Friday, July 16, 2010

Preaching Myths In Modern Pulpits (Part 6)

Myth 6. God has faith in us.

This is an idea that emergent pastor Rob Bell teaches in one of his popular sermons and videos. His argument is that Jesus told His disciples to go into all the world and preach the Gospel. Jesus then left them and returned to heaven leaving the Great Commission in the hands of the disciples.

Is this true? Did Jesus leave them? What did Jesus say to them as he ascended up to heaven?

And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:20b)

Did Jesus tell them to go and evangelize the world or did He tell them to do something else first?

Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high. (Luke 24:46-49)

They had to wait in Jerusalem! Why? Because God had faith in them? No – it was because they could not do anything until they had the power of the Holy Spirit.

This teaching, that God has faith in us, became a plague among many of the youth in my old church in Australia (so much so that it prompted me, as an elder, to make a biblical response which can be viewed at the bottom of this post). I mention this myth today because I have learnt that our flesh and pride love to eat at the table of humanism. And to teach that God has faith in us – that He believes in us – is a humanistic idea that is totally opposed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

It is also worth taking a look at how the bible defines faith. It’s found in Hebrews 11:1 – read carefully:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)

So, based on Hebrews 11:1 faith requires that there are things we cannot see? Is there anything God cannot see? No, He is omnipresent:

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. (Psalm 139:7-10)

The other thing Hebrews 11:1 requires for faith is that we must hope for things. We don’t hope for things we already know. If God knows all things then He cannot hope for anything. There are so many verses that teach God’s omniscience, I’ll give just one example:

O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. (Psalm 139:1-4)

When people like Rob Bell teach that God has faith in man they are actually denying God’s attributes and committing idolatry. He is actually elevating man and humanizing God. It is an attack on the Gospel which clearly teaches faith ALONE in Christ ALONE.

Truth 6. Faith is not a part of God’s character and nature – it is contrary to His omniscience and omnipresence. God is the object of faith as the reformation solas teach.

Go On To Part 7
Go Back To Part 5
Go Back To Part 1


Cameron Buettel said...

It's really an evil lie to teach this!

leigh said...

Arrogance is not the same as feeling enthused and encouraged by the thought that the God who created the universe has especially called us to be his hands and his feet in this world- that he esteems us. Just as Jesus said, those who humble themselves, God will lift up. Your video critism of ROb Bell is completely unfair as you never even allow your audience to see the case that Rob builds for his assertion about the deeper meaning in the story of Jesus walking on the water- the whole rabbi/disciple context that most church pastors have little understanding of, and in turn really limits our understanding of much of the gospel narratives.

Anonymous said...

Just so we get this straight, if the Bible doesn't record something, it didn't happen. So I'm guessing Peter wasn't breathing in this situation? The Bible doesn't tell me he was breathing, so it must not be true. Solid logic.

The word oligopistos is defined as "of little faith." That's it. You seem to imply that the word is defined as "little faith in Christ" here. The greek word just means of little faith.

You seem to think that this notion of God thinking we can do good, or having some faith in his people is heretical, and that this changes the character of God, it's interesting you should mention that.

Another radical change in God's character arose with the emperor Constantine and the conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity. A loving merciful gracious God who saved his people by grace and gave them instructions on how to live life was replaced by an angry pagan deity you needed to propitiate. The whole doctrine of original sin was founded by Augustine who was reading a Latin version of Romans 5:12 which was inappropriately translated "in whom," instead of "because we have all sinned." Look it up. You also love to use the verse in Psalms that says "None are righteous." What about the people in the Bible that God says are righteous???? Daniel, Job, Zechariah, Elizabeth, etc., etc. Not to mention that original sin and the concept that we are somehow to be punished for Adam's sin is a direct contradiction to the logic in Deuteronomy 24:16.

The thing Jesus talked about the most was the Kingdom of Heaven, not constantly railing on people who you thought were false teachers. Would you say the teaching on this blog is proportionate to the topics covered in the gospels and the new testament? I see over 40 posts about Rob Bell alone. Is that because his name draws traffic to your site?

I wish we could return to preaching God's love and mercy, and the kingdom of heaven, which was a present reality ushered in by John the Baptist as the breach-maker. Ever since the conversion of Constantine the church changed from a loving community helping each other and all those in need to an imperial organization fixated on individual soul salvation. It is sad that we still have an image of God today in evangelical churches that views him through the lens of Roman law as a judge whose wrath has to be propitiated.

To the ancient Hebrews to view God as your judge was a great thing. The name Daniel in Hebrew means "God is my judge." They saw it was an awesome thing to have your father as your judge, he would of course be your advocate! Just like the father in the prodigal son parable.

Anonymous said...

Throughout the Bible you have God coming to people and asking them to do things, take Moses for instance. Moses says, "I'm not eloquent, I can't do it." God says, I'll help you, go do it! Did God believe Moses could do it? Did God believe in Moses? He believed Moses could do it!!! Why is this so wrong?? Of course we all act with God's help, but he believes we can do great things. Jesus said if you have faith like a mustard seed you can move mountains!

Did anyone who was critical of this video make any attempt to understand what a first century sage would be doing with his disciples? Jesus was also a man in addition to being God. Please make an attempt to understand the life of a first century sage. It will greatly enhance your understanding of Jesus as a sage, and also your love for him as Messiah. Why are Christians so opposed to this idea???