Another Gospel

By Rev. C. F. Sheldon

In the Galatian letter, the apostle Paul uses strong language with reference to those who preach a perverted gospel. Paul's name for the gospel committed to him is: "The gospel of the grace of God." It is important that we know the truth, in so far as it is possible, of this great fact; that grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. This gospel of grace is our gospel. It is all that we have to preach; and in such measure as we fail to understand the grace of God, we shall fail to be effective preachers.

The great fact of grace—the truth that salvation from sin, from its guilt, and from its dominion, comes out of the love, the compassion, the grace of God, and not as the result of any human effort whatsoever—this idea of grace permeates, saturates and dominates the epistles of Paul, who was the man chosen of God to give to the church the truth as to her origin and her life and her destiny. "If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward; how that by revelation He made known unto me, the mystery which in other ages was not made known, as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit."

This gospel of the grace of God is not a tradition, it is a revelation. Paul says that he did not receive it from man; that God gave it to him, that he might preach it to the Gentiles. And Paul uses strong language when he speaks of the men who preach any other gospel than this gospel of grace. "If any man preach any other gospel let him be accursed," that is, "let him be under the anathema of God."

The test of the Gospel is grace. This gospel is good tidings concerning, not the law of God, but the grace of God. Law dominated the former dispensation, but grace dominates this one.

No man should presume to preach until he has this distinction clearly in his thought and heart. No seminary should approve men as preachers until they have been established in this truth. No church ought to call a man to its pastorate who does not understand this great distinction.

What Constitutes Another Gospel?

I. If the pulpit message excludes grace as the means whereby men and women are justified, it is "another gospel." "For by grace are ye saved." "Therefore by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified." The New Testament Scriptures are full of this truth. We are both justified and sanctified by grace: the grace of God fills all the scene in this present dispensation, as the train of the Lord filled the temple in the vision of Isaiah.

II. If the pulpit message is an effort to mingle the principles of law and of grace, either as the means of justification, or as constructing a rule for the life of the believer, it is "another gospel."Grave mistakes are made in this regard. Many preachers undertake to mingle law and grace in their gospel because they fear that they may dishonor God by leaving the law out. Because they have been imperfectly instructed and do not fully understand the doctrine of grace, they preach justification in part by law, and in part by grace, and they seek to put the believer under law as to his conduct as a believer and thereby bring him into bondage. The truth is that we honor God when we give to law and to grace their true places in the great salvation.

III. If the pulpit message denies the fact of sin and its guilt it is "another gospel." This is the glaring error of Christian Science so called. It denies the fact of sin, and if there be no sin, then there is no occasion for grace to act, for there is nothing that man needs to be saved from.

IV. If the pulpit message denies the great fundamental doctrines of the Word of God it is "another gospel." There is a kind of preaching much in vogue in these days that is called "modern." It denies jauntily every great doctrine of the Bible: its inspiration, the deity of Christ, the virgin birth, the miracles, the resurrection of the body and the personal return of the Lord.

Why Preach Another Gospel?

I. There are some who preach "another gospel" because they do not know any better. They have their gospel by tradition, not revelation. They have not yet learned that no man has a right to preach save as he gets his message from God. They teach what they have been taught. It seems like sacrilege to them to teach anything else. To teach that we are saved by grace alone; that law-keeping has no part in it; that everything has been done by God in grace, and that a man is saved by accepting that which God has given him in pure grace-this, to such a preacher, is the acme of presumption. It is an overthrowing of all the revered traditions of his fathers. "I cannot," says the young preacher just out of the seminary, "contradict that which my professor taught me." Well, it does take a good measure of courage to receive the truth when tradition has held the stage so long. It was no easy task for young Gideon to go out and break down the altars of his father, but he did it.

II. There is another reason why some men preach "another gospel." There is in these days a strong desire on the part of many to be counted among the "intellectuals"; to be considered "up-to-date," "abreast of the times"; to be associated in their thinking with the "best scholarship of the day"; and the denial of much that has been always believed among us seems to be a mark of intellectual superiority. And so these man are denying the Genesis account of creation and are substituting evolution. They deny the deity of Jesus Christ. They deny the virgin birth and thereby cover Mary with a scarlet robe of shame. They deny all miracles, they deny the resurrection of the body, the personal return of the Lord, and proudly stand among the intellectuals.

III. There is one other reason why men are preaching "another gospel." It is the Scriptural reason: "The "god of this world" possesses a terrible blinding power and when he finds a man in the pulpit who is itching for praise and popularity, the devil makes it his special business to blind that man to the truth, to make him believe and preach "another gospel."

We are very plainly told in First Timothy 4 "that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils, speaking lies in hypocrisy." In Second Timothy 4:3-4 the same apostle says: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lust will they heap to themselves teachers having itching ears ; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth and shall be turned unto fables."

The Result of Preaching Another Gospel

They are too awful to contemplate, and yet, here is the plain word of the apostle: "But though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed," that is, "let him be under the anathema of God."

Let men beware how they trifle with the Word of God. Let no man dare to stand in the pulpit and preach any other gospel than this glorious gospel of the grace of God.

— This article, originally published in 1922, was reproduced from the July-August 2000 issue of Foundation magazine.