Apostasy in the Church Part 7

The Partial Gospel

By Jim Allen

Grace is a theological word we often toss around without thinking too much about what it means. Although many of us give lip service to understanding grace, we barely know what it is, what it does, or why anyone would want or need it. Evangelicals agree grace is unmerited favor from God and that He is dealing with us favorably because He is good, kind, and gracious. Grace is time for us to sort things out regarding personal accountability to Him. God is calling us out from darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). For some evangelicals who have stepped into the light, they are using their time of grace to sort out (what they decree as) bad doctrine from good doctrine. Accordingly, they have crafted another gospel that is unrecognizable to the faithful and useless to everyone else. While this modern, partial gospel looks and sounds good, it is a Trojan horse on wheels with its "deadly cargo" hidden inside. With church doors swung wide open, evangelicals have rolled the wooden gift on wheels into the church unaware of what they have done, wholly unmindful of the darkness and deception they have unleashed.

Although the modern, partial gospel has been around for a while and has since mutated into many forms, I first learned about it during the 1990's while researching the Alpha Course and Promise Keepers movement. Hidden within the partial gospel's framework is "easy believism," which is nothing more than a slick marketing maneuver to repackage the gospel in a way that makes Jesus easy to receive and a blessing to follow. Interestingly, a common thread running throughout these mutated, partial gospels is the single objective to reduce Jesus' priestly role as "Savior and Lord" to a moral example for all to follow. These mistaken evangelicals reprehensibly gloss over, with full intent, foundational truths they believe downbeat and antiquated. They share, so it would seem, the single objective of making church a "seeker-friendly haven" for all. Motivated by misguided principles, they set out to make attending church an "all positive experience" by getting rid of the law and any other doctrine deemed offensive, and herein lies the partial gospel. The apostle Paul said of this matter, "Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor" (Galatians 3:24-25).

Ironically, what these evangelicals fail to understand is that the law is both a compass pointing people to God's holy and righteous nature and a road map leading lost souls to the foot of the Cross. Believers who understand the need for the law in the process of sharing the gospel are those who have met the tutor face-to-face and know firsthand the agony of coming to grips with "who and what" they are without Christ. The apostle Paul said, "...For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation" (2 Corinthians 7:10). While born-again believers no longer need the law, and are no longer under the law, there are those in the church who do need the law. If anything, the partial gospel is a strong sedative to keep the unregenerate in a deep slumber, apathetic to the call to wake up and come into the light.

Evangelicals who insist on a modern, partial gospel without the law are preaching a dead gospel in a dead church. The loudness of the worship music and ranting of the preacher are not signs of life nor of the anointing. Jesus is not looking down kindly on dead churches, given they do more harm than good. In fact, Jesus severely rebuked the church of Sardis when he said, "...I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead" (Revelation 3:1). To carry this thought a little further and to make my point about the partial gospel, try to imagine the world of professionals who work with dead people every day. Morticians who prepare bodies for burial have some interesting facts to share about dead people. Rich Mabof told about one of these facts when he wrote, "Often while preparing a corpse for burial, air trapped in the lungs can escape and in the process vibrate the vocal cords producing a frightening postmortem sigh." [1] Although a frightening event, evangelicals who share visions for a lawless, partial (all positive) gospel are producing walking zombies with postmortem sighs.

The opening post of this article pointed out that evangelicals who insist on a modern, partial gospel without the law are preaching a gospel without the sacrificial work of Christ. As a result, professing believers go before the Lord with an offering of their own making, an offering of works they hold up believing He will accept their fulfilled purposes, kept promises, and adoption of holy habits. Of course, none of these things will be acceptable unto to God.

A genuine believer is someone who kneels before the Lord with nothing to offer but the "good work of faith." This believer's acceptance before God is by faith, believing unreservedly that Christ sprinkled His shed blood upon the doorway of his heart. Nothing he is and nothing he does will ever be enough to qualify him for God's grace and herein lies the wonder of it all. In chapter 4 of Genesis, Cain and Abel each gave a sacrifice unto the Lord, one of blood and the other of Cain's toil in the garden. God accepted Abel's sacrifice (first born of his flock) and rejected Cain's bloodless sacrifice because it was not what God required (Genesis 4:2-8). Today in the church, we are witnessing the story of Abel and Cain repeat as some evangelical ministers cast out the law and blood sacrifice of Christ in favor of a bloodless offering like Cain's. The seriousness of this apostate matter should not be understated. Deception, however minor in appearance, is a serious concern because, like a cancer, it grows undetected until it is too late to recover. As one online commenter said of Rick Warren's book, "Warrenism is a rapidly metastasizing spiritual cancer that is spreading unchecked in the lukewarm Laodicean church."

In 1989, a United Airline passenger jet flying over the continental United States underwent catastrophic failure of its hydraulic systems when a turbine fan failed in engine number 2, located in the tail. The hydraulic line and both backup hydraulic lines were severed during the engine explosion, leaving the plane without flight controls. Pilots used the left and right engines to maneuver the plane to a crash landing in Sioux City, Iowa. One hundred and eleven people died that day and many more were injured. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) eventually traced the failure of the engine to a microscopic defect found in the engine turbine. The lesson from the crash of United Airline Flight 232 is clear: A defect undetected will eventually grow and destroy whatever and whoever "it is part of" at the time of failure (full manifestation). The lesson for the church is equally clear: A deception undetected will eventually grow to wound and destroy those who embrace it as truth.

Unacceptable Blood Offering

Ministers who buy into a partial gospel without the law are shepherding their flocks in the ways of Cain. God will not accept anything they offer, not their good works, not their praises, and certainly not their bloodless sacrifices. He will not honor their kept promises, fulfilled purposes, or daily seven holy habits. These ministers are blind guides; thinking themselves to be wise in word and deed, they stumble in darkness not knowing truth from error. Their fate is assuredly more severe than they can imagine. An online blogger wrote:
It is not kindness nor even love to tell someone who needs immediate surgery that they are doing just fine! Who would ever say that? On the contrary, it is the worst kind of reassurance. Evangelicals who teach a bloodless offering are going the way of Cain and telling those who need a heart transplant they are doing just fine. May I assure you they are not doing just fine! God is not cheering lost souls to carry on in their carnal, fleshly pursuits — whatever those may be — to fulfill their dreams. The shameless charlatan Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, and other wayward teachers are completely ingrained with a man-centered, non-gospel religion that utterly fails to confront unrepentant humanity with their sinful trespasses and pending judgment. This is an affront to God and the Great Commission! [2]
As the author of this post, I do not judge Rick Warren, Joel Osteen or anyone who brings in another gospel. However, I along with others who have read their books and listened to their messages can tell you much of what they teach is resting on shifting sand. The Bible tells us to mark those who bring in heresies and in doing so tell what the Bible teaches about such false teachers in the church (Acts 20:29-31). One day, these not-so-mighty men of God and their entourage of blind supporters will stand before Jesus and point to their mega-ministries and boast mightily about their many good works. Expecting to hear the words "well done thou good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:21) they will instead hear Jesus say:
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I [Jesus] will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'" (Matthew 7:21-23)
Why would Jesus deny knowing and then accuse these professing believers of practicing lawlessness when they have so many good works? Jesus will deny them because they focused on their good, man-centered works to the exclusion of His work and shed blood on the cross for them. They could not or would not acknowledge or believe His completed work of the law would be sufficient to save them. Because of their unbelief, Jesus could not impute His righteousness to their accounts. He would not sprinkle his blood over the doorway of their hearts. They were proud and boastful of their good works and now stand exposed and naked before the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10). These doers of good works failed to grasp the truth of the Cross, and were not driven to their knees to see their unworthiness and need for the Savior. Had they been broken in spirit and empty-handed before the Lord, the true meaning of the gospel would have risen in their heart like a morning dawn giving new meaning to the glory of God's grace and our full dependence on Him.

In flow with the preceding, the partial (lawless) gospel is well documented. In Rick Warren's book he said, "In the entire universe, only two of God's creations fail to bring glory to him: fallen angels (demons) and us (people). Not giving God his due glory is called "sin." All sin, at its root, is failing to give God the glory he deserves....None of us have given God the full glory he deserves from our lives." Sounds good, does it not? Here we see the author sugarcoating the "fallen nature of angels and humanity" as nothing more than innocent, casual neglect that you can easily correct by fulfilling God's five purposes for your life. Although many argue Warren's book is biblical, others argue it fails to deliver the most important message of all, which is the law acting as our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith (Galatians 3:24).

Warren says of his book, "The Purpose-Driven Life explains in detail how to fulfill God's five purposes for your life." What we need to remember about the word "purpose" is that every purpose defines the reason for what exists, is created, or is done. The word "done" implies there is one or more steps a person needs to take to fulfill the purpose, which is a work. One example of doing something for God is Purpose Number 3 that says, "You bring God glory by becoming like Christ." Although Warren speaks a truth, the book goes on to explain that to become like Christ one "makes a commitment" to Christ by reciting the salvation prayer, which is how to begin fulfilling that purpose. The difficulty I have with the third purpose is not the need for one to be born again but the lack of Godly conviction and spiritual preparation leading up to the prayer. Bible verses (such as the Romans Road) that are central to salvation are wholly omitted from Warren's book. At best, purpose number 3 will create false converts who will think about his or her "commitment to Christ" as justification for salvation; and thereby miss the essential truths about the law, blood atonement, and work of Christ on his or her behalf. Many professing believers today, when asked about their salvation, quickly point to a time when they recited the salvation prayer or made a personal commitment to Christ. By default, they place faith in something they did to become right with God. This is a work. They do not know about or understand the law and its foundational importance in leading them to salvation.

Scott Diekmann writes:
Part of Rick Warren's audience includes non-Christians and false converts. Some argue in Warren's defense by saying the purpose of Warren's book is to help people see God's purposes for their lives, and that the book does not need to present law as part of the gospel. At best, this argument is an incomplete equation with missing values because without law there can be no conversion and without conversion, the unregenerate will not understand God's purposes or His purposes for their lives. Romans 8:6-7 says, "The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so." [3]
Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, and many others (including older movements like the Promise Keepers and Alpha Course) will not submit to or acknowledge God's law. Any doctrine adopted by a person, church, organization or movement and so written to gloss over the precepts of the law and focus only on the positive aspects of the gospel is another gospel. Psalm 19:7 says, "The law of the Lord is perfect converting the soul." The Holy Spirit uses the Ten Commandments and Old Testament doctrinal accounts (upon which there are many) to open the spiritual eyes of the lost to see who they are apart from God, to see their sin, desolation, and need for the Savior. A person whose eyes have been opened to his or her plight will ask for mercy and forgiveness, as recorded in Luke, "And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!'" (Luke 18:13).

The only time pastors and teachers should be allowed to present the gospel without the law is when all within their reading or listening audiences are born again, standing firm on the sure foundation of Jesus Christ. Since we cannot judge or know for sure who is or is not born again, pastors and teachers must present a balanced view of law and grace, which is the whole counsel of God, and then for law to always pave the way for grace. The apostle Paul said of this matter:
"For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock." (Acts 20:27-29)
In closing, the gospel has been so twisted by men of perverted mind that it is no longer of any use in many churches. That some should find salvation in spite of the increasing number of prowling wolves and rank deception is both rare and a wonder. Today, it would appear people exist merely to serve the harlot church and her affiliates instead of serving people. People are growing weary of supporting the needs of the Harlot whose hunger is a deep pit and her financial coffers forever empty. Many have left the Harlot church with injured hearts and broken spirits. Some have rejected their faith outright. Evangelical elites who work to change the gospel into a lie are from Babylon, a religious system of men who devise fables. These evangelical elites are citizens of Egypt in search of wealth and worldly pleasures. They dress in royal robes without righteousness and from their pulpits on Sunday morning think they are doing a great work. These Pharisees are eloquent orators, using uplifting words to remind the lowly servants to obey and say "yes" to every demand without question or complaint. They are blind guides, kings ruling over fallen kingdoms. They expect undivided allegiance to their every authoritarian demand and pastoral whim. This is not what Christ intended for the church.

In my next and last post on this series, I will write about the Gospel of Grace and its flow from Genesis to Revelation, interlaced with law, grace, the completed work of Christ, and then our acceptable work unto the Lord.

1. Rich Mabof; "Freaky Facts about Death"; MSN Health and Fitness.
2. "Rick Warren-False-Prophet"; defendingcontending.com; Paraphrased.
3. Scott Diekmann; soundsitness.org.

Published 10-5-11