What is wrong with adding additional things to the message of salvation?
Most Christians are not aware of how serious it is to add to what Jesus Christ has finished! It is the difference between whether or not a person is saved. It is the difference between heaven and hell. The salvation that God has provided through Jesus Christ is by grace. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8,9).” Acts 15:11 says, “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved.” Eternal life is not received by, attained by, or kept by a person’s works, conduct or behavior. We are saved by grace through faith. Grace by definition excludes all works. “And if by grace, then it is no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work (Romans 11:6).” One work added to grace would render it no more grace. If you were to add one drop of poison to a glass of pure water, it would render it no more a glass of pure water; but a glass of poisoned water. The gospel of grace becomes poisoned when just one human work is added to the plan of salvation. Christ plus works equals no salvation! This is a Biblical formula made clear throughout the Scripture. For example: Christ plus church membership equals no salvation; Christ plus baptism equals no salvation; Christ plus the Christian life equals no salvation; and so on. The tragedy is that those who are teaching this error and those receiving this error think that they are more secure in their salvation as a result of their works. Satan has blinded their minds (II Corinthians 4:4). “Christ is become of no effect on you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace (Galatians 5:4).” The Scripture is quite plain on this subject, yet this error of ‘Christ plus’ still persists. Notice the above verse, Galatians 5:4. To whom is it speaking? We are told within the verse that it is addressed to “…whosoever of you are justified by the law (works)…” These are the ones who had fallen from grace (not the saved for that is impossible). These are the ones for whom Christ will count nothing. Again in Galatians 5:2 we read, “Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, (keeping the law for salvation: see I Corinthians 7:19), Christ shall profit you nothing.” “Christ is become of no effect unto you (Galatians 5:4),” and “Christ shall profit you nothing (Galatians 5:2),” are contrasted with, “For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of the righteousness by faith (Galatians 5:5).” A large crowd of those who are in the ‘Christ plus’ category will stand before Jesus at the judgment day. “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works (Matthew 7:22)?” Notice these are ‘Christ plus’ persons. They brag about (1) preaching, (2) healing, and (3) many wonderful works done in Jesus’ name. This is a perfect example from Scripture of Christ plus works. What were the results? How does Christ respond? Does He let them enter heaven? Let’s see! “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (Matthew 7:23).” Jesus said to this ‘Christ Plus’ crowd, “I never knew you.” Not, “I once knew and I lost you,” but “I never knew you.” Also Jesus called their good works iniquity. Why? It is because they were trusting in those things to save themselves from hell in addition to faith in Christ. How sad! This crowd thought that they knew Christ, but Jesus said He never knew them, and He told them to depart from Him. That is why this issue is so important. Christ plus equals no salvation! Jesus only saves! What can wash away my sin? Nothing, but the blood of Jesus Christ. There are many reasons why we should reject a ‘Christ plus’ message: 1) God gives stern warnings about adding to His Word. Proverbs 30:6 says, “Add thou not unto His words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” Revelation 22:17-19 also gives a stern warning to the one who would add or subtract from the plan of salvation. 2) To pervert the gospel message is to bring a curse upon the preacher of it. “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed (Galatians 1:8).” 3) Altering the message will make it a message that will not save–the cross of Christ will be made of no effect. I Corinthians 1:17 says that we are to “…preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.” 4) To tamper with God’s message of salvation is to call God a liar. I John 5:10,11 says, “…He that believeth not God hath made him a liar: because he believeth not the record that God gave of His Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.” 5) A ‘Christ plus’ message makes man’s righteousness a part of salvation. Man’s righteousness is filthy rags according to Isaiah 64:6 and would pollute the salvation of God. Romans 10:3 says, “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted unto the righteousness of God.” 6) The ‘Christ plus’ message causes the saved to become confused. It robs them of their assurance and brings them into bondage thinking they must do something to stay saved. This is what happened at the churches of Galatia. “And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage (Galatians 2:4).” 7) The ‘Christ plus’ message causes the lost to be blinded. Satan doesn’t want the lost to hear the true gospel message. The perverted message hides the true message. “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world (Satan) hath blinded the minds of them which believe not…(II Corinthians 4:3,4).” 8) The ‘Christ plus’ message keeps the Christian from a clear witness. “Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech (II Corinthians 3:12).” 9) The ‘Christ plus’ message makes the world think that salvation is by works. “But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money (Acts 8:20).” 10) The ‘Christ plus’ message brings persecution to those who preach grace. Paul said that if he preached ‘Christ plus’ he would not be persecuted. Galatians 5:11 says, “And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision (works), why do I yet suffer persecution: then is the offence of the cross ceased.” Be alert! Be on guard for this perversion of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The beauty of the true message is its simplicity! Let’s continue to proclaim it loud and clear!