Even the best intentioned evangelism efforts are marked by a departure from the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
Basically, the church got rid of the use of the Law about a hundred years ago, and it has been propagated by some preachers today. People got the idea that somehow we need to change the message in order to appeal to people today, but that is just a misunderstanding of the function of the Law...Christians are no longer under the penalty of the Law. We are under the covering of grace. But the same standards of the Ten Commandments still are the standards by which non-Christians will be judged on the Day of Judgment. On the Day of Judgment, God still hates lying. He says that liars and thieves and adulterers and blasphemers will be cast into the Lake of Fire…In order for thieves and liars to understand that that is what they are and that they need a Savior, they need to be confronted with the standards that God will judge them by on that day. And that is what Jesus did throughout the Scripture…
If you can remember four simple points, it will help you get from the beginning to the end of a conversation and lead you through witnessing to somebody. Who do you know that is not saved? Do you have a good friend who is not saved who you have been trying to witness to? It is easy to call them up on the phone and say, ‘Hey, how is it going? How is your family? How is your job? What is going on?’ That is simple. But you are thinking, Man, how do I talk about his or her salvation? That is the hardest part. One of the things that we suggest is bring up the movie The Passion of The Christ, and then use that as a springboard to say something like, ‘That movie never would have made sense to me if I didn’t understand how exactly I had sinned against God,’…What do you think about the Ten Commandments? That is a pretty high standard. Do you think that you have kept it…?’
Get into the conversation any way you want and then the four stepping stones are WDJD, which stands for What Did Jesus Do — not What Would He do, but look in the Bible and see What He did do:
W — Would you consider yourself to be a good person?
D — Do you think that you have kept the Commandments?
J — Judgment. If God judged you according to those Commandments, would you be innocent or guilty?
D — Destiny. So, do you think you would go to heaven or to hell?
The short version of “getting saved” takes God’s sovereign judgment out of the action, allowing humans to mouth a profession of faith and continue to live in sin. And its preachers can point to scripture to justify easy believism.
“Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
- Compare: For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.
- But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh…thou shalt be saved
- if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus,
- and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead.” (Romans 10:4-9)
But this passage is like an opening paragraph in a news reports. To get the full story we have to keep on reading the entire message to the Romans, or we can be misled.
This popular methodology and objective is selling fire insurance, but is it salvation from sin? Certainly not if the individual has not experienced the resurrected life through the Holy Spirit now.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
- Compare: For what the law [of Moses] could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh,
- God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk [the walk and not just talk the talk] not after the flesh, but after the Spirit…
For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, IF so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
Humans don’t just wrap up the process of becoming a child of God by “making a decision for Christ“.
As if – we’re doing God a big favor by associating with him. But honestly, that’s what many people are doing. Embarrassed to reveal any association in public.
“Receiving” the Lord YHVH’s Promised Savior means agreeing to honor him, to express his Singularity in attributes and legacy in by carrying out his will to whatever extent it has been revealed.
Think of a kingdom where values are shared and advanced to the benefit of the kingdom. It’s a mutually agreed upon relationship
Every human who agrees to receive Jesus is likewise received by Jesus to the extent that the human acts on the agreement. Think of it like conquering the destructive forces of substance abuse. The addict can only conquer addiction by refusing to drink or do drugs.
“[As in the Old World preparation for marriage] I go to prepare a place for you / the essential self, soul…I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also in the hyper dimensional plane of existence].” (John 14:2-3)
If a human is truly a partner in this relationship, he/she won’t just take what he/she can get from God to serve his self-absorbed activities. He/she will be likewise be preparing for God’s purpose – humanity taking dominion over creation.
“work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure…That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life.” (Philippians 2:12-16)
The proof that one has indeed become a son of God is the presence of his spirit declaring his name / unique characteristics through freely chosen actions consistent with God’s values.
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God…whereby we cry, Abba / Daddy. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God“” (Romans 8:14-16)
Think of this like children who walk into the doctor’s office without an appointment and hang out until the doctor takes them home at the end of the day. Why? Because they share the doctor’s name, they are members of his family and they act like it, respectful and responsible towards his staff and patients, even during the worse times of a boring wait until Daddy is finished taking care of other people rather than meeting their immediate desires to go home, to change the channel on the waiting room television, to order a pizza, etc.
Think of a marriage where only names are shared but not values, and exploitation of the other’s resources is the purpose of the relationship. There is no true “two becoming one for better or worse, in sickness or in health”, reflected in alienation, conflict, infidelity and divorce. A person who takes the name of Christian but fails to take on any of his the Promised Savior’s attributes and behaviors will not be received into the Singularity.
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not…thy name?…And then will I profess unto them, I never knew [became intimate with] you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21-23)
IF the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God…And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
This passage, and many others, also disabuse the Jesus Movement‘s claim that the presence of the Holy Spirit is proved, not through the evidence of freedom from bondage to sin of all kinds, but through manifesting the gifts of the spirit. A frenzy of speaking in tongues, healing, and prophecy, even spread to the ponderous institution of the Roman Catholic Church.
This is just one example of how the increasingly autonomous identification of one’s relationship with God phased out accountability to biblical faith and practice. In a local congregation this occurs naturally between the leaders and members.
“Am I am not an apostle…are not ye my work in the Lord? If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord. Mine answer to them that do examine me is this.” (I Corinthians 9:1-3)
The self-defined relationship with Jesus Christ escalated synergistically – both sides feeding off each other – with the rise of televangelism, newly styled “non-denominational” churches, dropping a church’s denomination from its name, non-traditional churches and megachurches allowing an individual’s anonymity in the crowd, and a growth in parachurch organizations and community faith centers that blurred or eliminate doctrinal distinctive. And the result was the loss of a functional body of believers.
“unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ…And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
- For the perfecting of the saints,
- for the work of the ministry,
- for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ…This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.But ye have not so learned Christ;
IF so be that ye HAVE heard him, and HAVE been taught by him, as / since the truth is in Jesus:” (Ephesians 4:7-21)
Most of all, one’s “personal relationship with Jesus Christ” eliminates the Bible, the sole foundation of saving faith.
Andy Stanley is a master communicator, and he communicates very well and very often...he quite regularly makes arguments that subvert the authority of Scripture and cast doubt upon biblical Christianity…
Earlier this year, Stanley brought controversy when he argued in a sermon that the Christian faith must be “unhitched” from the Old Testament. He claimed that “Peter, James, Paul elected to unhitch the Christian faith from their Jewish scriptures, and my friends, we must as well…”
In his view, the first century leadership of the church “unhitched the church from the worldview, value system, and regulations of the Jewish Scriptures…”
Stanley speaks of outgrowing a childhood belief about the Bible and coming to understand…that we must know that biblical references to the Scripture “did not mean the Bible.”
“This is something I’m trying desperately to help people understand…There was no “The Bible” until the fourth century…such a thing did not exist until after Christianity became legal and scholars could come out of the shadows and actually put such a thing together…”
“So…no one ever said in the early church, ‘the Bible says, the Bible teaches, the Bible says the Bible teaches,’ because there was no ‘The Bible…’ every time we see the phrase ‘the Scripture’ or ‘Scripture’ in the New Testament, as you know we have to stop and ask the question, what was this particular group of people referring to because there was no ‘The Bible’ and there was no book that contained all the Jewish Scripture because it was contained in synagogues and as you know virtually no one could read and write.”
Well, wait just a minute…it is not true that references to “the Scriptures” or “the Scripture” by Jesus and the Apostles are any mystery to us. They are plainly referring to what we know as the Old Testament. There are references to “Moses and the Prophets” (Luke 16:29) and to the “Law and the Prophets”(Luke 16:16), but faithful Jews in the first century would emphatically have known exactly what the Scriptures are…the Greek phrase, ta biblia, “the books” was “an expression Hellenistic Jews used to describe their sacred books several centuries before the time of Jesus.”
The fact…is that…Jesus and the Apostles did make their arguments “according to the Scriptures” (see, for example, Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
Consider Jesus preaching in the synagogue in Nazareth: (Luke 4:17-21)…
Jesus was powerfully arguing “the Bible says” in a way that his hearers in the synagogue clearly understood, and that pattern is found throughout the New Testament…
Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”(Matthew 5:17-19)
The pattern is promise and fulfillment, not rejection and repudiation. This is true even in the case of Acts 15, with the apostles citing the authority of Amos 9:11-12 and even citing the binding authority of Genesis 9:4 on the Gentile believers. Again, the pattern is promise and fulfillment. Andy Stanley argues that the Old Testament should not be cited as “the go-to source regarding any behavior in the church,” but the moral law of the Old Testament remains honored by the church and repeated (even intensified) in the New Testament.
Peter, James, and Paul did not “unhitch the Christian faith from their Jewish Scriptures,” nor can we.
We are looking here at the ancient heresy of Marcion…who lived about the years 85-160…The Old Testament deity was repugnant to Marcion, who argued that Christianity just make a clean break from Judaism. The Old Testament, he taught, reveals a vindictive law-giving creator deity who bears no resemblance to the merciful redeeming God revealed in Jesus Christ. As Irenaeus, one of the most significant church fathers argued, “Marcion himself divides God in two, saying that one is good, the other judicial, and in so doing takes God away from both.”
Marcion was embarrassed by the Old Testament, and so are many modern people. Andy Stanley, at the very least, seems to fear that embarrassment in others, even if he does not identify with it himself.
He spoke this way with Jonathan Merritt: “I’m convinced that we make a better case for Jesus if we leave the Old Testament or the old covenant out of the argument.” We can make a better case for Jesus than the case Jesus made for himself?
But the embarrassment comes through clearly in Andy Stanley’s comments in the interview. He spoke of people who have “lost their faith” because they read the Old Testament, and then said…
“it’s time that we face the facts and unhitch our faith and our practice from some of these Old Testament values that we can appreciate in their original context, but we really don’t have any business dragging them into a modern context…'”
The church cannot “unhitch” from the Old Testament without unhitching from the gospel Jesus preached. Speaking of the Old Testament Scriptures, Jesus said “it is they that bear witness about me…” (John 5:39)
Stanley questions whether Jesus actually meant his own references to Old Testament narratives to be taken as historical. He said: “Then a person has to decide…Jesus references the Garden of Eden, or he references in the beginning when God created the first two people, he references Jonah. Then you have to decide when the Son of God references these people and these incidences and these prophets, what did he mean..?
It is very instructive to remember that the most influential theological liberal of the twentieth century, Adolf von Harnack, chose Marcion as his theological hero. Why? Because, like Marcion, he wanted to reduce Christianity to what he claimed to be its essence, the benevolent fatherhood of God. All the doctrines of orthodox Christianity, including the doctrines concerning the divinity of Christ, were dismissed as either Jewish or Greco-Roman encrustations…
the Christian identification of the Old Testament as the “Jewish Scriptures” has a dangerous pedigree…Adolf von Harnack must also be remembered as seeking to champion Marcion within German Protestantism just as anti-Semitism was rising once again with deadly power in Germany. As Alister McGrath notes, “Sadly, Marcionism is a heresy that seems to be revived with every resurgence of anti-Semitism.”
The issues actually reach deeper. In recent years, Andy Stanley has encouraged getting over “the Bible tells me so.” He actually claimed in 2016 that the church veered into “trouble” when it began to make its arguments on the basis of the Bible. He cited “deconversion” stories in which people told him that they lost their Christian faith when they lost confidence in the Bible. He said: “If the Bible is the foundation of your faith, here’s the problem: it’s all or nothing. Christianity becomes a fragile house of cards religion…”
key question is whether one can be a faithful Christian while denying the truthfulness of Scripture. Jesus himself makes the point that without the Old Testament as the Word of God, we really do not know who he is. Then what does it mean to be a Christian..?
In this latest interview, Andy Stanley also suggests that “Christianity ultimately and eventually created the Bible.” That is consistent with Roman Catholic theology, but not with evangelical Christianity. In the interview Stanley affirmed again that affirmation of the virgin birth is not necessary. He had earlier stated, “If someone can predict their own death and resurrection, I’m not all that concerned about how they got into the world.”
But the New Testament is very concerned about how Jesus got into the world, and if he was not conceived by the Holy Spirit, then he was conceived in some other way. Here we need to remember that the etymology of heresy is rooted in choice. A heretic denies a belief central and essential to Christianity. But heresy also takes the form of choice. You can choose to believe in the virgin birth or not, Stanley argues; he is not all that concerned about it.