Acts 15:1 and 24, “And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. ...Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:”
One of the biggest problems, or sore evils, since the beginning of time is shallow preachers who don't pay attention to the details. I love our text passages from Acts chapter 15, verses 1 and 24. In this passage we first see that a group of false teachers had come down from Judea. The Bible says “down” because Judea is up in the mountains. These false teachers were no doubt sincere, Judaizers who were still stuck on the Old Testament law. They were caught between grace and works! This is a common evil that we still see today in religious circles everywhere, mainly in Bible colleges and churches.
God pays attention to details more than anyone. Matthew 10:29-30, “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Wow! God even keeps track of the number of hairs on our head. That is an amazing truth! It means that God pays attention to every little detail of our life, body and very being (existence). God notices the little things that most of us overlook.
I am also sometimes guilty of not paying attention to little things. When I go to any grocery store, I started a habit many years ago of grabbing one or two loose carts in the store parking lot, and I wheel them back into the store. It is a small thing that I do, but I do it for Jesus, both to let my let shine (Matthew 5:16), and to help me stay out of the “self life” (Philippians 2:4-5). It is a good practice to get into the habit of doing little things like this for others, to learn the importance of little things. Pastor Jack Hyles used to wisely say: “The most important job is the one that doesn't get done!” I love that truth.
Sadly, most pastors today (or preachers) don't pay attention to the details, especially in doctrine. They pay attention to the details financially, to their utter shame, but they don't care about the importance of right doctrine! The false prophets in Acts 15:1 taught that you could not go to Heaven unless you keep the Mosaic law, which the Apostles said in verse 24 they never taught. The Apostle confirmed through their messengers that this was in fact, heresy being taught in Acts 15:1. It was another gospel!
I have made a lengthy list below of all the unbiblical embellishments I have heard, which are being added nowadays to corrupt the Gospel by foolish preachers:
- walk an aisle
- pray a prayer
- join a church, denomination or convention
- turn from your sins
- repent of your sins
- be willing to turn away from sin
- feel sorrow for your sins
- forsake a lifestyle of sinning
- be baptized in water
- speak in “tongues”
- turn over a new leaf
- ask Christ into your heart
- invite Jesus into your life
- surrender your entire personality to Christ
- surrender all
- live a holy life
- live a changed life
- give control of your life over to Christ
- faithfully run the race
- count the cost and pay the price
- live a lifestyle of repentance from sins
- turn away from the old life
- follow Jesus no matter what the cost
- make Jesus the “Lord” (Master) of your life
- be sorrow for your sin
- confess Christ publicly
- keep the Sabbath Day
- keep God's Ten Commandments
- get rid of bad habits and vices
- ask Jesus into your heart
- have a religious experience
- feel hatred for sin
NONE of these things are required to get to Heaven. Yet, I can hardly listen to a sermon, or visit a church website, or watch a YouTube video, or hear a Bible college chapel service, or read a religious tract, without seeing these unbiblical additions to God's simple plan of salvation, which is by faith alone in the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus Christ crucified, buried and risen the third day (1st Corinthians 15:1-6).
It saddens my heart to hear preachers obscuring, confusing and corrupting the Gospel with all sorts of embellishments. The Bible says in 2nd Corinthians 4:3-4, “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” The Devil doesn't want lost sinners to get saved. Satan wants people to burn in the Lake of Fire with him. So the Devil blinds men's minds! How does he do this? Satan hinders people from getting saved by obscuring and hiding the Gospel of free grace.
For example: Pastor Osteen gets the Gospel horribly WRONG. I was listening to him preach the other night (if you can call his motivational speeches preaching). At the end of his sermon, Joel gave a counterfeit plan of salvation that made me cringe. Pastor Osteen requires four things to be saved that are totally unbiblical:
Joel says you must “receive Jesus as Lord” to be saved.I heard Joel Osteen on TV the other day require those four unbiblical things to be saved. Joel didn't even mention Jesus' death, burial or resurrection in his suggested sinner's prayer. Dear reader, you don't need to do any of those things which Joe Osteen sinfully requires. The Bible Gospel of free grace taught in 1st Corinthians 15:1-4 doesn't include those things!
Joel says you must “repent of your sins” to be saved.
Joel says you must “pray” to be saved.
Joel says you must “follow Christ” to be saved.
You can simply BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved (Acts 16:30-31). You don't have to pray. Nor do you have to “ask” to be saved. God is already offering you eternal life as a gift, if you will simply BELIEVE. John 6:47, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.”
Dear friend, the tiny details truly do matter! May we all start paying careful attention to the details of that which matters most in our life. Most people pay careful attention to the charges on their credit card, while never giving a second thought to the doctrine being spoon-fed to them by the preachers they listen to. Think about the foolishness of that! Right doctrine matters. It truly bothers me that nearly everyone is okay with one or more of the embellishments that I listed earlier.
How about you my friend? What do you think a person needs to do to be saved, so you can go to Heaven? If the answer is to simply place one's childlike trust (confidence) as an admitted guilty sinner in the Good News of Jesus Christ crucified for our sins, buried and risen the third day, then you are correct and saved. But if you add anything else to your faith, then it immediately becomes works. Hebrews 11:6, “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.”
It is sad that I sometimes hear preachers (e.g. Peter S. Ruckman, William P. Grady and Robert Breaker) falsely teaching that people were saved by works in the Old Testament, under the Mosaic law. What saith the Scripture? Romans 4:4, “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.” If at any time in history, salvation were ever by works, then God owed those people eternal life. As we just read, God does not owe anybody forgiveness of sins. No one under the Mosaic law could perfectly keep the law, which is why the blood of a sacrificed lamb needed sprinkled each year by the high priest, on the mercy seat in the presence of God. These were ceremonial rituals done as shadows of the real things to come in Heaven (Hebrews 10:1), by our eternal High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16).
Details are important friend. The Bible plainly proclaims God's easy, simple and free plan of salvation by faith alone in Jesus Christ. It is not okay to embellish, add, change or subtract anything from the simplicity that is in Christ, which is THE GOSPEL. So when we hear naïve or corrupt preachers teaching things they ought not for filthy lucre's sake (Romans 16:17-18), we should SPEAK UP for God and leave that place.
I recently learned about a popular evangelistic play, which became a video, titled: “Heaven's Gates And Hell's Flames.” Tragically, the video is packed full of damnable heresy, numerous embellishments to the Gospel. I wrote this blog to refute the presentation. I am sick and tired of visiting indifferent Bible colleges and churches, who just merely go along with whatever is being preached, giving false teachers the benefit of the doubt that they are really saved and mean well, they just use different wording (semantics). Folks, that is NOT okay to do!!!
Telling someone to “turn away from your sins” to be saved is damnable false doctrine! A lot of preachers are using that unbiblical phrase today, but they don't explain to their audience what they mean by “turn from sin.” It is one of the Devil's favorite deceptions today, because it obscures the light of the truth of the Gospel. Does a person have to stop, try to stop or be willing to stop sinning to be saved? No, absolutely not! That may offend you, but it is 100% Biblical.
The honest truth is that NO ONE has ever stopped sinning! Even the best saints still struggle daily with sin (Romans 7:14-25). To tell someone that to be saved they should desire not to sin anymore is also a false plan of salvation, because all that God requires to receive His free gift of eternal life is that you admit you are a guilty sinner. You need to know what you're being saved from. You need to see your need for redemption, so you'll BELIEVE the Gospel to be saved (Galatians 3:24-26). We are a SINNER and Jesus is the only SAVIOR! It is that simple.