page contents

Your Christian Cowboy Resource

Bible Bootcamp

Part 9

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Part Six

Part Seven

Part Eight

Part 9 of our new series encouraging digging deeper into the Bible

Part Nine

By Scott Hilgendorff/Cowboys of the Cross

Without even realizing it, many Christian cowboys and bull riders have created their own false gospel, built around preaching success.

A false gospel is anything taught as if it were biblical but is not built around a correct interpretation of scripture. We see it all the time in bull riding and rodeo because we're trying to succeed in difficult and dangerous sports that come at great personal sacrifice to make it to the top.  We're taught about the need for a positive attitude and so we turn to scripture, looking for verses that support that and that will help make us successful.

It's easy to take scripture out of context and use it to promote a different interpretation of scripture. It's easy to make a verse sound like God want us to succeed on our terms, in our way and at our goals but that's far from the truth. We make chasing our dreams our priority, without ever taking the time to seek the knowledge and understanding of how to hear God and how to seek and live out His plan for our lives.

I can tell you personally, it wasn't my plan to make myself poor, to spend months living in my van in a parking lot and to live a life without much sense of having a home in order to try to minister to you all. My path, the one I chose for my life before I was saved, would have seen me with at least on the top side of the middle class with a decent house, motorcycle and travel plans a couple times a year. But when I learned to hear God and to seek His plan for my life, I realized it wasn't about me anymore and there were changes I had to make. I didn't give up being happy, but what makes me happy now is very different than what made me happy before.

But before we look further at this, we have to be clear about what it means to teach false. We're not talking about one or two verses that are interpreted differently that cause us to form different denominations such as the different way a pentecostal and baptist church would look at a verse about speaking in tongues. Those differences are significant enough that we have entire church organizations built around them, but the essentials of the gospel (who Jesus is, why He was sent and what His death on the cross meant) remain the same within those denominations.

We're also not talking about a pastor or preacher/teacher making a mistake in how he teaches a verse because of something he didn't understand.

 A false gospel takes our eyes off of who Jesus is, why He was sent and what His death on the cross meant.

And the Bible takes those false teaching very seriously.

Galatians 1:6-9 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble 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 the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.9As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

We're condemned by God for intentionally preaching or teaching falsely.

And the Bible warns to be careful of wolves in sheep's clothing and against false teachers in several places including:

2 Timothy 4:3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,

We're very guilty of this in North American culture right now. There are preachers offering all sorts of promises from God that don't line up with scripture but yet we line up at the doors of their churches. In rodeo and bull riding, we gravitate toward anything that sounds like it will help us be successful as we pursue our own passion of winning.

But Paul is telling Timothy that people will do just what we're doing in rodeo and bull riding, following anything that sounds positive and like it might be coming from God. Our own lack of knowledge of what's in scripture allows us to be fooled and to fool ourselves.

 What we're doing is dangerous because it takes our eyes off the gospel. What makes it doubly dangerous is that it all seems good and helpful and our intentions are not to do harm or to take advantage of others like they can be with some false preachers.  We're actually trying to help ourselves and each other.

But our thinking is literally upside down. We've allowed ourselves to be taught and think that the Bible and God are here to help make us happy. We think, quite innocently, that it's all about us when it's the other way around. It's all about God. He gave us a way through saving faith in Jesus Christ that we could be forgiven for our sins that would otherwise eternally separate us from God; He gave us a way to be with Him forever in Heaven having perfect lives there. But yet,  as we create our own false gospel built around achieving personal success, we're telling God that Jesus' death on the cross for us to have eternal life isn't good enough. We want more from Him and instead of seeking His plan for our lives, we mistakenly think He is here to  make us happy on our terms. Yet in one section from Matthew alone, we see Jesus making it clear that it's about following Him on His terms.

Matthew 8:18-22 Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”

For some of us, that can mean great success as a bull dogger with a bunch of arena records or a bull rider on the way to the PBR It can also mean ending up paralyzed but using the challenges God puts in our path to bring Him glory and point others to Christ.

Guys, there is so much in Scripture that makes it clear that God will look out for us but that everything we experience and endure, what seems good or bad to us, will be toward His purpose. He also makes it clear that we're here to glorify Him.

1 Corinthians 10:31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

It isn't about winning the buckle that glorifies God, it's about how we handle ourselves as we work toward that goal. Do we point others to Christ along the way or do we distort scripture and try to manipulate it, and God, into making us successful for ourselves?  Are we guilty of adding to the false gospel of positivity that we've created through our desire to succeed or do we help others to see Christ and explain to them who Jesus is and what He did for us?

Do we even understand that for ourselves? A true understanding of what Jesus did for us and submitting to Him as Lord and Savior of our lives will change us and how we approach our goals.

Careful our good intentions don’t spread a false gospel