Very few people who have been saved for any length of time are unacquainted with the name Dr. Charles F. Stanley, the father of Andy Stanley. Charles Stanley's national TV and radio program, In Touch with Charles Stanley, is regularly broadcasted throughout the United States.
Pastor Charles Stanley has complete global recognition, being found in every nation in some form via TV, radio and/or the distribution of his books. In fact, Charles Stanley In Touch broadcast is aired in many more than 196 countries around the world. Charles Stanley's book entitled Eternal Security Can You Be Sure? is a major focal point of this article dealing with his view of the gospel.
Anyone who has heard Dr. Stanley teach a dozen or so sermons has certainly heard some fine teachings! Without a doubt, this is true! But does this mean that all Dr Charles Stanley sermons are Biblically sound? Is it possible that this popular preacher might have some teachings that are not consistent with Scripture?
In this teaching I will not address Charles Stanley sermons on radio that are sound, but instead we will critique Charles Stanley's conception of the gospel and how his gospel based on eternal security compares with Scripture. Are they one and the same or is there an important difference that will adversely affect people, to some degree, throughout eternity?
For those who are regular listeners of his broadcasts, to hear eternal security taught, directly or indirectly, is not uncommon!
"The very gospel itself comes under attack when the eternal security of the believer is questioned."
"... the very foundations of Christianity begin to crumble once we begin tampering with the eternal security of the believer."
"Yet I reject the notion that eternal security is just a Baptist doctrine. As you read, I believe it will become apparent that this doctrine is first and foremost a biblical one."
"You see, it isn't just good news. It is good news about Jesus Christ, Who paid our sin debt in full to a holy God Who required death for sin and the shedding of His blood, satisfied that requirement, and made it possible for you and me to be accepted in the eyes of God and to be eternally secure in Him. That's why He called it the grace of God."
A close examination of these aforementioned statements from Charles Stanley In Touch Ministries clearly reveals his views on eternal security. To him it is: (1) intrinsically linked to the gospel, (2) foundational to Christianity,
(3) a first and foremost Bible doctrine and included under the grace of God!
The following is the eternal security definition cited by Charles Stanley:
"... eternal security is that work of God in which He guarantees that the gift of salvation once received is possessed forever and cannot be lost."
One of the objectives of this article is to precisely identify what Charles Stanley In Touch Ministry means when he says that our salvation "once received is possessed forever and cannot be lost." Remember, this internationally known religious figure has linked this concept (eternal security) to the gospel and the grace of God. The following elaborates Charles Stanley's view:
"The Bible clearly teaches that God's love for His people is of such magnitude that even those who walk away from the faith have not the slightest chance of slipping from His hand."
"Even if a believer for all practical purposes becomes an unbeliever, his salvation is not in jeopardy."
"... believers who lose or abandon their faith will retain their salvation ...."
By these statements, Charles Stanley's gospel shockingly declares someone still "saved" who becomes an apostate, that is, one who "becomes an unbeliever" or "lose[s] or abandons their faith." In other words, one's salvation is always "possessed forever and cannot be lost" even if such a person no longer believes!
"... a Christian who at no point in his entire life bore any eternal fruit. And yet his salvation is never jeopardized."
"... there are Christians who show no evidence of their Christianity as well."
"Consequently, God does not require a constant attitude of faith in order to be saved -- only an act of faith."
"It [saving faith] is a singular moment in time wherein we take what God has offered."According to Charles Stanley sermons online and eternal security, it is possible for a Christian to bear no fruit at all throughout his entire life, show absolutely "no evidence" of his Christianity at all and not maintain a "constant attitude of faith"! Is this really what the Bible teaches or is it a dangerous distortion of the true gospel of grace to the point where it has now been turned into something different? Jude urged Christians in his day to fight against a grace teaching which, in reality, was not true grace teaching but instead a distorted "grace" message which allowed for immorality (Jude 3, 4).
To understand what a real Christian is, is most basic to Christianity itself. To be in error over this issue must produce a faulty understanding of salvation itself, since only a true Christian possesses salvation (1 Jn. 5:11-13 cf. Jn. 14:6)! With regard to the identity of true Christians, the Lord Jesus described such in more than one way. He not only said they "believe" in Him (Jn. 3:15, 16, 18, 36; 6:47; etc.) but said they "follow" Him (Jn. 10:27). Similarly, Jesus said:
"My mother and brothers are those who hear God's word and put it into practice" (Lk. 8:21).This is a very important verse, for in it Jesus clearly gives us His definition of who the real Christians are and didn't stop with one who has at least a moment's faith in Jesus, like Charles Stanley Intouch Ministries.
Moreover, Heb. 5:9 states:
"... he [Jesus] became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him."Likewise, the Apostle John described a Christian with the following:
"We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, 'I know him,' but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him" (1 Jn. 2:3, 4).
These descriptions of true Christians given by the Lord and His Apostles are mutually exclusive to In Touch with Dr Charles Stanley sermons today and the rest of Charles Stanley daily devotion teachings! Without a doubt salvation is a gift which comes at the point of a trusting-submitting faith in Christ. Furthermore, the recipient has spiritual life now. But this does not assume such can afterwards stop believing on Christ and turn to a life that behaviorally is no different than the Christ rejecters, yet still remain a Christian.
The following passages will help us understand the real Christian even better for they refer to those who will actually enter the kingdom of God:
"... those who have practiced doing good [will come out] to the resurrection of [new] life" (Jn. 5:29, Amplified Bible).
"To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life" (Rom. 2:7).
"... with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers" (Rev. 17:14).These all describe the "overcomers" as mentioned in Rev. 21:7 or the "sheep" who enter the kingdom in Matthew 25:31-46. Spend time pondering these Scriptures to illuminate your understanding of these issues.
One final verse needs to be mentioned on this subject which shows the close connection between one's faith and his behavior:
"What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?"(Jam. 2:14).
Though Charles Stanley's gospel connected to eternal security would answer in the affirmative, the answer "No" is clearly implied to James' question regarding saving faith. Again, from this verse we see that a true, living, saving faith will have good works attached to it! This is fact, even though we are not saved by our own good works (Eph. 2:8, 9; Titus 3:5). We are saved by our faith, which must be in the Lord Jesus (Lk.7:50; Acts 10:43; 20:21; 26:20b; etc.).
"It [the grace of God] teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age."
In other words, true grace teaching, according to the Bible, promotes holy living and does not allow for immorality! In fact, it may surprise some to learn that true grace teaching goes even further than this. Paul expands upon holy living and the seriousness of rejecting such with the following:
"For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit" (1 Thess. 4:7, 8).
In stark contrast to these truths about New Testament grace and holy living, Charles Stanley shockingly, because of eternal security, limits the penalty for the most extreme, unholy and flagrantly disobedient lifestyle to just a loss of rewards:
"... You can't sin and live like the devil down here and get by with it even as a believer. The Bible says you will lose your reward but you'll be saved so as by fire. You won't lose your salvation, but there's a whole lot to lose, brother, by sinful living."
This last quote explicitly shows that Charles Stanley's radio gospel message allows for one who was once saved to afterwards "live like the devil" yet not lose his salvation. Hence, to the In Touch daily devotional and Stanley's gospel of grace, a saved person may be one who is presently living "like the devil"! If this isn't a grace message that is a license for immorality, what is? If it isn't extreme enough to be a license for immorality, how much more extreme could one get? Reader, seriously ponder these two questions and the ramifications of such before moving on.
"And so, sometimes out of ignorance or whatever it might be, they attempt to gratify and meet those needs the same way they did before they were saved, and therefore, you can't tell a carnal believer from a lost man. That[Unfortunately, Charles Stanley is not alone as he teaches like this regarding the "carnal Christian." Other influential teachers such as Charles Ryrie, Zane Hodges, Robert Thieme, Tony Evans, June Hunt and many others all declare the same eternal security understanding.]
is, you can't tell the cold from the carnal because the truth is, they're both acting the same way. Now, one of them is in Christ and one of them isn't. One of them is lost and the other one is in Christ. One of them knows about God and knows him in the experience of salvation; the other doesn't know him at all."
Let's take a close look at 1 Cor. 3:3-5, the primary passage used by Charles Stanley and the others as the basis for this "carnal" Christian teaching. Paul wrote:
"For you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, 'I am of Paul,' and another, 'I am of Apollos,' are you not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one?" (New King James Version).Please notice that it was envy, strife and divisions and those alone which made Paul address them as "carnal," as the immediate context shows! This is clearly what verse 4 declares, as it cites why Paul called them "carnal." Furthermore, all the envy, strife and divisions were over their favorite gospel preacher, according to verse 5. (See also 1 Cor. 1:12; 3:21.)
To read into "carnal" and openly teach, as eternal security teacher, Dr. Charles Stanley does around the globe, is to dangerously distort the image of true Christianity. By fabricating this new type of saved person that is behaving just like the darkened, God-hating, Hell-bound, Christ-rejecters multitudes are re-opened, by Charles Stanley, to the greatest danger yet are unaware of it.
Besides the immediate context of 1 Cor. 3:3, this Charles Stanley concept of the "carnal" Christian is also refuted Scripturally by the following:
First, Paul stated the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9), then told us in the next verse how to identify someone who is wicked from their behavior. The sexually immoral, drunkards and the greedy are included in this group and will, therefore, be excluded from the kingdom unless they turn from their sins. No exception is made for one previously saved! This is the true grace teaching, according to Scripture.
Second, Paul demonstratively used this 1 Cor. 6:9, 10 gauge in the preceding chapter regarding a sexually immoral man who was attending their Christian gatherings in Corinth. In reference to him, Paul wrote:
"... Expel the wicked man from among you" (1 Cor. 5:13).Paul, who could not see this man's heart, could tell by his sinful behavior (sexual immorality) that this man was wicked and therefore unsaved.
His advice regarding this man, who was previously saved, was totally unlike the advice to those never saved -- though both need salvation:
"Hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord" (1 Cor. 5:5).Obviously, the Corinthian congregation had only one sexually immoral person in it at that time, whom the others were to expel fromamong them. If there would have been others who were known to be sexually immoral, they too would have been treated like that man. This point alone is devastating to the "carnal" Christian understanding which Charles Stanley and other eternal security proponents embrace.
Before we proceed, one other vital point regarding the issue of "carnal" Christians needs to be made. 1 Cor. 5:11 says:
"But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat."
This verse also clearly refutes the view that a carnal Christian behaves indistinguishably from the unsaved, since Paul made a clear distinction between the "carnal" Corinthians and those who were to be avoided, as cited in this verse. Charles Stanley is clearly wrong! In other words, the Corinthians (who were labeled "carnal" because of strife and divisions over their favorite gospel preachers) were told not to even eat with those who professed to be saved but were sexually immoral, drunkards, greedy, etc. Without a doubt, the latter were not present-tense possessors of eternal life (1 Cor. 6:9, 10 cf. Rev. 21:8).
There is a clear distinction between the two. 1 Cor. 5:11 proves that even the carnal Christian could not be in any of these categories! Consequently, for the people who embrace a contradictory view of the "carnal" there is also a major problem with this verse and the aforementioned descriptions of the truly saved. This "carnal" Christian question is a watershed issue, since it really affects the definition of a Christian and, therefore, who will ultimately be saved. To be wrong about this is to be wrong about who will be excluded from the kingdom of God and thrown into the lake of fire.
The Lord declared, "A tree is known by its fruit" (Mt. 12:33, New King James Version). This is a prevalent teaching throughout the New Testament.
Paul similarly taught the following:
"But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives" (1 Tim. 5:6).Paul could categorically make such a statement based solely on one's behavior. For him to declare that such widows were spiritually dead if they were presently living for pleasure is a flat contradiction to eternal security. If Paul believed in eternal security, he could never have said this because such widows might have been saved at an earlier time and therefore would still be spiritually alive even though they were presently living this way.
Like Jesus and Paul, consider also what the Apostle John asserted regarding this:
"This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother" (1 Jn. 3:10).
What they knew in first century Christianity about one's spiritual status from his behavior is now being flatly rejected by Charles Stanley and others through the rampant teaching of our day known as "eternal security" -- the very teaching Charles Stanley says if questioned is to question the gospel itself. Wow!
The Apostle John, who often wrote to counter false teachers of his day, declared something else very relevant about the link between one's behavior and his salvation:
"Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil ... " (1 Jn. 3:7, 8).
It is also apparent from these verses that, again, the Lord's Apostles, in contrast to Charles Stanley and other eternal security teachers, did not believe that it was possible to be in Christ and at the same time to be "living like the devil"! Therefore, we are talking about two different grace messages and two different images of Christianity.
Charles Stanley's gospel allows for the most unholy and immoral behavior among the saved! With suicide abounding, this is a very important issue to address. While commenting on this subject, Charles Stanley also reveals at the same time how he understands the forgiveness of sins which the Lord Jesus provided on the cross. Charles Stanley starts off by saying:
"When He died on the cross, He took care of all of our sin."
Again, what is Charles Stanley's interpretation of this fundamental truth of Scripture? It becomes apparent as he elaborates:
"When He died on the cross, He took care of all of our sin. You say, 'You mean to tell me that if a person takes their own life, after all these things that you just talked about, all these things of sins that that person's forgiven?' Forgiven .... that person is going to lose reward."
"A believer who commits suicide is already forgiven. Now I didn't say it was gonna be good for him, I said they're forgiven. They are pardoned of that sin."
From this we learn that Charles Stanley's eternal security Baptist gospel allows the unrepentant murderers (suicide victims) in Heaven, that is, if they ever for a moment of time had a saving faith in Christ!
"... that a 'saved' person would go to heaven despite committing suicide; according to attorney Barker, such teaching could have been interpreted as a 'green light' by Nally to kill himself."
In another even more convincing instance, Ron Rhodes and Paul Carden counseled a suicidal woman on "The Bible Answer Man" radio broadcast who told them, "If I knew I was going to Heaven, I would do it [commit suicide]." (This personal testimony proves eternal security is conducive to suicide.) Although Carden made somewhat of an attempt to deter her, Rhodes shockingly, on the other hand, ultimately assured her, "You are eternally secure. Anyone who has trusted in Christ is eternally secure ...."]
According to Charles Stanley's gospel, which is based on eternal security, one's spiritual condition at the very end of his life is totally irrelevant to his eternal destiny! In contrast to Charles Stanley's bible study, see Mt. 10:22; Heb. 3:14; Rev. 2:10, 11 cf. Jam. 1:12. Let God's word speak to you!
By teaching as he does about suicide, Charles Stanley [and others] places a loaded gun in the hands of the intensely suffering Christian, completely drained of all hope. For those who buy into Charles Stanley's counterfeit gospel, the sin of self-murder is actually a blessing, for it prematurely will end one's pain here and send him quickly to a paradise Heaven (so he thinks)!
Just like the Jehovah's Witnesses' erroneous teaching on blood transfusions, Charles Stanley's teaching could possibly be sending multitudes to a premature grave -- but even worse sending the same to Hell. According to the Bible, the lake of fire is clearly the destiny of all unrepentant murderers (Rev. 21:8; 1 Jn. 3:15). Remember it is impossible for one who murders himself to afterwards repent!
Getting back to Charles Stanley's understanding of Jesus' death on the cross, which has been adversely affected by his acceptance of eternal security, he says:
"No matter what you do as a child of God, you are forgiven. You say, 'Murder?' Forgiven. 'Stealing?' Forgiven. 'Adultery?' Forgiven. 'Worshiping idols?' Forgiven."
Pandora's box is widely opened now by Charles Stanley sermons. Limitless kinds of the most heinous sins known to mankind are no longer something to be avoided for salvation's sake since, according to Charles Stanley's gospel, the Christian is already forgiven even before the sin is committed! Elsewhere, Charles Stanley said:
"It is not lying, cheating, stealing, raping, murdering, or being unfaithful that sends people to hell."
"To hold to a theology in which man can do something that throws him back into a state of spiritual deadness, thus denying God His predetermined purpose, is to embrace a system in which man is in the driver's seat and God is just a passenger."
In other words, the bogus Charles Stanley gospel of eternal security declares that no sin committed after salvation will send one to Hell. This is a common deception in our day, which is certainly sending multitudes to Hell.
If there ever existed a distortion of Scripture and a counterfeit grace message that is, in reality, a "license for immorality" this type of teaching has to be it! [Joseph Prince books are not the only poison bait the devil presents!] This isn't the good news the Bible speaks of. Charles Stanley's gospel is bad news for all who accept it. There is no way to know how many suicides, broken families through divorce, and criminal acts that occurred because of this type of teaching, which continues to spread, seemingly unchallenged, through Charles Stanley's global ministry and eternal security as a whole.once saved always saved," Charles Stanley says the following as he comments on the Prodigal Son:
"Sometimes you and I may resort to looking and acting like we used to behave before we were saved, but just because we behave that way doesn't mean we have lost our salvation....But let's look at the Prodigal Son for just a moment.... So, here he is living in sin and his lifestyle is such that's absolutely wicked....Let me tell you something. When you are born again by the grace of Almighty God, and you become a child of God, you are born again. You become a new creation in Christ. You are adopted into the family of God. It doesn't make any difference how wicked and how vile you act....You never get away with sin. But it doesn't mean because you sin against God, God rejects you for your disobedience because in this story, God is pictured as running toward a backsliding son who came home to his father."
Please note that Charles Stanley gives the reason for his belief that the Prodigal was always saved as being because the Father is pictured as running to him when he came home. It is vitally important to remember that this occurred only after the Prodigal turned away from his lifestyle of sin in a humble and sorrowful attitude to return to the Father to serve Him.
Furthermore, amidst all this Biblical terminology, Charles Stanley slips in his "gospel" of eternal security, that is, salvation "cannot be lost" regardless of any type of habitual sinful living and/or abandonment of the faith. Here this respected, international figure states that even a lifestyle that is "absolutely wicked" won't negate one's salvation! Gal. 5:19-21 is a clear refutation to this. Paul wrote:
"The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God."
The aforementioned passage declares that one can be perfectly sound in his doctrine yet miss the kingdom of God because he yields to his flesh! Similarly, Paul told Christians in Rom. 8:13:
"If you use your lives to do the wrong things your sinful selves want, you will die spiritually. But if you use the Spirit's help to stop doing the wrong things you do with your body, you will have true life" (New Century Version).
In part, the New International Version renders this same passage "put to death the misdeeds of the body." The Greek reveals a continuous tense here regarding the "putting to death" of our sinful natures. This is done through our free will and human responsibility. Most importantly, it is only possible with the help, not dominance, of the Holy Spirit.
Lk. 15:24, 32 are two essential verses for the proper understanding of the Prodigal Son. Both of these Scriptures, declared by the Father, reveal the spiritual condition of the Prodigal both before and after the time of his "living in sin," as Charles Stanley states it. Verse 24 spoken by the Father to his servants says:
"For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found,"while verse 32, spoken to the older son says:
"... this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found."HERE IS THE PROOF That The Bible Teaches The Righteous Can Die Spiritually
Unlike what Charles Stanley teaches, the important point the Father was emphasizing was the complete reversal of the Prodigal's spiritual condition now that he repented. He went from "dead" to "alive again" which is equated in the same sentence as going from "lost" to "found." Hence, there is great reason to rejoice over such a sinner that repents, as already mentioned two separate times in this same chapter in the parables of the Lost Sheep and Lost Coin.
Perhaps the English words "alive again" are most revealing. The Greek word from which "alive again" comes is found five times in the New Testament -- in these two verses just cited, Rom. 7:9; 14:9 and Rev. 20:5. It means live again or revive.(29) This meaning is easily seen in Rom. 14:9, "... Christ died and returned to life ...." Here it is stated that the Lord's physical condition went from life TO death [on the cross] TO life again [when He arose from the grave]. Similarly, the Prodigal's spiritual condition went from life TO death [when sexually immoral, etc.] TO spiritually alive again [after he repented and returned to the Father's presence].
Where is this place represented by the "outer darkness" in Jesus' parables? 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. [Charles Stanley, Eternal Security: Can You Be Sure, 1990 ed., p. 126]
So, Charles Stanley wants us to believe outer darkness is in Heaven! Why? Because the previously saved servant given one talent but who brought forth no gain or fruit in Mat 25:30, was cast into outer darkness:
And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.(Mat 25:30)
If outer darkness is hell, then that fruitless servant experienced spiritual death and lost his salvation. Though factual, that is contrary to what Charles Stanley is trying to get us to believe. Again, Charles Stanley is refuted by the same scriptures that he claims to be teaching!
The true plan of salvation is repentance towards God and faith in Christ Jesus (Acts 20:21). We prove our repentance by our deeds (Acts 26:20). The Lord Jesus taught the road to life is "hard" and only a "few" will find it (Mt. 7:13,14, NKJV). Many get saved, butafterwards fall away (Lk. 8:13; Jn. 6:66; 1 Tim. 1:19; etc.). In other words, after initial salvation we must endure to the "end" to enter the kingdom of God and escape the lake of fire (Mt. 10:22; Heb. 3:14; Rev. 2:10,11). Eternal life comes to the repentant the moment such believe on Jesus for salvation (Jn. 3:16; 6:47; 1 Jn. 5:12,13), but there is another important aspect of eternal life that many are totally unware of in our day because of the false teaching of eternal security. According to true grace teaching, eternal life is also a HOPE (Titus 3:7), yet to be REAPED (Gal. 6:8,9) in the AGE TO COME (Mk. 10:30) for only the ones who PERSIST IN DOING GOOD (Rom. 2:7) and DO NOT GROW WEARY AND GIVE UP (Gal. 6:9).
If a saved person sows to please his sinful nature he'll die spiritually (Rom. 8:13; Gal. 6:8,9). The prodigal is a clear example of this (Lk. 15:24,32). The end result of sin is spiritual death, so DO NOT BE DECEIVED (James 1:14-16). For more information regarding
Because of the teaching of once saved always saved, grace has been taught as a license for immorality for so long, and without challenge, that when Scripture is quoted, such as 1 Cor. 6:9,10 or Rev. 21:8, it is disregarded, and the giver of God's Word is falsely accused of teaching legalism, bondage, works, etc. This reflects how truly dark are the days in which we live!
Please read the ACID TEST question to know if a ministry or local congregation is teaching a license for immorality as condemned by Jude 3,4. If their answer is "YES," avoid it like the AIDS virus! To sit under this teaching influence could mean that your soul and the souls of your loved ones will be eternally damned as a result. To support and promote such a ministry and teaching is to share in its wicked work (2 Jn. 9-11). This includes your financial donations! Flee from such a ministry or congregation and encourage others to do the same before it's eternally too late.
You can purchase, in bulk, the 42 page booklet refuting the false gospel of Charles Stanley in English or Spanish. The Gospel According To Charles Stanley is available at Evangelical Books Take warning: AVOID Charles Stanley podcast, daily devotionals, sermons online, radio, sermons today, 30 life principles, bible study, etc.
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