Day 32: Eyes Opened

                The other day I made reference to a study talking about influential pastors. “In a 2009 study conducted by LifeWay Research, Protestant pastors named preachers who had most influenced them. Three Dallas Theological Seminary alumni were among the top ten: Chuck Swindoll ('63), founder of radio broadcast Insight for Living; David Jeremiah ('67), founder of Turning Point Radio and Television Ministries; and Andy Stanley ('85), founder of North Point Ministries.” Today I want to focus a little on Andy Stanley and why our eyes need to be opened. I saw another article that had Andy Stanley as one of the top 12 effective speakers. “The list of 11 men and one woman, chosen by scholars of homiletics, or the art of preaching, was released Tuesday (May 1, 2018). When you look at his influence, he is reaching people with His methods and preaching, but if you listen carefully you will see it is not the message of God’s enduring word. There are many who have the art of preaching down, their methods are finely oiled machines but void of the anointing of the Holy Spirit; lots of method but no content.
                I took a quick peak at Andy Stanley, which is all it takes to see this is not a servant of God’s word. I looked at his view on the bible, the Old Testament and the Ten Commandments. First of all it doesn’t seem that he is aware that Jesus is the word of God from the beginning of the Old Testament to the end of the New. He then wants you to unhitch from the Old Testament. Yet Jesus said, Matthew 5:17 “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. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Stanley also says the Ten Commandments don’t apply yet Jesus took those Ten Commandments and said Matthew 22:37 “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” The ones he wants you to unhitch from. Then Stanley talks about a separation from the bible and an emphasis on the resurrection. He actually teaches for the bible tells me so is not enough to stand. In one sermon he said, “Many of you were brought up to believe this: Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. And this is where our trouble began.” You should be cringing at this statement. He then says, “If the Bible is the foundation of our faith, Christianity becomes a fragile house of cards. If the whole Bible isn’t true, Christianity isn’t true.” One writer who listened to him said, “At the close of his sermon, Stanley thundered, “The first, second, and third century Christians, who faced tremendous hardship, believed Jesus loved them before the Bible told them so.” (Jesus is the word of God; I don’t think he understands this) He added, “The pre-Bible version of the faith was defensible.” 2 Peter 1:21 “For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” According to Stanley, grown up faith is not dependent on the complete truthfulness of the biblical witness. Stanley argues as if there was no recognized Scripture, or representative biblical canon, prior to the historical closing of the canon, which is simply not true.” This writer then quoted 2 Timothy 3:14 “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” Not only did they have what we call the Old Testament, they had letters and word of mouth. Paul said 2 Thessalonians 2:2 “not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. 15 So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.” Those letters and words became the bible. Paul also said Colossians 4:16 “After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.” Revelation lets you know the Laodiceans did not pay attention to it nor has Stanley and those like him.
                It appears that Stanley will do anything to win souls, including giving up God’s word. This desire to win souls without the anointing of God has devastated the church even though the masses gather. The church fills up but are those who now attend filled with the Holy Spirit? You end up with a mass of people who have been deceived. Why would anyone follow this type of leadership? The answer is truth has been thrown to the ground. The Apostle Paul said, 1 Corinthians 15:2 “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” Stanley says he is a leader yet he preaches another gospel supposedly to win souls. Unfortunately he is winning souls for the wrong kingdom. I would agree with this person who said, “Andy Stanley’s theology is an absolute train wreck filled with self-contradictory statements. Listening to just 5 minutes of one of his sermons is enough to give a person theological whiplash. This is not a new phenomenon. Anyone that has listened with any amount of discernment to what Andy has been saying for the last several years has been aware of the glaring issues. Not only is it hard to watch a pastors theology devolve into a mishmash of self contradictory and non-biblical concepts, it grieves me to reflect on the multitude of people that are currently under his authority and care.” Now this could be said about many pastors who are on the influential list.
               I honestly did not spend a lot of time on Andy Stanley, as it was easy to see the lack of emphasis on God’s word. He actually tells you that himself. My purpose for sharing this is to show you how false teaching just keeps going, with each thinking they are now speaking for God. He did graduate from Dallas Theological Seminary, so dispensationalism is his foundation. This would be why he unhitches from the Old Testament, as this church age is now a new dispensation (dispensationalism) and God acts differently. Think about all the references to the Old Testament in the New Testament. If you have no idea what they are or mean, you will miss the point. satan is wise in his deception. I also found it interesting that the guru he followed was Bill Hybels. One writer said, “It’s hard to overstate the influence that Bill Hybels and the people of Willow Creek Community Church have had on the evangelical church world. As a result, much of what we view as “normal” within a broad spectrum of this segment of the Christian world traces its roots back to this leadership community.” Unfortunately what they call normal Christianity is void of the Spirit of God. In a video from 2010, Andy Stanley introduces Bill Hybels as the man who “ruined his life” Now he said ruined in a way that he would never be the same as how he saw church. I said ruined because he followed a man that in a few years would be brought to ruin for his abuse. That’s not Christianity. He said it was at Willow Creek that he felt he was a leader. And yes the reason I am sharing this is one, false leaders are influenced by each other. The spirit in them is passed on to the next. You can see that with the Toronto Blessing and Bill Johnson of Bethel Redding Church. Two, there is little to no discernment in the church as to what truth is. Jesus warned us about the abomination that causes desolation. He said watch that you are not deceived. Yes millions have followed these false leaders and still follow anyone who seems to be successful from the world’s eyes, even though it is a form of godliness and no power. They wrongfully think they are successful, so it must be God. But when you hear their words it is not God’s voice. These leaders deceive millions of people believing that they are speaking God’s word but God’s word teaches you how to spot a false teacher, if you would just listen. Sorry Andy, for the bible tells me so is crucial to our Christian lives.
                This is what God has said about false teachers. Jeremiah 14:14 “Then the Lord said to me, “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds.” Jeremiah 23:16 “This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord.” Matthew 24:24 “For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” In this day great signs could also be taken as mega-church. They must be doing something right since they are huge and everyone follows what they do and say. Signs are also much of what you see in the charismatic circles such as the Toronto Blessing. 2 Peter 2:1 “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves.” The little I described from reading about Andy Stanley is frightening. Jeremiah 5:30 “A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: 31 The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?
                As you can see people like to flock. And then when a flock has gathered other leaders will flock to find out how they got their flock and so and so on but what will you do in the end. Lamentations 2:14 “The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The prophecies they gave you were false and misleading.” Isaiah gives a picture of the church today. Jesus came so that we could have life eternal. Isaiah 9:6 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” Then immediately following this amazing prophecy 8 The Lord has sent a message against Jacob; it will fall on Israel. 9 All the people will know it— Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria— who say with pride and arrogance of heart, 10 “The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with dressed stone; the fig trees have been felled, but we will replace them with cedars.” 11 But the Lord has strengthened Rezin’s foes against them and has spurred their enemies on. 12 Arameans from the east and Philistines from the west have devoured Israel with open mouth. Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away, his hand is still upraised. 13 But the people have not returned to him who struck them, nor have they sought the Lord Almighty. 14 So the Lord will cut off from Israel both head and tail, both palm branch and reed in a single day; 15 the elders and dignitaries are the head, the prophets who teach lies are the tail. 16 Those who guide this people mislead them, and those who are guided are led astray.” By the way unhitching from the Old Testament is detrimental to your life. I wonder (not really as satan is the master deceiver) where that idea came from. Those who guide this people mislead them, and those who are guided are led astray.
                Yet there is good news in the midst of this chaos of false teaching. Isaiah 14:3 “On the day the Lord gives you relief from your suffering and turmoil and from the harsh labor forced on you, 4 you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon: how the oppressor has come to an end! How his fury has ended!” Isaiah 29:5 “Suddenly, in an instant, 6 the Lord Almighty will come with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with windstorm and tempest and flames of a devouring fire.” The bible makes it clear that when we follow and adhere to God’s word His power will be available to all who believe. No power means we have turned away and rejected God’s word. Paul would ask what kind of power do you have? 1 Corinthians 4:20 “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.”
                The reason for the success of these false teachers is there has been a famine in the land and it has been deadly. Amos 8:11 “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “when I will send a famine through the land— not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.” Those days have been here. At this point this passage describes the church. Matthew 13:13 “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. 14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. 15 For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ 16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.” Today we live among a people who can’t hear or see. They think they are hearing and seeing God move in powerful ways but they are deaf and blind. If they were truly hearing, they would be running from these false teachers.
                But a day is coming as Isaiah tells us Isaiah 35:5 “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. 6 Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. 7 The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow. 8 And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. 9 But only the redeemed will walk there, 10 and those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.” The days are coming when the eyes and ears of the church will once again be opened. We will be able to hear the word of the Lord and see his power move among us once again. 2 Kings 6:17 “And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”
                 At this point the church is blind and deaf. Isaiah 29:11 “For you this whole vision is nothing but words sealed in a scroll. And if you give the scroll to someone who can read, and say, “Read this, please,” they will answer, “I can’t; it is sealed.” 12 Or if you give the scroll to someone who cannot read, and say, “Read this, please,” they will answer, “I don’t know how to read.” 13 The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught. 14 Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.” 15 Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the LORD, who do their work in darkness and think, “Who sees us? Who will know?” 16 You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, “You did not make me”? Can the pot say to the potter, “You know nothing”? 17 In a very short time, will not Lebanon be turned into a fertile field and the fertile field seem like a forest? 18 In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll, and out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see. 19 Once more the humble will rejoice in the Lord; the needy will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. 20 The ruthless will vanish, the mockers will disappear, and all who have an eye for evil will be cut down— 21 those who with a word make someone out to be guilty, who ensnare the defender in court and with false testimony deprive the innocent of justice. 22 Therefore this is what the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, says to the descendants of Jacob: “No longer will Jacob be ashamed; no longer will their faces grow pale. 23 When they see among them their children, the work of my hands, they will keep my name holy; they will acknowledge the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob, and will stand in awe of the God of Israel. 24 Those who are wayward in spirit will gain understanding; those who complain will accept instruction.”
                Continue to pray that God will open your eyes and ears. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 “And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.”