"The key to understanding the Bible is to look for Jesus in the Bible. Jesus is the hero of the Bible. If you read the Bible and don't find Jesus, re-read it! The Bible has one hero, His name is Jesus; one villain, that is Satan; one problem, that is sin; one solution, that is salvation. That is what the Bible is all about." -Dr. Adrian Rogers

Monday, January 5, 2015

A Warning to My Generation

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing,
but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Matthew 7:15

A couple days ago, Tony Miano shared an article on facebook written by a local college professor about a particular sermon recently delivered by the pastor of a local megachurch. The article is entitled “NobleRescinds the Ten Commandments for 2015.” Perhaps you have already read it yourself or have at least heard of it. If you have not yet read it, I suggest you do so before continuing with the rest of this blog post. After reading this gentlemen’s article, I immediately wanted to write a blog post of my own warning other people of my generation to stay away from such teaching while throwing in my own personal touch. So here goes.

I don’t know if the writer of the aforementioned article has ever personally attended Perry Noble’s so-called “church,” but I unfortunately can tell you that I have. It was exactly one week before I would start my freshman year of college, and since my home church had cancelled services for that night a couple of my friends suggested that I join them at NewSpring. I had always been cautious of this local fast-growing megachurch that was notorious for loud music and casual dress; however, since my church wasn’t having services that particular night, I decided that it wouldn’t hurt to satisfy my curiosity just that one time. Big mistake, or so I felt at the time.

Once I had arrived at the church and parked my car in the already overflowing parking lot, it didn’t take me long to realize that something was terribly wrong. As I was waiting on my friends to arrive, I stood by my car and keenly observed the people passing by on their way into the building, trying not to be too obvious, of course. As I was doing so, I noticed something that was missing. That something was Bibles. I must have seen dozens of people walk through that parking lot before my friends got there, yet I didn’t see one person carrying a Bible. When I questioned my friend about it later, he said something to the effect of, “Oh, it’s okay. We don’t need them. He always puts it up on the screen anyway.” Screen or no screen, I had always been taught that you never attend church without your Bible in tow. In fact, I don’t remember many services growing up in my small Southern Baptist church that the preacher didn’t start his message by saying, “Now turn in your Bibles to…,” and the congregation would then stand as the preacher read the passage aloud. I was taught to treasure the Bible because it is God’s holy, infallible word, and treasuring the Bible meant taking it to church with me. It just didn’t make sense to do otherwise.

As if the missing Bibles wasn’t enough, I noticed something else alarming when I finally made it inside the building. I could hear music playing from what sounded like overhead speakers, but I didn’t recognize the words. After listening carefully for a while, I turned to my friend and said, “Is that a secular song they’re playing”? He nodded that it was, but then added that they only played it before the actual service began, as if that somehow made it alright. At that point, something told me that I should turn around and walk right back out the door from which I had just came; however, I very politely told the little voice to “shut up” and continued to find a place to sit (another huge mistake!).

Upon finally finding three empty seats all together, my friends and I sat down to find what seemed to be some sort of blow-up device placed at each seat. As we explored further, we realized that they were neon orange blow-up sticks, and each person had been given two to bang together during the rock concert-like “worship” service. How such behavior could ever be considered worship, I will probably never know.

I was really too distracted by what I had already witnessed before the so-called pastor started to preach to pay too much attention to what he was saying, but what I can remember is him using three or four curse words along with taking the name of the Lord in vain at least once (no wonder he felt the need to change that commandment around).It seems like he may have also thrown in a story at some point about scaring an office worker with a plastic bag. What I’m sure he didn’t do is preach the Word of God.

At the end of the service, Perry Noble did give an alter call, leading his audience in what is commonly known as “the sinner’s prayer.” However, like my fellow blogger mentioned, he never gave a biblical explanation as to why they needed to be saved or what they were being saved from. He simply asked for a show of hands as to how many had prayed the prayer and asked that all who did come to the front at close of service. Funny, we never read in the Bible where Jesus took for granted that His listeners knew what it meant to be a sinner in need of a Savior. That is why He always was careful to explain it in a way which those He was speaking to could thoroughly understand, just like he did with the rich young ruler.

Coming from a traditional Southern Baptist church, it is oftentimes hard to get people to understand that my problem with NewSpring goes much deeper than it simply not being my style. No. My problem with NewSpring has always been with the fruit produced, or the lack thereof. Matthew 7:16-17 says, “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.” If the life-changing truth of God’s Word were indeed being preached at NewSpring, would it not make sense for the majority of the congregation to bear good fruit, to be walking in the truth, to love what God loves and hate what God hates? You would think.

I remember a couple years ago I was sitting in a college biology class when I overheard the conversation of a group of people who I had just heard mention a Bible study that they had attended at NewSpring. The conversation to which I am referring, however, was not about the Bible study. Instead, they were talking about the popular vulgar, animated television sitcom Family Guy. I remember sitting there thinking to myself, “Who engages in discussion of God’s Word one minute and watches a show that curses Him the next”? If you are a child of God, the very things that break His heart ought to break yours, as well.

Perhaps the one instance that stands out to me the most is a conversation that I once overheard while sitting alone in a local Japanese restaurant. Sitting in the booth behind me was two ladies who I could not help but hear discussing NewSpring. From what I heard, it sounded like the two may not have known each other for very long. The one was telling the other about the man whom she was currently living with although they were not married. She then proceeded to explain that that was the precise reason they attended NewSpring. She said, “We can tell people without having them judge us.” Of course, I’m not surprised, being that according to Perry Noble, God’s command to “flee fornication” in 1 Corinthians 6:18 is more of a suggestion than anything. I can’t imagine what “promise” Perry Noble could possibly twist out of that, since God already promises us that “every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body” (1 Corinthians 6:18). How much plainer could you get than that?

To tell you the truth, NewSpring scares me because of one verse. That verse is Proverbs 14:12 which says, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” I fear because Perry Noble teaches that it is possible to follow God without adhering to His teachings. But if that were so, why then did Jesus say in John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (see also Exodus 20:6, Deuteronomy 5:10, 7:9, 11:1, 11:22, 19:9, 30:16, Joshua 22:5, Nehemiah 1:5, Daniel 9:4, John 14:21, 15:10, and 1 John 5:2-3; all seem to show the concept of loving God and keeping His commandments going hand-in-hand—to separate the two is impossible)?

Hebrews 9:27 does indeed say, “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” And I am here to tell you today that God is not going to let you into Heaven simply because you said yes to His existence, but He is going to judge you based on whether or not you said yes to His teachings and loved Him enough to take Him at His Word. Jesus said in Matthew 7:22-23, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Some translations have that word “iniquity” as “lawlessness.” In other words, those who profess to know the Lord yet fail to keep His commandments.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not telling you that you can go to Heaven by keeping the Ten Commandments. Well, you could, but you can’t keep them—nobody can. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” and Romans 3:12 says, “There is none that doeth good, no, not one.” The fact that you can’t keep them is proof that you need God’s saving grace. That’s why Jesus had to die on the cross. He knew that we could never be good enough on our own, so He traded His life for ours. Then He rose triumphantly from the grave on the third day, defeating sin and death once for all. First Thessalonians 1:10 calls Him “Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”

I’ve never been one to ask people to believe in Jesus. No. I simply ask that you believe Him, that you take Him at His word, that you believe with every fiber of your being that every word He says is true. Adrian Rogers once said, “The biggest fool is not the one who says there is no God. The biggest fool is the one who says there is a God and then doesn’t live like it.” That is exactly what Perry Noble wants you to do. He wants you to say that you believe in God, but then to live as if He doesn’t even exist. He’s asking you to be what some may call the “Christian atheist.” However, if you ever meet Him and realize the significance of what Jesus did for you on the cross, to do what Perry Noble is suggesting will be impossible for you; because once you give your life to Him, you’ll never be the same. He’ll give you a new heart with new desires and enable you to do His will for your life which He has laid out so beautifully for you in His Word. And I promise you upon the authority of God’s Word that you will never be sorry that you trusted Him.

Maybe you are here today and you are realizing for the first time that you need Him in your life. If you have never acknowledged Jesus as Lord of your life, it is my prayer that you would come to do so today before it is eternally too late for you. There’s only one way to Heaven, and that’s the blood of Jesus. Claim it today. Turn from all sin and trust Jesus alone to save you. If you do that, He will save you today and keep you saved forever.

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