The R2R distinctive for this week describes our belief that all people are born separated from God by sin, but God in His love sent His Son Jesus Christ as their Savior.
At First Family, we believe this, but unfortunately, there are many in the evangelical church today who do not believe this. Men like Rob Bell are leading a charge to erase the penalty of sin and teach people that God is too loving and caring to condemn people to an eternal hell.
This kind of teaching completely contradicts the overwhelming evidence of Scripture and denies God of His holiness and His righteousness and from the reality that people are born in sin and separated from God.
Every generation must deal with its Rob Bells, and every generation must have Stephens who are willing to contend for the faith (Jude 3). Heresy takes many forms, from subtle curvatures of truth to blatant twisting of Scripture. In each case, however, the heresy turns people away from the true worship of Yahweh to a man-centered theology.
How does one become a Stephen? Clearly, if you read Acts 7, you will see how thoroughly and completely Stephen grasped the key doctrines of Scripture. He was well schooled in the Old Testament and in the story of Israel and her often tumultuous relationship with God. As a Grecian Jew, it is likely that Stephen read and studied the Septuagint, which was the Greek translation of the Old Testament released in 270 BC.
The key point to observe is that Stephen knew his Scriptures, and he was skilled at logically refuting the religious falsehoods of his time. He stood in a hostile situation and was able to articulate with depth and clarity the truths of Scripture.
Becoming a Stephen does not happen overnight. In fact, in many ways, it will be a life-long pursuit. The challenge for we Americans is learning to focus on what matters most. There are so many threads of information we must process in 21st Century America, that daily, deep study of the Word of God often gets lost.
As believers, we must immerse ourselves in God’s Word. We must become master students who study precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little, there a little (Isaiah 28:9-10). Then, when falsehood creeps into the pure teaching of the Word through a new form of heresy, you will be ready to stand in the gap and boldly proclaim the truth of Scripture, just as Stephen did in Acts 7.–Chris Eller