2 Corinthians 11:3-4 – But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.
These two verses written by Paul to the Corinthian church are a reminder to me of the fear that many pastors have for their congregations. When Paul was with the people in Corinth, he spoke to them the one true gospel of Jesus Christ. He told them, on the authority of being an apostle of Jesus, exactly what they must do to be saved. He told them how they could be forgiven of their sins by placing their entire trust for their entire souls to Christ. He told them how they, when they repented of their sins and placed their faith in Christ, would receive God’s promised Holy Spirit to live within them. And they seemed to accept this gospel.
However, after Paul was no longer in town, the people of Corinth received some other teachers, men who were more interested in promoting themselves than in Christ. These men preached something to the Corinthians that made them feel more important, that had greater personal experiences, that was simply different than what Paul had preached to them. And, instead of rejecting the words of these teachers as false and deadly, they received it. They actually were willing to turn away from the true gospel to follow the teachings of slick communicators and radical personal experiences.
Let us take warning from the dangerous fall of many in Corinth. Let us remember that there is only one true gospel. There is only one way to God, and that is the way presented to us in God’s word. God is holy. We are sinners who have earned his wrath. Christ died to take upon himself the punishment we deserve for our sin before God and to make a way for us to be made right with God. We must come to him, believe in him, repent of our sin and turn to Christ in order to be forgiven. There is no other hope. There is no other way. There is no religious ritual that will save us, no secret incantation, no radical ecstatic or out-of-body experience that we must have to be saved. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
Do you preach the one true gospel? Do you cling to the gospel as it is revealed in the scriptures above all else? Do you rely on the words of the scripture more than on impressive communicators, radical personal experiences, feelings, or new philosophies? Are you willing to cling to the old story of Christ, and to let go of what you hear from television preachers who have left behind Jesus to offer you “your best life now,” or that “something good is going to happen today?” Learn to cling to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to not be swayed by the impressive packages of those who offer you something that may taste sweeter on the outside, but which has no substance, no truth, and no salvation.
Dear Lord, I pray that you will always keep my eyes on the cross of Christ. Let me never take anything away from or add anything to the story of Jesus. Let me preach and believe only in a salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Let me be in line with your word and your revealed truth, and let me never fall for any person’s slick presentation, flashy credentials, or radical experiences. Let me be faithful to the gospel, and help me to lead others to faith in the one true gospel of Jesus Christ.