“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
For quite some time, I’ve wanted to deal with the statements that Andy Stanley made over a year ago during one of his “talks”.
Although he has made other videos since this one to explain his controversial statements (also on YouTube), he has not put out the fire he started. Instead he has only succeeded in bringing his ministry and his beliefs into serious question.
To understand what he said, please, check out the following video; making special note of the 4:00 to 8:00 minute section. It is this area that I am specifically focusing on in this post.
The Bible Told Me So
In case you listened to all of his talk, let me just say that there are many things about his “timeline” discussion that I seriously disagree with. But we will not deal with that section at this time.
Instead, I wish to focus on the simple truth of how we come to Christ. And how we believe by faith.
For one thing, the word of God is absolutely necessary in order to have faith.
True faith in Christ comes from what the Bible tells us. Which is the ONLY way we know for sure what is true; all else is secondary.
“That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth…” (Proverbs 22:21)
Persuasive arguments may certainly lead us to read the Bible for ourselves. That is good.
But is there anything about Jesus Christ, that I can know for sure, which is not written in the word of God? Do I really need to know what the civic records of Bethlehem say? Or of Nazareth? Or of Jerusalem?
What detail is someone going to reveal about Jesus Christ that will lead me to trust Him as my God and Savior which doesn’t come from the Bible? And why would anyone trust any source outside of the Bible for making such an eternal decision?
By the Scriptures Alone
The simple fact is that one cannot truly know who Jesus Christ is apart from scripture. All else is the stuff of cults and false religions. The stuff that is often called, “sacred tradition”.
And it is this same “sacred tradition” or “the tradition of the Fathers” that has caused so much trouble for Catholicism and Judaism and Islam. Where other sources of “truth” have been given equal or superior authority to the scriptures.
Andy wants to talk about the Resurrection instead. He figures this is what will get the discussion started. What will get his foot in the door.
He figures that, by bypassing the Bible, he can deal with people on some other basis. He reasons that he can get the Bible out of the way since so many people reject it for its preposterous statements. Statements he believes are indefensible.
These ideas alone place Andy in a seriously dangerous place. What does he really believe? What is the real origin of his own faith?
How does anyone with the Spirit of God living within him consider the Bible indefensible? And how could any teacher of Christians make such an unbelievably doubt-creating statement?
Is his faith in Christ? The Christ of the scriptures? Or in some other Christ? And how do you divorce the Lord from His word? How do you doubt God’s accuracy when he has magnified His word “above all his name“? (Psalm 138:2)
So then, where does he think the Resurrection account truly comes from?
Resurrection is a crazy idea to believe if it is on any other basis than that of scripture.
Since people have trouble believing far less important things, why would they believe in the Resurrection of Christ? Why should they believe the accounts of someone rising from the dead because some record-keeper in the Roman government wrote about it 2,000 years ago? Or because it is found in writings of other people from that time?
I don’t think so. Most people will find a reason to debunk the whole story based on the general unreliability of ancient records. And because the modern intellectual and scientific cultures reject it.
But Andy thinks he can sacrifice biblical inerrancy in order to reach them!
However, intellectual assent or approval is not faith.
Getting the culture to accept the words of God as true is a faith issue; it is not an issue dependent upon the cleverness of a speaker, or the intellectual prowess or the warmth or the hipness of a preacher.
Because faith requires believing what the scriptures say. What the specific words of God say. Not the words of Andy Stanley or anyone else.
How Faith is Created in Us
It all comes down to what you and I do with what God has written. How we keep the words which the Lord has entrusted to us.
Because we are born again by the word of God. That is where the power is. That is what God uses to change us. That is what he uses to make us new creatures. Along with His blood and His Spirit.
“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” (I Peter 1:23)
“But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” (I Corinthians 15:1)
The Words of the Gospel
There is no gospel apart from the specific words of God.
Nor is there any salvation apart from the words of God. A man will certainly sense his need of salvation by the testimony of nature; by the witness of the Spirit of God in his heart and by the pricking of his own conscience.
But he is only saved by believing in the word of God.
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)
Salvation is based upon confidence and belief in what God has written; not in the clever arguments or persuasions of men.
Secular records of biblical events do not constitute truth. One may either believe or reject them.
But one does not have that same right-of-rejection with God’s words. He is accountable for how he handles those words. Every human being is accountable to believe in the absolute accuracy of God’s word about ALL that He has said. Even in the stuff we claim is indefensible.
Because, it will be those indefensible words which will judge us.
If my faith is based on anything else, it is not truly faith. It is just religion. Maybe it’s a very savvy, hip, intellectual and culturally-acceptable religion.
But that is all it is.
PS: I don’t wish evil for Andy. I hope he comes to his spiritual senses. I hope he repents of these statements and clears things up in a very open and clear manner. But he speaks these things very openly and very boldly.
Which demands believers to come to the defense of God’s word. In an equally bold response.