Apostasy in the Church

The True Gospel Part 8 of 8

By Jim Allen

Believers who profess faith in Christ without having a solid, foundational view of the "true gospel" will be hard pressed to detect wayward evangelicals and their heresies. One such teacher is Les Feldick, a television Bible teacher from Oklahoma, often telling his study class to turn to 1 Corinthians 15:1-5 for Paul's definition of the true gospel: "Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel… that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve." After thinking about Les' explanation and about these verses in particular, surely Les meant to say these verses bring forward a "general truth" about the gospel and not the "entirety" of the gospel. As a case in point, the "entirety of the gospel" preached by Paul brings forward all of his epistles from Romans to Philemon including the four gospels by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. While the "general theme" of the gospel is found in verses 1 through 5 of 1 Corinthians 15, the "heart beat of the true gospel" resounds from Genesis to Revelation.

It would appear the larger problem for Les and other evangelicals is the tendency to pitch their "tent of understanding" about the gospel on a group of verses without taking into account the deeper truths embedded within those verses. In Feldick's mind, any Bible verse failing to align itself with the general definition of the gospel, as scripted by Paul, is put aside or glossed over as inconsequential and never taught. As a case-in-point, while both John the Baptist and Jesus said "repent and believe," Feldick argues the apostle Paul never taught repentance as a prerequisite to salvation, but as a result of salvation. According to 2 Corinthians 7:9-10, Les is wrong and so too are the thousands who follow after him. The apostle Paul spoke clearly about repentance preceding salvation in 2 Corinthians, a verse that dovetails perfectly into the four gospels. Just to be clear, Paul said that "repentance" is the first step leading to salvation wherein he wrote: "Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For godly sorrow worketh repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted… (2 Corinthians 7 9-10)."

In flow with the preceding paragraph, evangelicals like Les who encounter conflicting doctrine appear to have what some Bible commentators identify as "cognitive dissonance," which is a fancy way of describing the attempt to bring into balance what appear to be two opposing truths. Theories about cognitive dissonance suggest, generally, that people resolve "conflicting ideas" by changing their mind about which of the two dissonant doctrines is correct. They reason that both views on the same matter cannot possibly be true and reconcile the difference by dismissing one truth over the other, resulting in confusion and further division in the church. What Les Feldick fails to see about the doctrines of "repent and believe" is that both truths are different sides of the same coin, unique in meaning and different in purpose. Satan believes the gospel is true but is forever lost apart from its saving power, unable to flip the coin to repent.

To enlarge on the idea of cognitive dissonance, post 7 of 8 in this series exposed evangelicals who readily dismiss any doctrine not supporting their view of the gospel. These misled evangelicals talk about believing the gospel but never about human wickedness, the need for repentance, and eternal judgment. Why? Because in their minds these doctrines conflict with their watered down, all-positive approach to the gospel. If you think about it, how can we ever come to comprehend the good news of the gospel unless we first come to accept the bad news? The entire eight-part series on Apostasy in the Church is, at best, a snapshot of how pastors, authors, and teachers have taken the gospel of Jesus Christ in directions never intended by the Lord of Glory.

This post is the launching pad for my next series of posts on the true gospel of Jesus Christ that goes beyond 1 Corinthians 15:1-5. Within the new series, the Keep Watch blog will focus on the deeper truths resident within the basic precepts of the true gospel while keeping watch for troublesome doctrines that lead to apostasy and mayhem in the church.

Apostasy in the Church: The Series

Part 1: When Wolves Lead the Flock
Part 2: Lies Under Cover
Part 3: Their Greed, Your Seed
Part 4: A Time to Refrain from Embracing
Part 5: Angels of Light
Part 6: Requiring a Sign
Part 7: The Partial Gospel
Part 8: The True Gospel

Image Credit: Kersley Fitzgerald