When we studied the book of Galatians together, Paul warned about deserting the gospel for “another” gospel—even though there is no such thing as another gospel (Galatians 1:6-7).
There are several “phony gospels” that are common in modern churches. Each of these has some kernel of truth, but fails because it overemphasizes one aspect of our teaching while neglecting others. Let me illustrate a few of them:
The Gospel of Sin Management: Believers in this gospel believe that the whole purpose of church, religion, and faith, is basically to help keep them nice, moral, and good. They view the church as a pill to prevent public, shaming sin. It’s true that Jesus transforms us and we aim for holiness, but we need to remember that the reason Jesus came is because we aren’t perfect and won’t be in this life. 1 John 1:8-10 warns against pretending like we don’t sin.
The Red Bull Gospel: Named after the energy drink that keeps you awake and alert, the Red Bull gospel emphasizes how we feel over everything else. If the worship service isn’t “uplifting and exciting,” this false gospel says that it didn’t count. It thrives at the end of mission trips, camps, and revivals. This gospel fails to account for the rigors of every-day life. Not every moment can be a mountain-top experience. Much of the substance of our faith comes from obedience when we don’t feel great. It causes us to forget that love is a choice worth pursuing (1 Corinthians 14:1).
The real gospel is this: “You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked…But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…” (Ephesians 2:1-6).
The real gospel is life for those who were dead, hope for the hopeless, and sight for the blind. It’s not a nice “add-on” to our experience in this life—Christ “is our life” (Colossians 3:4). Our goal for the year is to be “Simply Christian.” That means we focus on the real gospel for real life!