November 5, 2007

A Heart to Heart: Introduction

It is a sad day when well-meaning Pastors and Christian leaders, for the sake of maintaining a friendship, or a fellowship, will avoid studying an issue because it may lead him to question a friend's doctrine.

Preachers and Christian leaders, you are not doing your duty before God if your chief desire is to avoid controversy. You have a scriptural responsibility to know what the Bible teaches. You need to study the new interpretation of the Gospel commonly known as the“Crossless Gospel” so that you can say one of the following with conviction:
  • It is simply a different way of saying the same thing.
  • It is an acceptable variation on the doctrine of the Gospel, or
  • It is a departure from the faith once delivered (Jude 3) through its subtraction.

What account will you give before God if you avoid a doctrinal controversy because of a personal friendship or fellowship? What if you allowed a man into your pulpit who then brought a false interpretation of the Gospel to your membership? Where does your first loyalty lie; to the Word of God and your flock or to a personal friend?

Believers in our churches and fellowships need to be warned about false doctrine, and shifting tides in the church. A pastor must teach in such a way that he edifies the believers, and exposes false doctrine lest his flock be deceived and lead astray. The God ordained duty of every pastor is to both feed and defend the flock of God. The personal example and subsequent final charge of Paul to the Ephesian elders rings as loud and clear today as it did in the first century church.

“For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood,” (Acts 20:27-28).

How can the minister protect his people if he cannot recognize false doctrine himself? Granted, we cannot set out to learn and understand every false doctrine and cultic teaching in today's confused world. However, men who are part of the evangelical community have promoted the “Crossless Gospel” for several years, and it has made inroads into some churches and Bible colleges. How can you protect those whom God has given you the oversight of if you cannot recognize the danger at your doorstep? Heaven help the church whose pastor allows a man into his pulpit who preaches the “Crossless Gospel,” and the host pastor does not even recognize it. The damage is done, and if the pastor does not recognize what has been done, how can he set out to repair the damage?

The word “doctrine” appears forty-four times in the New Testament, sixteen times in the Pastoral Epistles (First & Second Timothy and Titus) alone. In the original text of the Pastoral Epistles, there are thirty-two references to “doctrine,” “teach,” “teacher,” “teaches,” and “teaching.”

First and Second Timothy and Titus are called Pastoral Epistles because they were written to pastors and outlined for them their pastoral duties. Since the Pastoral Epistles are primarily directed to ministers of the Word of God, ministers had better take heed to doctrine and teaching. Large portions of these epistles are dedicated to instructing Timothy and Titus to defend sound doctrine and resist false teaching. In First Timothy, Paul tells Timothy to stay at Ephesus and command certain men not to teach false doctrine.

“As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine,” (1 Timothy 1:3).

The Word of God warns that false teaching can come into the church through unbelievers or believers. Paul warned the Ephesian elders to “watch” (gregoreo) and be vigilant. The metaphor is to give strict attention, to be cautious, to be on guard. For the sake of their flocks, the pastors must be ever watchful! The Apostle Paul warned the men in his day; the written Word of God warns preachers today.

“For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears,” (Acts 20:29-31).

We must take the threat of false teaching seriously! You have a responsibility to determine for yourself whether the “Crossless Gospel” is orthodox, or if it is a false, non-saving interpretation of the Gospel. If you believe the “Crossless Gospel” is the correct view, then come out openly for it. If the “Crossless Gospel” is a departure from the biblical plan of salvation then do not hesitate to come out openly against it. You, however, cannot make that determination unless you study the issue for yourself.

Do not allow personal friendships to guide or alter your pursuit and study of the Word of God. The Gospel is too important and the only hope for this lost and dying world for you to stand idly by while men propagate a message that has been reduced to a non-saving mental assent to a promise without belief in and/or a conscience rejection of the finished work and Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Next in the series will be: How Do I Respond to the “Crossless” Gospel?


Please proceed to Part 1 of the series.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means---electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise--without the prior written permission of the author or the publisher, with the exception of brief excerpts in magazine articles and/or reviews.


  1. Lou, I really appreciate this article. You know this touches close to home for me and you've articulated the biblical need for a firm stance one way or the other, especially from leadership but even laymen should weigh it. This is not an issue to agree to disagree about or to straddle the fence on. This isn't a doctrine leadership can just say "hmm, I don't know" and leave it at that. Pastors, leaders, I implore you -- figure out what you believe and take a clear stand one way or the other.

    1 Tim 4:16 "Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you."

    Thanks Lou for your tireless efforts, even in the face of baseless personal attacks that I've seen, on GES' own blog and I'm sure elsewhere. They claim you are "just a troublemaker" but what I sense from the GES leadership's vague, ambiguous, or outright avoidance of clear doctrinal questions is fear - fear their doctrine will no longer be able to sneak in the back door of previously unwary churches that would refuse them if they really knew what was afoot.

  2. Hi Knet:

    I appreciate the remarks above.

    Glad you caught the idea that, although I wrote this series (from my book) primarily for pastors, the timeless truths of Scripture apply to ever believer. IMO, even the qualifications/instructions for the pastor/deacon in 1 Tim. 3 belong to every believer.

    As you noted this is no small matter, it is not an issue that we can agree to disagree over. The “Crossless” advocates would like for it to be reduced to a doubtable issue, not worth getting in serious debate over. That is not possible if we want to be true to the biblical commands to contend for faith, especially when vital truth such as the Gospel and Deity of Christ are under assault.

    I pay little attention to the personal attacks. I am not going to be deterred from defending the faith once delivered (Jude 3). The “trouble” I have brought to the discussion is for the GES men who have been teaching their false, reductionist interpretation of the Gospel with impunity. Now, unsuspecting believers are getting a better picture of what these men have been teaching through subtlety. No longer will the buzzwords and catch phrases fly over heads or under the radar. They will have to precisely explain their terms and meaning in detail, and that as we have seen is exactly what they do not want to do.

    Pastors, believers, churches and fellowships are becoming better informed as to exactly what Wilkin, Hodges, Myers and the rest have been and are trying to bring into FG community churches. The number of venues that once opened their doors to Wilkin is shrinking rapidly and that is a good sign.

    You are right about why Wilkin, Myers, da Rosa, Johnson, Alvin and the rest will not engage certain specific unambiguous questions. Their answers, if they would be transparent, reveal what they truly believe and they do not want that kind of full disclosure.

    Zane Hodges and Bob Wilkin are very silent; I do, however, expect something coming from them in journal form eventually.

    Many of us remember the debacle that Bob Wilkin created at his original GES blog. The two articles, the sudden deletion of both and their comment threads. Wilkins’s posting of private e-mails between himself and Ron Shea was unconscionable, and IMO, one of the prime reasons he suddenly pulled down the articles. It’s possible that the fall out for publishing those e-mails may not be over for Wilkin.

    In my opinion it would be naïve to think that Hodges has not been active behind the scenes in the current debate. More than once da Rosa has referenced personal conversations with Hodges. Another “Crossless” advocate is quoting Hodges frequently. Hodges is not going to expose himself to open discussion such as these no more than MacArthur will expose himself to direct questions.

    Remember it is Hodges who is the originator and driving force behind what has come to be known as the “Crossless” gospel, and its related doctrinal twists.

    Furthermore it is Hodges that began the teaching, which these men have also adopted, that says repentance is not necessary for the reception of eternal life.

    Hodges originated the idea that The Lord’s titles “the Christ” and “Son of God” do not mean or infer His deity. He based that on assumption only, which Greg Schliesmann in his two part series irrefutably revealed.