Heresy’s Central Target: The Gospel
In today’s sermon we are talking about heretics and heresy. Fun, right? But this topic is important because there have been false teachers since the days of the early church and they are still around today. These teachers are often charismatic, likeable, and convincing in their arguments. Over the last two thousand years these false teachers have targeted the central doctrines of the Christian faith and especially the gospel. This attack often takes the shape of modifying or reinterpreting the tenants of the gospel.
In a 2008 John Piper preached a sermon called “How I Distinguish Between the Gospel and False Gospels.” In the sermon Piper quotes from 1 Corinthians 15:1-5 and outlines six aspects of the gospel without which there is no gospel. I think you will find this helpful since the only way to be led astray into a false gospel is to lose sight of the true gospel.
1 Corinthians 15:1-5 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
6 Aspects of the Gospel Without Which There Is No Gospel
1. The gospel was planned by God beforehand (verses 3, 4: “according to the scriptures”)
2. The gospel is an objective physical event in history (verses 3-5: “Christ died . . . he was buried . . . he was raised . . . he appeared”).
3. The gospel is an objective accomplishment—the purchase or obtaining of redemption for all who would believe (verse 3: “Christ died for our sins”—the debt was paid)
4. The gospel is an offer to be made to all that what Christ accomplished is free and my be had only by faith in him (verse 2: “by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you--unless you believed in vain.”)
5. The gospel is an application through faith to specific people of what Christ accomplished (verse 2: “and by which you are being saved”).
6. The gospel is an eternal and infinitely happy future destiny (verse 1-3: implied in the word “gospel” and “saved” and “sins born by another”)
To read the full sermon, go to desiringgod.org and search the message title.
Praying that we all fully “fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Heb 12:2) until he comes again,