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Our last study contains a review and an invitation. A review of the gospel is necessary because the gospel propels us to a decision. In due time, we either accept or reject the gospel because of the basic internal needs to resolve conflicts. Some people try to avoid difficult decisions by putting them far into the background of consciousness. They say, “I’ll think about this tomorrow.” Postponement, though, is really a decision, too. It is a mild rejection. Suppose you asked someone to marry you. Any answer other than “yes” is actually rejection, isn’t it? The danger with postponement is that it easily leads to greater rejection until we are firmly decided. In the case of the gospel, we must listen to the Holy Spirit. The more we reject His promptings, the more difficult to respond.

This lesson also contains an invitation to read these studies again. If the Holy Spirit has impressed you that this message is important, you need to read it again for two reasons. First, your understanding of the gospel will increase 100% the second time you study it. Details will become much clearer and more meaningful. Secondly, knowing what revelation is about, you need to find an interested friend and share the message with him. “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come! And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.” (Revelation 22:17)

The proclamation of the gospel

The full gospel must reach every person before Jesus comes. John said, “Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on earth – to every nation, tribe, language and people.” (Revelation 14:6) Jesus said, “And 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) The question is, “Who will help spread the gospel?” We know that the 144,000 will lead the way during the shaking and the trumpets, but they cannot do the work alone. They need the help and support of the remnant!

What is the gospel?

Would a counterfeiter print a $9 bill? No. People would immediately recognize the folly. A $9 bill could not be counterfeit since real $9 bills do not exist. Thus, a counterfeit has to be an imitation of something that exists.

The devil has counterfeited the gospel and his imitations are in every land. In America, the devil’s counterfeit of the gospel is almost indistinguishable from the real thing.

Many people honestly believe Satan’s counterfeit gospel. Jesus understands. He looks down upon the earth with love at those living up to all they believe to be true. In His great mercy, He accepts those who do not know the truths about the gospel. Jesus does not hold a person responsible for truth he does not know. On the contrary, James tells us that sin is held against us when we know better and then refuse to do it! “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” (James 4:17)

The Lord loves the people of earth with a love beyond human understanding. Those living up to all they know to be right glorify God, and He is pleased. Peter says, “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (1 Peter 3:12) Because truth has been obscured from most people by Satan’s devices, Jesus is going to enlighten the entire world with the gospel in the near future. Those who are sincere in heart will receive the full gospel and the remnant will be made up. Those who recognize the confirmation of the Holy Spirit will move forward and receive the gospel truth as it reaches every nation, kindred, tongue and people! Thus, the remnant will be gathered into one body. Jesus said, “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” (John 10:16)

The net effect of the gospel will be to unify those who hear the voice of Jesus into one large group called the remnant. This will be finally accomplished during the trumpets. People will receive the gospel by faith, obey the commandments of Jesus as the first angel’s message commands or they will reject the gospel or receive the mark of the beast. There will be no middle ground. The rapid sequence of events coupled with rigorous laws requiring Sunday observance in America will push everyone to a rapid decision.

What are the gospel and its counterfeit?

In a sentence, the gospel is the complete story of salvation. The gospel explains the role of our Creator, the nature of man, the sinless life of Jesus on behalf of man, the work of Jesus in the heavenly sanctuary as our mediator and the second coming. If you look closely at the previous sentence, you will observe God’s great love expressed through five fundamental teachings of the gospel. They are easy to remember when you begin them with the letter “S”:

  1. Salvation by faith
  2. Sanctuary in heaven
  3. State of the dead
  4. Second Coming of Jesus
  5. Sabbath worship

The devil has distorted and ruined each of these elements as far as possible. We will briefly survey each of the counterfeit elements of the gospel within the Christian world:

Counterfeit 1

One of Satan’s most powerful counterfeits is that salvation either comes by obedience to God or by intellectual assent to what is true. Satan’s trickery on this subject is very subtle. He can actually deceive an evil person into thinking he is righteous! For example, Satan led the Pharisees to think they were righteous even though they were far away from the kingdom. Jesus said, “…on the outside you appear to the people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” (Matthew 23:28)

Asking a person what he believes is not enough. The Pharisees thought they were righteous. Therefore, to see what a person actually believes, we have to do some fruit inspection. Jesus said, “… every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.” (Matthew 7:17) The problem is that what people say and what people do may not be consistent. Notice the two extremes. The first example describes a religious type we will call “workers.”

A worker can say, “I’m saved by faith,” while at the same time, be working his way to heaven. People having this problem are usually identified by zealous and/or rigorous obedience to the teachings or ideals of their denomination. Workers tend to see sin as acts of commission, i.e., sins or wrongful deeds acted out. Living by the rules is very important to these people. In their hearts, they have confidence that they are saved because they are obedient to the rules. They look at themselves and see very little wrong. Workers, in day to day living, regard obedience as the primary process through which salvation occurs even though they say, “Salvation comes by faith!”

The Jewish religion at the time of Christ typifies this great deception. The sin that blinds these people is pride. They cannot see why they do not have salvation! After all, they do not see anything wrong with themselves! These people tend to criticize those breaking the rules but rarely speak about the greater sins of omission. Here is a paradox. Workers tend to see the violation of rules as great sins while disregarding the spiritual or physical needs of those around them. Jesus said to the Pharisees, “…Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone. …And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift a finger to help them.” (Luke 11:42,46)

The coming exam will overtake these people. Workers will not be able to obey God; for civil laws will become so strict that obedience will be impossible! (Remember how Hitler strengthened the Germans if they should help an enemy of the Reich?) To avoid suffering and death, the workers will have no option but to worship the beast! When the great religious organizations of the world merge as a result of the destruction of the trumpets, whose rules will the workers, follow?

The tragic point with this deception of Satan is that he makes obedience of greater importance than the purpose of obedience! Jesus said of the Jews, “They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men. You have to let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.” (Mark 7:7,8)

On the other end of the scale, Satan has another counterfeit about salvation that is equally dangerous and perhaps more widely received in America than the worker concept. In brief, this counterfeit holds that if you believe you’re saved-you’re saved! In general terms, this doctrine teaches that obedience to the Ten Commandments is unnecessary, even more, an insult to God’s salvation. The Christian is under grace, not under the law, and his primary duty is to love his neighbor as himself. By simply assenting to the fact that Jesus died on Calvary, one may have salvation, full and free!

We call these people “thinkers.” Thinkers tend to enjoy their religion more than workers do because their religion is people-orientated. Whereas, workers are quite critical in nature, thinkers are generous and causal about behavior. The thinker’s gospel has very few limitations. Righteousness that comes with intellectual assent is simply a gift from God, so take it, and join the church. The heart of the thinker’s gospel is the golden rule, “Do unto your neighbor as you would have him do to you.”

The thinker’s gospel sounds good. This is why it is so popular in America. The thinker’s gospel has transcended mainline denominations and has become the dominant theme of the 20th century Protestantism. This point is proven by asking, “What theological differences exist in day to day living between Methodists, Lutherans, Baptists, Presbyterians and all others in America?”

Certain characteristics of thinkers and workers have to be presented in the extreme to demonstrate the kind of people such theological processes produce. What we do reflects what we believe! Old Testament history clearly tells us that Israel vacillated between two poles. The reason Israel was so unsteady is that they forgot that salvation comes through a love – faith relationship with God. Loving Jesus for all that He has done comes first. Having faith in Jesus means doing, going and being all that He directs. The faith relationship requires prayer and study each day to know His will, and Satan offers a million diversions to prevent us from spending time in either.

Satan has cleverly counterfeited the gospel of workers and thinkers by using partial truth in each case! Do not be fooled. Either doctrine is deadly. The simple truth about salvation is this: Salvation by faith means a complete surrender of the will to Jesus. It means to be, to do, and to go as Jesus directs your life. True salvation produces a life of action. Obedience comes as a result of salvation-not salvation as a result of obedience! Look closely at Hebrews 11 and you will observe that each of the great men and women in this Hall of Faith was obedient to God’s commands! Paul says of Abraham, “By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God said to him, ‘It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.’ Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.” (Hebrews 11:17-19)

The old gospel favorite by James Sammis and Daniel Towner, “Trust and Obey,” sums up the gospel very well:

“When we walk with the Lord

 In the light of His Word,

What a glory He sheds on our way!

While we do His good will,

He abides with us still,

And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey,

For there’s no other way

To be happy in Jesus,

But to trust and obey.”


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