The Spiritual Revolution of Jesus Christ
and How the False Church
Opposes It (Pt. 1)
By William Handschumacher
A Rock of Offence Special Commentary
This is part 1 of a six-part Bible study.
To access the other parts click on the
appropriate link below:
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Did you know that Jesus
started a spiritual
revolution at the cross?
Did you also know that
this revolution or war
is waged within the
Saint Paul, who wrote nearly
half of the New Testament made
the following statement that
provides a starting point for
"... And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage), to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the Gospel might continue with you." (Galatians 2:4-5)
Jesus bore all our sins - past-present-and future - through the blood of His cross. This permanent "taking away of the believer's sin" (or "our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus' - as Paul calls it) is the centerpiece of Christ's redemptive program known as; 'Free Justification through faith in Christ alone'. Various Bible scholars describe this to mean that ... 'God now relates to the Christian as if they had never sinned' ... but this is not just some arbitrary decision. He now legally treats us 'as if we had never sinned' because His Son did indeed take all our sin away at the cross (John 1:29).
"...Being justified freely by His Grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:24-26)
“Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin." (Romans 4:4-8)
Yet, beginning in the first century and continuing today - popular religious leaders representing numerous churches and denominations - attempt to undermine and redefine this crucial benefit of Christ's salvation. Their objective is achieved by taking the sin that Christ previously removed - and subtly placing it back on the shoulders of the Christian. This provides us with a general framework for understanding the nature of widely-accepted mainstream theology responsible for leading many astray throughout church history.
An Unpopular Truth
A vast majority of Christians avoid confronting a problem which has existed since the first century ... that Christianity consists of both a false (or counterfeit) church - and the authentic Church that operates within its ranks. The counterfeit church, consisting of false christians (as Paul refers to them in Galatians 2:4-5) is, by far, the larger of the two groups.
This Bible study attempts to
examine an emotional spiritual
revolution which was initially
started by our Lord Jesus
Providing studies like this tends to offend well-meaning Christians who find themselves on the wrong side of Scripture. We agree that everyone has the personal right to believe in God anyway they choose. However, they do not have the right to demand that those beliefs, which clearly disagree with Scripture, be treated as truth - just because they say so.
Therefore, the most important issue all professing Christian must confront does not necessarily involve their cherished religious beliefs ... but whether those beliefs are the ones God accepts. Contrary to popular opinion, God does not make exceptions or accept our brand of faith based on our commitment or good intentions. Church history is filled with good, God-loving people who interpreted and believed the Bible incorrectly ... and led many astray.
A vast majority of Christians
choose to ignore these emotional
and confrontational issues
by placing them in the realm
of "personal opinion"...while
ignoring the consequences.
God warned against this practice
when He said...
"There is a way which seemeth
right unto a man, but the end
thereof are the ways of death."
The only way to learn about 'God's new and living way through Christ' (See Hebrews 10:19-23) is to study the Bible, specifically the New Testament Epistles of Saint Paul. The Bible is God's official rule book for all Christian faith and practice. Contrary to what various ministers say, no spiritual leader, church or denomination has the authority to replace what Scripture says - with their own doctrine or theology. Yet, this on-going problem started shortly after Christ's crucifixion ... and carries tragic consequences.
According to the "Pew Research Center Forum on Religion and Public Life" there are 13 Protestant denominational categories, which include the ones considered 'mainline'. However, when we expand our search into different offshoots and subgroupings, this list of 13 grows into hundreds - and some think there are thousands of different Christian denominations world-wide. This does not include the Roman Catholic Church and all of its various sects and expressions.
Why is the Christian Church splintered to such an extent - when both our Lord Jesus Christ and Saint Paul condemned such practices? Over the last 2000 years various groups and sects often organized around a popular preacher or theologian who claimed to have the only correct way to obtain God's salvation. In most cases, the minister used Scripture to convince followers that his interpretation or theology was 'Divinely approved'.
However, a careful examination of church history reveals that many different methods of Bible interpretation exist - and most of these methods remove Scripture from its Divinely intended context, which makes God appear to say things that He does not say.
This occurs either from of a lack of knowledge, or worse ... to validate the wrong religious beliefs and unbiblical traditions held by a church leader. When you add the cultural pressures found in various countries - you have an environment that can corrupt God's original intentions. However, Scripture contains the accepted way - consisting of two parts - that the author, our Heavenly Father, wants His words to be interpreted.
"Rightly dividing the Word of truth"
(2 Timothy 2:15), which involves the
command to obey the rules of context
when interpreting Scripture. The
Bible must be "rightly (or correcly)
divided" because it consists of two
vastly different covenant programs
(Old Testament Law and New Testament
Grace) that, when mixed together,
creates one of the most dangerous
heresies found within Christendom.
Allowing 'The Holy Scriptures' to be
the only authority and final word for
all doctrine, faith and practice for
the Christian Church.
This essentially means ...
No minister, church or denomination is
allowed to define, by decree, any
tenants of the Christian faith that
contradict or disagree with the ones
found in Christ's New Covenant that
began after the cross. God established
the Holy Scriptures (His Word) as the
final authority on all such matters
and is ofen referred to as...
More information is available
According to various studies concerning 'the spiritual health of the Church', some Bible scholars claim that over eight out of ten professing Christians ignore or reject these two primary requirements for correct Bible interpretation.
An Uncomfortable Examination
of Church History
Over the years various groups organized and eventually became denominations, embracing different doctrines and beliefs. Each one believed their way was 'God's way' - since their teachings appeared to be established on Scripture. Yet, many times, these teachings were actually designed around out-of-context Scripture. This often over-looked problem subtly allows God's Word to be redefined - into a man-made religious doctrine that carries the 'Christian' label. Yet, from God's perspective, this kind of religion is 'Christian in name only'.
Despite this bleak picture, there were also those who obeyed God's Scriptural rules of context - and sought to preserve His original intentions. They too formed various denominations. Unfortunately, this group was always a minority. As a result, some students of the Bible refer to them as "the remnant church" - since those who actually follow 'God's new and living way of Christ' are few in number and are often persecuted by the majority who claim to be right. Billy Graham once referred to this minority group of Christians as "the Church within the church." This mostly invisible group, originating from different fellowships and denominations (with some of its members belonging to no church or denomination at all) - represents the authentic New Testament Christian Church that exists within a much larger, yet false institutional Christian church.
The internal church war we
examine in this study
generally takes place
between these two groups.
The war was initiated by
our Lord Jesus Christ and
Jesus warned about this
spiritual struggle when
He said ...
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I DID NOT COME TO BRING PEACE BUT A SWORD. FOR I HAVE COME to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and a man's enemies will be those of his own household.’" (Matthew 10: 34-36)
“Beware of false prophets, WHO COME TO YOU IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING (or appearing to be Christians), but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits." (Matthew 7:15-16)
In the book of Revelation,
Jesus makes another shocking
To the church of Ephesus, Jesus said, “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and found them to be liars ..." (Revelation 2:2)
(Note: The Apostle represents one of the highest offices INSIDE the Christian Church.)
The Apostle Peter gave the
"But there were false prophets also among the people, EVEN AS THERE SHALL BE FALSE TEACHERS AMONG YOU, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of." (2 Peter 2:1-2)
The Apostle Paul warned, with tears,
about the same threat:
"For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. ALSO FROM AMONG YOURSELVES men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears." (Acts 20:29-31)
Since these warnings are largely
ignored by a vast majority of
Christians, it is safe to say,
on the authority of Scripture,
that there are many wolves in
sheep's clothing working within
the world-wide institutional
The False Christian Church
Operates Under the 'spirit
The term 'anti-christ' represents a false theological influence designed to undermine and replace Christ's Grace-based redemptive program. Currently, it exists as a 'spiritual influence' that operates within Christendom. However, it will later become a physical man during the final seven year Tribulation period leading up to the Second Coming of Christ. The Apostle Paul refers to him as; "the man of sin" ... and Saint John calls him "the beast" in the book of Revelation. Unfortunately, many Christians think that anti-christ (now only 'spiritual' in nature) is something 'opposite to Christ' - and can therefore be easily identified. Yet, the word 'anti' in this instance does not mean 'opposite to Christ' - but 'instead of Christ or a replacement for Christ'. In our various studies and commentaries, we often use the term 'counterfeit' instead of anti-christ - since a counterfeit of anything is designed to do the same thing; replace the original with an imitation.
The spiritual revolution discussed in this study is between the false church empowered by the spirit of anti-christ and the authentic Church empowered by 'The Spirit of Christ'. The following is how Saint John describes it ...
"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, AND IS NOW ALREADY IN THE WORLD. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you (The Spirit of Christ) is greater than he who is in the world (The spirit of anti-christ)." (1 John 4:1-4)
If we understand that the authentic Church established by Christ is fighting an opponent that, on the surface, looks and sounds similar - we will have a better chance of warning others about the danger.
Christian apologist and counter-
cult expert Jan Groenveld
warned about this powerfully
deceptive influence when she
"The most dangerous lie is
that which most closely
resembles the truth."
The Objective of the 'spirit
of anti-christ' is to
Change and Redefine the
Gospel While Looking
Acts chapter 15 is an extraordinary and life-changing section of Scripture. However, it is often ignored by many modern-day denominations and churches because it exposes some of their false, yet cherished Christian doctrines and traditions. Acts chapter 15 describes what some Bible scholars refer to as “The First Jerusalem Apostolic Council”. This was an official meeting (or council) of the entire early church leadership held in Jerusalem. It was convened to settle a serious dispute about Bible doctrine - and was led by James our Lord's half-brother. We assume the reader is familiar with this chapter - and for that reason we will only briefly cover a few of the major points.
The dispute involved some “believing Pharisees”, who insisted that, not only Jewish circumcision, but also the entire 'Law of Moses' (now recorded in “The Old Testament” section of our Bible) must be obeyed by the New Covenant Church under the authority of Saint Paul. They insisted that obedience to Old Testament Law must continue to be a requirement to obtain - and keep - Christ's salvation. The believing Pharisees of Acts chapter 15, who had turned away from their previous religious dogma and placed their faith in Christ ... was not like their earlier counterparts who persuaded Pontius Pilate to crucify Christ. This is a very notable miracle in itself, which is why Scripture calls them “believing Pharisees”. But, there was a problem hiding in their doctrine. The religious tenants that these Pharisees said must govern salvation - disagreed with the tenants of the New Covenant established by Christ. As a result, and despite their particular brand of “faith in Christ”, the apostolic council rejected their theology and officially ruled that the “Church of Jesus Christ” is no longer under the authority of the Law of Moses.
The Apostle Peter was a member
of this council and made the
following statement concerning
the doctrine in question:
And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.” (Acts 15:6-11)
After reaching a decision, the council issued a strongly worded letter to the churches, stating that they were free from the requirements of Old Testament Law (or the Law of Moses) ... which included the practice of circumcision. As a result, they commanded the Church to follow the principles of Grace as taught by Saint Paul. Below is the actual letter ...
The apostles, the elders, and the brethren,
To the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia:
Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, “You must be circumcised and keep the law” - to whom we gave no such commandment - it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.
So when they were sent off, they came to Antioch; and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the letter. When they had read it, they rejoiced over its encouragement.
At least two important facts
influenced the council's radical
They respected the time of Christ’s visitation and understood that His sacrificial death fulfilled the Law - and therefore changed everything from the way it previously existed under the old religious order (or the Old Testament program). They remembered the words Jesus spoke to them at the Last Supper saying;
“This cup is the New Covenant
in My blood" (Matthew 26:28,
Mark 14:24, Luke 22:20,
1 Corinthians 11:25,
2 Corinthians 3:6,
Hebrews 8:8, Hebrews 8:13,
Hebrews 9:15, Hebrews 12:24).
The apostolic council understood that when Jesus used the phrase “New Covenant” - it meant that our Lord was starting a totally new religious order. As a result, they also understood that God was now in the process of closing out the old order (or old covenant), which was based on obedience to the Mosaic Law. Saint Paul describes this change in the following way:
"But now He (Jesus) has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He 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. Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah - not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt..." (Hebrews 8:6-8)
"In that He says, "a New
Covenant," He has made the
first obsolete. Now what
is becoming obsolete and
growing old is ready to
IMPORTANT NOTE: The New Covenant was offered to Israel first, which is why the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah seems to to indicate that it is only something designed for Israel “and the house of Judah” (his words are repeated in the 8th chapter of Hebrews). After Israel rejected Christ’s salvation, as Paul states in Acts 13:44-52, God “went around” their disobedience and extended the incredible spiritual benefits of the New Covenant to all Gentile races, which God now brings into the New Testament Church beginning at the house of Cornelius through the preaching of Peter in Acts chapter 10. Keep in mind that the word “Gentile” is a racial term that includes all earthly human races, which also includes any Jewish people who choose to join the Gentiles and become “one new man in Christ” (Read Ephesians 2:4-19). We should understand that bringing the Gentiles into the New Covenant is declared to be “a mystery” and was generally unknown during the Old Testament administration of the Law in Israel. The Apostle Paul tells us about this "rerouting" of the new covenant from Israel to the Gentiles by saying...
"So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’” Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed." (Acts 13:42-48)
"I say then, have they (the Jews) stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? (Romans 11:11-12 - Emphasis Added)
The works-based doctrine of the believing Pharisees in Acts chapter 15 was designed to replace the Grace-based Gospel of Christ. This effort was essentially a coup designed to install a spiritual counterfeit that would make the finished work of Christ; null and void.
"For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the Law worketh wrath: For where no Law is, there is no transgression (Sin). Therefore, it is of faith, that it might be by Grace; (Romans 4:13-16 - Emphasis Added)
"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. I do not frustrate the grace of God: For if righteousness come by the Law, then Christ is dead in vain (The word "vain" means that Christ's death becomes meaningless)." (Galatians 2:20-21 - Emphasis Added)
"And if by Grace (speaking of Christ's finished work at the cross), then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work." (Romans 11:6)
In his Epistle to the Galatians, Saint Paul describes, in more detail, this works-based theology that Bible scholars would later call; Galatian Religion--or the Galatian Error. Today, what many believe to be authentic Christianity--is actually Galatian Religion; a spiritual counterfeit that God rejects.
This dangerous counterfeit, that looks and sounds nearly identical to true Bible-based Christianity, is what the Jerusalem Apostolic Council (and later, the Apostle Paul) was trying to stop. Unfortunately for the Church...their efforts failed.
These influential “believing Pharisees” lost their case - but chose to disregard the council’s decision. As a result, they decided to teach their theology everywhere Paul started a church. They designed a diabolical plan to replace “The Gospel of the Grace of Christ” with their own “altered gospel” that reinserted the tenants of Old Testament Law as 'additional requirements' to obtain and keep God's gift of eternal life. Tragically, this gospel is the one that various modern-day denominations embrace.
The plan of these believing
Pharisees violated the
mandate of the Jerusalem
apostolic council in Acts
Paul later warned that these ministers were teaching a doctrine that “perverts the Gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:6-9). He also warned that this same doctrine “taught another Jesus and a different gospel” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4). In other words, Paul condemned both their 'type of Jesus' - and their 'altered gospel' as dangerous spiritual counterfeits ... or imitations. However, we must remember that these are misguided religious leaders, who sincerely believe their counterfeit teaching represents the authentic gospel and the true Word of God. It is their sincerity, good intentions and educational credentials that make them so dangerous. Many are just good people who fail to understand the radical changes initiated through the cross of Christ. Most of them were not out to deliberately deceive anyone. Christendom is now filled with these kinds of loving and well-intentioned ministers - who lead many astray in their faith.
As a result, this “perverted or altered gospel” is now foundational in many modern-day mainline churches. It travels under various popular names and is expressed in countless different types and 'flavors'. Whole denominations and movements have built their ministries around its teachings.
In this study, we refer to this doctrine by several names such as; The Galatian error, the Galatian heresy and Galatian religion. Various Bible scholars gave it these names because it successfully infiltrated and led astray an entire church fellowship established by the Apostle Paul in the first century. Paul wrote his “Epistle to the Galatians” to expose this false theology (hence the name “Galatian Error”).
From there it continued to spread, like leaven, throughout all of the Christian Church despite Paul’s best efforts to stop it. Today, it is mainstream and virtually unopposed. It does not yield to a proper literal interpretation of Scripture and resists all challenges to its legitimacy through allegorizing Scripture - a dishonest and almost impossible methodology to defend against. Within Protestantism it is often referred to by names and phrases such as;
- New Calvinism
- Reformed Theology
- Institutes of Christian Religion
- Covenant Theology
- Holiness Theology
- Pentecostal Holiness
- Seventh-Day Adventism
- Discipleship and Shepherding Theology
- Lordship Salvation
- Various Types of Messianic Judaism
- Christian Fundamentalism
- Biblical Christianity
- Historical Christianity
And many other good-sounding
names too numberous to list
An Unpopular Truth
Calvinism, a derivative of Galatian religion, appears at the top of this list because it strongly influences, in varying degrees, many of the others and dominates a majority of Protestant churches. The Protestant Reformation of the early 16th century was generally led by two prominent theologians; Martin Luther (1483-1546) and John Calvin (1509-1564). As a result, most (but not all) of the other popular ministers of the Reformation period were associated with either Luther or Calvin.
However, what many modern-day
Christians tend to ignore is
that Luther and Calvin did not
teach the same doctrine. This
means that Protestantism
actually consists of two
different systems of theology.
Martin Luther correctly based his doctrine and evangelistic message on the Epistles of Saint Paul, which is part of God's official New Testament canon.
But Calvin went an entirely
He based his doctrine and teachings on the theology of Augustine of Hippo (354-430), referred to by historians as "The Father of Roman Catholicism". Luther, who was previously a Roman Catholic priest (and held a 'Doctor of Divinity Degree'), examined Augustine's theology (specifically his salvation doctrine) and found that it contradicted Scripture ... and, for that reason - rejected it. Calvin, on the other hand, was a committed disciple of Augustine and chose to use his doctrine instead of the plain teachings of Scripture. He took Augustine's Catholic theology and reworded it to look and sound 'Protestant'. According to some devout modern-day Calvinists - John Calvin's doctrine (known as Calvinism) is actually Augustine's Roman Catholicism repackaged.
Additional information along with
an important commentary by Dave
Hunt of "The Berean Call" sheds
the light of truth on a theology
that has literally deceived
millions of Christians since the
days of the Reformation.
Note: Including references to an
outside source in this study should
not be viewed as complete agreement
with the theology or doctrine of
the host or Bible teacher.
John Calvin vs. Martin Luther
This is part 1 of a six-part Bible study.
To access the other parts click on the
appropriate link below:
Return To Home Page
Return To Basics of Salvation Page