanding, it can lead to further deceptions. Some teachings found in Calvinism are a good example.

A person with a heart of stone is motivated by that heart. Because of this, the psyche, to use more modern terminology, is a psyche that is, in the eyes of God, corrupted. A person solely motivated by hatred and/or self interest is unable to think logically, rationally, clearly, lovingly.

Satan and those angelic beings who were swayed by him and who followed him, had their minds corrupted as a result. Their focus came off of God and faith in Him. Satan’s focus was redirected to himself. There is a clue to the human condition in all of this, where people look to themselves or to other men for validation as to how they live their lives.

When it comes to deceptions within the realm of Christianity, the deceptions that are the most dangerous are those that result in a redirection of one’s faith away from God and onto something or someone else. Quite commonly, this something else is given equal status with God. Those who are legalistic in their theology see the law in the light of it being of God and possessing the same characteristics of God, such as being eternal and never changing. To obey God to them is to obey the law. It is a subtle shift in faith, so subtle that it agrees quite readily with the warning of Jesus there again in Matthew chapter 24. Deceptions can be so convincing as to tempt even the very elect. And just what do you suppose those who have bought into deceptions believe in this regard? That they are indeed the elect, therefore beyond being deceived! It is circular reasoning, that a rational person can spot, but it goes undetected as such by those who have bought into deceptions. Why? Deceptions tend to short circuit one’s critical thinking skills, which brings up a topic that will be discussed and covered elsewhere. For now, critical thinking is a skill where one subjects their beliefs to a series of logical and rational evaluations or questions that tend to unmask deceptions and make it easier to more closely approach the truth of a matter when solid evidence is lacking to back up a particular belief.

In order for a man or a group to proffer deceptions though, they must cause those they are trying to influence to abandon their critical thinking skills in order to get them to accept the deceptions, and there are quite a variety of methods employed to accomplish this. The most commonplace methods employ what are commonly referred to as logical fallacies.

A logical fallacy generally is an argument that employs false logic, false premises, and evidence that is not truly relevant to the topic at hand. Some are easy to spot, and some are extremely difficult to unmask for what they are. The one thing they have in common, when it comes to Scripture, is that they attempt to support a belief where there is no “Thus saith the Lord.”

Another common factor when it comes to deceptions is that deceptions are used to support other deceptions, so that an entire belief system can be built on these deceptions so that, in order to dismantle the theological structure created by them, each false belief must be taken apart and exposed for what it is; a tedious and time consuming task, made all the harder when trying to “deprogram” someone whose life has been commandeered by a false belief system. For example, it took me over three years of study and work to expose all the facets of the false system I had been exposed to in the proceeding 30 years.

If possible, I would suggest that if you find yourself in the company of a person who is a member of a religious group you believe to be a cult, ask that person if they perceive their theology to be of such a nature that they cannot believe any other system of theology as workable. You will soon see that they are convinced that their way is the only way that works. What need, then, to try or examine anything else? I have long ago lost count as to how many times I have heard people say they have proved their way to be true, and that there was no purpose served to examine everything all over again. This, my dear reader, is a classic example of being dull of seeing and dull of hearing.

In order to expose false teachings and deceptions, there must be some hard fast rules that people can agree on. In other words, there must be some common ground to work from. I have concluded that the basis for determining truth from error is the following statement:

Scripture is the Inspired Word of God. As such, no man, and no church, has the right to alter Scripture or its application in any way.

All too often, ministers resort to a rationale of “principle.” Tithing is a good example. Tithing on one's wages is unbiblical, yet they will justify the practice through the rationale of the principle of the thing. However, once you compromise with one concept of Scripture, where does it stop or end? No, we need to understand that using some excuse to circumvent the Inspired Word of God is to treat that Word of God with contempt. If you desire to know and learn the truth, there can be no compromise with the Word of God.

Here then are a number of the methods of deception.

* Logical fallacies

There are a number of resources on the internet where one can study into logical fallacies. There are quite a number of types extant, and many variations on those themes. They are not only employed to proffer a false belief, but also they are employed as a means of rejecting proper evidence and those who would provide that evidence. If you can disparage a person through an Ad Hominem you can justify in your own mind the rejection of what they have to say. You can see examples of this in scripture where many of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day said things designed to discredit Jesus as a person so as to make the unwarranted claim that anything said by Him was seen as not being credible. If you don’t have a credible witness, you do not have credible evidence. You can reject the man and what he has to say with the wave of a hand.
There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it: Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man. Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless the poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard. — Ecclesiastes 9:14-16
In the group that I was in, it was a common practice to refer to those who left as “disgruntled ex members” and as such, anything they had to say critical of the group was summarily dismissed. A poor man even within the organization was seen as being unworthy of attention, and that his lack of success and wealth a sign of disfavor with God. In false religious groups, the opposite of love for one another is extant, but not recognized as such.

A logical fallacy attempts to circumvent the proper methods of determining the truth of a matter through a flawed rationale or logic. Often, the fallacy follows the use of a premise followed by a conclusion, where the premise is flawed, or the conclusion is not even related to the premise (a “Non Sequitur”).

When it comes to false religious beliefs, the use of logical fallacies is commonplace, and they are used as an indoctrination tool in order to produce a conditioned response when confronted with an attack upon a belief.

It is commonplace for those who have been so conditioned to respond to any claim contrary to their belief with these conditioned responses so that they are predictable as a result. These conditioned responses serve to throw up a mental barrier to contrary evidence. They also serve to block out any critical thinking in regards to those beliefs. If, for example, you confront a member of a legalistic group that Christians are not under the law; not subject to the old covenant law, two common conditioned responses result:

1. “If the law were done away, people would be free to sin; commit murder, adultery, robbery, etc. without fear of God’s punishment or retribution.”

2. That law defines sin, and a Christian is not free to sin. Sinners will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

In this case, the premise can be shown to be false for Christians. The law defined sin for one under the law, and Christians are not under that law. But again, the OC legalist cannot conceive of any other system being workable, so plain Scriptures that state we are not under the law can't be taken at face value.

There are many more examples of conditioned responses in this regard, but these two will suffice for our purpose now.

These conditioned responses are claims. For claim # 1, no real evidence is given in support of the claim, and when the claim is exposed to the methods of proper examination, it falls apart fairly easily.

Is the only thing preventing you, or the one making the claim for that matter, from going about committing wholesale murder the fact there is a law prohibiting it? I find it is useful to turn the claim back on the one making the claim. In this case, the claim is couched in an accusation, so I turn the accusation back on the accuser. I try to personalize the claim with them. When you do this though, you see another aspect of conditioning kick in, and they invariably try to change the subject at that point, where they make another conditioned response in order to avoid having to deal with a claim critically, thus avoiding being proven wrong.

Claim #2 is accompanied with the scriptural evidence found in I John 3:4 and the translation found in the KJV:

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. — 1 John 3:4

No other modern English translation contains this interpretive translation of this passage, but no matter. They simply make the claim, that this translation is the correct one, and all others are misleading, made by men who refuse to see the “truth” about the law. As mentioned earlier, one or more falsehoods are used to prop up other falsehoods.

An examination of the Greek here, along with an understanding of the linguistics of the time reveals that this interpretive translation is not correct. The Greek does not support the word, “anomia” being used in this fashion, referring to the old covenant law. In context, and in keeping with the usage of the Greek word anomia in that world and at that time, the passage is more precisely rendered as sin being “iniquity.” All iniquity is sin, but not all transgressions of that law were sin. David ate the show-bread that was unlawful for him to eat, yet he was blameless. The translation as it stands in the King James not only neglects to take this into consideration, the spirit of the law is also swept aside.

Mis-quoting, mis-application of Scripture.

Eisegesis (a.k.a. proof texting)

This is the practice of taking a passage of Scripture out of context, and focusing on it in such a way as to conclude something beyond the scope of the context. For example, sabbatarian legalists are fond of quoting Mark 2:27:

And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:

The context was about Jesus explaining to the Pharisees that the “man” was not made or created for the sabbath, but rather the sabbath was made for the man, seeing as the mindset of the Jews and especially the Pharisees was one of a strict and burdensome interpretation and application of the sabbath commandment. To conclude though that the “man” in this instance is to be interpreted to mean all of mankind is to take this way beyond the scope of what was being discussed. What “man” was given the sabbath and required to keep it? The Israelites via a covenant between them and God. To interpret “anthropos” as being all of humanity in this example is to be sloppy in one’s scholarship. But when you are trying to “prove” a false belief, anything goes, and careful scholarship is the first thing to suffer. In response, I point this out:
And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. — Matthew 10:22
All men would rightly include other Christian believers, would it not? But the sabbatarian attempts to ignore the obvious by insisting “men” is not in the passage; that “men” is implied. Fair enough then. If men is implied, then who are these “all;” all animals? Who or what has the ability to hate? Other people; all of them. So is “all” all inclusive here, or not? Or, is the sabbatarian legalist going to resort to Clintonian semantics now?

If “anthropos” is going to be understood in Mark 2:27 as meaning all mankind, then shouldn’t we apply the same standard to the word “all” here?

What we also need to do is examine how the writer, in this case Mark, uses the same word “man” (anthropos) in the gospel of Mark in order to establish whether Mark always uses the word to mean “all mankind.”

In that same passage, Mark relates that Jesus used the term: “Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.”

The word “man” here is the same anthropos. Is the “Son of man” literally the son of all mankind? No. The word “man” here is used in a more figurative sense. Already we can see that anthropos as used by Mark, does not always mean, all mankind as the sabbatarian insists.
Mark 3:1 And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand.
The word “man” here is anthropos. Again, does the word mean, all mankind? No, for not all mankind was standing there with withered hands. Mark is referring to just one man.

The word anthropos is not a rigid word. It can mean anything from a single man, to a man or men in general. To assign to it arbitrarily the meaning of all mankind simply because it is in line with one’s theological beliefs is scholastically dishonest. It is poor and lazy scholarship.

The context of Mark chapter two in regards to this example shows the duplicitous way the entire passage is used by those who are deceived. The Pharisees claim Jesus’ disciples were doing that which was illegal to do on the sabbath; picking grain to eat. The sabbatarian insists this was not unlawful, thereby ignoring the context even moreso. They claim that picking and eating grain on a sabbath was one of the many added restrictions to the law the Pharisees were renowned for, yet Jesus does not dispute their claim regarding the legality of the claim. It was indeed against the law to pick the grain, even as it was unlawful for David to eat the show-bread. To cover up this flaw in logic and reason, the sabbatarian often resorts to the excuse of the rights of kings, yet David was not at that time king, and the law did not provide a king with special privileges. All were treated equally under the law. This in itself is an example of using one falsehood to prop up another falsehood.

It was illegal for the Israelites to go out and attempt to gather manna on a sabbath, even though there was no manna available on a sabbath. It was illegal to go out and gather sticks. The flawed logic of the sabbatarian would have us believe that to go out into a field to gather grain to eat was not a violation of the sabbath commandment, yet trying to go out to gather manna to eat, that wasn’t even there, was a violation!

Let us recap. The sabbatarian quotes Mark 2:27 and makes the claim that “man” means all of mankind, and further concludes all mankind is therefore required to keep the sabbath.

By using just some of the methods of proper scholarship, we have determined the claims to be false, for the premise that anthropos means all mankind is shown to be false based upon the further writings by the same author. We also recognize the passage as being used eisegetically by the sabbatarian, and eisegesis is not a proper method of scholarship. It is one of the many methods employed in deceptions and falsehoods.

The context of Scripture shows that only the Israelites were required to “keep the sabbath” and that the sabbath was the sign between God and Israel in relation to their covenant. We can find no example of anyone prior to Sinai keeping the sabbath, nor do we find any example of anyone else being commanded to keep the sabbath, let alone all mankind. The claim by sabbatarians that the sabbath was instituted at creation is but another example of attempting to prop up one false belief with another false belief. The seventh day may well have been established as the last day in a seven day weekly cycle, but there is no evidence of Adam and Eve being commanded to rest on that day, or anyone else until Sinai. It was God who rested on that seventh day of creation, and not Adam and Eve. Adam and eve did not work the previous six days; God did. Adam and Eve were created the day before that seventh day. Strange, don’t you think, that sabbatarians would insist the sabbath day rest was instituted at creation for all mankind when neither Adam and Eve had been working! But fear not, the sabbatarians have even more false props in their sabbath arsenal.

* Redefining of Words and Terms

The most common example of this I can think of is the word and concept of tithing. Ask anyone what the tithe is, and you will likely get an answer that differs from that of Scripture.

The biblical tithe that is found in the old covenant law, was a tenth of the increase of produce and/or livestock. What the biblical tithe never was, was a tenth of one’s increase based on wages. Wage earners under the law never tithed on their wages.

One of the last people I pointed this fact out to in turn asked me to show them where tithing was not assessed of one’s wages! In other words, where does it say we do not tithe on our wages? Does the reader see the problem with that question? One of the rules of proper logic states that you cannot prove a negative, and yet those who are caught up in false belief systems require proof of a negative all the time. Example:

Where does it say in the Bible we are no longer required to keep the sabbath?

It not only requires us to prove a negative; it is also a loaded question, which is yet another of the many methods employed in deceptions.

The biblical definition then of a tithe as required under the old covenant was a tenth of the increase of produce and/or livestock, or something made from produce, such as wine. When confronted with this factual definition of tithe, rationalizations result. Rationalizations are also a method of deception. In this case, it is rationalized that we are to make allowances for changes that occur over time, or that it is the principle that matters. These responses are typical, and those who hold to tithing are invariably the same ones who claim, reading Matthew 5:17-18, that the law of the old covenant remains intact and inviolate even down to jots and tittles. So, if the law of tithing, like all else, cannot be altered even down to the strokes of the letters of the tithing law, how is it they now claim the law of tithing does indeed change way beyond jots and tittles?

Can we truly alter the meaning of Scripture, as well as alter the application of Scripture? We are dealing with the “Word” of God here. Jesus confronted the religious of Israel in this regard by telling them that they made the word of God of no effect through their traditions. In other words, they were trying to keep the law, not as God had commanded, but rather through their traditions. If God commanded something be done, or observed, He also commanded the manner in which it was to be done. Teaching people therefore to tithe of their wages constitutes a perversion of Scripture and its application.

It is the false teachers and false ministers who teach deceptions. Jesus warned that these people were wolves in sheep’s clothing, preying on flocks. Altering the tithing law, and applying it to Christians, both contrary to that law, serves the wolf perfectly. You can justify anything through principle and rationalization. Rationalizations, inferences, and assumptions can be, and usually are, common methods of deception.

I had hoped to cover the proper methods of biblical scholarship in a separate chapter, but it is most difficult to cover the methods of deception without touching on the proper methods for determining truth. Sometimes, in order to expose a deception, you need to demonstrate what the truth of the matter is. Can we then discern whether tithing is valid for Christians? The best way to start is to look for evidence in the new covenant writings that apply to Christians. Often, you see deceivers look for evidence in the “new testament” but what they end up doing is citing “evidence” from the gospels where and when the old covenant was still in force with those people. The new testament/covenant (this is the same Greek word) began upon the death of Christ, and not before. The old covenant came to an end upon that same death. Covenants and testaments have also undergone redefinition within the false belief systems.

Do we find a “thus saith the Lord” for Christians to practice tithing? No. Do we find any of the new testament writers claiming Christians are to tithe? No. Do we find an example of Christians tithing in the new covenant? No. Do we find any evidence to the contrary (which is a proper method of scholarship)? Yes we do. Paul makes mention that those who preach the gospel are entitled to support as a result of preaching the gospel. He does not however use tithing as a justification, but rather cites the example of not muzzling the ox that treads out the grain. Critical thinking would have us see that, if tithing were required of Christians, Paul would have said so, and used tithing as an example. If tithing were indeed required, then another puzzling thing happens in Paul’s writing about giving and supporting ministers of the gospel; he refused support from some churches. If tithing were indeed required, how then could Paul refuse tithes?

This whole topic regarding the use of deceptions cannot be over emphasized. Historically, church leaders used their positions as a means of dictating beliefs and enforcing them upon their members. Those who did not conform to the beliefs and dictates of their religious leaders could find themselves condemned to death.

We now have an opportunity rarely open down through history; the ability to study the Scriptures and decide for ourselves what they mean and what they teach without the undue influence of religious leaders who all to often are motivated by other forces besides the gospel.

Rationalization, Inference, Assumption, Drawn out conclusions

It can take awhile to catch on when these are being used. It is an appeal to intellect when there is no Scriptural support for an idea or belief. If a belief is important, there will be proper Scriptural evidence to support it.

Claims that cannot be verified

These are usually in association with the deceiver, and not necessarily a false belief. The deceiver attempts to set himself up as a prophet of sorts, and so makes claims of personal revelation from God, or perhaps a spirit being. There is no way to validate their claims.

Transference or substitution theology

This is taking that which was commanded or required of one group or individual and applying it to another group or individual. God commanded the Israelites to keep a covenant law. The only provision in that covenant law for one not of Israel to come under that law was to undergo circumcision. Were Gentiles required to be circumcised in Acts 15?


It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. ; )

Acts 17:11


Independence Day

ABD, in honor of the anniversary of the USA's Day of Independence, will be featuring a temporary background change!

We, here at ABD, wish all a very wonderful celebration with friends and family!

It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. ; )
Acts 17:11

Friday, June 25, 2010

Chapter 5: Methodology of Truth

Chapter 5: Methodology of Truth

How does a person perceive truth? How does a person recognize deception or falsehood? There have been philosophical debates regarding truth that span quite a contrast, but what I hold to be of importance in regards to Scripture is that we do, indeed, need to attempt to discern the original intent of the author of any particular passage or book/letter. We also need to go one step further, and derive the intent of the One who worked through the authors of Scripture, for Scripture itself claims to be God inspired; God “breathed.”

We can begin to discern God's intent by examining what Scripture reveals as God's will. What does God want of mankind, and from mankind? Does He want a bunch of brain-numbed robots who, when God commands them to jump, reply, “how high”? Does He desire mankind to exist in a condition like serfs in some feudal state with God as king, following and adhering to a long list of laws that regulate even the most minor behaviours, sometimes in what appears to be an arbitrary fashion?

All too often, man makes God over into his own image, and imagines God to be like a human king, demanding allegiance and demanding the people jump through hoops to satisfy His need to see whether we will obey His commands. It is a tenuous relationship, where a person would constantly be concerned over whether his lord and master was pleased or displeased with him and his performance. God ends up more tyrant than loving God in the minds and hearts of many.

Scripture paints a picture of the Israelites being in a relationship with God, where God is not only Lord and King, but also husband. In this scenario, we need to take into consideration what sort of wife Israel was to God.

She was a treacherous, cheating wife, and God knew it before He entered into that relationship, which was, in a sense, an “arranged” marriage due to the promises God made to Abraham and the patriarchs. So God made some “prenups” for Israel in the form of a covenant that was likened to a marriage covenant, but with conditions that were designed to expose the Israelites for what they were, while appearing to give Israel what she wanted. While Israel tried to prove herself worthy of God's “affection” all Israel managed to do was prove herself to be what she was by nature; stiff-necked and rebellious; a treacherous and cheating woman. Israel rarely admitted her true nature. When she found herself in big trouble, she would admit her faults and transgressions; God would forgive and intervene, only to watch Israel repeat this process over again. Israel was, for the most part, in denial regarding her nature and true relationship with God. Psalms 44 is a good example of Israel's denial.

Is it therefore God's will that people be kept in a condition where they will continually prove their sinful nature through acts of transgressing a law whose sole purpose is to expose the sinful nature?
Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee. For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the LORD; and how much more after my death? – Deuteronomy 31:26-27
Is it God's will to be bound to rebellious people who have no real love for the husband? What then is God's desire, and what is God's will?

God desires a wife who loves Him, unconditionally, even as He loves the wife. God's relationship with Israel was conditional; one of having to command Israel to obey in order to receive blessings from her Husband, and even on this level, Israel proved herself to be untrustworthy. What lesson then is to be learned from Israel and the law she was given? That man, with his “human” (Adamic) nature, is incapable of pleasing God. It is a nature devoid of any real faith in God, unless God imparts faith to men, and this is the example of God's relationship with the patriarchs.

That law proves man to be faithless and sinful. That law imparts a knowledge of good and evil, and exposes the knowledge and understanding that man is evil. That law cannot prove a man to be good or righteous. Those who put their trust in the law, claiming we must keep the law, are like the Pharisees and religious of Jesus' time who saw the law as the standard of righteousness for them, blinding themselves to the fact they did not keep the law perfectly, as required by that law.
And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. – Romans 7:10
God desires we have faith in Him. God wants us to understand we cannot make ourselves acceptable to God based on our own efforts. God desires we love Him, for He loves us. God is willing to give of His nature; impart His nature to us so that we can love Him in return. But there was a danger involved, should one in possession of God's Holy Spirit not have faith in God, or reject the love of God. We have the example of king Saul in this regard.
Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven? Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves. No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. – John 6:28-48
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. – John 3:16
Christ is seen as having been slain from the foundation of the world. Everything was planned out from the beginning, as well as this ultimate expression of love on the part of God.

This should not be lost on mankind. God, who is infinitely greater than man, needed to convey to man certain facts; that man in his fallen state cannot please God. A thousand lifetimes of trying to keep that law that was a reflection of God's standard would still result in a man standing condemned before God. That law pointed to the need for an atonement of man's collective and personal sins, which was accomplished through God's ultimate expression of love for His creation, by undergoing the ultimate sacrifice for God; a brutal and painful death as a man, but so much more than just a man.

God doesn't need us. God wants us. God made man in His image; a unique creation to dwell with God and exist as children of God in a loving relationship with God. This relationship was made possible by what God did and does, and not as a result of anything we did based on our own might, such as keeping a law. That law did not prove men good by keeping it; that law proved men sinners and depraved because man transgressed it, and that as a result of man's Adamic rebellious and faithless heart. It is God who gives the believer a heart of flesh to replace the stony heart we are born with. It is God who gives His Holy Spirit to those who place their faith and trust in Christ. The man needed to learn and understand that, based on his own efforts, he can do no real good, given the heart the man is born with.

God reaches down and pulls us up. We do not, and cannot, climb up to God through our own efforts, whether it be keeping that old covenant law, or through means associated with religions based on human effort. “Just jump through the proper theological hoops” and achieve nirvana, salvation, or whatever.

You might ask what this all has to do with understanding and using the proper methods of scholarship when it comes to discovering the truths of Scripture. Even ministers and theologians of Churches that have a false theology know what the proper methods of scholarship are, for the most part, and they will still ignore the proper methods of scholarship at times, and fall for using the methods of deceptions, such as eisegesis, without realizing they are doing so. One can only wonder why, and the answers lie deep within the psyches of the deceived, and how a deceived mind operates “in the dark” as it were.

False doctrines and beliefs have a common denominator, in that they are based on a belief in a false gospel. Invariably, a false gospel is the true gospel falsified through addition. For example, the gospel is a declaration of salvation through faith alone in Christ. He came and paid the ultimate price so that we could be reconciled to God. He offered Himself in sacrifice for our sins, and the sins of the world.

What then is the undeclared statement when one falsifies the gospel, by adding to the gospel something they believe must be done besides faith in Christ in order to be saved? Sabbatarian legalists believe the ten commandments must be kept in order to be saved, citing Matthew 19:17. They publicly declare salvation through faith in Christ, but hold to this belief also, and claim that you can lose your salvation should you quit keeping the ten commandments, especially the sabbath command.

The undeclared statement is this:

Christ's sacrifice was not enough

Faith in Christ is not enough

What is God's response to those who do not believe the gospel, but are so brazen as to falsify it with their additions to the gospel? Well, let's see, God gives the ultimate sacrifice He can give by shedding His glory, taking on the life of a servant, and dies a most horrible, painful, drawn out death that man has ever devised, thus not only paying the penalty of death for sin, but also demonstrates his boundless love for His creation, and some people don't believe it was enough, and feel they have the right to add to that gospel conditions for salvation God never intended. It is a reflection of pride and arrogance on a whole new level. It is the ultimate insult to God. It is so close to the ultimate sin as to be terrifying, once you realize you were guilty of this special sin.

Recall, if you will, what John the Baptist had to say to those religious leaders who came out to his baptism:
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: – Matthew 3:7-8
They were not interested in repentance. After all, they had the law, and their righteousness was tied to that law. As long as they thought they were compliant with the law, they thought they were right with God, and as a result, no need to truly repent. And by repent, I mean the act of turning to God. They thought they were already in tight with God, having been deceived by that law into thinking they were already righteous.

From my own personal experience of having believed a false gospel for over 25 years, I had to bring forth the evidence to God that I was truly trying to turn to Him and seeking him over the course of over three years of intense personal study. It took that whole three years and then some to finally get to where I was ready to understand the gospel, and I was shocked at the simplicity of the gospel, and how easily I had bought into a false gospel that clouded and darkened my understanding all those years. It is only through the boundless mercy of God I was “granted” repentance.

With all this prefaced then, we are ready to cover the proper methods of scholarship, necessary for searching out the truths of Scripture.

Some of what I cover is commonly taught in churches and religious schools, and some of it is based upon my own personal discoveries that I believe to be Scripturally sound, which I will identify as my own so that the reader can evaluate my claims in this regard.

1. Scripture is stated to be God-breathed and God inspired. As such, I conclude that no man or organization of men has the right to alter Scripture or its application in any way.

God was never careless in what He inspired to be written, therefore it is arrogant of us to alter Scripture through any rationalization, including the claim that a belief is based on the principle of Scripture when there is no actual Scripture to support a view or belief. I conclude that the Bible leaves nothing to chance; leaves nothing hanging where we have to conclude things that are not clearly stated in Scripture. Once you justify the alteration of Scripture and its application, you can justify just about anything you want.

Things in Scripture are not always what they seem to be also. God spoke to Adam and stated that he was not to partake of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; that on the day he did, he would surely die.

The serpent came along and said he and Eve would not die should they eat of that fruit, and gave a justification; a rationalization for going ahead and partaking of it. God said one thing, and the serpent said something else, but with a subtle twist in that what God meant by “die” and what the serpent meant by “die” were two different things. What then did Adam and Eve believe was meant by dying on that day they partook of that tree?

What it means though is that we should be relying on God and His Word to define things for us, and not rely on human understanding, assuming we know what things mean that have to do with Scripture.

An example of men altering the Scriptures that is commonly practiced is the Scriptural teaching and law concerning tithing. Without going into a lot of detail, the tithe was a tenth of the increase of produce and/or livestock. No one was ever commanded to tithe of their wages. Yet look at how many people just assume this is Scriptural; that this is a biblical definition of tithe. Again, can we afford to assume? The serpent (the devil) deceived Adam and Eve (or at least, Eve) and the devil is described as one who deceives the whole world. His deception was extremely subtle, revolving around the word “die.” His was a half-truth. Satan knew what God meant, even if Adam and Eve didn't. Adam and Eve didn't bother to ask God for further information as to what exactly He meant. But we have the ability to go to the Scriptures; the inspired “God-breathed” Word of God for our understanding. Or, we can rely on the definitions, or redefinitions given to us by those who claim to represent God.

Old covenant points of law were not to be introduced into Christianity or taught to (Gentile) Christians as per the instructions found in Acts chapter 15. They were inspired to write that to teach old covenant points of law resulted in a subversion of a Christian's soul.

The most common rationale for this change of Scripture and its application is to claim we no longer live in an agrarian society, and that this “principle” of tithing then changes with the times.

However, the economy of ancient Israel had plenty of Israelites who did not make their living through agricultural pursuits or animal husbandry. There were craftsmen and others who earned their living through wages. It should also be noted that when Paul wrote about the rights of those who preach the gospel being entitled to support from the churches, he did not use tithing as a justification, but rather the analogy of not muzzling the ox that treads out the grain.

Paul resorts to a rationalization in this regard. Rationalizations are very weak arguments, and often are flawed, resulting in false beliefs, but this is Paul, and Paul also stated that they had this as a command from the Lord in regards to their support being from the gospel. What needs to be emphasized is that Paul knew better than to use the old covenant tithing law as a justification, where people would then end up believing it to be mandatory, thus undermining the very nature and message of the gospel, which leads to my second point that cannot be violated:

2. The message of the gospel cannot be compromised or altered by any other belief, no matter how convincing. The message of the gospel trumps all other beliefs; salvation through faith only.

This is another of my own rules. Sabbatarians believe that it is the law of the old covenant, or specifically the ten commandments that trumps all, including the gospel. This claim of mine then is also a refutation of their claim that is derived from their teachings, which is rarely so explicitly declared by them.

What was commonly believed by many in the early church is believed today; that Christians are supposed to keep the old covenant law. To these people, the law is what trumps all else, and all things are judged from the perspective of that law, with an emphasis on the ten commandments, which is seen by many to be the immutable law of God.

That law, or more accurately, the perception of that law, and the gospel are in conflict. The gospel declares salvation through faith only, and as such, salvation is a gift. Those who hold to the law or even just the ten commandments declare that to fail to keep or comply with the ten commandments is to sin, and, as it is written, no sinner shall inherit eternal life, loosely citing I Corinthians 6:9-10 as evidence.

Those who see the law as the trump card sacrifice the gospel as a result. I have heard many a Sabbatarian legalist state that it is unthinkable for the law to be of no further consequence and that the removal of the law would, in their minds, justify people's wholesale abandonment, committing all sorts of atrocities without fear of any Godly consequences. Seeing then that in their minds, “that law” cannot terminate, all evidence to the contrary is summarily dismissed without examination of any sort. “My mind is made up; don't confuse me with the facts.”

Where this has the potential to be entertaining is to ask such a person what they would do then if indeed that law were no longer relevant; if they would go about doing the very things they claim others would do. Their claim is actually a veiled accusation. I would remind the reader that those religious people and leaders that rejected Jesus and His message did so in favor of that law also; that law they extolled yet did not keep.

Paul calls that law the ministration of death and condemnation in II Corinthians chapter three. What the legalist continually overlooks and ignores is that there is no righteousness to be found in the law. It only condemns. It only exposes the sinful nature. It provides definitions from God as to what is good and evil, and when held up before us like a mirror, it shows us to be what we are; evil.
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. – Romans 7:18
The claim that, should the law be done away with, people would sin with abandon, is almost ludicrous. The people who had that law managed to sin just fine with the law.

There are also general rules that are useful in one's search for truth:

a. Who is speaking, and who is being spoken to?

It is a common practice among aberrant groups to take that which was required of one person or group and assign it to another person or group. The most common abuse is assigning the law, or the ten commandments, to Christians. An examination of these passages misappropriated by legalistic groups shows that it was God speaking to, and addressing Israelites, and even then, through the medium of a covenant law to which Christians are not a legal party.

God commanded the Israelites that He led out of Egypt to keep and observe a law, the basis of which is the ten commandments, or more accurately, the “ten words.” This law was codified into a covenant; a legally binding agreement between those two parties, God and Israel. As such, no others can be required to keep the conditions of this covenant unless they complied with the only provision in that covenant that allowed those not of Israel to enter into that covenant relationship with God by undergoing circumcision. Then, and only then, was a person as one born of Israel and subject to that covenant law.

All manner of explanations and rationalizations have been put forth by those who insist on Christians keeping the conditions of this covenant law who are not party to it. Their claims, when examined properly according to the rules of evidence, fail. Yet look at the numbers of people and churches that claim Christians are required to keep the ten commandments, while telling their followers that anyone who would dare say they do not have to keep them are those who are twisting the Scriptures. I am sure that many who are reading this at this point may well be making the same accusation against the author. But let us allow the evidence to speak for itself.

Using this debate over the ten commandments, we can examine the proper methods of evidence as well as see the methods of deception employed and recognize them as such.

If someone claims we are required to keep the ten commandments, then they should be able to produce evidence to support the claim, and in so doing, not resort to the methods of deception such as inference, assumption, rationalization, substitution theology, or claims that cannot be falsified, to name a few.

Claim: Christians are required to keep the ten commandments.

Evidence to the contrary: The ten commandments are a covenant between the two parties, God and Israelites. Those not a party to a covenant cannot be held to the conditions of said covenant.

This evidence to the contrary is in itself a claim that either has Scriptural support, or has no support, or evidence to the contrary to this claim. It is the duty of the one making the original claim to refute any supposed evidence to the contrary.

In the case of this counter-claim, it should be obvious enough from a legal standpoint alone that a person cannot be held to the conditions of a covenant they are not party to. In any event, we have the following to take into consideration:
Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. — Galatians 3:15-18
Here we have Paul explaining a characteristic of covenants. Once they are put in force, no one can legally reject it or alter it. Would this not include an attempt to add participants to it? Of course.

This claim then regarding covenants is pretty air tight. Those who reject Paul’s witness to this and many other things will, as a result, resort to the methods of deception and disinformation in an attempt to discredit Paul. Some go so far as to reject Paul as a true minister of Christ, thereby justifying their rejection of what Paul wrote and taught all together.

The unspoken claim of those who believe we have to keep the ten commandments in this regard is that, if enough “evidence” can be produced indicating we should be keeping the ten commandments, this evidence can therefore outweigh evidence to the contrary! Given the established facts revolving around covenants, we could safely conclude that, in order for Christians to be required to keep the ten commandments, there would either have to be another covenant made to which Christians are a party to it requiring their observance, or some other declaration by either Christ or the apostles stating Christians should be keeping the ten commandments. I will state right here that no such evidence exists. If someone alleges to have evidence to this effect, then that evidence should also be subjected to the rules of evidence.

What then are some of the common claims used by those who claim we should be keeping the ten commandments? One is that the ten commandments are the “law of God” and as such, we should be keeping them as a result.

If you examine the premise, you will see that a claim is made that results from drawing a conclusion. Using this “rationalization” we are led to discard the evidence we have established as fact regarding covenants.

We also need to understand this indeed is a rationalization being employed, and rationalizations are one of the many methods of deception. Not all rationalizations are deceptions, but due to their nature, they cannot be given the same weight of evidence as evidence that does not depend upon rationalizations, assumptions, and inferences.

When we subject the claim then to the rules of evidence, what do we learn?

Is the claim falsifiable? The wording makes it nearly so. That law was a law “from” God, and that law was written in the “book of the law of God.” So in that regard, it is “God's law” but not exclusively. Those who hold to this law deny any other law of God. But that book was also called the “book of the law of Moses.” Also, the witness of Christ has Him referring to the law as the law of Moses, and credits Moses as having given the law to Israel. Legalists get around this obstacle of that law being also the Law of Moses by insisting there are really two laws as a result; one being “God's law” engraven in stone, and the rest, or the “other” law being the law of Moses. What we end up with are new claims that need to be examined properly also.

This construct creates its own set of issues: If the ten commandments are “God's law” and the rest is the Law of Moses, then why is that book of the law referred to as both the book of the law of God as well as the book of the law of Moses? Also, the law of Moses sans the ten commandments infers that Moses came up with that law without God's input or influence. Scripture refutes this.

However, the real issue is not whose law it is, but rather to whom the law was given, and who then was required to observe and keep that law.

We can further demonstrate the problem with these claims through an analogy.

The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was God’s tree. Can we conclude, using the same logic the previous claims make, that we should therefore be partaking of that tree? What was the fruit or end result of partaking of its fruit? Death. What was the fruit or end result of living by that law of God? According to the apostle Paul, that covenant law also resulted in death.
And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. — Romans 7:10
He called it the ministration of death and condemnation in II Corinthians chapter 3, and the law of sin and death in Romans chapter 7.

Can the reader see now that the premise that the ten commandments are the “law of God” does not necessarily mean we should conclude we are to be keeping it? Yet many will choose this rationalization that relies on an assumed conclusion over the hard facts surrounding covenants.

Assumptions lead to deceptions. One must always be aware of whether they are relying on an assumption, and be aware that assumptions can sound very convincing. You wouldn’t want to be convicted of a crime based upon assumptions, therefore why would you risk eternity on them? If there are facts in regards to a questioned belief, stick with the facts.

There is one other factor that needs to be taken into consideration here, and that is evidence to the contrary regarding the ten commandments being “the” law of God. That law was mediated by Moses. A mediator is one who works in between two parties in order to produce an equitable agreement between the two parties. Hence, that law became known and called, the law of Moses. It is a law that originated with God and came from God, but it was tailored for the Israelites; a stiff-necked and rebellious people, devoid, for the most part, of faith. Could it be that law served a purpose in relation to Israel that would not be served with Christians? I will leave it here as a question instead of a claim, for I do not wish to stray too far from the topic at hand.

Another claim in regards to the ten commandments is that the ten demonstrate love; love for God and love for fellow man, therefore the conclusion, once more, that we should be keeping those commandments.

The premise here is a claim that is either true or false. Do we have any evidence from Scripture that the ten commandments demonstrate love? The Two Great Commandments are often cited as supporting evidence:
Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. — Matthew 22:36-40
Everything in the law and prophets hang on these two pivotal commandments. The claim that the ten commandments show how to love God and fellow man is actually an attempt to make everything hang on the ten commandments!

We can however apply some critical thinking to this premise/claim. The commandment to “honor” one’s parents for example: Why doesn’t the command just come out and say, “love” your parents? Why doesn’t the command that addresses killing/murder state, “love” your enemies?

We need to take into consideration the nature of the old covenant law, and to whom it applied; stiff-necked and rebellious Israelites that Jesus referred to in this context:
This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. — Matthew 15:8
The call of the prophets follows a major theme. The prophets addressed the Israelites over time, and called to Israel to turn back to God whenever they strayed. If they indeed had a love for God and fellow man, the law and prophets would be fulfilled. But their hearts were far from God, and far from loving their fellow man, right down to their parents. The true nature of the ten commandments revolve around the rights of God and neighbor (fellow man) in relation to the individual who was devoid of love for God and fellow man. If an Israelite despised his parents, there was this command to give them their due “honor” and respect, regardless, for it was owed them, at the least. Likewise, the first four commandments relate what the individual owed God; including the individual's time one day a week.

Paul further defines the purpose of the law in relation to Israel:
Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; . . . — 1 Timothy 1:9-10
The law, according to Paul, is not there for the sake of demonstrating love for God and fellow man; the law was there because the people were devoid of love.

Then there is circumstantial evidence. Ask yourself, If you have love for God, do you need to be told not to have other gods besides God? No. If you love your fellow man, do you need to be told not to murder him? No, for people do not murder those they love. If anything, this circumstantial evidence tends to support the exact opposite of the premise/claim! Seeing as the Israelites were stiff-necked and hard-hearted, they were put under that law for that reason.
Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee. For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the LORD; and how much more after my death? Gather unto me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears, and call heaven and earth to record against them. For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days; because ye will do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger through the work of your hands. — Deuteronomy 31:26-29
That law witnessed to the fact they were faithless and loveless. The law didn’t teach them love; the law exposed their lack of love and how they were devoid of faith.

b. Situation in life; Time and Place

Words change in meaning over time. What is important in word studies is to determine how any particular word was used at the time and place the text was written that contains the words or terms we seek to understand in order to better understand what message the writer was trying to convey.

This then is the practice of taking words and phrases, and examining them in the light of the times and places in which they were written. Over the course of time, words change in their meaning, sometimes coming to mean the exact opposite of what their original definitions were. As mentioned earlier, the temptation sometimes to ignore this form of context is too great. An example of abuse in this regard is the translation found in the King James Version found at I John 3:4:

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

??? ? ????? ??? ???????? ??? ??? ??????? ?????, ??? ?
Every the one-doing the missing (sin) and(also) the against law is-doing and the

??????? ????? ? ??????.
sin is the against-law/lawlessness

[Sorry, the Greek text did not copy through]

The word of interest here is “anomia” transliterated “a” - against “nomia” - law. How was the word used at that time and place by those who spoke and wrote in Greek? The word was used to convey the meaning and understanding of iniquity.

The translators of the King James Version were members of the Church of England who were following the earlier Geneva Bible translation. The scholarship of the time did not always take into account the linguistics of the time of the writing of the New Testament, hence they opted for a more literal translation that, in turn, strayed into interpretation. No other English translation (of note) renders this passage as sin being the transgression of the (old covenant) law.

Was all transgression of the old covenant law sin? No, for Jesus declared that David ate the show-bread that was not lawful for him to eat, yet he was blameless; without sin in this regard. Jesus worked on sabbaths by healing people, and even admitted it was work, making a distinction between breaking the law in the letter while fulfilling the law in the spirit; a spirit of love and compassion. Those who are legalistic in their theological outlook reject Jesus actually working on sabbaths, despite Jesus' own claim that He and the Father worked on sabbaths, by making the assumptive claim that, had Jesus broken the letter of the law, it would indeed be sin, which would disqualify Jesus as Savior. They even cite the passage of Scripture above as a proof text!

What is really happening is the negation of the spirit of the law in favor of the letter of the law. The avoidance of sin and condemnation through the old covenant law takes on greater importance than the spirit of the law the apostle Paul points out as being the law that leads to life as contrasted to the old covenant law that was described as being the ministration of death and condemnation, which results with those who live(d) by that law!

Did David break the law, or not? Yes, he most certainly did. Was he convicted of sin as a result? No, he was not. Is sin therefore always the transgression of that law? No, it is not. Is sin always iniquity? Yes, it is.

Was there sin in the world before there was the old covenant law? Yes there was. In fact, Paul states that the law was added because of sin in order to make sin utterly sinful. So to translate I John 3:4 to say sin is the transgression of the law is to not only misapply the meaning of the word “anomia” it also ignores that which is established in the rest of Scripture regarding sin.

c. Proper Exegesis.

This is the practice of taking a statement of Scripture that has the potential to be misunderstood, and examine the immediate context as well as the general context. If the conclusion drawn is unrelated to the immediate context, there is probably something amiss with the understanding/interpretation of the passage in question.

One of the Sabbatarian Legalist's favorite passages is Matthew 5:17-19 where it is concluded that the legalities of the law remain inviolate even down to the strokes of the letters of the law. Even a cursory examination of the passage shows this interpretation to be flawed. The context of what Jesus was referring to was the law and prophets. In this context it should be understood that this refers to the first 5 books, commonly called “the law” and the writings of the prophets being “the prophets” as well as the context of Scripture overall. Sometimes the term, “the law” could indeed refer to the entirety of the old testament writings.

What then is found in both the law and prophets that has the potential to be fulfilled or destroyed? Prophesies. Did Jesus state He had come to fulfill the prophesies that were written about Him in the law and prophets, i.e. the old testament writings? Yes, He most emphatically did.
And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. – Luke 24:44
What then is the excuse of the legalist for rejecting this explanation in light of Matthew 5:17? They point out that Jesus did not fulfill everything while He walked the earth in human form. Well then, what do they think the very next verse addresses? Things that were not fulfilled prophetically that are escatalogical in nature will be at that time, before heaven and earth pass away.

Let's humor the legalist a bit here, seeing as they insist this is about the legalities of the law. When then is the conclusion in regards to verse 18? When heaven and earth passes, so to passes this law after it is “filled to the full.” So the law passes away; the same law they claim is eternal. Also, if this is all about the legalities of the law being inviolate down to jots and tittles, what about the context of the same chapter where Jesus proceeds to alter points of that law way beyond jots and tittles, and even negating points of law?

Ironically, the Sabbatarian legalist understands the concept of exegesis, but the temptation to ignore the context is oft times too great when it comes to cherished beliefs.

Is the evidence of Scripture being used exegetically, taking into consideration the surrounding context, or is the evidence eisegetical in nature, lifting the passage out of context; thereby ignoring the context?

Legalistic churches will cite Romans 3:31 as evidence we are to keep that old covenant law:
Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law. — Romans 3:31
Taken out of context and taken at face value, it certainly appears that Christians are supposed to be keeping that law. What then of the context?
Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. 21But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. 27Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. 28Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. 29Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: 30Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. 31Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law. – Romans 3:19-31
1) The law served the purpose of making men guilty before God, and not righteous (v.20).

2) No one is, or shall be justified before God through the law, or specifically the deeds of the law; those points of law that required performance by one under the law. Why? Because the function of the law was to make known sin; provide a knowledge of sin, and bring the one under the law under sin.

3) Justification and righteousness is now revealed; a righteousness of God that is through faith in Jesus Christ, and not through the law, that is also witnessed or attested to in the law and prophets.

4) Why righteousness through faith in Christ? Because all have sinned and come short of God's “Glory” (perfect standard); those under the law (those of the circumcision) and those not under the law (the uncircumcision).

5) We are justified; made righteous freely (nothing we did to deserve or earn it). How? Through the redemption found in Jesus Christ. How were we redeemed by or through Christ?

6) Verse 25: Through the propitiation of faith in His blood. It was by and through His sacrifice and spilled blood we are washed of our sins. Without Christ's payment of that which the law required, all would otherwise remain in sin, under condemnation, and separated from God.

7) By this God's justice is satisfied, and that God now can justify us through faith in Christ, all according to the law.

8) All boasting then in the law by those of the circumcision is negated and canceled by this “law of faith” whereby we have our righteousness and salvation, seeing as the law; the works of the law, could only result in sin, condemnation, and death otherwise. So salvation comes to those under the law as well as those not under the law, for God is the God of both Jew and Gentile, and both are justified and made righteous outside the works of the law. This justification comes about through faith for both Jew and Gentile. Both were under sin, whether they were under the law or not, but it was the law that prescribed what was necessary for the remission of sin; that perfect sacrifice of Christ's spoken of before as found in the law and prophets.

9) Is then the law voided through faith? No, for it was the law that required a sacrifice for sin, and the law was satisfied through the sacrifice of Christ. In this way, the law is forever established as that standard by which God's justice was satisfied, and men are now able to be forgiven through Christ's substitutionary sacrifice, according to that law.

Those who want to make the case the law is established as a requirement to be observed and kept ignore the context. The law was not established as a standard for mankind to keep, seeing as its purpose was not for man's justification or righteousness. Its purpose was to bring all under sin so that God could have mercy on that same all, including those not under that law, yet who were nonetheless still under sin, but whose sins needed to be blotted out also, and this was all done in accordance with that law for both Jew and Gentile. To conclude we must all therefore abide by that law; that it is established forevermore, is to establish condemnation and sin for us and on us forevermore.

Those who live by that law today (or more accurately, those who think they live by that law, when in fact they do not) boast in that law. They define Christianity as related to keeping that law, and conclude all others as false Christians who do not live by that law. A person's faith is accounted for little, if anything, whereas this passage of Scripture, and many more, attest to the over-arching importance of faith apart from, and without that law.

d. Proper Critical Thinking Skills

This is the discipline of properly evaluating a belief that is derived at, hopefully through the proper use of the tools of interpretation, with logic and a sense of Scripture overall. It is borrowed in part from the sciences as a means of examining conclusions derived from observation and experimentation. In cultic groups, people are conditioned to not think critically about their beliefs and their leadership. For the sake of simplifying the process, beliefs are referred to as claims, and Scriptures that support or refute the claims are evidence.

1) A claim cannot be so vague, or worded in such a manner so that any possible evidence to the contrary is rendered impossible. (aka falsifiability)

There are claims made by religious leaders that are designed to circumvent critical thinking. One of the most common found in cults is a leader who claims personal revelation from God, where the conclusion of the matter is that, to question the leader is to question God. It is impossible to produce evidence to the contrary, unless God is in a habit of talking directly to you!

We need to ask ourselves a few critical thinking questions as a result of such a claim:

Is this the way God works? Would He set us up in a condition where we have to resort to a “blind faith” and where we have no real way to “prove all things”? It is illogical to conclude God would use such a method which would circumvent our ability to seek out the truth. When God called men like Moses and the prophets, they were also given the means of showing evidence that supported the belief they were called of God. An exception might be John the Baptist, whose calling was to prepare the way for Another, and be witness to Christ, and not his own calling as a prophet.

Another example I would like to cite in regards to a claim that resists evaluation through critical thinking is a religious leader who claims to be infallible. How do you produce evidence that might refute the claim? You might show him (or her) to be wrong about a certain belief or teaching, but his followers would only conclude you wrong and he to be right, regardless. This claim often goes hand in hand with the first example regarding personal revelation from God. If what he says he claims came from God, then what God would say would indeed be infallible. The false prophet might even claim to be fallible, but what are you going to do about what he claims he heard from God? So in this context, a claim of being merely a fallible man, used by God, will still end up being a case of what he says as infallible. This too is common among cultic groups; a form of double talk that makes it difficult to pin him down should something he said turns up irrefutably false.

2) Is the claim logical

This does not preclude the possibility a claim can sound logical, yet be wrong. But a claim that is illogical can hardly be considered believable.

What is useful to understand in this context are claims that fall into the category of “logical fallacies” and there are a number of resources on the internet to learn of them and how they work. Normally, a claim can consist of a premise followed by a conclusion. An illogical claim would be one where the premise is flawed or even has no real bearing on the conclusion. The claim can sound reasonable, but still be flawed in logic. An example is the oft stated claim made by legalists that, because the ten commandments are written in stone (the premise) this demonstrates their permanence and the fact that we should be keeping them.

A simple critical thinking question would be, where in Scripture are we informed of this; that God wrote the ten “commandments” in stone so as to emphasize their permanence? Could we not also conclude that the law that was written with ink upon parchment would indicate their transitory nature? What do we have today? Where are the tablets of stone? If the the law engraven in stone was for the sake of showing their permanence, would we not have those stones with us today? What do we have today? That which was written in ink upon parchment, including the ten commandments. The stones are gone. The “logic” here is flawed on several levels. We also have the evidence of Scripture, where we find:

3) Evidence to the Contrary

Are there Scriptures that appear to refute the claim? If so, did the one making the claim in question address the apparent Scriptures that appear to refute the claim in order to demonstrate how those Scriptures do not refute or contradict the claim? Do the refutations themselves use the proper methods of evidence, or did he resort to the methods of deception in order to discredit the opposing Scriptures?

In the above example regarding that which was engraven in stone, the evidence of Scripture found in II Corinthians chapter 3 refutes the conclusion/belief.

4) Does there exist comprehensive, credible evidence?

One of the ploys, or methods of pushing through a false belief is to produce a flood of assumptions, rationalizations, and drawn out conclusions in order to appear as comprehensive evidence. If a belief is supported by such means; inference, assumption, rationalization, or drawn conclusions, these methods or arguments are weak at best, and methods of deception at worse. If a belief is held to be of great importance, then there should be ample, comprehensive evidence to support it that does not rely on inferences, assumptions, rationalizations, or drawn conclusions. As I like to point out, assumptions lead to deceptions.

A good example of this among Sabbatarian groups are the “proofs” they offer up to support their claim Christians are supposed to keep the sabbath. These lists often exceed 30 claims that, upon careful examination, are indeed rife with inference, assumption, rationalizations, and drawn out conclusions. What is lacking is a “thus saith the Lord” on the part of Scripture. The sabbath was such an important tenet of old covenant/testament theology that it would be impossible to miss it. Yet such evidence is painfully missing for the Sabbatarian who claims we should be keeping the sabbath in the new covenant/testament, given the importance they place upon the sabbath.

There is one more criteria useful for determining truth; A very good familiarity and understanding of the Scriptures.

All too often, it is people who have a basic belief in God who do not have a good grasp of the Scriptures that end up recruited into cults, where from then onward, their understanding and beliefs are perceived through the colored glasses of the cult. Those raised in a cult suffer the same fate. They do not know the Scriptures well, and they are unfamiliar with the proper methods of determining truths from errors. Once completely indoctrinated, it is unlikely they will find their way out of the cult in their lifetime.


It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. ; )

Acts 17:11


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Gospel in Detail

Chapter 4

The Gospel in Detail

The best thing the reader can do for him or herself is to read through the accounts of the gospel being preached by the apostles as found primarily in the book of Acts. See what is a part of the gospel, and try to see what is not a part of the gospel. For an example of the preaching of the gospel to work from, I cite the example of Peter preaching to Cornelius,

And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends. And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man. And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together. And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me? And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee. Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.

Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. — Acts 10:24-45
What exactly did Peter say that these Gentiles heard that resulted in their being in receipt of the Holy Spirit? A message about Christ; His life, His sacrificial death, and His resurrection and the proof or evidence of the resurrection through their witness, and that it is those who believe; place their faith and trust in Him that receive remission of their sins (the application of that sacrifice to their lives). Having one’s sins forgiven redeems the individual to God, and that individual’s life is now hidden in Christ. The believer takes on the righteousness of Christ.
For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. — Colossians 3:3
But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. — Romans 3:21-26
But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: — 1 Corinthians 1:30
Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. — Philippians 1:11
And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: — Philippians 3:9
The gospel can be falsified in several ways, most commonly through adding to the gospel what is not a part of the gospel; claims of things required for salvation either explicitly or implicitly. It cannot be emphasized enough– anything claimed as something a believer must do or even should do besides faith in Christ needs to be examined carefully and thoroughly. Some of the more common claims include:

Obedience to the old covenant law, usually couched in the terminology of keeping God’s commandments or the “law of God.” Proof texts will accompany any such claims, and there are quite a number that are very convincing up front. If deceptions were not subtle and believable, who would believe them? And who is behind all deceptions anyway? The devil, who has had plenty of time now to refine and hone the deceptions so that, as Christ said in Matthew 24:24, even the elect might well believe them. Conclusion? Everyone believes they are the elect, therefore they cannot be deceived! Can we afford to be so cavalier and arrogant in our own thinking? No, we must be willing to diligently go about covering every issue and the nuances of every issue in order to gain a more complete picture of the truth of Scripture, and fight the temptation to let our beliefs and assumptions drive our understanding and interpretation of the Scriptures.

The apostle Paul was constantly at odds with those of the circumcision who were going behind him, teaching the Gentile converts they had to keep the law in order to be saved. To them, it was a logical conclusion based upon a lifetime of serving the law. It was, after all, a sin to break that law, and how could it now not be a sin? All such issues however are answered when one has an understanding of the spirit of the law, and an understanding of sin.

The paradigm of those who have bought into law, arguably the first heresy found within the early church, is that everything is seen and interpreted in terms of the law. All mankind’s problems are a result of breaking law, and this law gets defined as the law given to Israel at Sinai, including events prior to Sinai. The proper paradigm for examining Scripture is faith. Adam and Eve rejected faith in God, and as a result, decided to partake of that tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And it does no good to point out to those who have a legalistic paradigm that it is the law that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil represents.

The gospel then is a message of faith; faith in Christ based upon the evidence and witness of the resurrection from the dead. Christ shows us that He has conquered death – the one thing that is most dreadful to mankind. You know that you will die. What you didn’t know was whether you would stay that way in a state of having perished as though you had never existed.

What then does God want from mankind? Does he want a bunch of people conditioned to blindly obey a plethora of rules and regulations like those of some despotic ruler who demands his followers jump through hoops in order to “show” their dedication to him, or does God desire to have the love and trust of mankind He created? Abiding by rules and regulations does not prove one’s love. You can comply with a law that says, “do not murder” despite your harboring hatred in your heart for someone.

But the picture painted by those who preach a false gospel of law is one of a harsh God who demands obedience to laws that at times even appear arbitrary and capricious.

Legalism is not the only form a false gospel takes on, but it is one of the main forms. If it is not the legalism from the old covenant, it can be a totally new legalism created by a person or church organization. Some churches teach it is a sin to drink alcoholic beverages. I should mention here that a Christian is dead to sin, and this will be covered elsewhere in detail. Suffice it to say some churches and false prophets resurrect the Christian back to sin for the sake of control. The result of this sort of teaching is a group of people fearful of sinning, thus risking their salvation, and their greater dependence upon the leadership or false prophet who is there to lead them from sin where he or they define sin and direct people as to how to avoid sin.

Any teaching of any church or man needs to be subjected to certain criteria in order to ascertain whether the teaching is true or a deception. Without a methodology to abide by, one can find themselves misled all the while being totally convinced the deception is truth. First, we ascertain whether the teaching falls into any of the categories commonly used to foster lies and fables. Are any of the methods of deception being employed?

Another valuable tool is the use of one’s critical thinking skills. Unfortunately, those who are drawn into cults and false doctrines undergo a subtle process of indoctrination and conditioning so as to abandon their critical thinking skills in favor of letting the leadership decide what is right or wrong, again using the methods of deception. The deceived are led to believe that the leadership are called of God and to question them and their interpretation of things is to question God Himself.

But if your critical thinking skills have not been compromised by the group, which will happen after even a brief exposure to them and their teachings, you can ask yourself important questions in regards to what they teach.

Does the teaching have a comprehensive backing of Scripture? Sometimes a deceiver will flood the issue with a great deal of material that is all based on inference in order to appear comprehensive. The best proof of a belief is a “thus saith the Lord” statement.

Many deceptions resort to claims that are not falsifiable. What this means is that every claim, in order to be considered true, must also be of such a nature that evidence must be possible to disprove the claim. Is the claim or rationale so stated that it is impossible to either confirm or refute the belief? Such statements are useless when it comes to discerning truth from error, and so they are best dismissed. An example would be a “prophet” who claims direct revelation from God. False ministers/preachers/prophets are expert at making claims that cannot be disproved or verified. Those who recognize this ploy up front are not going to follow such a person, but those who do not know the rules of proper critical thinking may well fall for such a ploy, and these, after all, are the sort of people the deceivers are looking for.

Getting back to the example of some churches teaching that alcohol consumption is a sin, we ask ourselves, what Scriptures exist to back up the claim, and what specifically do they relate? Close doesn’t count when it comes to digging out truth. Does Scripture declare drinking is a sin? As evidence, they may produce a Scripture such as this:
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. — 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
The deceiver will take this passage, and take the term “drunkard” and redefine it to suit his or her own purpose. But what is a drunkard? One who drinks to excess so as to become inebriated regularly. They have a habit of “sin” in this regard. The difference here is that a Christian is one who no longer lives a lifestyle of sin. Their conversion and their receipt of the Holy Spirit is what changes this. The Christian still can and does sin, but it is not the lifestyle; it is not the common practice any more of the individual.

Critical thinking asks these sort of questions. If drinking any alcohol defines one as being a drunkard, then why would Christ turn a great deal of water into wine where people would drink it, become drunk, and be excluded from the kingdom of God? Wouldn’t this be counter-productive in regards to why Jesus came in the flesh in the first place?

Deceivers have their answer to this issue. They claim the wine was not alcoholic. They claim the wine contained no alcohol. What evidence do they provide for their claim? None. Does this claim meet the falsifiability test? No, it fails miserably. They cannot provide any evidence for this being true, and there is no way to even disprove such a claim of divine intervention in regards to this particular batch of wine.

Another argument/claim employed is that drinking will lead to drunkenness.
Critical thinking also forces us to ask, if drinking is a sin because it will lead to drunkenness, then what if we applied the same logic to eating? If one overeats, it is gluttony. Therefore, using the same logic, people should not be allowed to eat lest they eat to excess and commit the sin of gluttony.

Another critical thinking tool is to subject a claim to the question, is there any Scriptural evidence that appears to refute the claim? Rarely does a deceiver address Scriptures that appear to contradict their claims, and when they do, they subject those Scriptures to the methods of deception. Often, you will see their explanation couched in an accusation. An example of this is the response legalists give when confronted with Scripture that says Christians are not under the law; the old covenant law, which includes the ten commandments. They will often respond with, “then it would be alright for a Christian to lie, steal, and murder without concern of punishment.”

Does the claim provide evidence to support their overall claim Christians should keep the law, or does it attempt to make a rationalization based in an accusation? It should be obvious, but it has been an effective argument for them. What it does not answer is whether a Christian would be doing such things should they conclude they are indeed free of that law. But the real critical thinking question to ask in response is to turn it back on the one making the accusatory rationalization and ask them that, if it were indeed proven to them that Christians are not under that law, would they personally in turn go about committing those acts such as lying, stealing, committing adultery and murder? After all, if they claim others would, why not them?

We must also ask if a claim is logical. This in and of itself though is not enough, for many false claims can be made to look logical. It takes all these criteria to make a more informed decision regarding the veracity of a claim. But some claims are not logical, seeing as they can be based on faulty logic or use logical fallacies, hence the importance of studying into logical fallacies so that you recognize when someone is using them in a claim or premise.

All this takes time to learn and apply, and the time to learn it is not after you have been tricked into a false religion or a cult. But if one can be honest with themselves, it can reap rewards and benefits in one’s Christian walk.

The other item of importance is to read Scripture regularly while comparing what you read to what you believe and what you have been taught.

Getting back to the gospel then, we will examine it in greater detail in regards to how it was presented to people as recorded in the New Testament Scriptures from Acts onward, but first, a Scriptural definition:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. — Romans 1:16
What can we safely conclude from this statement? If the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to the one who believes, then what of one who buys into a false gospel? Is there salvation in a false gospel? Can the reader see the necessity of understanding and believing the true gospel, leaving no proverbial stone unturned in this quest for truth concerning the gospel?

Before we begin an examination of the gospel as preached by the apostles (and others) we need to stop and ask ourselves what motivates one to preach a false gospel. There are a number of issues, but first and foremost is the false prophets desire to feed their own bellies, and if they can do it at the expense of others, that’s just fine with them.
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. — Matthew 7:15-20
The false prophet has an outward appearance of respectability and can appear to be the perfect minister of Christ. The real tell tale sign though are the fruits. See Galatians chapter 5 for a list of fruits and works of the flesh, and remember that even here, the deceiver will redefine fruits. Bursts of temper will be redefined as a zeal for God, for example.

An interesting aside is how many ministers today wear wool suits; the clothing of a sheep, but wearing a wool suit does not mean one is a false prophet. False prophets though can be found wearing wool suits – expensive wool suits.

In order to make his living off of a flock, the deceiver has to control the flock, and this is accomplished through a number of deceptive practices. The most important to the false prophet is to do whatever it takes to prevent sheep from leaving. Next in importance is recruiting new members, so it is no big surprise that almost all false churches ( I say almost, even though I have not yet found one that did not do this) make the claim that only members of their particular group will be saved. Again, what can we conclude from this claim? Does it meet the falsifiability test, for example? We may intrinsically know it to be false, but this too is a claim they can neither prove, and that we cannot properly disprove. Part of the problem is in the definitions again. In this case “church” gets redefined as being their particular organization; the “one true church.” Scripture though defines “church” as being the Christian collective, regardless of where they live and what group they associate with.

There is another tell-tale sign that you may be dealing with a false prophet and a false church, not based upon their gospel, but their goal. Is there goal to preach the gospel as found in the Scriptures, or is their goal one of recruiting you into their church? Try telling him or them that you believe their “gospel” to be the true gospel, and that you already attend a church that teaches the same thing. What will be of interest is their response.

You might be wondering why I would want to begin examining the gospel as preached beginning with the book of Acts instead of the gospel as preached by Jesus the Christ. In the cult church that I was a part of for nearly 25 years, they relied on the gospel as preached by Jesus, which was through the use of parables. According to Jesus, those parables were used for a reason; to disguise and hide the meaning behind the parables:
And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? 11He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. 12For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. 13Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. – Matthew 13:10-13
By relying on the parables, it is relatively easy to redefine the gospel in light of the parables; in this case redefining the “kingdom of heaven” or “kingdom of God.” Kingdom of God was equated with the “Government” of God, and from there the case was made to justify keeping the old covenant law.

In the preaching of the gospel by the apostles, the veil comes off, and the gospel is preached in its fullness. What I would like the reader to take note of is that nowhere in the preaching of the gospel is it ever mentioned that one had to keep the law; any of it, it order to be saved or attain to salvation. Those who insist we keep the law must rely on assumption and rationalization in order to make their case, and this incorporates the tools of deception as a result. There is evidence in Scripture to refute this line of rationale, found in Acts 15. This too gets its particular spin from those who believe otherwise, by attempting to break up the law into two separate and distinct laws, one of which is the ten commandments as a stand alone covenant. At other times though, the legalist plays it the other way around in order to justify laws not found in the ten. What needs to be understood is that there is but one old covenant law, and it was the book of the law that was ratified, and not the tablets of stone.
But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: 15For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. 16But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 17And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: 19And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: 20The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: 21And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. 22Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: 23Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: 24Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. 25For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: 26Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: 27Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 28Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. 29Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. 30Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; 31He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. 32This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. 33Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. 34For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 35Until I make thy foes thy footstool. 36Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. 37Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. 40And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. 41Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. – Acts 2:14-41
Did Peter say anything about keeping the law; any of it? No. You have to resort to those things commonly employed in deceptions to make any such case, and one that is employed here is the redefining of what it means to repent. It means to turn to God, or to return to God. In doing so, one abandons a lifestyle of sin and living according to one's own will and desires. The legalist redefines repentance as turning from sin, and by relying on the poor translation in the KJV found in I John 3:4, one has to keep the law, or turn to the law in order to turn from sin and avoid sinning by transgressing that law; that covenant law Christians are not a party to.
And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, 28Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. 29Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. 30And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? 31And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. 32The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: 33In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. 34And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? 35Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. 36And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 37And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 38And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. 39And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. – Acts 8:27-39
Philip taught the Ethiopian about Jesus and belief in Him. Nothing at all here makes any mention of keeping the old covenant law, or any other requirement.

What we need to understand is that Luke did not leave out important details when he recorded these events. God does not leave things up to assumption or imagination, and neither did Luke. Philip covered the basics of the gospel with this man in regards to faith and their call to preach the gospel. The man heard, understood, and believed. If it were important for the man to believe he had to keep the law; any of it, we would expect to see it here. This man returned home with the knowledge of the gospel; faith/belief in Jesus as the Christ.

But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down. 15And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on. 16Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience. 17The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought he them out of it. 18And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness. 19And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, he divided their land to them by lot. 20And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet. 21And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years. 22And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will. 23Of this man's seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus: 24When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 25And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not he. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose. 26Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent. 27For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him. 28And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. 29And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. 30But God raised him from the dead: 31And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people. 32And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, 33God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. 34And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David. 35Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 36For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: 37But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption. 38Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: 39And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. 40Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; 41Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you. – Acts 13:14-41
Paul preached Christ, and salvation and forgiveness of sins. Through Christ, a man is justified from “all things” which could not be accomplished through the law of Moses. Here then was salvation through faith in Christ that was not reliant upon that law at all. Indeed, the law was rendered irrelevant and useless when it comes to salvation.

Why then Paul's closing comments? Because he understood the Jew's reliance on that law. They could not imagine a “work” in association with their religion and faith that was apart from that law. All was defined and understood through that law. Those who rejected Christ did so in favor of the law of Moses.

In Acts chapter 15 is the discourse over the law and its possible relation to the gospel and salvation. There were Jews with a Pharisaical background who believed the Gentiles should be circumcised and made to keep the law of Moses in order to be saved. It was established then and there that the Holy Spirit was given to the Gentiles as a result of their belief in the gospel and their faith in Christ; that they were accepted by God and sealed by God with the Holy Spirit without having to keep that law or come under that old covenant. Indeed, it was concluded that to teach the Gentiles to keep any of that law was to subvert their souls. How? Why? When one lives by a set of rules (laws) one's focus is on complying with those rules and laws. As a result, their focus comes off of that which is important; living according to faith in Christ. The focus of a Christian is to be on Christ, and not a faith divided between Christ and the law. The Christian is complete in Christ. There is nothing to be added or gained by keeping that law. The Christian is called to “fulfill” that law through that love of God shed on the changed heart that God has given the believer. The Christian is no longer motivated by that hard heart of stone he was born with. He has a new heart of flesh and “God's law” written on the heart to lead him, and this new heart; this “law of God” written on his inner being, is that Holy Spirit imparted to the believer.
Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. – 2 Corinthians 3:3
That which was written in stone, and written with ink, is not this “law” written on the heart. Yet legalists will insist it is, ignoring the prophesy spoken by God Himself as recorded in Jeremiah 31:31-34:
31Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
With that old covenant law, there was a constant reminder of their sins.
For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. 2For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. – Hebrews 10:1-4
And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. 26And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. 27And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. 28But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. 29Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, 30And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. 32And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. 33And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. – Acts 16:25-33
What was Paul's answer in regards to how the man could be saved? Faith in Christ. Believing in Christ. Placing one's faith, hope, trust, assurance in Christ. Believing this promise found in Christ.

Note also the man was baptized that night. There was no waiting period of time for any indoctrination of the law. When it came to the gospel and Paul it was a matter of what?
For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. – 1 Corinthians 2:2
Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: 2And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, 3Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. 4And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few. – Acts 17:1-4
By now, one should be asking themselves why some Jews, who were attending synagogues, who were doubtless religious, rejected this message of Paul's. It is a simple message; a message of faith. The reason some would reject the gospel is that it is too easy; too simplistic for many. They reason there must be more to it. If anything, the law became a stumbling block to them, for the message of the gospel was quite a departure from what they understood in relation to the law. Here was salvation apart from the law.

Later in Acts 17, Paul is in Athens, and preaches Christ and the resurrection. He also speaks of how God now commands all men to repent, and that Christ will judge the nations.

To a legalist, repenting is associated with turning to the law. To Paul, repenting has to do with turning to God and abandoning one's lifestyle of sin and self indulgence and the ego-centric nature of life apart from God.
Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, 2(Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) 3Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; 4And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: 5By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name: 6Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ: – Romans 1:1-6
Here, Paul equates the gospel specifically with Christ and His resurrection and one's obedience being to the faith, for His name.

In the opening of Romans, Paul makes this statement in regards to the gospel:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. – Romans 1:16-17
This gospel of Christ is shown to be associated with salvation to those who believe the gospel, and associated with faith; the just living by faith, and faith is contrasted to those who live by law:
But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. 12And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. – Galatians 3:11
In the opening of I Corinthians, Paul writes:
For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. 18For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
23But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; – 1 Corinthians 1:17-18; 23
Here, Christ's sacrifice is equated with the gospel.
Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. 9For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 11Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed. 12Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. – 1 Corinthians 15:1-14
Here, the gospel is associated with the death and resurrection of Christ.
Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; 2But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. 3But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. 5For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. – II Corinthians 4:1-5
The gospel is about Christ.
For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. – 2 Corinthians 11:4
A false gospel could be a gospel not of Jesus, or be about “another” Jesus; a counterfeit. This could be a Jesus misrepresented; a Jesus who is said to teach what Jesus did not teach.
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8But 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. – Galatians 1:6-8
The true gospel is a gospel of grace. This false gospel is a gospel devoid of true grace. Paul was constantly battling those of the circumcision who were going behind Paul, attempting to teach Gentile converts to Christianity they had to undergo circumcision and keep the law. Law and grace are contrasted in Scripture.

There are those today who also teach Christians are required or obligated to keep that law, thereby falsifying the gospel; preaching another, that is not another, but rather adds to the gospel requirements that are not required for salvation.

Teaching law perverts the gospel. They teach salvation through Christ, but then redefine grace and add the law, all the while claiming one does not keep the law in order to be saved. To expose this false gospel, all you need do is ask them what happens to their salvation should they quit keeping the law.

But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. 13For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: 14And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. 15But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, 16To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: – Galatians 1:11-16
Note that the gospel is in contrast to the religion in which Paul was raised and a part of. And again, the gospel is related to Christ and preaching about Christ.
Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. 2And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain. 3But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: 4And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: 5To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. – Galatians 2:1-5
These false brethren were false in relation to circumcision. The desire of these false brethren was to bring Christians under bondage while removing Christian liberty. What they taught was in contradiction to the gospel.

Was the law seen as bondage? What law was circumcision a part of? In Both Acts 15 and Galatians 4:21-5:1, the old covenant law is what was seen as bondage and a yoke. The Israelites served the law, and the law was a harsh taskmaster, condemning those under the law.
But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. 12For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. 13And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. 14But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? 15We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. – Galatians 2:11-16
Their not dealing with the Gentiles in accordance with the gospel was a case of their reverting back to the law. Paul hits Peter with the argument that was extant with many of the Jews in regards to the erroneous belief put forward in Acts 15 that the Gentiles should be living like Jews. Peter was playing both ends against the middle, as we are apt to put it. He lived like the Gentiles, associating with the Gentiles when in the company of Gentiles. But when other Jews showed up, he flipped and lived like a Jew. So the logical question Paul breaches was that of why some believed the Gentiles should live like Jews in the company of Jews and Gentiles? Paul therefore exposes the double standard of Peter in regards to the gospel. It is the Jewish Christian that changes in regards to the law, and not the Gentile.
And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. 9So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. 10For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. 11But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. 12And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. – Galatians 3:8-12
The gospel is associated with faith, and as preached to Abraham, in regards to the promises made to faithful Abraham; promises that are not related to law; promises that are related to faith.
For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. 14For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: 15Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. 16Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, … – Romans 4:13-16
Jesus preached the gospel couched in the terminology of parables for the express purpose of hiding the meaning of the gospel.
And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? 11He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. 12For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. 13Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. 14And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: 15For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. – Matthew 13:10-15
All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: – Matthew 13:34
The carnal mind is a sick mind, in need of healing. But if the sick think they are well, then what? Will they not reject that which does not fit within the confines of their belief system?

The law was given to the Israelites as a witness against them; to prove to them they were exactly what God declared them to be; a stiff-necked and rebellious people.
Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee. 27For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the LORD; and how much more after my death? – Deuteronomy 31:26-27
Psalms 44 is a good example of Israel in denial; refusing to believe and accept the reality of their situation.
In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy name for ever. Selah. 9But thou hast cast off, and put us to shame; and goest not forth with our armies. 10Thou makest us to turn back from the enemy: and they which hate us spoil for themselves. 11Thou hast given us like sheep appointed for meat; and hast scattered us among the heathen. 12Thou sellest thy people for nought, and dost not increase thy wealth by their price. 13Thou makest us a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and a derision to them that are round about us. 14Thou makest us a byword among the heathen, a shaking of the head among the people. 15My confusion is continually before me, and the shame of my face hath covered me, 16For the voice of him that reproacheth and blasphemeth; by reason of the enemy and avenger. 17All this is come upon us; yet have we not forgotten thee, neither have we dealt falsely in thy covenant. 18Our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from thy way; – Psalms 44:8-18
Jesus referred to them as a whole as merely giving God lip service, and having a heart far from God.
This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. – Matthew 15:8
So Jesus preached the gospel to them in parables, often referring to the gospel in relation to the kingdom of God. This leaves the kingdom of God, or heaven, open to a great deal of interpretation and deception in regards to the gospel.

However, in the writings of the apostles, the “kingdom of God/heaven” is only rarely referenced, and when it is, no specifics are given. I would remind the reader that Luke and the other writers of the New Testament writings, were not in a habit of leaving out important details. It is the deceivers who like to “fill in the blanks” for the purpose of misleading people, and the true gospel is the greatest target in this regard, for what better way to get people to follow you and do as you say by convincing them that what you claim is necessary for their salvation?

If a deceiver declares that only those who are members of their particular church and brand of Christianity can be, and will be saved, would this not influence the unwary to join him, and do as he (or she!) says?

The gospel is a message of salvation. It is specifically about Christ and what He accomplished for us, dying for us and rising from the dead so that we might live.

It is not about jumping through theological hoops, complying with a set of rules or laws where we “do this” and “don't do that.” It is not about being a member of any particular group or organization. It is about believing Christ and placing our faith and trust in Him. Faith is what was lost; faith is what was restored.

Faith, resulting in our being in receipt of the Holy Spirit is what heals our minds; minds that were corrupted when faith in God was abandoned.

No wonder then that Paul proclaims a double curse on those who would teach a false gospel. There is no salvation in a false gospel, and the gospel is easily falsified by adding things to the gospel that are not a part of that gospel.

Anything attached to the gospel falsifies the gospel, and anything attached to faith falsifies faith.

The gospel can be falsified in a number of ways; through addition, subtraction, or outright substitution, or any combination of the three.

A false Christ is one proclaimed as teaching that which Christ did not teach and preach. Legalistic ministers teach a Christ who taught and upheld the law as necessary for salvation, often citing Matthew chapter 19 as their proof text:
And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? 17And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. – Matthew 19:16-17
As is usual with a false belief, the context is ignored. Further in the chapter Jesus makes it plain that no one is going to achieve eternal life based on their own effort. So what is happening here? The man asked a specific question, and Jesus answered him accordingly. He asked what he, personally, could do to have eternal life. If one could live a sinless life, which would be demonstrated by keeping that law perfectly, then that person would have no need for a Saviour. But the purpose of that law was to show man he could not live a perfect, sinless life.
Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. – Romans 3:19
That law has nothing to do with salvation. That law existed to show man his utter inability to save himself. All that law could do was expose the man as a sinner, and condemn him accordingly, justly and rightly.

To teach the law is to teach a doctrine of failure. You will never prove to God anything more than what He already knows. You are not God, and you cannot make yourself over to be like God. God wants to make sure you understand He alone is God and there is none other like Him, and there never will be. The believer's life is hidden in Christ. The believer lives by faith, and not self-reliance through law. You are saved by grace, and not a combination of grace and your own efforts. Christ paid the price for your salvation. Christ did not pay half of it, with you attempting to make up the difference through your own effort.

When a person has been a part of a false, legalistic organization for any length of time, the hardest thing to do and accept is to step out in faith. The law becomes a crutch. It is like a drug that is hard to overcome. Humanly, we want to prove ourselves worthy. Of ourselves, this is impossible. Only through God's Holy Spirit are we able to produce the fruit God desires of a believer. It is a fruit of faith; a fruit of love. It is a fruit of the Spirit.

We do not overcome based on our own efforts. We surrender.

It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. ; )
Acts 17:11