The true gospel empties the churches; while the false gospel fills them.
Most Christians are unaware that Paul contradicts the gospel Jesus preaches. The gospel of Jesus is bittersweet; presenting great challenges to believers. Paul’s gospel is “sugar and spice and all things nice;” offering few challenges.
Of course, the preferred gospel is the one Paul preaches. It is the commercial gospel, tailor-made for lovers of life. It is enamoured by those who desire salvation but are not inclined to meet its costs. But don’t buy the lie. Paul’s gospel cannot save. Jesus is our Lord and Saviour.
At the centre of Jesus’ gospel is the need for sinners to repent. Jesus says: “‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Matthew 9:13). But Paul disagrees. He says: “The gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” (Romans 11:29). Furthermore, he bases his gospel on sacrifice. Hear him: “Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.” (1 Corinthians 5:7).
The gospel of the kingdom requires that we yearn for the righteousness of God. Jesus says: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6). However, righteousness is not a prerequisite in Paul’s gospel. Instead, he reassures sinners nonsensically that God justifies the ungodly: “To the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.” (Romans 4:5).
In Jesus’ gospel, the righteous are rewarded with eternal life. (Matthew 25:46). Jesus says: “The righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” (Matthew 13:43). However, in Paul’s gospel: “There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10). Therefore, Paul says: “(Righteousness) shall be imputed to us who believe in him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.” (Romans 4:24).
The gospel of a kingdom not of this world is bad news to the rich of this world. Jesus says: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24). But Paul’s gospel of grace is about our becoming rich in this world: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9).
Faith with works
Jesus’ gospel requires us to become God’s children by doing God’s works. Jesus says: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:44-45). “Those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.” (John 5:29).
However, Paul’s gospel is about faith without works. He says: “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
In Jesus’ gospel, we determine our salvation. His cardinal kingdom principle makes salvation entirely our responsibility. Jesus warns: “Whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:25). He says elsewhere: “With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Mark 4:24).
But in Paul’s gospel, salvation is God’s responsibility; we are predestined to salvation. Paul’s says: “Those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son… And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified.” (Romans 8:29-30). This clearly contradicts Jesus position that: “Many are called but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14).
With Jesus, we carry our crosses ourselves. Jesus says: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34). However, with Paul, Jesus allegedly carried our crosses for us in that we were crucified with him. Paul says: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20).
Cost of salvation
With Jesus, forgiveness comes as we readily forgive all our offenders. Jesus says: “If you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15). But with Paul, forgiveness comes without preconditions; it is the grace of God: “You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ. He forgave all our sins.” (Colossians 2:13).
With Jesus, freedom from sin comes as we follow his word. Jesus says: “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32). But with Paul, Christians are automatically free from sin because we died with Christ: “Our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin- because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” (Romans 6:6-7).
Paul says: “The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23). But according to Jesus, eternal life is not God’s gift at all; it comes at great cost. Jesus says: “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:29).
Therefore, Jesus warns us to count the cost before deciding to follow him: “No one can become my disciple unless he first sits down and counts his blessings- and then renounces them all for me.” (Luke 14:33).
Some maintain Paul’s gospel of grace is a post-resurrection dispensational replacement for Jesus’ gospel of the kingdom. However, Jesus confirms no such replacement. Instead he says: “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14). Jesus does not introduce Paul’s doctrine of blood-atonement on his resurrection. His directive remains that “repentance and forgiveness of sins” should be preached in his name.” (Luke 24:47).
In Acts, Peter does not associate Jesus’ death with the atonement of sins. (Acts 2:37-43). He says the righteousness of God comes by works. (Acts 10:34-35). But Paul says Christians automatically become new creatures: “old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
In effect, Paul’s gospel is false. It merely tests those who would embrace Jesus’ gospel. Jesus’ gospel offers a narrow gate and a difficult way that leads to life; while Paul’s gospel offers a wide gate and a broad way that leads to destruction. (Matthew 7:13-14). Accordingly, the true gospel empties the churches; while the false gospel fills them.
Christians must reject Paul’s enticing gospel. John warns: “Whoever does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him.” (2 John 1:9-10).