“Fake news! Fake news!” Just about the whole world has heard those words hurled at media in recent weeks by a head-of-state. And media has fought back in what would look like a protracted word war. That war is even threatening to escalate into physical violence!
Who’s to tell what’s fake and what’s real? Why do some people talk about “true facts” — insinuating that there are “false facts?” But a “fact” is fact because it is true! The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines “fact” as “something that truly exists or happens.“ Otherwise, the thing is mere “fiction” — not real or actual. Fake! A product merely of one’s imagination!
“News” is a report of what a news writer sees, hears, smells, tastes or feels as actually happening on the scene. This is called a “firsthand” account of whatever the event is or was. A news reporter who writes about what another person or other persons say happened, is happening, or will happen, simply gives a “secondhand” account, and so on. But in order to be “factual,” the news report has to be based as accurately as possible on the actual happening or on what the resource person or persons actually said. It is another matter, however, whether what that person or those persons say — although reported accurately — is in fact true or merely imagined, “concocted.”
With our common human limitations, a news reporter cannot report everything that comes to him or her. Behavioral scientists talk about “selective perception.” Human beings can perceive, to a small or great degree, some details of what hits their senses. Rarely can or do human reporters cover everything there is to cover on a particular subject. More often reporters report details that “make sense” to them because these are familiar to them (based on some previous experience or experiences), or the details line up with their perspective or vantage point — even bias. Here’s where some news reporters are sometimes accused of “slanting” the news in order to favor or disfavor a cause, a party or a person or persons. By piecing together all the different and differing reports on a subject, one can often get the true, or a more balanced, picture of what really happened.
In all fairness, though, and to their credit, there are media people who try as best as is humanly possible to report an event or discuss issues from a broad or overall perspective. But the sad reality of human nature, however, is that even if a report is factual but it does not agree with a reader’s or listener’s opinion or position, it can easily be rejected as false — fake! — not true. As a consolation, many reporters would say, “Time will eventually tell!”
About God’s “news”
The Creator of this vast universe and this jewel called “Earth” where we live has also given mankind a “report” of things past, things present, and things yet to come. [Interestingly, one of the names by which God is identified is "Him who was, and who is, and who is to come" (Revelation 1:4).] To those who believe it, that “report” is contained in a book called The Holy Bible or The Holy Scriptures.
By saying that, I mean that there are many people who believe otherwise. They freely voice out in the media: There is no God, there is no Creator. The Bible is not holy — it is a collection of merely human and inconsistent opinions about what men perceive to be a Power or Force in the universe. In a word, these people are saying that this “report” is fake! And that’s just a step away from saying that the God who claims to speak through, and is described in, that “report” is also a fake!
That is just one side to the issue some people have with the Bible as some kind of “fake news.” To “creationists” who believe in a Creator who made all things and speaks through the Bible, atheists — and especially devotees to the doctrine of “evolution” of the human and other species — say, “It isn’t so!” To readers of this website who would like to explore the “evidence” of facts about the Creator God, about the real score on the doctrine of evolution [also called the "theory" of evolution -- a supposition yet to be ascertained by facts], and about the veracity and dependability of the Holy Bible, may I invite you to visit this link: http://www.herbert-armstrong.org, click ENTER HERE, select “Books & Booklets” and scroll down to the booklets titled, “Some Fishy Stories,” “A Theory for the Birds,” “A Whale of a Tale,” “Does God Exist?” and “The Proof of the Bible.”
This literature was helpful to me in my younger days as I searched for — and found — the true faith. I trust that it will also prove helpful to those who have yet to find that faith.
Fake “Good News”
Far more bothersome and devastating than the polemics of atheists and agnostics, however, is the issue of fake “Gospel” — fake “Good News” (as what “gospel” means). It is the very reason why there are so many churches, denominations and organizations that claim to be God’s or Christ’s but differ from each other in many ways — are even at war with each other! Non-Christian spectators on the sidelines who watch these different denominations tear each other apart wonder how they can all believe in the one same Book and in the one same Creator and Savior. Isn’t it ironic that India’s sage, Mahatma Gandhi, who studied the Bible said, “Jesus Christ I like, but Christians I don’t?”
Why is there so much fuss about “fake Good News?” About the true gospel the apostle Paul said: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16). That Good News, when truly understood, has power to save! Save from what? From sin and its consequence, death! As Paul explained: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:32); and “The wages [consequence or penalty] of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23).
Most people and groups that profess to believe in Jesus Christ have that part of the gospel right. They teach, and rightly so, that a sinner who believes in Christ’s sacrifice at Calvary is “justified” (made just and clean because “forgiven” of his sins) freely by God’s grace through faith, apart from the law of God or from one’s “works” (Romans 3:24-30; Ephesians 2:8-9). Thus a sinner who believes this is saved from the death penalty for sin and is promised everlasting life instead (Romans 6:23, latter part of the verse).
When it comes to what a Christian is to do after he is justified, those who call themselves “Christian” are sorely divided into two major camps. One camp says — and it comprises the majority of adherents — that one does not need to do any works — to obey God’s laws — in order to be saved. The other camp, now a tiny minority of this world’s population, believes and teaches that, once forgiven and cleansed of sin, a Christian ought to do good works and obey God’s laws.
As a result, the majority camp tells the minority: “You are preaching a ‘fake gospel!’” The minority retorts to the majority: “You are preaching a ‘fake gospel!’”
How can we tell which of the two camps really has and preaches the real and true gospel?
Because the gospel has power to save sinful mankind, God’s enemy (Satan the devil) desires and works zealously to keep human beings from being saved at all. [Satan, after all, is also called "Abaddon" (Hebrew) or "Apollyon" (Greek) -- meaning "Destroyer" (Revelation 9:11).] Satan’s subtle device has been to distort the gospel into something that sounds good but actually carries the poison which will kill and destroy those who fall for that “fake gospel.”
Paul pronounces a double curse on those who would pervert the “gospel of Christ” and thus preach “another gospel” which Paul — and the other apostles of Christ — preached.
Let me point out some of these major ways:
1. A sinner can be justified by the law. Paul vigorously opposed those (chiefly Christian converts from the old Jewish faith) who insisted that a sinner (especially a non-Jew or a Gentile) who comes to faith in Christ has to obey the ordinance of circumcision according to the Law of Moses in order for that person to be “saved” (Acts 15:1, 5).
A general conference in Jerusalem had to be called by the apostles to resolve this issue (see the rest of Acts 15, etc.). Paul devoted a good part of his letters to the brethren in Rome, in Corinth, in Galatia and in Colossae to clarifying the relationship between physical circumcision and being “saved” — that is, being saved from sin and its penalty (death) — through being “justified” (forgiven of sin and thus made “just” or righteous) freely or by grace through Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary’s cross and Christ’s resurrection from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:17).
In a word, Paul explained that if a Gentile convert has to undergo the ceremony of circumcision in order to be “justified” then that convert would also have to keep the “whole law” (Galatians 5:2-3). When we understand the true intent of Paul in referring to the “whole law,” we will see that he meant the entire section of the Law of Moses where forgiveness of sin can be had through burnt sacrifices and sin offerings of prescribed animals, cereal and wine, and various washings (Leviticus 4-6, 15). These sacrifices and offerings and washings were what Paul called the “works of the law” that only cleansed the flesh, but not the conscience (Hebrews 9:11-15). [See: Who Wrote the Letter to the Hebrews? and Forgiveness in the Bible.]
Paul argued that, if circumcision and keeping the “whole law” (as explained above) could justify or forgive a person’s sins, then he tells that person: “Christ will profit you nothing” (Galatians 5:2). If that person could be justified by keeping that law, he would not need a Savior anymore, and Christ would have “died in vain” (Galatians 2:21).
Paul said further: “He [God the Father] has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love [Jesus Christ], in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins….And you who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and blameless, and above reproach in His sight — if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister” (Colossians 1:14, 21-23).
The apostle Peter also taught as Paul did about how a sinner is justified and thus saved from death: “…knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless [that is, sinful] conduct received by tradition from your [erring] fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19).
The apostle John as well wrote: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation [payment, as for a debt] for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
2. Christ has freed us from having to observe God’s law. Many evangelical Christians grab hold of Galatians 5:1 as their basis for believing and teaching as “good news” that Christians now have “the liberty by which Christ has made us free.” Free from what? Most evangelicals believe and teach that Christ has freed us from having to observe “the whole law” (Galatians 5:3) — the Law of Moses. They teach that by observing God’s law, a Christian demeans Christ’s sacrifice.
Again, by harmonizing all of Paul’s teachings about God’s law, we will come to understand that the gospel of Jesus Christ does not do away with obeying or keeping the law of God (Romans 3:21-31). In Romans 8:2 Paul declares plainly what Christ has freed us from: “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ has made me free from the law of sin and death.” Jesus clearly said that He had not come to “destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17). Jesus did not abolish the “Law” that tells us what sin is (Romans 7:7). He fulfilled the Law and the Prophets by the sacrifice of His body and blood, which were merely foreshadowed or typified by the sacrifices and washings prescribed by God as a temporary remedy for sin until Christ’s appearing (Hebrews 9:9-10, 13-15, 26; 10:8-14).
For more understanding of this matter, see: The Two Laws in Hebrews 10, Moses and Jesus — Are They Contraries? The Law of Christ, No Such Thing as Sin? A Law-abiding Universe — But Man! Just What Do You Mean — Legalism? No Walls, No Ceiling? The Great Wall, and “I Never Knew You!“
3. Since it is humanly impossible to obey God’s law, Jesus Christ has obeyed it for us. Many evangelicals teach as “good news” that a Christian does not need to “struggle” or “strive” to “overcome” sin or to obey the laws of God. Jesus, they say, calls Christians to “rest” in Him with all their “burden” of sin (Matthew 11:28) and its penalty, death, through Christ’s sacrifice (Romans 6:23). Further, evangelicals say, because it is humanly impossible to obey God’s law (Romans 8:7), a Christian simply leaves it to Christ, through His Spirit, to obey God’s law for us.
If Christ has promised that He will obey the law of God for or on behalf of the Christian, why would He tell sinners who are forgiven of sin to “go and sin no more” (John 5:14; 8:10)? Echoing Christ, Paul tells Christians: “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need” (Ephesians 4:27-28). Here both Christ and Paul place on the shoulders of a Christian the responsibility of obeying God, by not committing sin and by doing good. Jesus, after all, asks those who would come to Him to “take My yoke upon you and learn of Me…” (Matthew 11:24).
When all is said and done, every person will ultimately be judged by Christ according to the person’s “works” – whether good or evil. Jesus said: “For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this: for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth [in a resurrection] — those who have done good, to the resurrection of life [everlasting], and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation [judgment]” (John 5:26-29). Jesus inspired His servant the apostle John to write the same thing — that every man ultimately will be “judged according to his works” (Revelation 20:12-13; 2:23).
Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21 abundantly declares that only those who overcome [sin in its many forms as Christ mentions in these two chapters of Revelation] will be “saved” (as expressed in various promises that have to do with everlasting life or with the kingdom of God). In the end, Revelation 22:14 concludes the whole matter: “Blessed are those who do His [God's] commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life [have everlasting life, Genesis 3:22], and may enter through the gates into the city [the New Jerusalem].” [See: The Flaming Sword East of Eden.]
In Galatians 5:16 Paul says that a Christian experiences a battle within himself — a battle between his fleshly desires and the power of God’s Spirit. In Hebrews 12:1-4 Paul also likens the Christian struggle against sin to a race [like the Marathon], where endurance is required to finish that race. And one can only endure as one looks to Jesus, “the author and finisher of our faith.”
4. The kingdom of God has already come. Although many Christians still pray “The Lord’s Prayer,” in which the first request is “Your kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10), some are now teaching as “good news” that the kingdom of God has already come. When a person receives Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord or Master, the kingdom of God has somehow come upon that person. Therefore, according to this view, the “gospel” is not about a yet coming kingdom of God but about Jesus Christ, who is the Savior and Lord of all.
While it is true that Christians who truly accept Christ as their “Lord” and “King” experience something about the kingdom of God (see, for example, Matthew 12:28 and Luke 17:20-21), the greater testimony of the whole of Scripture — both Old Testament and New — is that the kingdom of God on earth, in its fullness, is a yet future event. Any honest observer of what’s going on in this present evil world can see plainly that this earth is not now fully under God’s or Christ’s rule! The human-made plagues of both moral and physical ills — and the confusion and all manner of evil in their wake — are brought about by this world’s present “god” and ruler, Satan the devil (2 Corinthians 4:3–4; Ephesians 2:1-3).
God certainly is not the “author” of all this (1 Corinthians 14:33)! But God is ultimately in full control. He has allowed the present dispensation under Satan’s sway to go on until it runs its course. Then, just as developments in this world are about to bring the destruction of all life on this planet, God will send His Son Jesus Christ in time to cut it short (Matthew 24:21-22). Then Jesus will take all power, and this world’s kingdoms will become His (Revelation 11:15; 19:11-16), after He “dethrones” Satan (Revelation 20:1-3).
5. At death saved people will go to heaven to be with Christ forever. Most “evangelists” or preachers of “good news” dangle the sweet promise, to those who would believe in Jesus Christ, that at death they are going to heaven to be with Him forever and ever — like what the apostle Paul said he desired (Philippians 1:23).
The apostle Peter warned that Paul wrote many difficult scriptures that, unless properly understood and harmonized, could lead an unstable person into spiritual destruction (2 Peter 3:15-16). To resolve issues like this, one needs to look at The Whole Counsel of God as revealed in all of the Holy Scriptures, instead of building a doctrine out of some unclear, ambiguous Bible passage that can be interpreted in various ways that will not harmonize with the whole testimony of Scripture, thereby making God’s Word seem inconsistent.
To understand the true Bible teaching on this matter, see: What Happens to Man After Death? Also, check this link: http://www.herbert-armstrong.org, click ENTER HERE, select “Books & Booklets” and scroll down to the booklets titled “After Death — Then What?” and”What Is the Reward of the Saved?”
6. A God of mercy will ultimately save every single human being. Today’s watchword is “inclusivity.” The “gospel” that’s been going around lately is that God is so merciful and loving that He will not allow any human being to perish, but that all will have everlasting life (1 Timothy 2:2-3; 2 Peter 3:9). No exception! After God will have cast Death and Hades (also called “the second death”) into the “lake of fire” (Revelation 20:14), “there shall be no more death” (Revelation 21:1-4). According to this “gospel,” every single human being will somehow be made alive and will live forever, not die anymore. In fact, this “gospel” also includes Satan and his demons with those who will be saved!
This nice-sounding “gospel” proposes that a sovereign and all-powerful God will make sure that no one is ever excluded from His kingdom — that every single human being will be saved and have everlasting life. To do this, according to this teaching, God will have to remove man’s supposed “free will” or “freedom of choice.” God will supposedly force His will on every human being in order that they will be saved. Thus, says this doctrine, no one will die anymore.
This theory — for that’s what it really is — is not supported by the plain testimony of Scripture! Revelation 21:8 plainly tells us what God, who understands what’s inside of man more than we can know, will do: “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” A God who says, “I do not change” (Malachi 3:6) will not suddenly remove man’s freewill (see, for example, Leviticus 22:8, 21, 23,38; Numbers 15:3; 9:39; Deuteronomy 12:6, 17; 16:10; 23:23; 30:9-20, etc.). God will judge men consistently, according to what they choose, will, or decide to do — or not do.
Paul said that the “gospel” he preached includes God’s final judgment on unrepentant sinners: “But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who ‘will render to each one according to his deeds‘: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who obey unrighteousness [who remain in sin] — indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil….in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel” (Romans 2:5-9, 16).
For more on this subject, see: Where Did the Devil Come From? Two Goats Together, “Your Eyes Will Be Opened!“ Are We All God’s Children? Why Is the “Unpardonable Sin” Unpardonable? and What Does God Mean — “I Do Not Change?“ Also, check this link: http://www.herbert-armstrong.org, click ENTER HERE, select “Books & Booklets” and scroll down to the booklet titled “What Is the True Gospel?”
The “second death” for all liars!
I have just given six aspects of what many have propagated in the world today as a “fake gospel.” There are several more aspects that we could add, but these major ones should suffice for the moment. Revelation 21:8 includes unrepentant liars — fakes — among those who will be cast into the “lake of fire,” to suffer the “second death.”
Revelation 22:15 adds that among those outside of, or excluded from entry into, “the city” [the New Jerusalem 21:2] is “whoever loves and practices a lie.” This does not mean that liars and others will have everlasting life while excluded from that city, outside but looking in with everlasting misery and anguish at those who are in the city, as some make this Scripture passage to be saying. Revelation 21:8 plainly says that liars will have been burned up in the “lake of fire” and, as Malachi 4:3 puts it, they will end up as lifeless “ashes under the soles” of the righteous who fear God’s name (Verse 2).
Interestingly, Proverbs 6:16-19 lists among the seven abominations to the LORD “a lying tongue” and “a false witness who speaks lies.” By including the sin of lying twice on this list, God shows His double anger toward lying and liars. It is no wonder that Paul pronounces a double curse on those who preach a “fake gospel” (Galatians 1:8-10).
Paul also wrote that, just before Jesus Christ returns to earth bodily, a “man of sin,” a “son of perdition,” a “lawless one” will appear “according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion [unfounded belief in a lie as true], that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did no believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness [disobedience to God's commandments, Psalm 119:172]” (2 Thessalonians 2:8).
Jesus also pronounces multiple “Woe!” to those who outwardly profess to believe and teach the truth but really believe and love lies. He calls them “hypocrites!” See Matthew 23:13-26. Jesus declared the fate of the evil and unprofitable servant, when Christ returns, as one in which God will “cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 24:48-51). The unprofitable servant will be cast “into the outer darkness,” where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:30). “Outer darkness” means exclusion from eternal fellowship with God, who is “light, and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).
To God, it is no small matter that anyone should preach lies about Him and His purpose and ways for mankind and the rest of His creation. God became angry with and rebuked the “friends” of Job because they had “not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has” (Job 42:2, 8). God will deal severely and more sternly with those who preach a “fake gospel.” That is why James 3:1 warns: “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.” [See: Beware of False Prophets and When One Who Preaches Christ Plants Corn.]
Who, then, is or are preaching the true and real gospel?
Amid the noise and babble of fake gospels, there has to be a true preacher — or a team of preachers — who preach and publish the authentic gospel of Jesus Christ. From the dawn of human civilization, God has not left mankind without a witness to His true message and “report” to mankind (Acts 14:17) down through the millennia and centuries. It is just the sad reality that those who have truly spoken for God what is right have been rejected by the vast majority of people in this present age.
As Jesus said of His true servants: “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me” (John 15:18-21). [See: About Pool of Siloam.]
Jesus said that we can tell a false prophet from a true prophet “by their fruits.” “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:18-20).
A true servant and preacher of God will preach a “true gospel” — one that lines up with the law and testimony of God (Isaiah 8:20). Many have become so hurt — and numbed — by people who claim to preach the true gospel but really do not, that when the real servants of God speak (or write), these hurting ones may have a hard time accepting the true preachers of the gospel. But, as Jesus told Pilate: “I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37).
The “Chief Shepherd” of God’s “flock” — Jesus Christ (1 Peter 5:1-4) — knows His “sheep,” and His “sheep” know Him by voice and follow Him (John 10:2-5, 14, 27). Amidst the many “falsies” who claim to be “sent” by God [see Jeremiah 14:14-15; 20:6; 23:25-26, 32; Ezekiel 13:3-16; 22:28), there are those whom God has truly sent. We should know the true servants of God as Jesus knows them! [See: "I Never Know You!" The Whole Counsel of God, and Switching Positive and Negative.]
Take heart that, while the noise of those who bring “fake good news” is getting stronger and stronger, God’s truly chosen “two witnesses” will, in time, thunder to all the world the real and true good news of salvation in Jesus Christ and God’s coming kingdom (Revelation 11:3-10). It may be sooner than we think!
When Jesus finally returns to establish God’s kingdom on this earth, only the true knowledge of God will be taught to all of mankind. That knowledge will fill the whole earth, “as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9). Fake news of any kind will not be tolerated. Only the truth and the real “good news” will be taught, enforced, and followed. [See this link: http://www.herbert-armstrong.org, clock ENTER HERE, select "Books & Booklets" and scroll down to the book titled Tomorrow's World -- What It Will Be Like or the booklet titled "The Wonderful World Tomorrow -- What It Will Be Like."]
Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.