Getting The Gospel Wrong

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49 Responses

  1. Laura Scott says:

    Labels. We spend too much time with them.

    However, I do have one. I am family. Jesus made it so.

    It does not matter when it happened or where it happened or what happened next, under duress or not. Just like the thief on the cross, if Jesus said it, it is so. It is not, nor will it ever be, any other person’s business to say it is not, in defense or approbation of their self-imposed label.


  2. Jim says:

    Well said, Michael.

  3. Steve Wright says:

    Good word. Every sect has their crackpots. Helps to get out of America and hang out in a persecuted nation and watch those barriers fall….

    I’m still reeling from the guy on facebook that said every non-Calvinist was either lost or at best a babe in Christ and who assured me that when I just matured in the Lord I would see things through a Calvinist doctrine…can’t really worry about guys that close-minded…and to repeat, “my side” has plenty.

  4. Dan from Georgia says:

    Very well put Michael!

  5. Babylon's Dread says:

    This post is why Phoenix Preacher works as an online community.

    This is why we have no need to destroy one another.

    This is why we need each other.

    Even the most unseemly parts

    Make your own application 😉

  6. Michael says:

    Thanks to all for the affirmation.
    This probably means I won’t be invited to write for my favorite Reformed magazine after all… 🙂

  7. Shilo says:

    Those men called upon the name of the LORD – and ‘all who come to Him, He will in no wise cast out.’ How simple is that? Well, some would argue that you have to use the right name of the LORD or your confession is invalid. If you say Jesus – they’ll tell you that is a Greek false god name. If you say Christ, they’ll say that word is not valid either because it isn’t in the tongue the God/Man spoke in. Some will say you must call upon the name Yeshua HaMashiach or your salvation is void. Or you must say Jehovah or you cannot be one of His. Religion complicates the simple truth and puts it out of the reach of the common man.

  8. Neo says:

    Right on, Michael.

    If “Remember me” worked for the thief on the Cross, I am sure these martyrs found their way into paradise with Jesus that day.

  9. In this post you’ve expressed the heartbeat of Christianity. Amazing how much time we spend on other things, rather than glory in the simple beauty of the gospel message.

  10. Jennifer says:

    I also do not think it is wise or helpful to judge the spiritual state of those who were murdered. In the end God alone knows where anyone stands with him. And I get what you are saying about the gospel message. But I’m reading through Galatians at the moment and wondering how pauls condemnation of the Galatians and the judaisers fits in. The Galatians believed in the death resurrection of Jesus and faith in him. They were adding Jewish rituals that led paul to declare this a “different gospel” and a “gospel contrary to what you received”. I am finding it difficult to see how things that are seen as necessary for receiving grace through the Church, ie confession to a priest, participation in the mass, etc are just doctrines added on to and around the gospel, rather than as something which fundamentally changes the gospel message itself so that it can be called a “different gospel”. .?

  11. Michael says:


    First, we really don’t know the extent of the what the Judaizers were teaching, more so it’s nature.
    Second, the church before the Reformation almost universally endorsed some form of faith plus works.
    Unless we are willing to believe that God condemned the church for 1500 years, we need to think more deeply about this matter.
    The Bible is clear on one thing…that being all that call on the name of Christ will be saved.
    The martyrs chose to die with His name on their lips…

  12. Jennifer says:


    As I said, I do not judge the martyrs. I believe God can save a person who has this simple trust in Christ. He does not require a doctrinal degree for salvation! I guess where I am coming from would be a difference between a Church institution and individuals within that system. Thus, I would truly believe that God did not condemn all individuals within the church for 1500 years. Does that mean it is also therefore unnecessary to seek to address false teaching in a church institution and bring people to an understanding of the unadultered gospel? I think that those teachings are a hindrance to the true gospel message being understood and embraced. My concern is that taking the mere christianity approach for individuals will also lead to an acceptance of the official church teaching or at least a reluctance to be willing to dispute it.

  13. Steve Wright says:

    I am sure that each of these martyrs would eagerly have been accepted into the Islamic fold if they had denied Christ and asked to be….

    While we recognize there have been people who have died for a lie, I think in this particular discussion, we err if we negate the power of the Holy Spirit within to give the courage to go to the martyr’s death. And only Christians have the Holy Spirit.

    Hard to imagine anyone but a true believer would willingly die, bravely, based solely on their own flesh….when all it would take is to say the word and the Muslims would have spared them…

  14. Alan Davis says:

    If I may point out something. You said “A false Gospel is one that says that knowing Jesus isn’t enough.” In my study of the Coptic Church they actually do say that.

  15. I agree with the thrust and tone of what you said, Michael, but I wonder where the line is drawn, or how it’s drawn. Can Mormons and JWs believe in Jesus? Etc. I really am not trying to be a jerk about this, but I’m just not sure where the strictness kicks in…

  16. Linnea says:

    Michael and Laura Scott @1…exactly.

    I’ve been rejected by old friends when they became “calvinist”.

    Really? We’re going to split hairs on this?

    We are in Christ. There is no other distiinction.

  17. Michael says:


    I appreciate how you articulate things…welcome.
    “My concern is that taking the mere christianity approach for individuals will also lead to an acceptance of the official church teaching or at least a reluctance to be willing to dispute it.”

    I dispute constantly. 🙂

    My point is that these are family feuds and should be viewed as such.

  18. Michael says:


    Mormons and JW’s created a caricature outside the creeds and confessions of the church and named it Jesus.

    I do not call them family, though I know some I love dearly.

  19. Michael says:


    If I rejected everyone who doesn’t agree with me …it would be me and the cat by ourselves. 🙂

  20. victorious says:

    A good example of what you are stating is Roger Olson’s list of the major elements of belief that comprise the Gospel while allowing for even an initial dim understanding of such beliefs.

    ” Central to the gospel are the deity and humanity of Jesus Christ (incarnation) and the atonement (the cross as saving sacrifice for sins). Also included are salvation by grace through faith and Jesus’ and our resurrections by the power of God. These are necessary beliefs, insofar as they are known and understood (however dimly), “

  21. Ps40 says:

    Favorite post on PP ever. Big sigh….and a thank you Michael for speaking this out on your blog. Thank you.

  22. Captain Kevin says:

    Great post, Michael! The church needs to hear this again and again. Could part of the confusion have stemmed from the practice of calling pastors “preachers of the Gospel, ” when in fact we preach so much more than just the Gospel?

  23. Michael says:

    I preach a lot of stuff going through the Scriptures…but it all comes back to the Gospel.
    Thanks, CK. 🙂

  24. Ryan Couch says:


    I was just thinking about this subject today while studying church history…I have a bunch of family members who are JWs and while I’ve always considered them outside the kingdom, I wonder about all the Christians who believed in aberrant teachings regarding Christology and soteriology. For 300+ years much of the church couldn’t agree on the nature of Christ, and as you said it took 1500 years for the extent of the atonement to be fully realized. Why do those who hold to similar heresies currently have to be excluded if they are in fact placing faith in Jesus?

    If it’s hard for us to accept Coptic Christians this is probably way over the top…ducking for cover 🙂

  25. Michael says:


    In my opinion, any sect that denies the divinity of Christ is outside the faith.
    Again, as in Mormonism, the JW’s created a caricature and named it Jesus.
    They were not struggling to understand the full doctrine of Christ when their sect was founded…the church had been in agreement for centuries on this doctrine before they were formed.
    I don’t believe that we can draw historical parallels because of that fact.
    I believe on that basis that both sects are of the pit.
    I might be wrong…but I doubt it. 🙂

  26. Ryan Couch says:

    Yeah that makes sense too. They are accountable for the knowledge we now have. What’s funny is my JW family calls me a pagan who worships Rome, I try to tell them that their Arianism is rooted in Rome too but their ignorance runs too deep to listen.

  27. Michael says:

    I feel badly for the JW’s I know…it’s a joyless faith.

  28. Jennifer says:

    Why thank you for your welcome Michael : )

    I can see the distinction you are making. Often people who talk about us all being Christians are also saying that the differences don’t matter. It’s hard to hold these things in tension I think.

  29. Steve Wright says:

    The last thing the Mormons care about is dealing with the Muslims. They even say so very plainly. Read this and tell me where you see any Christian concern for the souls of lost Muslims.

    Google Christians killed in the Middle East and you get nothing but recent headlines…google Mormons killed in the Middle East and you get crickets…

  30. Steve Wright says:

    A quote:

    A lack of an LDS presence among native populations of Muslim nations has originated from legal and societal restrictions on Muslim-targeted proselytism, government regulations prohibiting public religious assembly for non-traditional Christian groups, low receptivity, and a lack of LDS mission resources allocated to Muslim nations….The Church has often discouraged any outreach among Muslims out of fears that the safety of converts and local leaders could be jeopardized.

    (lack of resources allocated is my favorite explanation…)

  31. Ivan Solero says:

    I may have offended you in my past rant. Your post succinctly captured the spirit of what I have been trying to convey. While I disagree in some of your doctrinal premises I never stopped loving you, as you are indeed my brother in Christ. And in the end, that is all that matters! God Bless!

  32. So it looks like the rapture happened on only me, Alex, Ivan & Polo were Left Behind.

  33. OK, so it wasn’t the rapture – everyone gave up blogging for Lent?

  34. FireGears says:

    Calvin … BFD and “Who Cares”.!!!

    The Butcher of Geneva who in 1700+ pages missed “agape”. He was nothing more than the mini-me of the founder of two cults, Augustine.

    Give me the Word of GOD.
    Seek the HOLY SPIRIT for insight, not men.
    Or today.. (shutter) Women in the Pulpit.

    . 2 Cor 13:14

  35. Firegears,
    I am always curious when someone says that we should only learn from the Holy Spirit. What person taught you that? 🙂

    If the Bible tells people to teach, doesn’t that put you under obligation to listen and learn? in other words, if you ignore the teachings of people, aren’t you ignoring or disobeying what the Bible says?

  36. Michael says:


    When someone comes on the blog and reviles a theologian from history as you did, the first thing we know is that they have no understanding of that theologian except what someone else taught them.
    Thus, we dismiss you as both ignorant and dishonest as you only know what you’ve been told and what you’ve been told is wrong.
    You’re dismissed.

  37. Michael says:

    It’s been that kind of day…sorry for my absence.

  38. Ixtlan says:

    Obviously someone who has read neither Calvin nor Augustine and has been spoon-fed all their Christian existence.

  39. Peter Pastorelli says:

    No we should not judge martyrs faith, ridiculous… No, not every true believer can articulate the gospel coherently…but to say, “salvation by grace alone through faith alone….That doctrine, however, is not the Gospel” Really?

    Romans 3:21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction;
    23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;

    Gal 1: 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!

    Gal 3 2 This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?
    3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?


    9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.
    10 For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM.”

  40. Xenia says:

    Oops, you left out a verse:

    “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.”

    James 2:24

  41. Michael says:


    You forgot to capitalize it… 🙂
    If not for you I’d be as wrong about these matters as I think these guys are…thank you for putting up with me all these years.

  42. Xenia says:

    You’re welcome, Michael.

    God bless you!

  43. Xenia says:

    Oh…. better do this before I forget.

    Sunday in Ortholandia is the day before the Great Fast begins. On this Sunday, we have a vespers service called “Forgiveness Vespers” where we go to each and every person in the congregation and ask their forgiveness for any offensives we have committed over the course of the past year. True, it’s better to ask forgiveness right away but better late than never. This service often involves tears. We actually prostrate ourselves (forehead to the carpet) in front of each person and ask for forgiveness. The response is “As God forgives, dear sister, I forgive.”

    So, in the spirit of Forgiveness Sunday I digitally prostrate myself before each and every one of you as ask your forgiveness for my many offenses that I have committed the past year here on PhxP, which includes (but is not limited to) stomping off, occasions of snark, giving a mushy answer when I should have been bolder, not praying when asked to, etc.

    I love you all,

  44. Michael says:


    That was beautiful.
    I will join you in asking forgiveness for the same offenses…I’m both convicted and humbled by what you wrote.

  45. Neo says:

    Xenia. we love you, too.

  46. Peter Pastorelli says:

    @Xenia, with all due respect seems as if you submit James 2:24 as an irreconcilable problem with “justification by faith alone” or as some kind of loophole that allows us to add works as a requirement as opposed to simply the fruit of it. That is impossible of course. The context of James 2:24 begs for James’ justification to be “before men” (vindication)
    18b….show me
    18c I will show you..
    22 You see..
    24 You see..
    While Paul’s justification “before God” i.e. “the gospel” is left untainted or compromised by Scripture.

  47. Bob says:


    What are you afraid of and do you think someone will require you to be circumcised to be part of the clan? Many require people to be baptized and even claim it is the same idea as circumcision. Maybe that is a new “Law” of justification?

    Jesus said something like this, “you will know them by their love…”

    Is that a work, justification or something else?

    What kind of people are those who know all the doctrines, say the prayers, confessions and creeds, and fulfill their chosen denomination’s practices? Maybe their just noisy people and don’t have what Jesus said?

    Ok technicalities and I don’t get it at all.

  48. Andrew says:

    I hope the gospel doesn’t get tainted to be something less than good news for those who call out to Jesus especially during their last breath.

  49. Bob says:


    A well known Rabbi was asked, “Teacher when is the best time to repent and turn to God?”

    After thinking a bit he replied, “On the last day of your life.”

    The man left I good spirits, knowing he had many years left to live.

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