Because our human nature is sinful, it should come as no surprise when we discover the default setting for most who hear the gospel is to reject it. Isn’t that why Christ said broad is the way leading to destruction and many go that way (Matthew 7:13)? When our default setting is to sinfully reject the Lord Jesus in addition to having a natural desire to be accepted by as many people as possible, it becomes a recipe for disaster. That thinking can even influence those who claim to be Christian.
This brings me to megachurch pastor Andy Stanley, who has once again openly rejected God’s word by claiming certain parts of it are no longer valid even though they still are very much applicable. In an article for Relevant Magazine, Stanley states, “Participants in the new covenant (that’s Christians) are not required to obey any of the commandments found in the first part of their Bibles. Participants in the new covenant are expected to obey the single command Jesus issued…as I have loved you, so you must love one another.” That statement came on the heels of Stanley’s mocking the idea of Christians defending public displays of the Ten Commandments.
Any of us who have read the whole Bible know that much of the spiritual and moral standards the apostles taught are directly from the Old Testament. Granted, keeping OT laws doesn’t give us salvation, but the OT influences our works after our salvation, e.g. Peter’s directive “Be ye holy” or New Testament opposition to adultery, fornication, sodomy, covetousness, etc. Nevertheless, opposition to God’s word has been displayed throughout the centuries, especially when apostles like Paul took the gospel worldwide. Paul even had a nemesis who gave him staunch opposition–Alexander.
Alexander was a coppersmith who Paul said did him “much evil.” What exactly was the “much evil”? It came in several forms, namely:
- Alexander rejected faith and a good conscience (1 Timothy 1:19). This implies Alexander may have at some point outwardly confessed to being a Christian, but then “shipwrecked” his faith, showing himself to have made a false confession of faith. This occurs when people get caught up in the cares of this world or are offended when persecution and affliction arise (Mark 4:16-19).
- Alexander was blasphemous (1 Timothy 1:20). Having shipwrecked his faith, Alexander went all out in his sin even to the point of presenting God in a negative light to lie about God and misuse or abuse his name.
- Alexander staunchly opposed Paul’s words (and other apostles’ words) spoken from the Lord (2 Timothy 4:15).
Alexander’s opposition was so sinister, Paul warned Timothy to beware of him (2 Timothy 4:15). Alexander’s words may have had such influence that it caused all men to forsake Paul (2 Timothy 4:16), leaving him all alone in the ministry. Nevertheless, he continued to preach and minister by himself because the Lord stood with him to empower him and also to deliver him from evil works plotted against him (2 Timothy 4:17-18).
There are many Alexander’s in the church today who we can recognize based on Paul’s warnings about Alexander’s character above. They oppose and blaspheme God and God’s words in many ways. Some of them question God’s word by telling us the translators got the words or meanings wrong so they can then give a false reinterpretation. Others tell us that non-biblical books such as the book of Enoch, the gospel of Philip, gospel of Judas, and other false gospels are equally as valid or more valid than the accepted books in the Bible. Then there are those who lie and tell us the New Testament isn’t opposed to homosexuality or certain instances of adultery. We even have people blaspheming about Christ’s virgin birth or blaspheming God by denying that he lets people go to hell.
No matter what form their Alexander-type opposition comes in, we should beware of them and reject them, even if it means we are left standing alone like Paul was. In the end, the Lord will punish them (1 Timothy 1:20, 2 Timothy 4:14) as he rewards us for not allowing our faith to be shipwrecked by the opposition.