why does the gospel need to be guarded?
First of all, what is the gospel? It is God’s rescue plan for your soul. It explains who Jesus is, what He did for us and our need for His payment. Those who hear it and believe are saved. The gospel of Christ is “the power of God to salvation, for everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16b).

counterfeit gospels

Almost immediately after it became available (following Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection), the devil started working through various men to create counterfeit gospels. He even prompted men spread the lie that Jesus hadn’t risen from the dead. Why would he do this? He is the enemy of our souls. It is his twisted hope that he might get people to wrongly believe one of these counterfeit gospels instead of Christ’s true saving gospel. Each time this happens, he prevents those people from getting saved.

While that was 2,000 years ago, you can be sure the devil has continued this effort, and refined his counterfeit gospels to be more subtle and difficult to detect. This could be compared to someone who has worked at printing counterfeit money for 2,000 years. If this were possible, you could be sure that their fake money would look better and better and become more widely accepted as the centuries went on.

false security

It could also be compared to a driver fastening a seatbelt that someone has tampered with. The driver assumes all is fine, unaware that it’s faulty and will not save him in a crash. Not every driver will crash and need the protection of their seatbelt, but every soul’s body will eventually die and each will need the saving power of Christ’s gospel before this happens.

Those who trust a counterfeit gospel (or outright ignore or reject what Christ has done for them) will spend the rest of eternity in the prison of hell paying for their own sins. Those who put their trust in the true gospel of Christ will spend eternity in Heaven because through the power of the gospel, their sin debt is fully paid and they are forgiven and made clean.

wolves in sheeps clothing

“For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.” (Acts 20:29) “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 ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15) The Bible warns of many who have crept in among the early believers as wolves among sheep, looking to pervert the gospel of Christ and lead many astray. Because the devil doesn’t have a physical body, he has to persuade people to do his twisted will. Some of these “wolves”, like the pharisees in Jesus’ time, knew they were working to undo God‘s plan. When the pharisees brought Jesus to Pilate, he knew that they had handed Him over because of envy. Jesus described them in this parable: “But when the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.’” (Matthew 21:38) Others like Saul (who became Paul) believed they were doing God’s will to fight against Christianity. When people are unsaved, they can too easily be persuaded to help fulfill the enemy’s plans.

oral tradition rather than scripture-based

One of the enemy’s most effective strategies is to persuade nationally or world-wide respected Christian teachers to profess a counterfeit gospel. Not only is this harmful for individual wishing to be saved, but other pastors and teachers who esteem these teachers then also share this counterfeit gospel. While they study scripture to put together their weekly lessons, they trust the misleading words of the counterfeit gospel rather than checking it against scripture. It also seems that because the gospel is the first thing one learns when getting saved, people often assume they can just wing it as they explain it to others. This opens the door to inaccurate variations being spoken that are not biblically based. Sharing the gospel of Christ has become something based on oral tradition rather than based on key scripture. It could be compared to playing the game of telephone, where the message continues to change from person to person. If it wasn’t in the gospel as shared by Paul and Peter, why are we including it in the gospel we share? Because the gospel is so foundational, it’s imperative that what we tell others is absolutely biblically accurate.

many will be deceived

Many will be deceived by believing false gospels. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21). If we’re not saved, we won’t understand God’s will, because it’s spiritually discerned. How can we do the will of the Father if we do not know it? “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” (Matthew 7:22-23). These people carried on as if they were Christians, yet Jesus tells them, ”I NEVER knew you”. They were unsaved, spiritually dead people going through the motions of looking like a Christian. It’s vital that the one true gospel of Christ be called out from scripture, and from scripture, point out the errors of the counterfeit gospels, so as to minimize people being misled and remaining unsaved.

a sober warning

Not only will those who believe a false gospel suffer, but so will those share the false gospel. The Bible warns, “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:6-9)

the bottomline

If you know you’re not saved and realize you need to be, you will be asking questions, seeking answers and be open to hearing what you do not know. If people have heard a false gospel and unknowingly trust something that will not save them, they will then assume they are saved and stop seeking how this might happen for them. To make matters worse, they may start sharing with others “how to be saved” by telling them the false solution they came to trust. Jesus calls them blind guides and says both they and their hearers will fall into a pit. If you are saved, it’s not God’s plan to put you in a corner and have you wait there until you die and go to Heaven. “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.” (Matthew 5:14-15) “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19a) God has called you to represent Him as an ambassador of Christ and called you to share the gospel with the lost. Before you do, make sure what you tell them is BIBLICALLY based and accurate! The true gospel continues to be under attack by the enemy and therefore needs to be guarded for the sake of the unsaved.