The Prime Directive of Christ’s
Authentic Gospel

Rock of Offence Special Commentary

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage." (Galatians 5:1 NKJV)

This commentary is an attempt to correct some common misconceptions in the area of discerning the authentic Gospel of Christ. In the first century church, the apostle Paul warned about "a different gospel", which was an imitation or counterfeit of the real Gospel. A COUNTERFEIT OF ANYTHING LOOKS LIKE THE ORIGINAL. A person can have a counterfeit twenty dollar bill in their pocket -- and will spend it like real money if they don't know how to identify it. Today, the institutional Christian church is flooded with countless expressions of "different gospels of Christ". Many follow the pattern of forcing Christ's New Covenant salvation to fit some form of Old Testament theology. These popular teachings offer a "conditional salvation", which is dependent upon our obedience to some religious code of ethics. This practice is empowered by a failure to respect the context of the Bible and carries one of the strongest and most frightening warnings found in the New Testament. Yet, almost no church talks about the danger. The apostle Paul called this respect for context, "Rightly dividing the Word of Truth". The problem has become so exaggerated that a crisis now exists, which carries unintended eternal consequences for the professing Christian believer. The danger is cloaked behind cleverly designed theological terms and interpretations, which makes it difficult for the average Christian believer to use any kind of discernment.

The information in this commentary is both emotional and controversial. For the casual reader, we may appear to stereotype all churches and their leadership in a negative light. This is not our goal or intention. To keep the size of this Bible study from spiraling out of control, we tend to focus on the issues and warnings given by both Christ and the apostles in the New Testament. We do not oppose Godly leaders, church groups, congregations and movements that follow the principles of Christ’s New Covenant in the Bible. We do not want to paint every situation with a wide negative brush. However, Jesus warned, as we get closer to the end of the age, there would be MANY false and misleading expressions of Christianity along with deceptive leaders that rule over them. It means the subject of this teaching does not involve some kind of a “fringe” insignificant threat -- it is a MAINSTREAM problem that ensnares literally millions of unsuspecting believers.

The topic of "a different gospel" can be complex and confusing. It produces irreconcilable differences and vicious disagreements, like the ones that both our Lord Jesus and the apostle Paul faced in the first century.

The term “Prime Directive” was used in certain popular movies and television shows. Some officials and professionals may also use the term in a crisis or intense international situations. Currently, a “crisis-level event” exists in the institutional Christian Church. It's the result of what the apostle Paul calls “a different gospel”, which is now "mainstream" and accepted as God's original intention in most congregations. With the advent of the Internet, the phrase “gone viral” seems to be an appropriate term to describe the spread of this dangerous influence, WHICH IS ALWAYS PRESENTED AS FUNDAMENTAL TEACHINGS OF THE BIBLE. Through the use of offensive terminology, Paul warned that it’s a demonic theology that is skillfully designed to look like it comes from God's Word. The illusion takes place through the distortion of Biblical context -- a popular, yet false Bible interpretation method that few believers are able to discern.

The Holy Scriptures (God’s Word) always has two components. The first component is the Scripture verse itself. The second component is the original context where God placed it. The context of a Scripture is something that defines the way God wants it to be used. If anyone lifts a Scripture from its original Divine context and reinserts it into a context of their own design, what originally was God’s Word subtly becomes a man-made false doctrine that continues to “sound like” God’s Word. Using Scripture out of context is one of the basic building blocks for all expressions of aberrant forms of Christianity, abusive church governments and false religious cults (2 Peter 2:1-3, Gal. 5:4-8, Gal. 1:6-8, Rom. 16:17-18, Matt. 23:13-15, Col. 2:8).

At Rock of Offence, we interpret the Bible literally, unless a specific section of Scripture tells us that it is to be viewed figuratively (allegorically). When the Bible teaches something in a certain context, WE BELIEVE IT MEANS EXACTLY WHAT IT SAYS WHEN INTERPRETED WITHIN THAT CONTEXT.

For additional information on this important topic click HERE.

In this commentary, we use the term, “Prime Directive” to describe the Bible’s way of helping professing Christians identify a lethal and covert threat to our faith in Christ. The threat is not something new and has existed since the days of the first century church. The term “Prime Directive” is made up of two words: Prime, meaning that it carries the highest level of authority -- and Directive, meaning a command or order. It is understood that no circumstance or condition is allowed to over-ride this kind of directive or command. The New Covenant that Jesus established at the cross gives the Church a very clear “Prime Directive”, which is being attacked from all different directions by many influential church leaders and the people that follow them.

The New Covenant is also called "the new and living way of Christ" established on His blood (Read: Matt. 26:28, Mark 14:24, Luke 22:20, 1 Cor. 11:25, 2 Cor. 3:6, Heb. 8:6-13, Heb. 9:15, Heb. 10:19-23, Heb. 12:24).

A Covert Influence

Christian counter-cult expert Jan Groenveld gives a sober warning to all Christian believers in her famous quote:

"The most dangerous lie is that which
most closely resembles the truth."

The authentic Gospel of Christ is under attack FROM WITHIN THE CHURCH like no other time in history. As Groenveld suggests (and as we repeat throughout our commentaries) most of these efforts masquerade as popular fundamental teachings of Scripture by sincere “Bible believing” ministers and evangelists. Like well-made counterfeit money, some are so close to the truth that they go unnoticed. Because of the “look-alike” characteristic of various popular evangelistic messages, we risk being misunderstood. Yet, the risk is necessary because of the spiritual consequences involved.

The Two Powerful Stages of Christ’s Salvation

According to the New Testament, God applies Christ’s salvation to our lives in two separate and distinct stages THAT MUST NEVER BE MIXED TOGETHER. The first stage is to receive eternal life and be “born a second time” into God’s family. Some refer to this as being “born again”. This “STAGE ONE” benefit is clearly defined by the New Testament as “a gift--or free gift” (Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:4-9, Romans 3:24-26, Romans 5:18-21). Amazingly, it stands as one of the most maligned and assaulted truths of the New Testament -- AND THE ATTACK COMES FROM WITHIN THE INSTITUTIONAL CHRISTIAN CHURCH. Why is this powerful Godly benefit under attack? It removes the doubt and fear that many religious leaders and critics use to control the lives of the congregations that follow them. In other words, it takes away a certain type of dominating power, which Jesus forbid his leaders and followers to exercise. Because of its free and unconditional nature, God’s gift of eternal life is given to “whosoever will call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ” according to the simple principles of faith outlined in Romans 10:8-13. God deliberately uses the word “GIFT” as a type of “prime directive” that filters out the many false, yet mainstream religious teachings we encounter. A “gift” is something given unconditionally, with no behavioral or ethical code of conduct requirements. The New Testament also tells us about another powerful characteristic -- GOD DOESN’T TAKE HIS GIFTS BACK AFTER THEY ARE GIVEN.

"FOR GOD'S GIFTS AND HIS CALL ARE IRREVOCABLE. [He never withdraws them when once they are given, and He does not change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call.]" (Romans 11:29 Amplified Bible)

Another name the Bible uses to describe this powerful benefit is “Grace (God’s unmerited favor)”. As one preacher describes it, “GOD’S UNMERITED FAVOR OF GRACE IS THE GOSPEL. It's not just one of many Christian subjects or topics.”

Christ’s Salvation “Seals” Us

At the same instant that we believe the Gospel and receive God’s gift of eternal life (by calling upon Jesus Christ), the Holy Spirit comes to indwell us and we are “sealed” until the day of our redemption at The Second Coming of Christ (Hebrews 13:5-6, Matthew 28:20). WE ARE SEALED AS GOD'S GUARANTEE THAT OUR SALVATION (ETERNAL LIFE) REMAINS "IN FORCE" UNTIL CHRIST RETURNS.

"In Him (Jesus Christ) you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, YOU WERE SEALED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT OF PROMISE, WHO IS THE GUARANTEE OF OUR INHERITANCE UNTIL THE REDEMPTION OF THE PURCHASED POSSESSION (ALL TRUE BELIEVERS), to the praise of His glory." (Ephesians 1:13-14 NKJV) (Also Read About “God’s Guarantee” In 2 Corinthians 1:22 and 2 Corinthians 5:5)

"And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, THAT HE MAY ABIDE WITH YOU FOREVER -- the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you AND WILL BE IN YOU." (Words of Jesus in John 14:16-17 -- Emphasis Mine)

"Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he (Jesus) hath said, I WILL NEVER LEAVE THEE, NOR FORSAKE THEE. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me." (Hebrews 13:5-6)

"...and lo, I am with you always, EVEN TO THE END OF THE AGE." Amen. (Words of Jesus from Matthew 28:20)

God Makes An Important Benefit Available
To Believers After The Cross


For more information about this absolutely crucial New Testament truth CLICK HERE.

The “sealing of the Holy Spirit” allows STAGE TWO to begin, which is commonly called “sanctification”. This is where the indwelling Holy Spirit starts to teach us how to separate ourselves from sin and live in obedience to Christ as our Lord. This STAGE TWO process of sanctification is where Paul's words to the Christian believer comes into play...

"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, EVEN SO WE ALSO SHOULD WALK IN NEWNESS OF LIFE." (Romans 6:1-4 -- Emphasis Mine)

"....being confident of this very thing, that HE WHO BEGUN A GOOD WORK IN YOU WILL COMPLETE IT UNTIL THE DAY OF JESUS CHRIST." (Phillipians 1:6 -- Ephasis Mine)

This form of sanctification, which literally means "a setting apart for the purposes of God" is a life-long process. It's the indwelling Holy Spirit teaching us how to walk in our "new life in Christ", which the Bible also calls eternal life. Learning to walk in this "new and living way" is something only the Holy Spirit can teach us.

"Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest BY THE BLOOD OF JESUS, BY A NEW AND LIVING WAY WHICH HE (JESUS) CONSECRATED FOR US, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, FOR HE WHO PROMISED IS FAITHFUL." (Hebrews 10:19-23 -- Emphasis Mine)



Redefining the Gospel--An Old
Heresy with New Names

Dr. Ernest Pickering Warns About
Adding Requirements To The Gospel

"One of the chief objections to the notion of ‘Lordship salvation’ is that it adds to the gospel of grace. It requires something of the sinner which the Scriptures do not require. The message of salvation by grace proclaims to sinners that they may receive eternal life by faith alone whereas the message of "Lordship salvation" tells sinners they must be willing to give up whatever is in their life that is displeasing to God. At the point of gospel presentation they do not know what things those are, nor does the personal worker seeking to point them to Jesus know. There is a vast and significant difference between believing on Christ for salvation and learning from Him as our Lord....None of us are happy with shoddy, fleshly, and disobedient Christians. But the remedy for this condition is not found in changing the terms of the gospel. Well over 100 times in the New Testament, we are told that salvation is by faith or through believing. It is a very serious matter to add an ingredient to the gospel of salvation which is not found in the New Testament....Our task is to keep preaching the plain, simple gospel of free grace. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to produce in true believers those qualities of righteousness which we all devoutly long to see."

[Lordship Salvation, by Dr. Ernest Pickering, published by Baptist World Mission, P.O. Box 1463, Decatur, AL 35602]

Another warning that complements the
the comments from Dr. Pickering was
delivered nearly 70 years ago and comes
from former Moody Memorial Church
pastor, Harry A. Ironside (1876-1951).

“The Gospel is not a call to repentance, or to amendment of our ways, to make restitution for past sins, or to promise to do better in the future. THESE THINGS ARE PROPER IN THEIR PLACE, BUT THEY DO NOT CONSTITUTE THE GOSPEL; for the Gospel is not good advice to be obeyed, it is good news to be believed. Do not make the mistake then of thinking that the Gospel is a call to duty or a call to reformation, a call to better your condition, to behave yourself in a more perfect way than you have been doing in the past....

Nor is the Gospel a demand that you give up the world, that you give up your sins, that you break off bad habits, and try to cultivate good ones. YOU MAY DO ALL THESE THINGS, AND YET NEVER BELIEVE THE GOSPEL AND CONSEQUENTLY NEVER BE SAVED AT ALL.”

[ Dr. Harry A. Ironside, from his sermon: What Is The Gospel?—Emphasis Added ]

Dr. Andy Woods is the senior pastor of
Sugar Land Bible Church and a full
professor at the College of Biblical
Studies in Houston and teaches Bible
and theology. Dr. Woods provides a
concise explanation of the problems with
Lordship Salvation available at the
following link:

What's Wrong With Lordship Salvation?
By Dr. Andy woods (PDF Format)

Providing this information should not
necessarily be interpreted as our complete
agreement with the theology, eschatology
or political views of Dr. Ernest Pickering,
Dr. Harry Ironside or Dr. Andy Woods.

It’s clearly evident that society has rejected the morality and ethics of the Bible. This motivates church leaders to find a solution to this out-of-control problem. Yet, many times, our well-intentioned solutions are not from God and carry horrendous spiritual consequences that lead believers dangerously astray in their faith. This commentary addresses one such system of theology. Unfortunately, it is dominant and popular within the world-wide institutional church. Taking the forbidden liberty of redefining Scripture by distorting its context is a common practice of various denominations, churches and ministries. As a result, a vast majority of Christian leaders commit the serious doctrinal error of making the "obtaining [and keeping] of God’s gift of eternal life" dependent on the process of sanctification, which invalidates the “gift” characteristic. Contrary to popular opinion, this was a common practice during the Protestant Reformation and the Great Awakening revivals. It is also dominant in the Roman Catholic Church. It essentially redefines (Saint Paul uses the word “perverts”) the Gospel in a way that few notice (Galatians 1:6-8). Some Bible scholars identify this kind of misguided theology as “Christian Legalism”. Yet, a more sinister and covert version of this error exists as something called “Lordship salvation”.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The name of this particular doctrine and the effort to expose the error that empowers it SHOULD NEVER BE INTERPRETED AS SOME KIND OF STEALTH ATTACK ON THE POSITION JESUS CHRIST HOLDS AS LORD. The reader must remember that we’re dealing with a very well made counterfeit gospel message (empowered by the distortion of Biblical context). Unfortunately, this distorted gospel message is believed to be God’s true original intention by many ministers and evangelists in the Christian Church.

The doctrine of “Lordship salvation” quietly modifies the “unconditional gift” characteristic (as originally defined by God's Word) BY ADDING A COMMITMENT TO OBEY A MORAL OR ETHICAL CODE AS A REQUIREMENT TO OBTAIN AND KEEP ETERNAL LIFE. Most Christians correctly agree that the Bible instructs us to seek after moral behavior and holy living. These are good things, when kept in their proper place. However, recognizing the need for morality and holy living can also redirect us (motivated by good intentions) into the error of perverting and redefining Christ's Gospel. The Scripturally illegal practice of making God’s gift of eternal life dependent on the process of sanctification always results in doubts about whether we’re obedient, worthy or holy enough to qualify. Doubts about salvation and a lack of confidence when we pray is always the result when a believer’s commitment (or level of obedience) to Christ becomes the condition that governs whether God will give them His life-giving gift. Why? You can never know if your level of obedience meets God’s approval. Also, you can never know if God judged that your obedience was lacking and decided not to save you -- but didn’t tell you. GOD NEVER TORMENTS YOU WITH THESE KINDS OF DOUBTS, WHICH THE NEW TESTAMENT CALLS SPIRITUAL BONDAGE. This is why the apostle Paul warned that this kind of theology comes from a demonic source, but is made to look like it originates with God (Galatians 1:6-8, 2 Corinthians 11:12-15).

When these doubts arise, they can almost always be traced back to a counterfeit gospel message (the apostle Paul called it “a different gospel”). The Bible refers to teachings like this as “heresy”, even though they are preached with the best of intentions (to combat an immoral society) as fundamental Scriptural truths.

Did God See A Commitment Level
High Enough To Save You?

Here’s an example. A pastor gave an alter call to receive Christ during one of his services. He then warned those who responded that God would "look into their heart to see if they possessed a willingness to obey Christ". He continued ... “If God doesn’t see a sufficient willingness to obey Christ’s authority as Lord (usually taught as obedience to some ethical code or derivative of Old Testament Law), He won’t save you -- even if you ‘call upon the name of the Lord Jesus’ as Romans 10:8-13 instructs”.

A Toxic Form Of False Evangelism

Countless expressions and variations of this toxic kind of evangelism and theology exist in the world-wide institutional church. MANY PREACHERS OF THIS DOCTRINE WRONGLY DEFINE OUR WILLINGNESS OR COMMITMENT TO OBEY GOD (OR CHRIST'S LORDSHIP), AS "SAVING FAITH". They tell us that if God looks into your heart and doesn’t see “saving faith” (as they define it), He won’t allow you to obtain eternal life (salvation) regardless of how sincerely you “call upon the name of Jesus the Lord” (Romans 8:13). As a result of this teaching, when the Christian believer eventually experiences doubts about their salvation (something God freely gives them because His Son paid for it), they are told that they probably never had “saving faith” to begin with (Note: Imagine the kind of intense fear and torment this generates). In order to address the problem, the pastor insists that their doubts are being caused by either a lack of repenting from sin or by failing to be obedient or faithful enough to God. They are told: “If you want the torment of fear and doubt to go away -- repent and be more obedient!” This kind of spiritual nonsensical advice reminds me of a comical saying among soldiers in the military; “The beatings will continue until morale has improved”. The instruction of these preachers improperly exploits the fear of losing salvation (understood as being destined for hell) as a powerful and oppressive “control mechanism” to motivate church members to obey their teachings. THIS IS ONE OF THE DOMINATING TYPES OF AUTHORITY THAT JESUS FORBIDS HIS LEADERS TO PRACTICE (Matthew 20:25-28 and Mark 10:42-45). The apostle Peter also warned shepherds and leaders about using this kind of authority (1 Peter 5:1-4). Using the fear of losing eternal life once you have it (as a way to motivate a congregation to obey church leadership) is a common tactic that goes all the way back to the same heresy that Saint Paul condemned in the first century.

To combat this kind of false fear-laced theology, Saint Paul made the following statement:

"FOR GOD'S GIFTS AND HIS CALL ARE IRREVOCABLE. [ He never withdraws them when once they are given, and He does not change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call. ]" (Romans 11:29 Amplified Bible—Emphasis Added)

This common manipulative theology IS NOT FROM GOD, which is one reason Christ’s Grace Gospel is, once again, under attack from within the church. The free gift takes away this oppressive tool of manipulation and greatly reduces the abuse of spiritual authority that’s common in Christian ministry. Some church leaders are secretly angered because they don’t want to lose this kind of dominating authority, which is one reason they twist and allegorize the Scriptures. It’s important to understand that there’s nothing wrong with repenting from sin and desiring to be more obedient and faithful to God FOR THE RIGHT REASONS. Yet, well-meaning ministers, who tirelessly labor to undermine God’s Grace because they think it wrongly gives the believer free access to Christ’s salvation (or too much freedom), are actually changing and distorting the principles that govern God’s redemptive program. Their teaching illegally makes eternal life dependent on our “obedience and commitment to the Lordship of Jesus Christ”, WHICH GOD DESIGNED TO OPERATE UNDER THE ONGOING PROCESS OF SANCTIFICATION. By failing to keep these two areas separated, eternal life is held hostage to our obedience and faithfulness. It also means that it’s impossible to have any assurance that we are saved under this kind of teaching. Once again, obedience to Christ’s Lordship is not being discarded or minimized. It is something every true believer should desire and embrace. Yet, what we seek to expose is the error of mixing God’s free gift with the process of sanctification (or being conformed to the image and obedience of Christ--Read Romans 8:28-30). This common practice does a “bait and switch” trick that redefines the Gospel and pulls the believer’s faith away from God’s Grace and diverts it toward our spiritual performance, godly obedience and good works. The change usually goes unnoticed. Sanctification is a good thing when it remains where God originally designed it to operate. Nobody experientially (or in this earthly life) operates in “the image and obedience of Christ” 100 per cent. Anyone who claims to have achieved this level of spirituality through their personal devotion, obedience, sinless living or Christian service is deceiving themselves and others. That’s why Scripture warns that our level of success in sanctification (or learning to live under Christ’s Lordship) NEVER DETERMINES THE VALIDITY OF OUR SALVATION. Making God’s gift of eternal life dependent upon our success in “obeying Christ” and holy living (or sinless living) is similar to the error that nearly destroyed the faith of the Galatian church. Notice what the apostle Paul said to them in his warning:


"O foolish Galatians! WHO HAS BEWITCHED YOU THAT YOU SHOULD NOT OBEY THE TRUTH, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, OR BY THE HEARING OF FAITH? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?" (Galatians 3:1-3 -- Emphasis Mine)

"You have become estranged (cut-off/separated) from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; YOU HAVE FALLEN FROM GRACE." (Galatians 5:4 -- Emphasis Mine)

But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, TRANSFORMING THEMSELVES INTO APOSTLES OF CHRIST. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. THEREFORE IT IS NO GREAT THING IF HIS (THE DEVIL’S) MINISTERS ALSO TRANSFORM THEMSELVES INTO MINISTERS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, whose end will be according to their works. (2 Corinthians 11:12-15 -- Emphasis Mine)

This tragic, yet common theology is something that both Paul and Peter condemned as SOMETHING THAT DOES NOT COME FROM GOD. Yet, we see major Christian denominations and large international ministries preach it as God’s Word. When Paul used the word “accursed” and “bewitched”, he is warning that this kind of misleading gospel actually comes from a demonic source. This is one of the most serious warnings given in the New Testament. Why? THE WORD “ACCURSED” SUGGESTS DIVINE REJECTION. Yet, many church leaders unknowingly preach this “accursed form of gospel” and train their congregations to ignore the warning. Paul rightly called this popular theology, spiritual bondage -- however, he called God’s free and unmerited gift of eternal life, LIBERTY IN CHRIST (Galatians 2:4-5).

Other expressions of this teaching might not be as blatant as our example. Yet, they are repeated in some form in churches all over the world. While masquerading as fundamental Bible teaching, it’s actually a stealth attack on the sufficiency of Christ’s redeeming blood, His finished work at the cross and the free and unconditional nature of God’s gift of eternal life. Yet, many believers are in denial, choosing to live under the torment of a false gospel message based in the traditions of their church or denomination.

The Deceptive Practice of Redefining
God’s Grace Destroys the Prime Directive
Of God’s Free Gift

During Saint Paul's ministry there were some Jewish teachers who waited for him to establish a church. After Paul left the area, they would enter the fellowship to "more correctly educate" the new and inexperienced Gentile Christians. Some theologians refer to these false teachers as "Judaizers". Jesus called teachers like this "wolves in sheep clothing". Saint Paul called them "grievous wolves" (Acts 20:29). They were highly skilled in Old Testament theology and instructed Christian believers that, in addition to faith in Christ, they also needed to keep the Mosaic Law to obtain and keep eternal life. Today theologians and students of the Bible refer to this as "the heresy of Legalism". Saint Paul had strong and offensive words for these evangelists and traveling theologians. He referred to them as "false brethren" and "false apostles of Christ" disguised as "ministers that preach righteousness". These highly trained ministers taught a misleading counterfeit (look-alike) gospel that leads Christian believers away from the Grace of Christ and into the dangerous, yet common heresy of Christian Legalism. (Galatians 1:8-9, Galatians 2:4, Galatians 3:1-3 and 2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

Today, Protestant and Holiness denominations -- along with various forms of Roman Catholicism have their own custom brand of Judaizers, which travel under many different names. They replace (redefine) the teachings of Saint Paul with their own "covenant of grace theology", which they wrongly call "the true apostolic doctrine of the Church". It's critically important to know that what they call "the covenant of grace" IS NOT NEW TESTAMENT GRACE -- AND IT'S NOT ASSOCIATED WITH CHRIST'S NEW COVENANT. It's skillfully designed to REPLACE Christ's New Covenant with a convincing "look-alike” (counterfeit) theology. They call their teaching "Grace". They preach it as grace. They claim their salvation and evangelistic message is based on grace. Yet, on closer examination IT IS COUNTERFEIT BECAUSE THE DEFINITION BEHIND THE TERM HAS BEEN QUIETLY ALTERED. Under their gospel you may initially get saved by Grace, but you can only keep your salvation through practicing a certain regiment, or system of religious works and Christian service.

This is commonly referred to as the "Jesus plus works gospel". Some theologians and Bible scholars correctly warn that this is "a false teaching that masquerades as fundamental Bible teaching". Adherents to this theology will not tell you what these works are and how many you have to obey to satisfy the requirements. They can't tell you because the rules and principles in their theology vary from group to group. This sets the stage for what I call "squirrel-cage religion", WHICH SUBTLY ROBS THE CHRISTIAN BELIEVER OF CONFIDENCE AND ASSURANCE REGARDING THE SUCURITY OF HIS OR HER SALVATION. This is, unfortunately, a popular form of religious bondage (Paul warns about it in Galatians 2:4-5) WHERE THE CHRISTIAN BELIEVER IS CONSTANTLY PERFORMING, YET NEVER KNOWING IF THEIR PERFORMANCE IS ENOUGH TO SATISFY GOD -- SO THEY KEEP PERFORMING. It also creates a religious dependency where believers attend church services out of fear that they will "backslide" away from salvation if they don't. This is why you see an obsession with some Christian congregations about the importance of church attendance. In their mind, a person's salvation could be jeopardized if meetings are missed. This is a result of Calvinism and other related teachings found within Reformed Theology (also known as Covenant Theology), rather than authentic New Testament salvation based on God's unmerited favor (or Grace). This dependency, which uses fear as a powerful motivating influence, is deliberately designed into the doctrine to ensure the continuation and survival of the religious institution or movement. In all fairness, I believe you can receive salvation under their preaching. But, for the rest of your life, you'll be struggling with a misleading counterfeit definition of grace that brings you back (and keeps you) under the bondage of the Law from which Christ set you free (Romans 8:1-2 and Galatians 5:1).

This is how it works. There is a secondary usage for the word "grace". It's referred to as "divine enablement". If someone is suffering through hard times they might say something like, "I pray God gives me the grace to see this crisis through", or "I pray God enables me with the strength to see this crisis through". The word “grace” used in this way suggests a "supernatural ability to perform or endure". Adherents of the misleading "grace theology" allow their salvation doctrine to be influenced by this definition. The degree of influence varies throughout the church. To base their beliefs "literally" on the Grace teachings of Saint Paul (God's unmerited favor) would wreck their doctrine and historical traditions.

According to certain Calvinistic and Reformed theological understandings, the Gospel of Grace conforms to the characteristic of "divine enablement", rather than "God's Unmerited Favor". A common statement you'll hear in these kind of churches is:

"Grace always exceeds the requirements of the Law."

This persuasive and deceptive maneuver completely undermines the teachings of Saint Paul and Christ's New Covenant salvation. Yet, most church members hardly notice. It falsely teaches that God's Grace is the real "gift of God" in Ephesians 2:8-9 and it enables you with the ability (or the grace) to perform good works in a way that exceeds the Law's original requirements, and thereby secures God's acceptance and favor. It's a misleading way of saying that my religious works, service and devotion contributes to or secures my salvation because God "enabled me" (or gave me the grace) to perform good works and Christian service up to a level that meets His approval and secures my salvation. The apostle Paul would call this popular way of believing "handling the Word of God deceitfully" (2 Corinthians 4:2). It turns Christ's Gospel of Grace (salvation based on God's unmerited favor) on its head (or makes it nonsensical) and subtly reinstates the Law and its related service and works into the requirements for God's "gift" of salvation. Yet, this misleading theology is still "technically" referred to as Grace. This is a similar doctrine the Judaizers taught the Galatian Church, which frustrated the apostle Paul, who said; "I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel..." (Galatians 1:6). There's really no difference. It accomplishes its purposes mainly within various expressions of Protestant and Holiness theology, but is also found under different names in the Roman Catholic Church. We don't have to look at the various doctrines of Roman Catholicism to see wrong teaching. The Non-Catholic side of Christianity has plenty of its own, which is why we should clean up our own house before we throw stones. This is the reason we need to look deep under the surface when hearing teachers and theologians claim that they preach a "Grace" salvation message. A lot of dangerous and misleading teachings are disguised under the generic label of "Grace". To avoid this hidden trap you must closely examine the way evangelists and other preachers/teachers use the term.

Embracing a distorted and redefined view of God's Grace is common in the Church. Do not underestimate this influence. It's a doctrine held by a majority of Christians who are convinced they have the truth. It has invaded not only mainline Protestant denominational churches, but also many Pentecostal and Charismatic churches and related sub-groups. I watched it destroy a successful youth for Christ revival in Washington, DC during the 1970's. It has countless expressions and variants.

The attempt to turn Christian believers away from the New Covenant Grace of Christ is a powerful mainstream effort within Christian Orthodoxy that carries countless different strategies, which are all based on the many aspects of the heretical doctrine of Christian Legalism that appears to be fundamental Bible teaching. All people are different -- and that requires our enemy to use multiple strategies. Our readers should understand that there is one strategy that is made especially to ensnare you. All of these efforts involve what the early apostles would call “demonically inspired theology”. Over the last 40 years, the popular Unity and Church growth movements attempt to “unify” all those who identify with Christianity regardless of whether they hold to one of these demonic, yet “Biblical” sounding systems of theology. This is a well-intentioned and man-made effort to merge and unify churches and groups THAT GOD DOES NOT WANT UNIFIED.

A Popular Bible Scholar Gives
The Church A Warning About
Reformed Theology

We recently discovered a commentary from C.I. Scofield, who produced the popular “Scofield Reference Bible” and sounds a sober warning to the institutional Christian Church. We are not necessarily students of Scofield. Yet, we find that his writings reinforce the subject of this commentary.

“In contrast to Reformed theology is Dispensationalism. Dispensationalism says that to find the believer’s rule of life you must go not to Mount Sinai, but to Mount Calvary. Mount Sinai is powerless to justify a person and Mount Sinai is also powerless to sanctify a person. The law is not the believer’s rule of life. Something else is. The Scofield Bible states this position very clearly: "The test of the gospel is grace. IF THE MESSAGE EXCLUDES GRACE, OR MINGLES LAW WITH GRACE AS THE MEANS OF JUSTIFICATION OR SANCTIFICATION, OR DENIES THE FACT OR GUILT OF SIN WHICH ALONE GIVES GRACE ITS OCCASION AND OPPORTUNITY, IT IS 'ANOTHER' GOSPEL, AND THE PREACHER OF IT IS UNDER THE ANATHEMA OF GOD."

[From "Footnote #6" in the SCOFIELD REFERENCE BIBLE under Galatians 1:6--Emphasis Mine.]

“Most of us have been reared and now live under the influence of Galatianism. PROTESTANT THEOLOGY IS FOR THE MOST PART THOROUGHLY GALATIANIZED, in that neither the law or grace is given its distinct and separate place as in the counsels of God, BUT THEY ARE MINGLED TOGETHER IN ONE INCOHERENT SYSTEM. The law is no longer, as in the divine intent, a ministration of death (2 Cor. 3:7), of cursing (Gal. 3:10), or conviction (Rom. 3:19), because we are taught that we must try to keep it, and that by divine help we may. Nor does grace, on the other hand, bring us blessed deliverance from the dominion of sin, for we are kept under the law as a rule of life despite the plain declaration of Romans 6:14.” -- C.I. SCOFIELD --

What frightens us the most is Scofield's use of the word "anathema" when talking about those who preach the popular gospel that mixes Law and Grace. Saint Paul uses the word "accursed" when describing the misleading message of these preachers. Both words (anathema and accursed) suggest a type of "Divine rejection" that falls upon these unsuspecting ministers. This is a most serious issue that is never properly addressed in a church service because it causes fierce controversy and emotional disagreements. Yet, it is a subject that should never be treated as just some "disagreement" over someone's opinion. The Scripture warns that God doesn't respect the opinions of man -- and that many opinions are wrong. Do you want to gamble your eternal life on something as unstable as your opinion?

As I watched the confusion caused by reformed theology for many years, I sought to find some way to identify it. It commonly operates by stealth across all denominational lines regardless of the name on the church building or the popularity of the pastor. Remember that popularity and ministry ordination never equates to the preaching of truth. All forms and denominational "offshoots" of reformed theology have three major characteristics:

  • It opposes (often with hostility) a "dispensational" or literal interpretation of Scripture.

  • Reformed theology wrongly teaches that, by committing the sin of crucifying Jesus Christ (their Messiah), God has permanently rejected Israel and "replaced" them with "the New Testament Church". According to reformed theologians, this divine rejection transfers the entire Old Testament program of the Law--to the Church. However, it's difficult to deny that Scripture teaches that the Church is now under the New Covenant of Christ that started AFTER THE CROSS. To maintain the illusion of looking "Biblical" reformed ministers and preachers solve this problem by illegally mixing these two programs of Old Testament Law and New Testament Grace together. This is why Christian believers are referred to as "spiritual Jews" or "true Jews" under Reformed theology. A modern name for this practice (a foundational teaching within Reformed theology) is something called "Replacement theology" (because they believe that the Church has REPLACED Israel). The Bible properly keeps the Old Testament dispensation of Israel under its program of the Law -- and New Testament dispensation of the mostly Gentile Church under Grace (Christ's new covenant), SEPARATED. This is why the apostle Paul instructed Timothy to keep God's Word, "rightly (or correctly) divided". However, this popular theology carelessly (and illegally) mixes them together into one "unified doctrine". Those who hold to reformed theology believes that there are, and have always been, only one people of God. They believe that Israel was the "Church" in the Old Testament -- and what the apostle Paul calls "the Church" in the New Testament is the "new Israel". God's directives and provisions to Israel in the Old Testament are wrongly (and illegally) "spiritualized" and transferred to the Church in the New Testament because of Israel's sin of unbelief and the rejection of their Messiah that led to His crucifixion.

  • Reformed theology subtly mixes the works associated with the Mosaic Law of the Old Testament given only to the Jews, with New Testament Grace promised to the gentiles. It mixes these two separate and different covenants into "ONE MESSAGE", rather than properly keeping them as separate programs. This "mixed doctrine and one message" is the way a majority of Christian churches (regardless of their label or denomination) teach it today. It's a close relative of the error that nearly destroyed the Galatian Church and the dominant influence that Scofield referred to as "Galatian religion" (or being "Galatianized"). He used this term to identify counterfeit Christianity.

If you want more detailed information about this dangerous belief
that operates within reformed theology, read this commentary.

Avoiding the Error of Replacement Theology

The apostle Paul, who authored nearly half of the New Testament Scriptures, condemned this practice (regardless of its name) using the strongest and most insulting words of his time. Once again, Paul was so angered by the adherents of this doctrine that he warned that a curse exists on all those who teach it (Galatians 1:8-9). He warned one church fellowship that they were "bewitched" by it! (Galatians 3:1). This mixing together of the dispensation of Law with the dispensation of Grace (Remember that both dispensations are recorded in our Bible) has caused havoc within the modern Christian church. I know how both sides think. Many years ago, I believed a form of reformation theology taught by several fundamentalist churches. I've learned to consider this theology (and the distorted way it interprets the Bible) very dangerous. It's so destructive to the truth of Scripture that believers should seek to be free from it, with all their heart. However, I am persuaded that you can legitimately and authentically "be saved" under its tenants. You can get more information on this subject at the link below:

Our Position On Covenant Theology
(Also Known As Reformed Theology)

Rejecting Our Position in Christ
Empowers the Counterfeit Gospel

One of the most liberating truths of Christ’s New Covenant is “Our Position In Christ”. Over 120 times Paul used the phrases like, "in Christ", "with Christ", "through Christ" or "by Christ" (mainly found in his epistles) to describe the new way God applies Christ’s salvation to the believer following the cross. Remember that the book of Hebrews calls this “the new and living way of Christ”. We must remember that the way God views the human sin condition and the way salvation and righteousness is obtained and kept RADICALLY CHANGED AFTER CHRIST'S CRUCIFIXION. The reason Christ’s New Covenant is called “NEW” is because the sacrificial blood of the Son of God changed and altered the previous old religious system, allowing God to now freely give us many spiritual benefits. HOWEVER, THESE SAME BENEFITS WERE NOT FREELY GIVEN UNDER THE OLD SYSTEM. A vast majority (we’re talking close to 9 out of 10) of Christian churches fail to accept these changes and views the New Covenant as just an extension and continuation of the Old Testament Covenant of Law. For this reason, various forms of Christian theology taught by most mainline denominations totally reject our new “position in Christ” AND CONTINUE TO FORCE HIS SALVATION TO FIT INTO THE CONTEXT OF OLD TESTAMENT THEOLOGY. THIS IS A MAINSTREAM EFFORT IN THE WORLD-WIDE INSTITUTIONAL CHURCH. It’s this very practice that Paul condemned as something that “perverted the gospel”. Commitment to religious tradition prevents them from making the changes Christ died to establish. This refusal to accept “the new and living way of Christ” (also called The New Covenant) is the error that drives the demonic counterfeit of a “different gospel” that the apostle Paul condemned in his epistles.

Simply understood, God views every true believer, regardless of their conduct, “IN CHRIST”. When Jesus died on the cross, God placed or reckons us “in Him” when He died. This is why Paul said, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” When anyone is executed through crucifixion, THE END RESULT IS THAT THEY ARE DEAD. Paul was declaring that the believer is now crucified and “dead”, meaning that their sin, works, conduct and behavior (their entire life) is also dead AS FAR AS GOD IS CONCERNED (Galatians 2:20-21, Colossians 3:3). Yet, Jesus was resurrected from the grave and Paul goes on to say that GOD RECKONS US TO BE RESURRECTED WITH HIM (Colossians 2:11-15). This process sets up a blood covenant principle called “THE EXCHANGED LIFE”, where our existing life is “crucified with Christ” and left in the grave -- AND WE RECEIVE ALL OF CHRIST’S LIFE AND ATTRIBUTES AT HIS RESURRECTION IN EXCHANGE. Jesus bore the disobedience, sin, lack of holiness, lack of faithfulness and curse on our life at the cross. HOWEVER, the other side of this exchange is that we get Christ’s complete salvation, His righteousness (or worthiness), His sinlessness (as free justification -- Romans 3:24-26) -- AND WE ARE CREDITED WITH CHRIST’S TOTAL AND PERFECT OBEDIENCE TO GOD -- REGARDLESS OF HOW DEFICIENT WE ARE IN THIS AREA. IN OTHER WORDS, GOD NOW CREDITS US WITH CHRIST’S PERFECT OBEDIENCE -- AND TREATS US AS IF WE ARE JUST AS OBEDIENT AND RIGHTEOUS AS CHRIST. Another confirmation of this truth is where the New Testament Scriptures refer to all believers as “The Body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:27). This group is not made up of people who God views as being “in themselves”. They are said to be new creations “in Christ”, which identifies and credits them with all the benefits of Christ’s fully obedient life. This means we will never be without salvation because Christ will always possess eternal life and we are “in Him” forever. We can never lack righteousness or worthiness because we have been made the righteousness of God of in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). God freely justifies us and treats us as “sinless” (or freely justified) because Christ never sinned (Romans 3:24-26). We can never fail to be holy because we have the holiness of Christ.

"For He made Him who knew no sin TO BE SIN FOR US, THAT WE MIGHT BECOME THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD IN HIM." (2 Corinthians 5:21 -- Emphasis Mine)

"Therefore, IF ANYONE IS IN CHRIST, HE IS A NEW CREATION; OLD THINGS HAVE PASSED AWAY; BEHOLD, ALL THINGS HAVE BECOME NEW. Now all things are of God, WHO HAS RECONCILED US TO HIMSELF THROUGH JESUS CHRIST, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, NOT IMPUTING THEIR TRESPASSES TO THEM, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation." (2 Corinthians 5:17-19 -- Emphasis Mine)

"Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." (Galatians 3:13-14 NKJV)

We can only be reconciled to God if we possess (or are credited with) Christ’s perfectly obedient life. WE CAN NEVER ACHIEVE THE PERFECTION OF THIS KIND OF LIFE THROUGH OUR OWN EFFORTS. If our Heavenly Father attempts to relate with us based on our own imperfect life and righteousness (as those who support the counterfeit gospel teach), true reconciliation can never take place AND HE IS FORCED TO REJECT US. Preaching about the “exchanged life” of our New Covenant position “in Christ” is the ministry of reconciliation. Yet, precious few denominations, churches or ministries ever preach Christ's salvation from this New Covenant perspective.

"...AND BE FOUND IN HIM, NOT HAVING MINE OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS, WHICH IS OF THE LAW, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith..."(Philippians 3:9 KJV -- Emphasis Mine)

"Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, AND SEEKING TO ESTABLISH THEIR OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." (Romans 10:1-4 NKJV -- Emphasis Mine)

Christ’s Exchanged Life Directly
Applies to End Time Events

Every Christian believer who is deficient in good works and Christian behavior can never fail to meet God’s righteous requirements for the soon-to-occur rapture of the Church. Why? God now judges us to be “worthy” according to the standard of Christ’s perfect life AND NOT OUR LIFE, WHICH HE CONSIDERS DEAD. This is why Paul taught that when the time for the rapture arrives, ALL WILL BE CHANGED AND LEAVE TO MEET CHRIST IN THE AIR (1 Corinthians 15:51-57). This word "ALL" that Paul uses includes those who possess outstanding Christian service and behavior AND THOSE WHO ARE LACKING IN THESE THINGS. The counterfeit gospel teaches that the rapture is a reward only for those with exceptional Christian performance. I heard one well-known evangelist say that it’s a reward only for “the overcomers”, while all other Christian believers who failed God’s performance test would be left behind for further purification in the Tribulation. This is a popular, yet totally false teaching because it follows an Old Testament form of theology that redefines (subtly rejects) our New Covenant position “in Christ”. A popular name for this doctrine is "Partial-Rapture Theology" and it's a derivative of Christian Legalism that the apostle Paul labeled as "heresy"..


Remember that according to the New Covenant, God said that He no longer considers or remembers our sin and failures (Hebrews 8:8-13), WHICH ARE NOW DEAD THROUGH THE CRUCIFIXION OF CHRIST. ONLY THE ATTRIBUTES OF JESUS CHRIST ARE APPLIED TO OUR LIFE. THE RAPTURE IS THE COMPLETION OF OUR SALVATION, WHERE WE ARE CHANGED FROM OUR MORTAL CONDITION TO AN IMMORTAL STATE (1 Corinthians 15:51-57). Jesus referred to it as “our redemption that draws nigh” (Luke 21:27-28). It’s our completed redemption, entirely bought and paid for by Christ’s blood. IT IS NOT A SPECIAL REWARD GIVEN ONLY TO A FEW FOR EXCEPTIONAL CHRISTIAN SERVICE. God will apply His redemption to all true Christian believers, which is why Paul used the phrase, “ALL WILL BE CHANGED” when instructing the Corinthian Church about this event. The rapture is a major part of the authentic Gospel of Christ, which is why we include these important comments here. It’s called “The Believer’s Blessed Hope”. Don’t let the misguided ministers of the counterfeit gospel cheat you by making it a horrible nightmare. For more information, click on the links below.

Has The Rapture Become Your Worst Nightmare?

Why Do some Leaders Deceive The Church
About The Rapture?

This is the “exchanged life” of the New Covenant that didn’t begin until after the cross. It’s “THE NEW AND LIVING WAY OF CHRIST” that didn’t exist under the Old Testament religious system, which the book of Hebrews declares to be “obsolete” (Hebrews 8:13). As we said earlier, THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST CHANGED ALL THE PREVIOUS RULES. It forever divided God’s Word into two parts: The Old Testament religious system before the cross -- and Christ’s New Covenant system of faith, established on better promises, THAT BEGAN AFTER THE CROSS.

"But now He (Jesus Christ) has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He (Jesus) is also MEDIATOR OF A BETTER COVENANT, WHICH WAS ESTABLISHED ON BETTER PROMISES. For if that FIRST COVENANT had been faultless, then no place would have been sought FOR A SECOND." (Hebrews 8:6-7 NKJV)


"Be diligent to PRESENT YOURSELF APPROVED OF GOD, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, RIGHTLY (OR CORRECTLY) DIVIDING THE WORD OF TRUTH." (2 Timothy 2:15 NKJV -- Emphasis Mine)

"IN THAT HE (JESUS CHRIST) SAYS, "A NEW COVENANT," HE HAS MADE THE FIRST OBSOLETE. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away." (Hebrews 8:13 NKJV)

The Bible tells us that the New Covenant is also known as, “The Mystery of Christ” (Ephesians 3:1-12, Colossians 4:2-4). As with any good story involving a mystery, most people always misinterpret things until the end. This is the reason most of the institutional church and its leadership is misinterpreting the Mystery of Christ, WHERE THE CRUCIFIXION OF JESUS CHANGED ALL THE PREVIOUS RULES THAT GOVERN HOW GOD DEALS WITH OUR SIN. Yet, a majority of churches teach the Bible as if Christ's sacrifice didn't change that much and is just a continuation of the Old Testament system. This is a popular mainstream theology. ACCORDING TO PAUL, THIS DOCTRINE CARRIES A CURSE, AND EMPOWERS THE COUNTERFEIT GOSPEL THAT IS COMMONLY TAUGHT TODAY. THINK ABOUT THAT! Christ’s mystery revealed through the New Covenant continues to anger the falsely religious critics who are fighting to keep their unbiblical authority structures from falling apart.

For additional information you can read the commentaries on the links below.

The Holy Spirit's Role After the Cross

Our Position in Christ

Imputation: The New Covenant Method God Uses
To Transfer His Spiritual Benefits

The Frightening Consequences Of Failing
To Rightly Divide God's Word

Unbelief: The 800-Pound Gorilla In
The Church That Everyone Ignores

What Is the Mystery of Christ?

The Stealth War Against the Truth
of the Gospel

The Spiritual Revolution of Christ?


This commentary contains some information that is repeated (to the point of being redundant) throughout our website. It is provided as an "insert" used to clarify some of our writings about the dangers involved in the popular error of Christian Legalsim that dominates the world-wide institutional church. We hope you find it beneficial in your walk with the Lord Jesus Christ.

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