Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons. These people are hypocrites and liars, and their consciences are dead.– 1Timothy 4: 1-2 (NLT) “…this is the world that we are living in and we need to affirm people wherever they are." So answered Rob Bell, Former Mega Church Pastor, when asked whether he backed gay marriage this past month. The dictionary defines the word “affirm” as to “maintain as true.” So to Mr. Bell, what matters as being true is where people are – not what God made them for. The truth is that we are to affirm only the Word of God and allow it to guide our lives. Yet this theological cliff diving is nothing new for the former Pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Michigan. Back then Pastor Bell led a congregation in excess of 10,000 people weekly. He was young. He was dynamic. He was the fast rising star in evangelicalism. Yet something not so funny happened along the way to stardom for Mr. Bell. Not satisfied with the God of the Bible, Bell started to recreate God in the image Bell had for him in his mind. Edging closer and closer to the theological cliff, Bell dove off in 2011 with his book – “Love Wins.” The primary problem with Love Wins is that Bell eliminates the doctrine of hell. He simply no longer believes that anyone will end up in hell. Is it any wonder than that just two years later he is endorsing same sex marriage from a Christian viewpoint? When you eliminate hell the progression is clear. Without a consequence of hell we have no need to a doctrine involving sin. Therefore, it becomes more important to “affirm people wherever they are” as opposed to trying to save them from where they are. Without hell there is no sin and without sin there is no need for a Savior. Bell is of course finding the microphone again because he has a new book to promote dealing with how we talk about God. Not about God. Not about whom God is. Not about what God has said. No beloved – this is solely about what we say about God – once again continuing on in his recreation of the Almighty. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that! – 1Timothy 3: 5 (NLT) Yet many will flock to the faux word from this false man of God. I present this as the backdrop because this is the natural progression of sin and compromise within an individual or even a church. Apostasy means to fall away. One rarely falls away over night beloved. It is a progression that starts by allowing the little things to walk right by unquestioned. How do you get to the point of discarding hell? By allowing little bits of leaven in. That secular event you host at your church. That secular leadership principle you guide your church by. That one speaker you allow at your church that fleeces the flock with his “plant your seed” nonsense. Then maybe it progresses to allowing something as invasive as covenant agreements into the church. Maybe then all tithing becomes tracked and those who are deemed as inconsistent are removed from membership. Biblical authority becomes abusive as the ninety-nine don’t care what happens to the one anymore. Easter egg hunts, trunk or treats, or any other attempt to bring the church down to the level of the world seem innocent but it paves the way for more and more compromise. I read a devotional recently from a pastor I respect who argued that the church needs to be culturally relevant. With all due respect that is simply inaccurate. True, we need to be aware of the culture we are dealing with. We need to be able to pray against it. We need to be able to understand the bondages people are finding themselves in. But relevant to the culture? There's a difference between understanding culture and being "relevant" to it. When we understand the culture of the world we strive to save people from it by bringing them to the cross. When we try to be relevant to the culture of the world we strive to fit in and the only way to fit in with the world is to compromise the cross. That is how a mega church pastor ends up denying the existence of hell. The church is supposed to be a shining city on a hill. It is supposed to stand out – not be relevant. It is supposed to provide light into the darkness – not mix between the two. This is the nature of sin. This is the nature of leaven: This false teaching is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough! I am trusting the Lord to keep you from believing false teachings. God will judge that person, whoever he is, who has been confusing you. – Galatians 5: 9-10 (NLT) The little bits of leaven seem harmless but we fail to see the bigger picture. We fail to see how the little yeast leads to bigger compromises down the road. I once saw a fantastic sermon by Jacob Prasch in which he discussed the armor of God. The Apostle Paul modeled the pieces of the armor after a Roman Centurion’s armor set. The first article listed is the belt of truth. The truth of course is the Word of God. It is the first piece of armor needed because the remainder becomes irrelevant without it. In fact, Prasch taught that it is the belt that actually holds the Roman breastplate in place. Did you get that beloved? The breastplate of righteousness is held in place by the belt of truth! Thus when we remove the belt of truth the first thing that falls to the ground is our righteousness! We cannot compromise the position of the belt in our lives! When we think we can rewrite portions of Scripture we have taken the belt off. When we think there is no doctrine of hell, we have taken the belt off. When we think we need to affirm people in their sin, thus affirming their sin as truth, we have taken the belt off. Today’s key verse assures us that none of this was unforeseen by God. He has warned us specifically about what we see all around us today. We have seen someone like Bell turn away from the true faith to follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons. He is a hypocrite, a liar, and his conscience is dead. But the sadder truth is that Bell is just the low hanging fruit. The true problems are the more subtle leaven. The smaller compromises which are dismissed with a nod and a wink. The small digestible heresies are the ones that either end up choking you or lead to teachings that will. Rob Bell refers to Christianity as a “dying subculture.” Maybe there is some truth to that but we know what the Bible says and broad is the path that leads to destruction and narrow is the gate that leads to eternal life. So you can keep your emergent church, seeker friendly, purpose driven agenda – I am not taking my belt off for them. You can keep your theories of church growth centered on carnality and measured by worldly metrics – I am not taking my belt off for them. You can keep your love wins, my best life now, circle making high sounding nonsense – I am not taking my belt off for them. I am grounded in the Word of God – I have no need for theological cliff diving. Rev. Anthony.