The Essential Doctrines of the Gospel

by Val Rich

Galatians 1:8 informs us there are serious consequences for teaching a gospel different than that which was already taught by Jesus, Paul, and the other apostles. It admonishes: “Even if we (including Paul himself) or angels preach another gospel, let them be accursed.” Paul was presenting a hypothetical situation. However, he moves from the hypothetical to the emphatic in verse 9: “now I say again if anyone preaches any other gospel...let him be accursed.” “Accursed” in the Greek means a religious ban or excommunication. They are to be put out of the church, which is the body of Christ—which in turn is the family of God. Since only the family of God will inherit the Kingdom of God, it behooves us to know exactly what this gospel is to which Paul is referring. In the context of Scripture the true gospel refers to the “good news” or revelation of the person and work of Jesus Christ. Any gospel that denies or brings doubt on the person of or sufficiency of the work of Jesus Christ must be considered as a false gospel. As we study the Bible there will always be areas which will allow room for discussion, reasoning together and debate. However, there are certain essential doctrines where no debate can be accepted or even considered. These areas are considered the essential doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel of Jesus Christ covers three basic areas. The first area is the deity of Christ. He is God incarnate. John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” See also John 1:14; Revelation 19:13 (His name is “The Word of God.”); Romans 9:5; and Isaiah 9:6 (one of the great Messianic passages). 1 John 4:3. says, “Every spirit that does not confess that Jesus has come in the flesh is not of God….” If Jesus was just a great teacher or a great prophet, there would be no problem confessing He came in the flesh. Every teacher and every prophet from the beginning of mankind has come in the flesh. John is referring to the deity (Godhood) of Jesus Christ. “The Word” (God) “became flesh” (in the person of Jesus Christ) “and dwelt among us.” Verse 3 then identifies these rebellious spirits as “the spirit of Antichrist, which...is now already in the world.” Any gospel which questions, doubts, or denies the deity of Jesus Christ is another gospel. Its teachers and teachings are to be accursed. The second area of essential doctrine is the sufficiency of the work Christ accomplished on the cross. Jesus Christ is all we need for salvation, justification, sanctification, and maturing in the Lord. “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). In Christ we have every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Eph. 1:1-23). We have sonship in God’s family. We have been accepted into the Beloved. We have redemption. We have forgiveness. We have an inheritance. We have salvation. We have the spirit of wisdom and revelation. We have the hope of His calling. We are the body of Christ. Jesus Christ plus nothing is sufficient for all our needs. Any gospel which tries to add “positive thinking or confession,” “possibility thinking,” “visualization,” “psychotherapy” or any of a number of other methodologies—many of which leave Christ out of the picture altogether—is another gospel and is to be accursed. Jesus Christ is sufficient for all our needs. The third area of essential doctrine is the Lordship of Jesus Christ. He is either Lord of all or not Lord at all. Many teach that we can be Christians and yet live a life in which Christ is not Lord. They teach that we can live a life for ourselves on earth and still be ushered into God’s Kingdom. They see no battle between the new and old nature. This teaching denies the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Ezekiel 18:24 tells us: “But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done will not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die.” It is our choice, the Lordship of Christ in our lives or the lordship of self. The Bible warns us not to be deceived by this doctrine. The Apostle Peter warns us “there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction” (2 Peter 2:1). Verses 18-22 describe these deceptions: “For…they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption….It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment.… But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: ‘A dog returns to his own vomit,’ and, ‘a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.’” On these three essentials there can be no debate. Romans 12:2 tells us to renew our minds, “…that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” We cannot renew our minds by putting both truth and lies into them at the same time. If the church does not ban those teaching a different gospel, then you can protect yourself by not listening to or supporting their ministries. “Test the spirits,” 1 John 4:1 instructs, “because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Our measuring stick or standard must be the literal Word of God. Val Rich is pastor of a Christian Missionary Alliance Church in Simi Valley, California.