To illustrate the writing style and level of thoroughness and research that went into this book, the following sample chapter is shown here for your perusal. It is the first chapter in the abridged version of Wayne Scott's book, The Prophets' Gospel.
In 1988 one of America's most respected Christian teachers, Dr. John MacArthur, identified a dangerous new belief system that has infiltrated and now dominates the church:
The gospel in vogue today holds forth a false hope to sinners. It promises them they can have eternal life yet continue to live in rebellion against God. Indeed, it encourages people to claim Jesus as savior yet defer until later the commitment to serve Him as Lord. It promises salvation from hell but not necessarily freedom from iniquity. It offers false security to people who revel in the sins of the flesh and spurn the way of holiness. By separating faith from faithfulness, it leaves the impression that intellectual assent is as valid as wholehearted obedience to the truth. Thus the good news of Christ has given way to the bad news of an insidious easy-believism that makes no moral demands on the lives of sinners. It is not the same message Jesus proclaimed.
This new gospel has spawned a generation of professing Christians whose behavior often is indistinguishable from that of the unregenerate. . . Theirs is a damning false assurance.From the introduction to Dr. MacArthur's best-selling book ever: The Gospel According to Jesus
Other respected Christian leaders are sounding similar alarms about this "generation of professing Christians whose behavior often is indistinguishable from that of the unregenerate." They describe rampant immorality in all levels of the modern-day church. Dr. Howard Hendricks, a popular Promise Keepers speaker and legendary Christian teacher from Dallas Theological Seminary, wrote:
A number of Christian youth organizations have sponsored research with results indicating a surprising similarity between Christian and non-Christian kids in the areas of values, morals, and behavior. The only major difference is a verbal one. The Christians answer "no" when asked if they would lie or cheat or steal or go to bed with someone, while the non-Christian kids say, "Of course, if it's to my advantage." But at the actual behavioral levelthere is essentially no difference.The Seven Laws of the Teacher, pages 89-90
Dr. R. C. Sproul, a highly respected Christian teacher and president of Ligonier Ministries, charges:
Most Christians, according to the Gallup polls that we've seen recently, live according to the cultural social conventions and not according to the law of God. . . .
You can't tell the difference in a pagan and a Christian in our culture because the dominant basis of our morality is not coming from thoughtful meditation on the law of God, but it is coming from what is acceptable in our environment.Ligonier Ministry's CD album Blueprint for Thinking, Lesson #5
In a taped interview, hosted by Focus on the Family's H. B. London, Bruce Wilkinson, another highly respected Christian teacher and founder of Walk Through the Bible, gave this factual illustration to show the extent of the moral corruption among our pastors and leaders. He tells of a mainline denomination's ministers' conference in which each room of a large hotel was occupied by Christian ministers and leaders.
During the conference one of the speakers, a real statesman according to Dr. Wilkinson, had several opportunities to share his faith with the hotel owner. On the last day of the conference he asked the hotel owner if he had decided to give his life to Christ. The hotel owner replied:
"You know, I was so close to accepting Christ because of what He would do for my life until this morning before I came down here. I called my manager and asked him, 'How many rooms watched pornography last night?' And he said, 'More than half the rooms showed pornography.' And [the hotel owner] turned to this statesman and said, 'If that's all your Christ means, I am not interested.'"Focus on the Family's Pastor to Pastor audiocassette series, The Pursuit of Personal Holiness, volume 39
The most reputable source I have found for studies about the morality of our modern-day church is Barna Research Institute. You can read them for yourself at barna.org. Their surveys have proven that there is no measurable difference in the morality of the average modern-day Christian and the average non-Christian, thus supporting the observations quoted above.
I do not know if Dr. MacArthur ever made the connection, but his description of this dangerous new gospel fits perfectly the biblical description of the antichrist. I do not mean the sensational one-person-yet-to-come antichrist made popular by the Left Behind series; I mean the antichrist described in the only books of the Bible where the word actually appears: I and II John. There, John describes the antichrist as a false belief system, complete with teachers and doctrines, which arrived almost two thousand years ago. I will talk more about this in the chapter entitled "The Antichrist."
This book presents two study techniques that, with the precision of a surgeon's scalpel, separate the unbiblical concepts and doctrines of the antichrist from the biblical gospel. The first is to use what God foretold through the prophets about New Covenant salvation as a foundation for understanding the New Testament. The second is to re-establish biblical definitions to biblical words. Let me briefly explain each.
Studying what God foretold through the Old Testament prophets about New Covenant salvation is not a new study technique; just a forgotten one. Our Old Testament is the Bible from which Jesus and His apostles read and taught New Covenant salvation. It is the Bible used by the first Christians for the first few hundred years of Christianity. It is the "Scriptures" by which the Bereans measured Paul's words and they are forever recorded as being "of more noble character" for doing so:
Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.Acts 17:11, NIV
Through the prophets, God just as carefully foretold New Covenant salvation as He foretold His Messiah. These prophecies are numerous, very clear and understandable, and all say the same thing. They foretold that God would write His law (not the Mosaic law but the law of Christ, as in Galatians 6:2) on our hearts, put His Spirit in us to motivate us to live according to that law, and remove and destroy those who arrogantly refuse to live according to what He has shown them. Understanding what God foretold about New Covenant salvation, Paul wrote to the believers in Rome:
Therefore, brothers, we have an obligationbut it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.Romans 8:12-14, NIV
The problem is that the salvation foretold by the prophets is directly contradicted by what is taught in most churches today about salvation by grace through faith. This brings us to our second study technique: re-establishing biblical definitions for biblical words.
What is taught today about salvation by grace through faith contradicts the gospel foretold through the prophets because in two thousand years of Christianity, the definitions of "grace," "faith," and other foundational New Covenant words have evolved to the point that they no longer mean to us what they meant to the first Christians. Going far beyond the seemingly innocent blunders of teaching us to call our sins "mistakes" and sinning "struggling," this new gospel has redefined "faith," "grace," "justification," "repent," "sin," "righteousness," and many other words. The church has redefined so many words that it can read from Scripture things that God never said.
If you write me a letter and then I take the liberty of making up new definitions to your words, I can make your letter say anything I want it to. This is what this dangerous new gospel has done with Scripture.
Re-establishing the biblical definitions for biblical words erases the apparent contradiction between the gospel foretold by the prophets and the gospel of the New Testament, revealing a tremendous continuity throughout all Scripture about what it takes to be saved. God did not change His mind.
Using the gospel prophecies as a foundation of reading and understanding the New Testament, as we re-establish the biblical definitions of biblical words, reveals that New Covenant salvation is the relationship with God that Adam had before he rebelled. The terms of that relationship have never changed. If you find such a relationship distasteful, I'm sorry. This is what God offers. And no, this does not contradict "salvation by grace through faith," as those who have redefined "grace" and "faith" would have us believe.
In the next few chapters you will begin to see that the point of contention between the Christ and the antichrist if the nature of the freedom offered by the gospel. The freedom offered by the gospel is the heart of the gospel. Change that and you have changed the gospel.
Now let me tell you how, as a new Christian convert, I came to God for and received genuine New Covenant freedom only to be convinced by modern-day Christian teachers that it was not biblical.