Tuesday, 24 November 2015
For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it! 2 Corinthians 11:4
“For if he” is singular. It is speaking of any individual who would come and proclaim a false Jesus. This gives illumination to Paul’s words of Galatians 1 –
“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:6-8
A false Jesus is one not presented by the apostles, and the message of a false Jesus diverts from the truth of what God did in Christ. Even by this early date, there were countless heresies already springing up. Throughout the epistles, the truth of Christ is given to counter these falsities. With the Bible complete, we have the true and only source for doctrine concerning Christ. Any other, according to Paul, is “another Jesus whom we have not preached.” There is orthodoxy, and then there is heresy. Doctrine matters.
Continuing on, he writes, “…or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received.” This is a separate thought from the one who preaches a false Jesus. It is speaking of a false inspiration. An example of such a false spirit is given by John –
“By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.” 1 John 4:2, 3
Christian circles are literally filled to the brim with false spirits of inspiration. People claim all kinds of revelations from God which are untrue. The Bible is written and further revelation would only confuse, not help, the message. Such claims should be rejected right away lest a seed of false teaching turn into a field of it.
In these first two clauses, “another Jesus” denies the identity of Christ, whereas a “different spirit” denies any similarity in nature. It is of the utmost importance that both are held to in matters concerning Christ.
Paul’s words are poignant and direct, but he has yet more for us to consider. Not only are there false presentations of Jesus and false claims of inspiration, but there is also “a different gospel.” The Corinthians had accepted Paul’s words, but along comes another gospel which they had not accepted, and yet Paul was concerned that they “may well put up with it!”
There is one gospel which Paul consistently presents. We are saved by grace through faith; no works added. And yet at every turn people re-impose works of the law or add in externals, claiming that they are necessary in order to be saved. The gospel is a total and complete reliance on the work of Jesus Christ in fulfilling the law for us. In Him, it is finished; let us not attempt to tarnish His marvelous work through “a different gospel” which is no gospel at all.
Further, let us never even consider putting up with it. In his final words of the verse, the adverb translated as “well” is emphatic. Paul’s words drip with irony. They were willing to follow a false gospel, but they were resistant to continue in the message which they had first received from him. It shows a confusion of mind and a sense of self-pride that had replaced a total dependence on Christ. Instead, they were ready to accept a false Christ whose works were incomplete, a false spirit which was sensational and exciting to listen to, and a false gospel which says, “I have helped out in my own salvation.”
Life application: Let us learn the lesson of Paul’s words here and hold fast to the truth of the Person of Jesus Christ, the reliability and surety of God’s word as our source of inspiration, and to the sound and reasonable gospel which says that Christ has done it all for us. His work is a gift from God. Let us not taint the gift in any way.
Heavenly Father, I rely solely on the merits of Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.