Robert Jeffress - Wimp-Free Christianity
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. We live in a day when Christians are pressured to tone down our moral convictions. Secular media paints biblical truth as "Backwards," "Oppressive," and "Intolerant". And as a response, too many Christians have caved-in and kept silent rather than defend what's right. Well, that's not the biblical model! God calls us to stand up for our faith with boldness! And so my message is titled, "Wimp Free Christianity" on today's edition of Pathway to Victory!
It was the 17th century, Jesuit priest, Baltasar Gracián who said "truth is abhorred by the masses". If you don't believe that statement, I want to encourage you to engage in an experiment this week. I want you to try making one of these statements around the break room at work, or even try making it around the Sunday school classroom at church and see what happens. Just try saying, I believe only Christians are going to heaven, everybody else is going to hell. Or try to say, just try this out. Try saying, I believe husbands ought to be the leaders of their families. Or try saying, I believe that homosexuality is a perversion. And then just sit back and watch the fireworks. You'll be called everything from intolerant to stupid, to bigoted, and those are just some of the kinder things that people will say about you. And by the way, don't be surprised if those insults don't come from the lips of Christians as frequently as from non-Christians.
You see we are living in a culture in which Christians have increasingly discarded the belief of absolute truth. That is Christians no longer believe the idea that there are some truths that apply to everyone regardless of their religion or their culture. By the way, that's not just preacher hyperbole in making such a statement. George Barna, who regularly surveys the attitudes of Americans, discovered a few years ago in a survey among Christians that 68% of Christian adults and 81% of Christian teenagers no longer believe in absolute truth. They do not believe there are truths that apply to everyone regardless of their religion or their culture. Instead, Christians are increasingly buying into the idea of relativism. All truth is relative. To put it simply, relativism says everything is right sometime and nothing is right every time. That's relativism. Everything is right sometimes, nothing is right every time.
No wonder Barna says that an increasing number of Christians are finding such things as homosexuality, pornography, adultery, premarital sex as acceptable. After all, everything is right sometime, nothing is right every time. But the wholesale rejection of this notion of absolute truth, not only affects us morally, it impacts every area of life. The fact that so many people even Christians have rejected this notion of absolute truth, explains why it is people even Christians bristle when you make statements like, Jesus Christ is the only way to God, every other religion is wrong. Or abortion is tan amount to murder. Or America was founded as a uniquely Christian nation. You see in our culture the greatest sin is the claim to be right about anything. We live in a culture of relativism.
Now you say, well, pastor why are you getting so hot and bothered about that? What difference does relativism make in our culture? Let me point out three ways that relativism impacts your life in a direct way. First of all, relativism, that is the rejection of absolute truth, encourages immorality. It encourages immorality. Now this is the way that relativism will touch your family in the most obvious way. Relativism makes all sexual activity permissive. After all, if there are no absolute truths, if there are not things that are absolutely wrong in every generation, why shouldn't all sexual activity be permitted including pedophilia, sex with a child. Who is to say that raping a child is wrong? Who says that's wrong?
You said, wait a minute pastor. Society constructs its beliefs about truth. And our society has determined that to coerce a child to have sex, that's wrong. Well, that may be true right now, but if there are no absolute truths, why couldn't society change its opinions about pedophilia? May I remind you it was only about 40 years ago that the American psychological association labeled homosexuality as quote, "A psychological aberration". That homosexuality was outlawed in most every state in the union. What if 40 years from now or even sooner, we have a same change in our attitude about sex with children. What if 40 years from now people say, well, you know what? We've discovered that pedophiles don't choose to be pedophiles, they're born that way. Or why should pedophiles live in shame and have to hide their sexuality? Why shouldn't pedophiles be free to express themselves to the fullest and enjoy happiness like everyone else?
You say that's preposterous. 40 years ago, Americans would've thought it preposterous that we'd embraced homosexuality like we do today as well. Up until the 1970s, did you know this up until the mid 1970s, the American psychological association said, homosexuality was a psychological aberration, and then overnight they changed their opinion. Not because of any scientific evidence they discovered, but because of the force of the pro homosexual lobby. In a world where there are no absolutes, anything is permissible.
Number two, relativism discourages evangelism. It discourages evangelism. I was watching a popular talk show, it was an audience participation show. And the topic that night was, is there only one way to heaven? And so everybody in the crowd ranted and raved about how narrow minded and bigoted it is to say that there is only one way to heaven, but one poor little lady, she raised her hand, and the talk show host went over there and put the microphone in front of her mouth. And she said, well, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ says that he is the way the truth in the life, no man comes to the father but by him, he is the only way to heaven. And the talk show host in the most condescending tone he could muster said, my dear I am so glad you believe that. And if you believe that, that's fine, but you have no right to coerce me to believe like you believe. But the not so subtle implication also was, that when you voice an absolute statement like, Jesus is the only way to be saved, that is coercing other people.
That is hate speech to imply that truth is narrow and there's only one application. Which leads to the third danger of relativism, and that is, relativism promotes persecution. You see in a society that rejects absolute truth, the only vice that cannot be tolerated is intolerance. And that's why in our culture, in the classroom today, the greatest virtue that is extolled in the public classroom today is tolerance, being open to every belief. The only vice that can't be tolerated is the sin of intolerance. And that's why ladies and gentlemen, when you claim that Jesus is the only way to be saved or homosexuality is a perversion, that's why you are met with such opposition because the relativist says, you are implying that a Hindu or a homosexual is inferior and therefore is deserving to mistreatment, and that is hate speech. And therefore, your speech must be silenced.
I was interested in reading this week an article in the Dallas Morning News, news item about a federal judge, judge Samuel Kent, of the us district court of the southern district of Texas. Judge Kent was the first federal judge I believe who has been indicted for aggravated sexual abuse. And what made this article stand out to me, is I remember something about judge Kent. I remember a ruling he made a few years ago, in which he mandated that no student participating in a graduation ceremony at Galveston, Texas, that no student who gave a prayer could use the name of Jesus Christ in that prayer. In fact, judge Kent promised the harshest treatment possible against any student who dared utter the name of Jesus Christ in a graduation prayer.
I want you to listen to judge Kent's words in his ruling. This came on may the fifth, 1995. I'm not making this up, every word belongs to this federal judge. He said, quote, and make no mistake, the court is going to have a United States Marshall in attendance at graduation. If any student offends this court by using the name of Jesus, it's inserted, that student will summarily be arrested and will face up to six months incarceration in the Galveston county jail for contempt of court. Anyone who thinks I'm kidding about this order or expressing any weakness or lack of resolve, better think again. Anyone who violates these orders no kidding, is going to wish that he or she had died as a child when this court gets through with it.
Now how's that for tolerance? Apparently this federal judge believes that the first amendment promising free speech applies to everyone except evangelical Christians who want to use the name of Jesus Christ. The Jesuit priest was right, truth is abhorred by the masses. But I'll have to say ladies and gentlemen, my real concern about relativism, is not the relativism that our nation has embraced, it's the fact that Christians are discarding their belief and absolute truth, and buying into relativism as well. To put it simply, I'm getting sick and tired of wimpy Christians. And we have them all around us. Christians who are waffling and wavering about the essential truths from God's word. And you see it everywhere.
I remember watching Larry King live. He was interviewing a well known evangelical leader who is a household name. And Larry King an unbeliever asked this evangelical leader, do you believe that a moral muslim is going to spend eternity in hell? And this Christian leader we all respect, hymned, and hauled, and waffled, and wavered, and finally said, "Well, Larry that is not my judgment to make, we just leave that up to God". When God has already spoken on that subject, Jesus Christ said, I am the wave of truth and the life, no man comes to the father but by me. Wimpy Christians. What's happening right now is instead of holding out the light of God's truth as Paul commanded us to do, Christians are hiding that truth. They're even extinguishing that truth by blending in with the darkness around them.
What happens when Christians reject absolute truth and embrace relativism? Barna says, when a majority of Christians proudly cast their vote for relativism, the church is in trouble. The failure to address this issue at its root and do so quickly and persuasively, will undermine the strength of the church for at least another generation and probably longer. And that's why ladies and gentlemen I'm beginning this new series today, politically incorrect. If you're going to look at seven of the most outrageous politically incorrect beliefs that Christians can voice in today's world. And not only are we going to articulate those beliefs, but I'm going to try to provide you with the best biblical, scientific, historic information and evidence, that will allow you to stand up and compassionately but convincingly say, this is what we believe, and this is why we believe it.
Let me just share with you briefly three foundational principles about absolute truth that are really going to be the undergirding of this series. Number one, absolute truth is universal. Write that down. Absolute truth is universal. I was listening to a talk show host here in Dallas on the radio driving to work. And the subject of discussion was, whether or not the 10 commandments should be displayed in the public classroom. And the caller called in and he said to the host, "Well, I'm a Christian, and of course I believe the 10 commandments ought to be displayed. But I believe they ought to be displayed because these 10 rules for living apply to everyone, Christians and non-Christians alike. So everybody should see them".
And the talk show host who happens to be a Christian said, "Well, I agree with you, I'm a Christian, but not everyone believes like we do". And the callers said, "Well, that's the point. Even though everybody doesn't believe in these truths, these truths apply to everyone". And the host said, "Well, you and I believe that they apply to everyone, but just because we believe it doesn't mean it believes that it applies to everyone". And on, and on, and on, and on, and on, they went. They were in an argumentative circle there. You see that talk show host had bought into this concept of relativism. It's the idea that absolute truth only applies to people who believe that it's absolute truth. Truth only applies to those who believe it. Can you think of anything more ridiculous?
Now what really has happened is, we have simply replaced old absolute truths for new truths. That's what we're doing, that's what our culture is doing. Everybody believes in absolute truth. The only question is which absolute truths are you going to believe in? And that leads to a second principle, and that is that absolute truth is revealed. Absolute truth is revealed. There are God given truths, God given values. And where do we find those values? This book, the Bible is the depository of God's absolute truth. These are truths we didn't construct. These are truth that have been revealed to us by God. Absolute truth is revealed.
Number three, absolute truth is exclusive. Absolute truth is exclusive. Why is it that we have such a hard time in our culture saying, I'm right and you're wrong. What I believe is right, what you believe is wrong? What they believe is wrong? Why do we find that so difficult? Some of you right now are even wincing at that idea of saying that somebody's belief is wrong. How can you say that? See, the problem is ladies and gentlemen, we have confused two words. The words, diversity and pluralism. Diversity is simply the acknowledgement that there are a number of different opinions about a certain subject. And we all acknowledge that especially about religion. There are thousands of religions in the world. There are diversities of opinions about religion.
And by the way, that's fine. I'm not saying it shouldn't be that way in our country. We can have a diversity of opinions, but pluralism goes a step further. Pluralism says, because there are a diversity of opinions, no one viewpoint can claim to be right. That's pluralism. And we as a country now embrace pluralism, the idea that no one belief system can claim to be right. But again, if there is absolute truth, obviously there is absolute untruth.
All religions are not telling the truth about God, that's impossible. For example, Christianity claims that the way to God is through trusting Christ as your Savior. It is by grace we received through faith. On the other hand, Islam claims that the way to heaven is by working your way to heaven and doing enough good deeds to please Allah. They are saying something entirely different than what Christianity says. Now, honestly, it's possible that both Christianity and Islam could be wrong, but it's impossible that they're both right. They both cannot be right. If Islam is right then Christianity is wrong. If Christianity is right, then Islam is wrong. Where there is absolute truth, there has to be absolute untruth.
William Watkins in his book, "The New Absolutes" says, that it is time for Christians to become increasingly intolerant. He says, we must violate the new tolerance and become people marked by intolerance. Not an intolerance that unleashes hate upon people, but an intolerance that's unwilling to allow error to masquerade his truth, an intolerance that calls evil, evil, and good, good. Ladies and gentlemen, if you are tired of a watered down version of Christianity that waffles and waivers about the essential truths of God's word, if you're ready to start standing up and compassionately but convincingly saying, this is what we believe, and here's why we believe in. I hope you won't miss one of these messages in the series, politically incorrect.