Is it possible that the basic doctrines of the Bible are acknowledged and believed without any internal change occurring? This phenomenon is known as “dead orthodoxy” and can apply to those leading congregations of people as well as the congregations themselves.
Read the following quote from Tim Keller:
“Dead orthodoxy makes the church into a religious cushion for people who think they are Christians, but in fact are radically and subconsciously insecure about their acceptance before God. So every Sunday, people gather to be reassured that they are all right. Various churches offer this reassurance in different ways:
Legalistic churches produce detailed codes of conduct and details of doctrine. Members need continually to hear that they are more holy and accurate, and that the “liberals” are wrong. They functionally rely on their theological correctness. Sound doctrine equals righteousness.
Power churches put great emphasis on miracles and spectacular works of God. Members need continually to have powerful or emotional experiences and see dramatic occurrences. They rely on their feelings, and on dramatic answers to prayer. Great emotion equals righteousness.
Sacerdotal churches put great emphasis on rituals and tradition. Guilt-ridden people are anaesthetized by the beauty of the music and architecture, and the grandeur and mystery of the ceremony. Following liturgy equals righteousness.”
Why do so many professing Christians believe that they are not “right with God?” Could it be because the only gospel that they have heard is a “different gospel?”
Galatians 1:6 “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!
Notice how Paul focuses on “who” is being deserted. Christ. Not a teaching about Christ, but Christ Himself. He is the one who offers grace for the forgiveness of sins, not this “different gospel” which Paul speaks of. This gospel is false in its doctrine. It is essentially evil and in direct contradiction to the gospel that Paul is preaching. What is this different gospel? It is a false gospel of Christ plus works. In this case it was promoted by a group of Jews known as “Judaizers” which taught that anyone who wanted to become a follower of Christ had to be circumcised, ceremonially washed, and continue to keep the Mosaic Law.
The “different gospel” that is being preached and promoted today can take on many forms but the underlying core of this gospel is that the finished work of Jesus is not enough. The different gospel teaches that a person must ascribe to a certain set of beliefs, experience certain things, do or not do within the moral and ethical parameters of a local church or denomination, and/or feel a certain way in order to “be” righteous (right with God), where the true gospel says that the finished work of Christ, when applied to the believer, makes him righteous, permanently
2 Corinthians 5:21 “God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we would become the righteousness of God.”
Regularly meeting with other Christians can be a very positive and encouraging thing to do, but should not be done under the pretense that it affects a person’s righteousness.