Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 11, 1954
NUMBER 27, PAGE 11,13b

Perverted Gospels

Jesse M. Kelley, Port Arthur, Texas

Webster defines "pervert" to mean: "To turn aside; as: To turn away from what is right, true, proper. To misinterpret; misapply; as to pervert any meaning. To lead into wickedness." "Corrupt" is one of its synonyms, which means, "contaminated or defiled."

In Galatians 1:6-9 Paul writes to the Galatian brethren concerning their being turned aside from the truth by means of a perverted gospel. Not another gospel but a "misinterpreted or a misapplied one." The same gospel by which they had been saved and in which they once stood had been so twisted as to lose its power to save, thus it became a perverted gospel.

The gospel is the saving power of God. Paul calls it "the power" that saves. (Rom. 1:16.) But when it is contaminated or corrupted by misconstruction and misapplication it loses that power to save. There is power in a glass of pure water to quench thirst, but a spoon full of salt added will destroy that power. The gospel is God's power to save but when a bit of foreign matter is added it takes away its saving power; it is no longer able to do that which it was designed to do. It isn't necessary to preach "another gospel"; just add a little "salt" and it is rendered inadequate to accomplish its purpose.

As to the nature of the perversion that turned the Galatian brethren aside we are not fully informed. But whatever it was, it was sufficient to remove them from that which had saved them and in which they had been assured of their salvation. However, we are not so concerned as to the nature of that perversion, but rather to the nature of the many perversions among us today. A perverted gospel will never bring one to Christ. Thousands are basking today in the false security of perverted gospels. We direct your attention to some of them.

First, a gospel that destroys the unity for which Christ prayed (John 17) and says that "One church is as good as another, that the church is unimportant anyway," is a perverted gospel and cannot save. The teaching and practice of denominationalism makes void the prayer of Christ and the teaching of inspiration on the unity of God's people. The teaching of denominations that they "are branches of the true vine" is to twist scripture out of joint and make it teach something that it does not in reality teach. The pure gospel of Christ sets forth and emphasizes the oneness of the Lord's church and teaches that the true character of the church is that there is "but one body." (1 Cor. 12:20.) The church of Christ in the New Testament is a unit within which each member functions within the sphere of his ability to the edification of the body as a whole.

Paul illustrates this by using the human body as an example of how the church functions and builds itself up. The physical body is a unit made up of many members, each functioning in coordination with all other members to the building up and well being of the whole body. "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many are one body: so also is Christ." (1 Cor. 12:12.) Then in verse 20 the apostle adds, "But now are they many members, yet but one body." All who obey God and are saved are in this one body the church. "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit." (Verse 13.)

The very nature and principle of denominationalism is division. There is no semblance of the unity for which Christ prayed to be found in it. From beginning to end it is division which is brought about and perpetuated by the preaching of perverted gospels that have no power to save the souls of men. The idea that "one church is as good as another and that the church doesn't matter anyway" is a pernicious one, and designed to appeal to the vanity and self-will of man. Denominationalism feeds and thrives on that which God's word expressly forbids and condemns — division! It is impossible for denominationalism to exist where there is unity; and where unity is destroyed, there sectarianism raises its head. When one is led to believe that there are many bodies, and that he can be saved in them outside or independent of the body or church of Christ he has been led to believe "another gospel" which is in reality not another, but one that has been misinterpreted. As such it cannot save.

Having already quoted 1 Corinthians 12:13, where Paul said "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body," it needs to be emphasized that the body is the church. "And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence." This is the only church the Lord ever built. (Matt. 16:18.) It belongs to him by right of purchase (Acts 20:28), and only in it are we promised salvation. (Eph. 5:23.) Being a good member of, and in good standing with every man-made religious body in the world would not enhance one's possibilities of reaching heaven one iota. Every denomination in existence is founded upon a perverted gospel. Thus they cannot, nor do they have the means for saving one soul from death. Jesus said: "Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up." (Matt. 15:13.)

It takes obedience to the gospel of Christ to make one a member of the Lord's church. When a member of the Lord's church, one is a Christian. "The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch." (Acts 11:26.) The Christians at Antioch were members of the Lord's church. A denominationalist is not a Christian because he has believed and obeyed a perverted gospel. He has not obeyed the gospel of Christ; if he had he would be a member of the Lord's church, and would wear the only name the Lord ever gave his disciples to wear.

Again, a gospel that teaches more than one mode of baptism is a perverted gospel. It teaches more than the gospel of Christ teaches. It has been diluted with the "wisdom" of man and has lost its power to save. The gospel teaches that there is "one baptism" (Eph. 4:5), and that the mode of the one baptism is a "burial." (Col. 2:12; Rom. 6:3,4.) Really it is absurd to speak of "modes" of baptism. The word "baptism" is itself the mode. To say one is "baptized by immersion" is like saying one is "immersed by sprinkling." It does not even make good sense and the use of English is terrible. The term "baptize" is the "mode" and when one is baptized with the "one baptism" of the New Testament he is "buried" in water ant is raised up to walk in newness of life. (Rom. 6:3,4.) It should be unnecessary to quote scholars as to the original meaning of the word "baptize." When Paul says it is a burial that should settle it. To any honest man it will settle it. The word "burial" like "baptize" can have only one meaning. To teach and practice anything else is to corrupt the gospel and take away its power to save; it is "adding salt to the water."

It was not until the year 251 A.D. that anything other than a burial was ever thought of. Before this baptism was always immersion. During the year mentioned, a man by the name of Novatian, a candidate for baptism became seriously ill before he could be baptized. The church leaders thinking that he could not be immersed decided to pour water on him as he lay on his bed. This they did, and his baptism, if it can be called such, was called "clinic baptism." Eusebius, church historian writes of the act thusly: "Being delivered by the exorcists, he fell into a severe sickness, and, as he seemed about to die, he received baptism by effusion on the bed where he lay, if indeed we can say that such a one did receive it." (The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1, pp 288-289.) Thus the origin of sprinkling and pouring for immersion was only a substitution at first, but now they are used as though there were part of the gospel of Christ by Romanists and Protestants alike. Informed Catholics know it had no place in the early church, and they have better judgment than to try to prove by the New Testament that sprinkling or pouring for baptism is scriptural. They know it was substituted way this side of the first century, and just make the simple statement that they believe the church had the authority to change it to sprinkling, thus they practice it. But some other preachers of perverted gospels show their lack of knowledge in both history and the New Testament by attempting to prove that the apostles taught it. Many honest people have been deceived by these preachers who teach that the gospel of Christ authorizes it. It is a perverted gospel and has no power to save.