Jul 23, 2018


False Gospels on Campus

Darrick Smith writes about the false gospels that collegiate leaders encounter on campus and reminds us of the power of Christ’s gospel.

In just a few weeks millions of college students will flood campuses across North America. Students who are first-generation college students; students attending private colleges, public universities, & community colleges; freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors, and beyond; and students from different ethnic backgrounds and socioeconomic statuses. College campuses across America will teem with students who are different in many ways.

As an extrovert, this was one of the most exciting times of the year for me as a college minister—the beginning of the school year. The night before freshmen move-in I always felt like a little kid on Christmas Eve. I tossed and turned awaiting the chance to meet and connect with so many freshmen who come from different walks of life.

But soon after, that excitement and adrenaline rush began to dissipate. My excitement and passion to continue to meet with students and develop a relationship with them slowly weakened. By the third month into the semester, I was no longer that little kid at Christmas. I became the little kid who begrudgingly took out the trash because my mother asked me. My zeal faded. But why?

I began to see that though thousands of students on my campus were different in a variety of ways, they still had one thing in common—they believed in a false gospel. Many of them believed that they had to get rid of all their sin before God would accept them. Many believed that they had to do enough good works in order to be saved. Some believed that as long as their good deeds outweighed the bad they would be in good standing with God. Others believed that God’s love for them was dependent upon their performance.

They were lost. Deceived. Without hope.

And their beliefs impacted their lives greatly. This false gospel drove some to despair and depression. Others to a life of idolatry and debauchery. Others to fear and many others to the rejection of Jesus Christ. The task before me was big. Too big for me alone.

As you step onto your college campus this fall you will quickly come in contact with students who believe a false gospel. Students who believe:

  • Salvation is obtained by good works.
  • God’s love for them is based on their performance.
  • Their falling short of God’s glory leads to God hating them.
  • God is only pleased with them when they perfectly obey.
  • Being a follower of Jesus isn’t important.
  • There are many paths to God.
  • They can live their lives however they like and still be a Christian.

We should not despair nor lose our zeal for the gospel when we encounter these situations. The Apostle Paul was very familiar with groups of people who believed similar things. In 2 Corinthians 4:4 the Apostle Paul states, “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God.” But what Paul says in the next verse is where we find our hope and power. He says, “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord.”

There is a real enemy who desires to keep lost people blind to the power and hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is a real enemy who wages war against believers to make them lose their confidence in the power of the gospel. But we should not be discouraged because the gospel is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16). The gospel is the light that exposes the dark. The gospel is the truth that dispels the lies. The gospel is the only message you and I have to carry to millions of colleges student across North America. There is nothing you and I can offer students except the powerful message of the gospel. The gospel that says:

  • Salvation is a free gift by grace through faith. (Ephesians 2:8)
  • On your worst day, God still loves you. (Romans 8:31-39)
  • Sin separates you from God but Jesus as made a way for you to be reconciled to God. (Ephesians 2:12-13)
  • There is nothing you can do to make God love you more. (Romans 5:6)
  • In Christ, no sin will ever separate you from the love of God. (Romans 8:35-39)
  • The standard of the Kingdom of God is perfection and Jesus achieved that perfection for you on the cross. (Galatians 3:10-14)
  • God accepts you and is pleased with you because of the cross of Jesus. (Matthew 3:17)
  • Only Jesus satisfies and fulfills. (Psalm 107:8-9)
  • In Christ, your past, present, and future sins are removed. (Psalm 103:12)

Though the task on our campuses may be great… Though the lies of Satan plague our campuses daily… Though many false gospels dominate our students lives… You are not alone! You can put your trust in a God who has given us a powerful weapon—the gospel of Jesus Christ that can and will destroy every lie of Satan and the false gospels on our campuses. Those gospels are weak compared to Christ’s gospel. Preach it faithfully, unashamedly, and boldly.

about the author

Darrick Smith

Darrick is a collegiate consultant with the NoCampusLeft team. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.