There are many people who claim that one can be saved by believing a false gospel. A great many of the people who make this claim operate under the label of “Calvinist,” although there are plenty of Arminians who make this claim about other groups as well, such as Catholics.
These people will not come out and say “you can believe a false gospel and be saved.” Most of the time, they will say things like “God saves in spite of our mistakes,” or “You’ll be surprised by who ends up in heaven,”-implying that members of various denominations or even religions will go to heaven in spite of what they believe concerning Christ. Another example is, “I was saved from a young age, but I only recently came to know about the doctrines of grace/Calvinism.” The underlying point of all of these claims is that people can be saved by some other means than the true gospel. This is falsehood.
Paul writes at the beginning of his letter to the Romans-“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17ESV.
These verses demolish the idea that someone can be saved by a false gospel. Paul indicates very clearly that there is ONE gospel that is THE power of God for salvation. This means that all other gospels which are not that one true gospel are NOT the power of God for salvation, which means that false gospels cannot save, because they are NOT the power of God for salvation, no matter how sincerely they are believed.
False gospels are lies. Plain and simple. If someone is hearing a false gospel, they are hearing a lie. If they believe a false gospel, they have believed a lie. If they dedicate their life to loving and spreading a false gospel, they have dedicated their life to loving and spreading a lie. There is nothing redeemable or praise worthy or respectable about false gospels/false religion. Billions of people around the world are extremely sincere about the lies that they believe. They sing; they cry; they give money; they give their time; they teach their children; they tell their friends, neighbors, and family; they read their Bibles; they lead Bible studies; they memorize Bible verses; they write books; they read books; they act reverential about spiritual topics; they pray; they are moral-the list could go on. But if they have not heard and believed the true gospel, then they are deceived, dead men and women putting forth dead works leading to death, all in the name of the lie that they believe.
Christ tells us in John 8:44 ESV that Satan is the father of lies. He goes on to say that when Satan lies, he speaks out of his own character. Another version says that when he lies, he speaks in his native language. Because false gospels are lies, that means that their originating source is the devil, since he is the father of lies. He does not teach the truth, because there is no truth in him according to Christ. This means that every gospel which is not the true gospel is actually a lie from the devil and a trap to keep the unconverted sinner ensnared to do the will of the devil. 2 Timothy 2:26 ESV.
In stark contrast, Christ tells us in John 8:32 ESV that the truth will set one free. What a contrast-the lie of the devil is given to ensnare and to trap and to capture. The truth of Christ is given to set one free. That is what the true gospel does, combined with God-given repentance and faith-it sets one free from the trap of the devil and leads one to a knowledge of the truth. It (the gospel) is the POWER of God for salvation. This means that all unconverted sinners are currently trapped by the devil in his lies until the Son of God comes to set them free. It is also means that all converted sinners were at one time trapped by the devil until Christ set them free by the truth of the gospel-the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. There is no possibility that one was set free while believing a false gospel, because a false gospel is a trap of the devil.
The following question seems silly in light of the previous discussion: will God ever use a false gospel to save His people? The definitive answer to that question is no, because of the reasons just given-lies are from the devil designed to trap, and the truth is the power of God designed to set one free. That means if one believes a false gospel, they have not yet been saved. It does not matter how sincere they are, it does not matter how powerfully they believe that lie–they have not yet been set free, since they do not yet believe the truth.
This means that NO ONE has EVER been saved by believing the false and satanic Arminian gospel, or any other false gospel for that matter-Catholicism, Mormonism, Russelism, Lorship Salvation, etc… Why? Because those gospels are lies, which means their originating source is the devil, which means they are not the power of God for salvation, which means that they have no power to save, but only to ensnare leading to death. This means that everyone who thinks that they were saved at a young age believing one of those lies and have just recently come to know about the doctrines of grace were not saved at a young age despite their protestations to the contrary. Further, their insistence that they were saved while believing a false gospel indicates that they have not yet repented of their dead works and are still unconverted, because they still think that their decision to “opt in” into salvation is what made the difference between life and death. There is no converted sinner who still believes that they were saved by a false gospel.
To insist that one was saved while believing a false gospel is to insinuate that God has a partnership with Satan in saving His people. It is to claim that God can and does use falsehood to save, in spite of that fact that Christ said that Satan is the father of lies. It is to claim that God takes a lie that Satan generated and uses that to save His people. That, my friends, is satanic. It is satanic to claim that God uses false gospels to save. It is satanic to claim that God lies. It is satanic to insinuate that God is incapable of communicating the truth to His people and is therefore forced to use a lie to convert them.
God has no partnership with Satan. He has no mutual goals or interests with Satan. He will never use Satan’s lies to save His elect. He will never work with Satan to a mutual end. He intends to destroy Satan and his angels in the lake of fire on judgment day, as well as those who belong to Satan, who have been ensnared by him, captured to do his will and not set free by the Son.
It is not a matter of grace to pretend that those who think that they were saved by a false gospel were in fact converted by that false gospel. It is not a matter of grace to sit quietly by while others claim that one can be saved by believing a false gospel. It is our duty as converted sinners to declare the truth concerning Christ, because we have been convinced by God that the truth concerning Christ IS the power of God for salvation, and that only those who believe that truth exclusively should have a biblically supported assurance of salvation.