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Dr. Charles Stanley is pastor of the 14,000 member First Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, and has twice been elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through his In Touch radio and television ministry, he is well known to thousands internationally and is author of many books, including Enter His Gates, The Reason for My Hope, The Glorious Journey, The Source of My Strength, Our Unmet Needs, On Holy Ground, and the In Touch Study Series. (Success God's Way, copyright 2000, back inside dust jacket; link added)
Dr. Charles Stanley is a false teacher (2 Peter 2:1) leading himself, and thousands more, down the broad way to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14). The following documents some of Stanley's lewdness and false doctrine.
I. Eternal Security (see also our article on Eternal Security)
Scripture does teach eternal security for those who are born of God (1 John 3:9; 5:4, 18), who are predestined before time began (Romans 8:29-39; 2 Timothy 1:9). But, Scripture also warns all believers to take heed lest they fall (Romans 11:22; Hebrews 2:1; 3:12-14; 4:1, 11; 12:15; James 5:9; 2 Peter 3:17), and this fall is unto perdition (Hebrews 10:26-39). Scripture also teaches that those who live sinful lives do not know God, and are on the path that leads to hell, not heaven (1 Corinthians 6:9; Ephesians 5:5-6).
Stanley's idea of eternal security is twisted (2 Peter 3:16), and turns the "grace of our God into lewdness" (Jude 4). In Stanley's book, Handbook for Christian Living (copyright 1996, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville) Stanley writes,
Faith is simply the way we say yes to God's free gift of eternal life. Faith and salvation are not one and the same any more than a gift and the hand that receives it are the same. Salvation stands independently of faith. (p. 174, italics in original)
It is a lie to say, "Salvation stands independently of faith." Salvation and faith go hand in hand, as Ephesians 2:8 illustrates,
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.
Consequently, God does not require a constant attitude of faith in order to be saved - only an act of faith in Christ.
You and I are not saved because we have enduring faith. We are saved because at a moment in time we expressed faith in our Lord. (p. 174, italics in original)
In another place Stanley writes,
Even if a believer for all practical purposes becomes an unbeliever, his salvation is not in jeopardy. (Eternal Security, chapter 10, p. 93, copyright 1990, Thomas Nelson Publishers)
Contrary to this, Jesus said, "he who endures to the end shall be saved." Also, Revelation 21:8 says, "the unbelieving . . . shall have their part in the lake of fire and brimstone, which is the second death." Note also 1 Corinthians 15:1-2.
Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you-unless you believed in vain.
If someone believes at some "moment in time" but they do not "hold fast that word," they "believed in vain." This is the exact opposite of Mr. Stanley's teaching. Stanley opposes the Word of God, and by this, he turns the grace of God into lewdness.
Ephesians says, "you have been saved by grace through faith" (Ephesians 2:8). If there is no faith, there is no grace, and thus no salvation (Revelation 21:8). Yet Stanley says,
And last, believers who lose or abandon their faith will retain their salvation, for God remains faithful. (Eternal Security, p. 94)
Indeed, God remains faithful. He remains faithful to His word.
This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself. (2 Timothy 2:11-13)
Losing or abandoning one's faith is equal to and is one and the same as denying God, as Psalm 10:3-4 says,
For the wicked boasts of his heart's desire; He blesses the greedy and renounces the Lord. The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God; God is in none of his thoughts.
If someone loses or abandons their faith, they become wicked (Ezekiel 33:12-13), and they renounce the Lord, if not openly with their mouth, definitely in their heart (Psalm 14:1). If a person dies in such a state, God will deny that person on the day of judgment (e.g. Matthew 7:23; 10:32-33), and they will be cast into the lake of fire where all the "unbelieving" go (Revelation 21:8).
In this perverted view of salvation (see What Must I Do To Be Saved), Stanley spouts an oxymoron.
Christ will not deny an unbelieving Christian his or her salvation because to do so would be to deny Himself. (Eternal Security, p. 94)
An "unbelieving Christian" is a false Christian (1 John 2:4) who in reality rejects Christ (Titus 1:16). An "unbelieving Christian" is someone who has abandoned their faith in Christ, and Christ will most certainly deny such people (Titus 1:16; Matthew 10:33); because if He didn't, He would deny Himself. For He Himself said,
if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins (John 8:24; see also John 3:16-18).
He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him - the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day (John 12:48).
Furthermore, in his twisted Eternal Security on page 130, Stanley obliterates Christ's serious warning of John 15:1-6. Quoting Mr. Zane Hodges from Absolutely Free Stanley writes,
This statement (John 15:6) has caused needless perplexity. The main reason for that is the strong impulse many readers have to identify the reference with fire to hell . . . . There is no reason at all to think of the fire as literal branches, or literal fruit. "Fire" here is simply another figurative element in the horticultural metaphor. (Absolutely Free [Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervon, 1989], p. 135)
The reason there is a "strong impulse many readers have to identify the reference with fire to hell" is because this is obviously what Christ is warning about, hell! His warning is, if you do not abide in Him (remain in Him), you will be cut off and cast into the fire (John 15:6), just as Romans 11:22 warns.
Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.
Also found in Stanley's Eternal Security is this statement:
It is not lying, cheating, stealing, raping, murdering, or being unfaithful that sends people to hell. It is rejecting Christ, refusing to put their trust in Him for the forgiveness of sin. (p. 70)
The truth is, it is all of the above and more that sends people to hell.
For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. (Ephesians 5:5-6; see also Psalm 7:11-16; Galatians 6:7-8; Revelation 20:11-15; 21:8)
Stanley deceives with "empty words." He also deceives with these words:
In John's first epistle, he warns Christians to take close inventory of their salvation if they continue in sin and do merrily and often and long: "No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in Him" (1 John 3:9 NASB). In other words, if sin is the constant bent of your life, you should wonder about your salvation. (Handbook for Christian Living, p. 139)
No, you should know your salvation doesn't exist!
Also in Stanley's perverted view of eternal security he teaches that you can "fall from grace" and believe a false gospel and still be saved, on your way to heaven!
Listen to how he says it in Galatians 5:4: "You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace." In this context, falling from grace has nothing to do with being lost or unsaved. The opposite of grace here is not becoming unsaved or lost; it is attempting to be saved by the works of the law. To fall from grace, then, is to abandon the salvation-by-grace model for justification and to adopt the salvation-by-works model. Paul was not threatening them with the loss of salvation, just a loss of freedom (Gal. 5:1). He didn't say they were falling from salvation. His concern was that they were falling away from God's system of grace, which would lead them right back into the frustration of living under the law. You may fall from grace, but you will never fall from salvation. Nothing can separate you from the love of God (Romans 8:37-39). (Ibid., p. 175)
Indeed, those who are "predestined" (Romans 8:29-39) will never be separated from the love of God. Yet, at the same time, God tells believers to keep themselves in His love (Jude 21).
Moreover, falling from God's grace equals falling from that which will save the soul, because it is "the grace of God that brings salvation" (Titus 2:11). Those who attempt "to be saved by the works of the law" are those who do not attain to the righteousness of God (Romans 9:30-32), because the righteousness of God comes "through faith in Jesus Christ" (Romans 3:22) "apart from the deeds of the law" (Romans 3:28). If you do not attain to the righteousness of God, you are not saved (Romans 9:30-10:1).
In the above quote Stanley teaches you can be estranged from Christ, and yet enter His kingdom. If this is so, who needs Jesus? According to Stanley, you can accept Him "at a moment in time" (Handbook for Christian Living, p. 174), and then throw Him away like a used rag (be "an unbelieving Christian")! You can fall for a false gospel, fall from His grace, be estranged from Him, and yet still enter His kingdom (Handbook for Christian Living, p. 175). This is lewdness! Contrary to Mr. Stanley, Paul said, "If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed" (1 Corinthians 16:22).
Finally, Stanley fits well the words of 2 Peter 2:19, "While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption." In his introduction to Eternal Security he writes,
I continually meet people who believe as I once believed. If it were simply a theological difference, I would be content to agree to disagree. It is far more than that. I know the bondage to which that kind of thinking leads. I have lived with the guilt and the fear fostered by that view. Jesus said, "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). Freedom comes from knowing the truth. Bondage results from missing it.
The following pages are written in hopes that you will be set free to enjoy the relationship God has paid so dearly to provide. (p. 5)
With Stanley's false teaching on eternal security, he indeed promises them liberty, but he himself is caught in the bondage of damning lies (corruption).
In Luke 14:27 Jesus said, "And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple." And, in Luke 9:23-25 Jesus said,
If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? (Luke 9:23-25; see also Matthew 16:24-26 and Mark 8:34-37)
It should be obvious from these verses that if someone does not follow Christ, they will be lost. In other words, they will go to hell (Revelation 21:8). Even though Stanley recognizes "A disciple is a follower of Christ." (Handbook for Christian Living, p. 461), he nevertherless teaches,
Discipleship has nothing to do with whether you will go to heaven or not. (Handbook for Christian Living, p. 460-461)
It is possible to be a child of God and never a disciple of Christ. We can live the Christian life with the assurance of heaven as our ultimate destiny but miss the process of maturing as a disciple. (ibid., p. 461)
Scripture nowhere teaches this. On the contrary, Jesus said, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me" (John 10:27). If you don't follow Christ (i.e. discipleship), you are not one of His sheep, and you do not have eternal life. It is His sheep to whom eternal life is given (John 10:28).
. . . suicide is an act of rebellion against God. Fortunately for all of us, however, God's grace is without prejudice. Whoever believes will be saved. Nowhere in the Bible does God compartmentalize sin and reserve grace only for those who commit "acceptable" sins. There is no such thing. Does God forgive suicide? Yes, He does.
If the person who committed suicide at some time accepted Jesus' death on the cross as payment for his sin debt and asked Him into his life, he is forgiven. Absolute assurance of forgiveness is found in Romans 8:1: "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus." If a person has ever taken that step and received Christ as Savior, nothing can alter the truth that, as children of God, we are forgiven. Even when we rebel against God. (Handbook for Christian Living, p. 49, italics in original)
This certainly gives a license for sin (lewdness). If things get too bad, Stanley gives the option of suicide with no threat of hell on the other side! This is a horrifying lie! Paul said to the Colossians,
And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight- if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, . . . (Colossians 1:21-23)
Committing suicide is being moved away from the hope of the gospel. The writer of Hebrews warned,
For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, (Hebrews 3:14)
Committing suicide is not holding fast to the end. It is rebelling against God and creating your own end. Stanley further says,
The fact that God's grace is sufficient and that forgiveness is available even in the case of suicide should never be taken as permission to follow through with the temptation to commit suicide. (Handbook for Christian Living, p. 49)
Why not? Heaven is certainly a far better place than this earth! Stanley's words are great swelling words of emptiness (2 Peter 2:18). Those who are desperately depressed and contemplating suicide could easily take great comfort in Stanley's deceit, brush aside his milk toast warning, kill themselves, and find themselves in hell (Luke 16:19-31). Such is the terrible reality of false teaching.
IV. A False God
God does not intend for us to consider Him a stern Judge peering over the bench at the accused. Yet many believers have this perception of Him. For some reason they never get out of the courtroom and into the family room. To them, God is always a Judge and never a Father. (Handbook for Christian Living, p. 135)
The true God is always both a Judge and a Father.
And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; (1 Peter 1:17)
Indeed God is gracious and forgiving (Psalm 103), but He is also "a stern Judge peering" at the accused. "For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He ponders all his paths" (Proverbs 5:21). He is "of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness" (Habakkuk 1:13). This is why we need an Advocate (1 John 2:1), a Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5), and One who continues to intercede on our behalf (Hebrews 7:25). We are accused! We are accused by the Devil (Revelation 12:10) and our own sin (Romans 6:23; Isaiah 6:1-5; 1 John 1:7). Without the Son of God, we would be condemned (John 3:18).
Furthermore, Stanley says,
It is wrong to think God is angry. I know that earthly parents sometimes discipline out of anger. That is not correct discipline and teaches the wrong kind of lesson. God is not like that at all. (Handbook for Christian Living, p. 467, italics in original)
This is a lie. God is like that!
A Psalm of David. To bring to remembrance. O Lord, do not rebuke me in Your wrath, nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure! (Psalm 38:1)
David didn't say this because it was an impossibility, or because "God is not like that." He said it because God is like that! So much so that David was experiencing His anger right then.
For Your arrows pierce me deeply, and Your hand presses me down. There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your anger, (Psalm 38:2-3).
Stanley says, "It is wrong to think God is angry." It is wrong to believe Charles Stanley. Scripture reveals several times over that, even with believers, the Lord may very well get angry (Genesis 18:27,30,32; Exodus 4:14, 24-26; 2 Chronicles 19:1-2; Psalm 88:7,16; 89:46-47; 90:7-12; 102:8-10).
V. A Lover Of Himself
(see also T.D. Jakes)
Stanley promotes self-love.
But there is more. Not only am I to love God, but I am to love myself. "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:31). Some say, "That sounds haughty and egotistical." The world has corrupted this self-love into the motto, "You gotta look out for number one." The Bible does not teach that. The Bible teaches a healthy love for ourselves because we are His workmanship and worth loving. (Handbook for Christian Living, p. 381)
Mark 12:31 is not a command to love yourself. It is a command to love your neighbor. People naturally love themselves (Ephesians 5:29). It is their neighbor that they find difficult to love (Titus 3:3; Romans 1:31; 2 Timothy 3:3). 2 Timothy 3:2 makes it clear that self-love is not a virtue.
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, . . . (2 Timothy 3:2)
Consistent with Stanley's self-love is Stanley's degradation of the cross of Christ.
Satan will say, "You're not worth loving." But God said, "You are My workmanship. You are worth My Son's dying for. You are incredibly valuable." (Handbook for Christian Living, p. 381-382)
God nowhere says, "You are worth My Son's dying for." or anything like this (Proverbs 30:5-6). On the contrary, God says,
A worthless person, a wicked man, walks with a perverse mouth; (Proverbs 6:12)
The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is worth little. (Proverbs 10:20)
Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket, and are counted as the small dust on the scales; . . . All nations before Him are as nothing, and they are counted by Him less than nothing and worthless. (Isaiah 40:15-17)
For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)
In other words, while we were worth little and worthless as sinners, and God even hated us (Psalm 5:5; 11:5), God loved us and sent His Son to die for us (John 3:16; Romans 5:10; Ephesians 2:1-5).
Consistent with the fact that the blackness of darkness is reserved for Mr. Stanley (2 Peter 2:17), Stanley's view of "outer darkness" is seriously perverted. In the context of Matthew 25:14-30 Stanley writes,
The final verse of this parable is so severe that many commentators assume it is a description of hell. It is not. (Eternal Security, p. 124)
What verse is Stanley talking about? Matthew 25:30:
And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Stanley further says of this verse,
Before we can understand the full impact of the parable, we must first determine what the "outer darkness" refers to in the context of the parable. It certainly does not mean hell in the parable. (Eternal Security, p. 125)
A little later he likewise says, "This place is clearly not hell." (ibid.) Stanley clearly does not understand the Bible, and works at swaying others from its truth (2 Timothy 3:13)!
The parable itself calls this man a "wicked and lazy servant" (Matthew 25:26). God says, "Upon the wicked He will rain coals; fire and brimstone and a burning wind shall be the portion of their cup" (Psalm 11:6). In truth, the wicked get "cast" into the lake of fire, i.e. hell (Revelation 20:11-15; 21:8). But where does Stanley say they go (in the context of this parable and his book)?
Where is this place represented by the "outer darkness" in Jesus' parable? To be in the "outer darkness" is to be in the kingdom of God but outside the circle of men and women whose faithfulness on this earth earned them a special rank or position of authority. (Eternal Security, p. 126, italics in original)
In other words, wicked people will be in the kingdom of God, according to Stanley. Thank God, Stanley is a liar.
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. (Galatians 6:7-8)
VII. Lewdness In Leadership
In Luke 14:33 Jesus said, "whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple." Jesus did not say, "you must be willing to forsake all," but rather you must "forsake all." He also said, "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it." In order to be a true man of God (i.e. saved), you cannot desire to save your life, but you must forsake all, and lose your life for Christ (Galatians 2:20).
In Stanley's book, Handbook for Christian Living, Stanley records a time in which he spoke to "a group of ministers."
I was speaking to a group of ministers, and I asked them how many of them wanted to know God like the apostle Paul did. Each pastor raised his hand. I then asked how many were willing to go through stonings, beatings, shipwreck, prison, being left for dead, and many other persecutions that the apostle experienced. No one raised his hand. (p. 185)
Since Stanley believes you can be an "unbelieving Christian" (Eternal Security, p. 94), instead of exposing these men as false (Ephesians 5:11), Stanley writes,
I understand the hesitancy. No one enjoys pain and hurt. But we prove His immeasurable grace in the middle of terrific heartache.
Paul was consumed with the gospel of grace. He was willing to die for it. (ibid.)
Paul was not only willing to die for the gospel, but he longed to know "the fellowship of His sufferings" (Philippians 1:20; 3:10), and He did know the fellowship of His sufferings (2 Corinthians 6:8-10; 11:23-29). Why? Because he was a true man of God. This "group of ministers" are false teachers unwilling to "endure hardship" (2 Timothy 2:3). In fact, note the wording in 2 Timothy 2:3: "You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." Hardship must be endured, as Paul and Barnabas said in Acts 14:22, "We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God."