Mega-pastor Andy Stanley seems determined to drive a wedge between what we call the Old Testament and the New Testament – otherwise known as the Hebrew Scriptures and Greek Scriptures.
He says the former are outdated, anachronistic, not applicable to Christians, obsolete, done, finished, completed, replaced – no longer necessary. Sadly, he even refers to them as "the Jewish Scriptures."
He could not be more wrong nor could he be teaching a more dangerous heresy.
Advertisement - story continues below
He says Jesus left us with only one commandment: "That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." (John 13:34)
Wait a minute! I love the Sermon on the Mount. But does Stanley realize the Sermon on the Mount repeats principles and themes – in some cases even in direct quotes – found throughout the Old Testament?
Does Stanley know this is where Jesus made this unequivocal statement?
Advertisement - story continues below
Matthew 5:17-20: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
That's from the Sermon on the Mount.
That's the law Stanley says no longer applies.
Did he ever notice that Jesus didn't lower the bar on perfection with a new commandment we could easily all perform – namely loving each other like He loved us? Don't we all realize that command is a lot harder than avoiding adultery or not honoring one's parents? Are any of us capable of loving others like Jesus loves us? We need to seek His forgiveness daily for our lack of love toward each other as well as toward Him.
Nor did Jesus lower the bar on adultery or murder, saying that we commit adultery when we look upon another with lust in our hearts and commit murder when we get angry with our brother. That's in the Sermon on the Mount, too.
Advertisement - story continues below
Is this the gospel Andy Stanley is teaching? Or is it just the first part of the Sermon on the Mount – the more familiar beatitudes, or blessings – that he wants his followers to soak up?
Let's take a look at those eight blessings that are easy on the eyes and ears and see if there's anything in there not seen in those Hebrew Scriptures with which Stanley is at war.
NEW: Matthew 5:3: "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
OLD: Proverbs 19:1: "Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool."
Advertisement - story continues below
OLD: Isaiah 11:4: "But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth:"
NEW: Matthew 5:4 "Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted."
OLD: Isaiah 51:11: "Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away."
OLD: Isaiah 57:18: "I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners."
OLD: Isaiah 61:2: "To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;" (Jesus quotes this verse in Luke 4:19.)
OLD: Jeremiah 31:13: "Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together: for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow."
OLD: Ezekiel 24:16: "Son of man, behold, I take away from thee the desire of thine eyes with a stroke: yet neither shalt thou mourn nor weep, neither shall thy tears run down."
NEW: Mathew 5:5 "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth."
OLD: Psalm 22:26: "The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the Lord that seek him: your heart shall live for ever."
OLD: Psalm 25:9: "The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way."
OLD: Psalm 37:11: "But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace."
OLD: Psalm 76:9: "When God arose to judgment, to save all the meek of the earth. Selah."
OLD: Psalm 147:6: "The Lord lifteth up the meek: he casteth the wicked down to the ground."
OLD: Psalm 149:4: "For the Lord taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation."
OLD: Isaiah 29:19: "The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel."
OLD: Isaiah 61:1: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;" (Jesus quoted from this verse in Luke 4:18.)
NEW: Matthew 5:6: "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled."
OLD: Deuteronomy 6:25: "And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as he hath commanded us."
OLD: 1 Kings 8:32: "Then hear thou in heaven, and do, and judge thy servants, condemning the wicked, to bring his way upon his head; and justifying the righteous, to give him according to his righteousness."
OLD: Job 33:26: "He shall pray unto God, and he will be favourable unto him: and he shall see his face with joy: for he will render unto man his righteousness."
OLD: Psalm 4:5: "Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord."
NEW: Matthew 5:7: "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy."
OLD: Deuteronomy 32:43: "Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people."
OLD: 2 Chronicles 30:9: "For if ye turn again unto the Lord, your brethren and your children shall find compassion before them that lead them captive, so that they shall come again into this land: for the Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if ye return unto him."
OLD: Nehemiah 9:31: "Nevertheless for thy great mercies' sake thou didst not utterly consume them, nor forsake them; for thou art a gracious and merciful God."
OLD: Psalm 18:25: "With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright;"
OLD: Psalm 103:8: "The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy."
OLD: Psalm 116:5: "Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful."
OLD: Psalm 117:2: "For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the Lord endureth for ever. Praise ye the Lord."
OLD: Joel 2:13: "And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil."
NEW: Matthew 5:8: "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God."
OLD: Psalm 18:26: "With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward."
OLD: Psalm 24:4-5: "He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation."
OLD: Proverbs 22:11: "He that loveth pureness of heart, for the grace of his lips the king shall be his friend."
NEW: Matthew 5:9: "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
OLD: Deuteronomy 20:10: "When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it."
OLD: Psalm 34:14: "Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it."
OLD: Psalm 72:7: "In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth."
OLD: Psalm 85:10: "Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other."
OLD: Proverbs 16:7: "When a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him."
OLD: Isaiah 9:6-7: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this."
OLD: Isaiah 32:17: "And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever."
OLD: Isaiah 54:13: "And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children."
NEW: Matthew 5:10: "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
OLD: Deuteronomy 30:7: "And the Lord thy God will put all these curses upon thine enemies, and on them that hate thee, which persecuted thee."
OLD: Psalm 23:3: "He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake."
OLD: Psalm 143:11: "Quicken me, O Lord, for thy name's sake: for thy righteousness' sake bring my soul out of trouble."
OLD: Isaiah 42:21: "The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness' sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honourable."
OLD: Isaiah 62:1: "For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth."
Can we conclude from this that we serve ONE GOD, the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, merciful, forgiving, loving, righteous, comforting, peace-loving, just, faithful, pure and holy? Can we agree that Jesus and the Father and Holy Spirit are ONE – with no points of disagreement between them? Can we agree that the Gospel preached by Jesus and the apostles entirely out of the Hebrew Scriptures is the same Gospel and same message we see in the New Testament?
The Bible is not just a book of blessings. It's a book of warnings. We serve a holy God who seeks holy children for His Kingdom. We need to learn how to be holy if we want to live forever in His Kingdom.
Jesus warns: "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." (Matthew 7:13-14)
He also said: "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 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." (Matthew 7:23)
Avoid the wide gate; enter the narrow gate. Be one of those Jesus knows who does the will of the Father – not a worker of iniquity. Love God. Love Jesus. Love His Word – all of it!
Like what you read here? Get Joseph Farah's hot new book, "The Gospel in Every Book of the Old Testament," endorsed by Franklin Graham, Mike Huckabee, Eric Metaxas, Jack Van Impe and dozens of other Christian scholars and luminaries – including Chuck Norris and Pat Boone. Would you like to better understand the integrity and consistency of the Bible from cover to cover? This book provides 39 terrific Bible studies that will make the Hebrew Scriptures come alive, revealing the same familiar message of repentance, grace, mercy and restoration we find in the New Testament. Don't "unhitch" from the Old Testament like some mega-pastors are foolishly proclaiming. Instead, rediscover the only Scriptures Jesus and the apostles taught from – those which Jesus used on the road to Emmaus to expound upon concerning Himself. Farah's book has been called "the next best thing to hearing Jesus give that Bible study to Cleopas and his friend."