In August, a Southern Baptist conference (of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission [ERLC]) was held in Nashville entitled, “2016 ERLC National Conference . . . Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel.”
During that conference, Andy Stanley, the senior pastor of North Point Community Church in Georgia, was interviewed. He was asked, What would you do if you were the “Pope” of the entire evangelical church? He replied:
I would ask preachers, pastors, and student pastors in their communication to get the spotlight off the Bible and back on the resurrection. Let’s get people’s attention back on Jesus as soon as possible, that the issue for us is always who is Jesus, [and] did He rise from the dead? And that we would leverage the authority we have in the resurrection as opposed to Scripture, not because I don’t believe Scripture’s inspired in terms of reaching this culture.”
Now I have heard Pastor Stanley make similar statements about the Bible over the years. But what he wants to see happen in our churches is very different from what I have been seeking in 40 years of creation-apologetics ministry.
How would I answer the question Pastor Stanley was asked? Well, my response is found in what I have been saying in my public talks recently:
God’s Word warns us in 2 Corinthians 11:3 that the Devil is going to use the same attack as he did on Eve to get people not to believe the things of God. When we go to Genesis 3 and verse 1, we find this first attack was on the authority of the very Word of God.
I call it “the Genesis 3 attack” of our day. The devil said to Eve, “Did God Really Say?” This first attack (which was successful) was to get Adam and Eve to doubt Him and then not believe the Word of God. We are warned by God’s Word through the Apostle Paul that the Devil will use this same attack on us and our children and friends. The attack will be directed at the Word of God.
I then continue in my talks to explain the attack further:
The Devil is very clever. In a sense, he has been saying the following to the church:You can go on and teach your kids about Jesus and the Resurrection, and about miracles like walking on water, feeding thousands, healing the blind and the lame, and raising the dead. You can teach them about the miracles of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea and Jordan River, and of Jonah living in a fish for three days.
The Devil might continue:
Yes, teach these Bible accounts. But I’m going to attack the integrity of the Word. While you may teach them the wonderful Bible accounts, I’m going to work hard to get them not to believe the Book, the Word, from which these accounts come. And once they don’t believe the Book, they won’t believe any of those accounts and their messages anyway.
That’s exactly what I believe has happened in the culture. Whether it’s through the public education system (most kids from church homes attend government-run schools), the media, or even through compromised teaching in churches, the Devil has been able to convince generations of people that the written Word cannot be trusted—particularly beginning with the book of Genesis.
A Doubting Generation
When I have asked audiences how many of them have heard questions and statements like the following, usually all the hands in the room go up:
- Who made God?
- This is a scientific age and science has disproved Genesis.
- Noah couldn’t fit the animals on the Ark, so it couldn’t have really happened.
- Where did Cain get his wife?
- Doesn’t carbon dating disprove the Bible?
- The Bible doesn’t explain dinosaurs.
- What about all the ape-men? And the “races”?
Now, the Apostles Peter and Paul wouldn’t have heard such objections to the Bible. They did not have to deal with such “Genesis 3 attack questions.” In this era, however, the questions and statements above relate to the fact that the historicity of Genesis has been undermined for many generations. This generation is facing even more Genesis 3 attacks.
Sadly, most Christian families and churches have not been teaching creation and general biblical apologetics.
By and large, government schools present evolution and millions of years as fact. Such teaching has resulted in many young people doubting (and ultimately not believing) God’s Word. Sadly, most Christian families and churches have not been teaching creation and general biblical apologetics (although I rejoice that increasing numbers of families are beginning to realize the importance of doing this).
Because generations have not been taught to defend the Christian faith and thus don’t understand they can trust the Word, they have also rejected the primary message of the Word: salvation through Jesus Christ.
In the results of research we commissioned from America’s Research Group to conduct on the millennials in our churches (two-thirds have already left), 40% said outright they were not born again. Furthermore, 65% said that if they were a good person they would get to heaven anyway. We detailed this research in my co-authored book, Ready to Return.
Focusing on Jesus Christ Through Scripture
At Answers in Genesis we recognize that the focus of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation is on a Savior, Jesus Christ. It’s the most vital message in the universe for us to proclaim. Because of our sin, God’s Son became the God-man to pay the penalty for our sin by dying on the Cross and being raised from the dead.
But think about it: where do we get the message of salvation and the message of who Jesus is and His Resurrection? We find them in the written Word. How do we find out about our need for salvation? From the written Word. How do we find out what sin is and why we are sinners? From the written Word.
I’m reminded of the account of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16. They both died, and Lazarus went to be with Abraham while the rich man went to a place of torment. The rich man wanted to send a warning to his surviving brothers. He asked for Lazarus to return from the dead to tell them. He believed this would convince the brothers. We then read:
“I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him [Lazarus] to my father’s house, for I have five brothers that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.” Abraham said to him, “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.” And he said, “No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.”
But he said to him, “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.” (Luke 16:27–31)
Many of our Christian leaders seem to be oblivious to what’s been taught in the education system and media. They apparently aren’t aware that, as a result, increasing numbers in this generation do not believe the writings of Moses (particularly Genesis). They don’t understand why we are losing teens and young adults from the church.
As I’ve stated many times, this exodus of young people from our churches has already happened in England. If you want to know where the United States is headed, look at England. One of the major contributing factors to this exodus is that much of the church did not teach apologetics and ignored (or compromised with) what kids were being taught at school concerning evolution/millions of years. They just kept on teaching about the Resurrection alone; all the while the devil was indoctrinating young people not to believe the Book—from which the message of the Resurrection comes.
Anyone who visits our Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter in Northern Kentucky will know that we answer the skeptical questions of the day, point people to the reliable Word of God, and preach the message of Jesus and the Resurrection!
AiG Resources Provide Biblical Answers
More and more we are finding that an increasing number of families and churches are using AiG resources to equip young people, and they are revolutionizing their churches. We often hear testimonies from churches that are using an apologetics approach in teaching, and that it has helped stop the flood of young people walking away from the church and God!
I will never apologize for standing on the authority of the Word of God.
I will never apologize for standing on the authority of the Word of God. My father not only instilled the Christian worldview in his children from the foundation of God’s Word, but he would also research what the critics of the Bible were saying. And then he would give us the answers so we would not doubt and disbelieve God’s Word. Ultimately, we all need to remember that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
In 40 years of ministry, I have strived very hard never to waver from an uncompromising stand on the Word of God. And those of us who lead Answers in Genesis all have the same burden. We will teach the message of Jesus, the Resurrection, and the living Word, and, along with the Psalmist, we will proclaim:
I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word. (Psalm 119:16)
I still remember the verse I learned as a child and what we taught our children: “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11).
I ask that you and all God’s people will support this ministry. With your partnership, we can continue to do our utmost to proclaim God’s written Word and preach the salvation message of the living Word.