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But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. -- 2Peter 2: 1-2 (ESV)
When will it be enough for the church to cast out the heretics that continue to undermine the Gospel? What level of blasphemy is enough to mark those that cause division through false doctrine as the Bible commands us to? Why must we always see the majority of preachers turn a blind eye with a wink and a nod when popular pastors insist on destructive teachings that devastate the witness of the church for a dying world? Consider the following quote from Andy Stanley's "Christmas" season message:
"Christianity doesn't hinge on the truth or even the stories around the birth of Jesus. It hinges on the resurrection of Jesus." -- Andy Stanley
This follows the disturbing trend from Stanley of downplaying the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture. He has deconstructed the Gospel this year at an alarming rate. Stanley claimed that if someone can predict their own death and resurrection then he is not all that concerned with how they came into the world. What? That is the definition of human wisdom over the Word of God. Beloved there are several reason why Stanley is not only wrong but at this point needs to be cast out as a heretic who does not serve the cause of Jesus Christ. First of all, the entire Gospel matters:
Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. -- Acts 20: 26-27 (ESV)
These are the words of the Apostle Paul as he said goodbye to the elders at the Church in Ephesus. The text is clear here. The reason why Paul declares himself innocent of the blood of his listeners at Ephesus is that he preached the entire counsel of God. Beloved, we cannot pick and choose the portions of the Gospel we think are somehow more "seeker friendly." The Bible is not a salad bar where we can take what we like and ignore what we loathe. This double standard is nothing short of hypocritical and the world does not miss it. This story of denying the virgin birth was recently reported by the secular Washington Post. Even they understood what Stanley could not. When they reached out to Stanley this was his excuse:
"I am often misunderstood because of my communication style. I frequently verbalize what I know unbelievers and those who have left the church believe, assume or remember a college professor saying," -- Andy Stanley
No Andy. It is not your communication style. It is your communication substance. It is what you are saying not how you are saying it. But look at what he essentially reveals here. He is purposefully choosing what the world believes over what the Bible says. Who cares what a college professor says! Are you kidding me? You do not combat the falseness of the world with falseness from the church. Only the truth can set people free. Only the Gospel has the power to save them:
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. -- Romans 1: 16 (ESV)
Only the Gospel has the power to save! That means the entire Gospel! This follows the trend from earlier in the year when Stanley caused a firestorm by preaching that he tries to reach those who have left the church by reasoning with them about the firsthand accounts of the disciples instead of insisting that the Bible is inerrant. Never mind the inherent contradiction of saying you do not have to trust the Bible and then use the accounts in the Bible as your rationale. Stanley was apparently frustrated because kids went off to college after leaving his church and came back as unbelievers. What Stanley fails to realize is they probably were not saved to begin with. When you do not preach the entire Gospel, people cannot get saved -- period. Secondly here, by denying the importance of the virgin birth you make a liar out of God
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. -- Isaiah 7: 14 (ESV)
There are hundreds of fulfilled prophecies in Jesus Christ that God foretold us about in the Old Testament. We must understand that the enemy works overtime to undermine the inerrancy of Scripture. If he can cast any doubt upon any one Scripture then we can throw the entire canon out. If any portion of it is unreliable then why should we rely on any of it? What Stanley does here, perhaps unwittingly, is cast doubt upon the portions of Scripture that predict and then attest to the virgin birth. And why does he do something so heretical? Because he is afraid that people in the world will not believe the concept of a virgin birth. This despite the Bible assuring us that all of the things of God are foolishness to those who are perishing; not just the virgin birth. We saw earlier in the year Stanley cast doubt on the destruction of the walls of Jericho, the trek from Egypt to Canaan by the Israelites and even the age of the earth. Now he is targeting the virgin birth but in doing so he essentially calls God a liar. God specifically said through the prophet Isaiah that a virgin will give birth and He would be called Immanuel. Was God wrong? Did He make a mistake? Or is Andy Stanley wrong? These answers should be obvious. There are multiple reports within the Gospels themselves of the virgin birth and we believe all Scripture is God breathed, which means Andy Stanley is calling God a liar in each instance.
The final consideration here is that Andy Stanley misses the importance of the virgin birth entirely. Sure we can argue that the resurrection carries more significance on some levels but you do not get there without the virgin birth. Think about what Stanley is really saying here beloved. Without the virgin birth, Jesus is born a sinner as we all are. He no longer can lead a sinless life. He no longer is the spotless lamb. He no longer is the atoning sacrifice. He no longer reconciles us to God. The resurrection becomes an afterthought without the fact without the virgin birth. This is an insidiously false teaching, regardless of motive. It teaches believers that they too can cherry pick the Bible and come up with a logical humanistic rationale for dismissing parts they do not like. It teaches unbelievers that even Christians do not believe the really supernatural stuff found in Scripture. Not only that but it essentially promotes the denial of Jesus Christ. Which brings us in closing to our key scriptures for today.
Here Peter is warning us about false teachers who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them. These verses are warning us about people like Andy Stanley. I do not know his heart nor do care to. It is just as wickedly deceitful as mine. The Bibles says all we need to do is evaluate his teaching. He has declared war on the Word of God all year long. He does so because he blames the Word of God for people not believing. C'mon, the earth is only 6000 years old? They shouted and the walls came down? How can someone be born of a virgin? Really? These are the problems you have with Scripture? If every time you react to the supernatural ability of God by dismissing the veracity of it then it is not God you believe in. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Al Mohler commented on Stanley's remarks, saying:
"If Jesus was not born of the virgin then the Bible cannot be trusted when it comes to telling us the story of Jesus, and that mistrust cannot be limited to how he came to us in terms of the incarnation. The fact is that biblical Christianity and ultimately the Gospel of Christ cannot survive the denial of the virgin birth. Because without the virgin birth, you end up with a very different Jesus than the fully human, fully divine savior revealed in scripture." -- Al Mohler
Amen to that. Our job is not to commiserate with the world and try to understand their perspective. Our job is to preach the uncompromised Gospel and let the Holy Spirit draw people to the cross. I am not saying you have to believe in Jericho, Canaan, or even the virgin birth. I am just saying you are not a Christian if you do not. That includes wayward and heretical teachers such as Andy Stanley. It is time to mark him as such and avoid him beloved.