Slight variations notwithstanding, most modern preachers around the globe, whether they are independent or denominational, preach essentially the same gospel today. If you were to go to any of their churches and ask them to tell you what you must do to be saved, this is about what they would say:
“All you have to do to be saved is repent, trust Christ as your own personal Savior and accept him into your heart by faith.”
To seal the deal, you would be told to recite the “sinner’s prayer,” which goes something like this: “God, I know that I am a sinner. I know that I cannot save myself. I am trusting in Jesus Christ as my Savior. I believe that His death and resurrection provided for my forgiveness. I trust in Jesus and Jesus alone as my personal Lord and Savior. Thank you Lord for forgiving me and saving me. Amen.”
They would tell you that at this point, if you truly believed what you prayed, if you truly trusted Christ as your Savior, even if you didn’t say the prayer aloud, your sins are automatically forgiven and you automatically receive the Holy Spirit. You are born again and assured of a place in heaven. Some would even say that once you accomplish this thought process, you can never be lost. They will tell you that you ought to be baptized in obedience to the Lord’s command, but baptism is not a part of salvation; therefore, such obedience is not really essential. Salvation comes first, simply upon believing, then baptism would follow. You need not speak in other tongues when you receive the Holy Spirit. In fact, there would probably be no outward sign that you had received it. You would have to accept it by faith only, just as you are saved by faith only.
This is the gospel of most preachers today. If you are affiliated with any of the contemporary denominations, this is more than likely what your church teaches. It is often referred to as “The Roman Road.”
Some churches do encourage speaking in tongues, but do not attach any significance to salvation. One is saved first and then may receive the gift of tongues at some later time. Likewise, baptism is strongly urged in many churches, but even then, baptism would occur as a result of salvation.
Of course, there may be extenuating circumstances. Someone might get saved and then die in an accident before their scheduled baptism or get converted on their deathbed and wouldn’t have time to be baptized or anything else. Surely in these circumstances God would not condemn anyone for not being baptized, and speaking in tongues wouldn’t even enter into the picture.
Since this gospel of salvation is representative of so many of today’s modern preachers, we have volunteered them to stand before us that we may examine their gospel and compare it to the gospel preached in the church in the Bible. Will the Word of the Lord confirm that these preachers are true men of God, or will they be exposed as false prophets? Either way, the Bible is true and must be the deciding factor.
Now, don’t get in a lather and stop right here just because we have dared to question other preachers’ gospels. The apostles warned us to test all preachers so that we aren’t deceived. John warns the church in 1 John 4:1 –“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”
Modern preachers do not back up from what they teach, we are not going to judge their personal character, and they couldn’t be false prophets anyway, unless we learn somewhere down the line that their preaching contradicts the Bible in some fashion.
How can we “try the spirits?” The only way to put a preacher on trial to see if he has the spirit of truth or the spirit of error is to compare his teaching to the Bible. God tells us in Deuteronomy 4:2 and Revelation 22:19 not to add anything to the Scriptures or to take anything from the Scriptures. A false prophet will not build on the rock. He will add something or take something away from the Word of God, not by openly blotting out a verse or physically writing a new one, but by artful interpretations, by appealing to the original language in an attempt to cancel out the Bible’s plain English wording, or by using one passage to try to defeat another.
This study will bring to light many things taught in the Bible regarding water baptism, the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Godhead, and New Testament salvation. Read carefully, because some things clearly spelled out in the Bible are simply not taught or are openly denied in most churches today.