Monday, June 29, 2015

How the Christian must practically respond to the many faces of the homosexual issue.

How the Christian must practically respond to the many faces of the homosexual issue.

Given the recent decision of the Supreme Court concerning 'gay marriage', there has been a lot reactions, a lot of feelings, a lot of praises, a lot of protests among other things. Typically our response is limited to whom we are speaking of, and more often than not we are not all addressing the same person/s which leads to over-generalizations, blurring of lines, unnecessary confusion, and the like.
This won't be exhaustive, and although each example could be expanded, I believe that there is enough to serve the purpose of helping the body of Christ to better address some of the issues.
With that said, I will proceed to list a few different scenarios, so as to provide some examples of the distinctions needed:

To the LGBT(xyz) agenda,
We Christians refuse to bow to their bullying, we refuse to compromise, we say with Peter, (Acts 5:29 ) "But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men." even if it means poverty, imprisonment or death. 
We declare the words of God that such sexual immorality is abominable, that God calls it 'unnatural', that 'marriage' is not a fluid word that can be defined as men please, for God alone has instituted marriage and defines the 'moral' boundaries of it, that it is a covenant between one man and one woman!
We refuse to be bullied into a sort of 'tolerance' which has nothing to do with respect and dignity but calls us to embrace and celebrate what God has condemned, this we can not do!
We will fight, vote, protest every effort to normalize, to indoctrinate, and to adopt 'hate crime' legislation as long as we have the freedoms to do this.

To the Homosexual 'Christian' be it a 'pastor, teacher or church member',
We defend the honor of God and His definition of true followers, by declaring that if you can give hearty approval to what God condemns, if you can live in unrepentant sin and refuse to call it sin, then you are by no means a true believer. You then as the scriptures declare have been deceived and are deceiving others. For such are the particular sort whom we are commanded to have no association with, I Corinthians 5:11 "But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one."
This we can declare because the scriptures make clear that those whom Christ have saved, He has also sanctified by His Spirit and called them out of bondage to sin. The Lord made clear that if we were truly apart of Him then we would bear good fruit, because He is the one supplying such change (Mt 7:17-20; Jn 15:1-6). We declare that those who would dare ignore the reality of the power of God in granting believers new hearts which turn from evil and pursue righteousness and suggest that God just gives a sort of weak grace which allows us to do as we please, well we say to such that you are perverting the grace of God as Jude says, (Jude 4) "For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ."

To the Garden variety un-churched man, woman practicing homosexuality,
We say to you, that our message, our gospel is NOT, that you would simply STOP committing these acts and just act normal. We would NOT say to you that you need to give up that sin among sins and then if you get properly married and attend church that God will then, maybe accept and love you, and maybe we will too.
Sir, Miss, we say to you that God has created you in His image, that you were created by God Almighty, that you were made by Him and for Him! We say that God is good, He's perfect, He's unchanging, He's holy, He's just, He's loving etc. The problem however is that man is NOT, man has not submitted to God, man has not sought to please God, man who fell in Adam, man who is born in sin, man who enjoys his sin has strayed from God in words, thoughts and deeds and that because his 'heart' is wicked (depraved). All men have fallen short of the glory of God, all men have sinned, there is NONE righteous (Romans 3:9,23) which can be easily seen in how each individual breaks God's commandments, from lying (and our special sorts of lies), to coveting (the refusal to be content and thankful), to adultery (including that which begins in the desire of the heart,  Matthew 5:28), the dishonoring of parents, the many idols we set up, replace, or pursue instead of God Almighty our creator Lord and the list goes on, which reveals that we are guilty in inestimable counts. If you would press the point then we would unashamedly proclaim that all forms of sexual immorality are condemned by God, that they are forbidden and in opposition to the good, lovely and enjoyable sexual morality which is found in marriage between one man and one woman as God positively defines. We would tell you that if you simply stop performing that ONE sin, which although it would spare another party being joined in your sin (which is not love) it would not make you acceptable before God as lust, pride, and idolatry would surface in other areas of your life as well. 
We would explain also, that all men have failed to perform the heart of the commandments which is to love God with all our hearts..and to love our neighbor as ourselves. All in all this places all men in the same plight, with the same verdict, GUILTY, GUILTY, GUILTY and consequently and justly under the wrath of God! These UNIVERSAL failures and sins show as God spoke through Isaiah that, (53:6 ) "All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way....". So then we would tell you, that you are simply an ordinary sinner, a sinner like us, a sinner in need of deliverance, a sinner in danger of God's judgment, a sinner who desperately needs a Savior, no more, no less than others! 
You see the message is not, become good, it's not, try harder, it's not, earn the love and forgiveness of God, no, no, no! 
We would ask, we would plead, that you would confess your sins and turn to God, that you would embrace the love of God and find rest for your soul! How then can you do this, considering that you like the rest of us are guilty sinners before God, a God who has promised to punish sin, a righteous God who hates evil? God has provided a Deliverer, an acceptable sacrifice. Do you remember the passage in Isaiah which grouped all men together by declaring that all have gone their own way? Well, the whole verse reads, '"All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.". 
That is to say that God has provided Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who took on our flesh, who came as a man (the God-man) and was tempted in every way as all men are, yet was without sin, and as He perfectly obeyed His Father, and as He was infinitely worthy in His majesty, Jesus could be our substitute, our mediator, for He had no sins of His own to atone for, rather He willingly took our place, bearing the sins of His people, and paying in full for them. In other words, Jesus satisfied the justice of God, which was demonstrated by His resurrection, and in turn He gives us (imputes) His righteousness in order that we have a 'right' standing before God (2 Corinthians 5:21 "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."). This is HOW forgiveness is made possible, because God has fulfilled justice and has given grace through the work and worth of Jesus Christ! 
As to WHY, we are told first that God has done such for His own glory, in other-words God motivated Himself to do such, for we who are guilty before God could only (in ourselves) motivate Him to punish us (remember we are GUILTY sinners, NOT victims who deep deep down want to be good for God, Jeremiah 17:9), and the other factor of the WHY, as explained in scripture is, 'because of His great love for us..' (Ephesians 2:4), which is what we call AMAZING grace! The scriptures would have us know that the giving of Christ on our behalf in order to save us from our sins, is the ultimate DEMONSTRATION of His love, especially since we were ungodly, we were sinners, we were enemies of God (as unpopular the thought, in our sin we fight against God, it is not what we do, but WHO we do it against). This then leaves us with the question, 'Now what?', well Sir, well Miss, Jesus came preaching the gospel which called men to 'repent and believe' (Mark 1:15) and we may call it 'turn to Christ' or 'Believe in Jesus' or 'Confess and have faith in God' but that is simply different ways to express the same conclusion, that men, that you must give up all self effort to be good, you must abandon every attempt to change God in order to fit your sins, you must agree with God refusing to make excuses, you must freely and fully confess your sins, surrendering to the Lordship (the Rule) of Jesus Christ, expressed in the scriptures. That is what it is to believe in God, to turn from sin, self, and this world and to turn and follow after God. 
Yes come receive eternal life, yes come enjoy the free grace of God, yes come experience the perfect love of God through Jesus Christ! In your surrender, in your salvation, in your repentance which God supplies, yes in this amazing work which God will do in you and through you, granting you new desires after Him, you will find that many sins which you previously enjoyed, which previously defined you, no longer define you, they are desires which you no longer have or which you have, yet fight against and that because your great prevailing desire is now to know and be known by your heavenly Father through Jesus Christ, that is the work of the Holy Spirit in ALL God's true believing people. So then come as you are, come with your sins, come with your doubts, come with your fears, come with your filth and God will cleanse you, God will receive you, God will restore you and change you for His glory!

To the Finger-pointing upset conservative who wants to join the 'fight',
We say to you, that if you don't repent, you will join those whom you despise in their eternal destruction. We would say with Christ that, “Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you." (Matthew 21:31) which is to say those who see their own sin and confess their sin will be saved rather then those who simply point out sin and ignore their own. We would say to you that you are doing exactly what the often misused 'judge not, lest you be judged' passage is ACTUALLY condemning, which is a hypocritical calling out others sins while hiding your own, such are in danger of great judgment! We would say would you be so bold to call 'evil' one sort of sexual immorality which you don't deal with, while covering up and justifying another sort of sexual immorality which you do deal with? God will not judge you by other men, but by the standard of His word, in your condemning of others you bring greater condemnation upon yourself, unless you repent and believe upon Christ!

To the Bonafide Christ-clinging believer who is tempted with same-sex attraction, 
We say to you dear child of God, dear fellow believer, that you are not alone, you are not a different class of needy sinner. We affirm with the scriptures that your temptations are 'common to man' and that God does indeed 'provide a way of escape' with those temptations (I Corinthians 10:13). We call you to not hide your temptations or sins, to not believe that you need to find refuge among a certain type of people who suffer from a certain type of temptations and sin, but to find a healthy church which preaches the powerful gospel of grace, a place where mature believers would not be shocked to find out your struggles but would offer to join you and ask you to join in helping them as well. We plead with you to reject the lies of the enemy which bring you to shame and which in turn drives you away from God and His people, rather we beg you to embrace the full love of God proven in Christ, to hold firmly to your spiritual adoption as a son, a co-heir with Christ. We encourage you to find your identity in your union with Christ, in what God has made you, a called-out one, a kingdom of priests, a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). We would exhort you to fight sin and flee youthful lusts by the power of God, by submitting to Him, by casting your cares on him who cares for you, by resisting the Devil, yes we would tell you to do this with great faith, with great hope for deliverance. We would tell you that God is able to do all things, that if He does not take away those desires (which He can, which we should NEVER cease from asking Him to), He will certainly provide the power to overcome those desires. We would say that the fullness of joy is not found in a certain state in this life, or in a certain life event, or marriage or any-THING else, no such is found in KNOWING and ENJOYING our blessed Savior who is infinitely worthy of all things, including our suffering, and that God alone knows what He has in store for each of His people, but we do know that all His promises are ours in Christ Jesus, that none of His people are in want. Rejoice in Him, trust in Him, live in accordance with His word and die daily for His glory and your good (which is your joy)!


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Not me, and certainly not MY children!

There is a great danger, a great temptation that every parent must resist, lest they fall into and in so doing become accessories to the sins of their children! That temptation, is the pride of holding to a doctrine like 'total depravity' (think psalm 51, 'in sin my mother conceived me' = a sinner by nature) while acting as if such really isn't true of our children!
For the most part every young new parent has had one of those awakening experiences which we joke has 'convinced us of sin nature in children', you know what I mean; you stumble upon your child manipulating another child, or displaying an unthinkable (so we thought) amount of rage towards someone, or even a stare you in the eye with no sort of hesistation flat out LIE! Yep, we've all seen it, and if we're observant enough and honest enough we've seen them do things that were not something they picked up from someone, not something anyone taught them, and it should have convinced us that such children are in fact little sinners, sinners by nature, sinners who (face it) often love their sin, who desperately NEED a Savior!
The scriptures don't teach us to keep our children from 'foolishness' (rebellion) by use of the rod, but that the rod will drive it from them (Proverbs 22:15 it's 'bound up in the heart'). This is a reality that Christian parents must face, they must face it biblically, and that is why keeping our children 'from evil' is not 'training them in the way they should go' because they themselves are the problem and only God can redeem and transform them.
The scriptures warn parents that a 'child left to himself will bring his mother to shame' (Proverbs 29:15) which might be a clue to the importance of the diligent oversight required for raising children. This is another confirmation of the biblical teaching of total depravity, that is not to say we are as bad as we could be, but that men are capable of any and every form of sin! This is true of our children as well, and though we strive to raise them in the fear and admonition of the Lord, if they are not regenerate then they are being restrained by God through various means, but if God was to give 'them over' (Romans 1) to their lusts then whether we can swallow it or not, there is NOTHING that they are not capable of doing or becoming, nothing!
It's the inconvient truth, isn't it? O sure we would never say 'Lord I thank you that I'm not like...those sinners...i do this, i do that...' because that would be self-righteous, right? However what's troubling, is how many might dare to say, "But Lord, I do thank you, that my children are not like....those sinners....they do their chores, they recite their catechisms, they ace their exams, they eat healthy, they are polite, they are cultured, they watch fox news, they help at church...." and that sort of pride-filled naivete will absolutely affect how you address their sins (if you do) and how you apply the gospel!
Now you've seen the parent, or should I say you have seen this in yourself (at least within), where a parent is told by someone that their child did this or that, and they (or you) reply, "Oh no, that doesn't sound like my baby, my child would never do THAT!", sound familiar? You know it was just the 'wrong crowd', it was a 'bad apple', but oh no, that can't be our children, right?
Do you the dissconnect? Do you see the re-interpretation of what the biblical says about man? How can we point our children to Christ if we won't face their problem? How can we truly plead in prayer for their souls if we won't agree with God that they need to be radically transformed?
If we were biblical, if we truly held to what we so casually confess, then we would have a grandeur view of God, a clearer view and hatred of sin, and a more awestruck view of the grace we have through Jesus Christ!
Take the case of the teenager who molests his younger siblings (like Josh Duggar), at such we are sickened, we are outraged, and we rightly call it sin. Well as time goes on and things are dealt with, regardless of the arguments of what 'dealt with' is sufficient (and what would 'enough' to make it all better?), the Christian can affirm that if such a one was to confess their sins and truly turn in faith to Jesus Christ than such are absolutely and completely forgiven and even restored by God Almighty! That such are  then included among this list of vile sinners '...and such were some of you' (1 Corinthians 6:11) who are not perpetually tagged as a certain cast of 'worse' sinners, but those who have been delivered from such bondage. The world then says, 'wait you sort of Christians take the issue too lightly, you just sweep it under the rug and pretend it's nothing.....' on the contrary we go WAY beyond those who might call for such offenses to be deserving of the death penalty, we say that such are deserving of eternal torment in Hell! We all fall short of the glory of God, and while not every sin is exactly the same, or the same it how God will punish it, all sin has this in common, that it is against a holy God and deserving of eternal punishment! God has not swept any sin under the rug, for would be contrary to His just nature and contrary to His warnings in scripture, rather God the Father has provided forgiveness of sins by imputing (placing upon/crediting/applying) the sins of His people to Christ, so that on the cross Jesus is paying for the sins of others and thus providing salvation and full forgiveness of sins for those who turn to Him in repentance and faith, those who do that receive His righteousness and are accepted because Christ represents them!
If we were to label the 'worst' sins, the 'worst' sort of sinners, we could start with the depraved sexually immoral, we could show how violence added to that against the most helpless makes it even more detestable, of course not many want to add in those who kill the most helpless (the unborn), but if we were make a case for those who REALLY will 'get it' from God, it will be those who had the most light and rejected it, namely bonafide fronting HYPOCRITES in the church..........and here's what you need to remember, that sort of really detestable worse than those in Sodom and Gomorrah might just be our own children!
For this reason we have NO GROUNDS to think, 'not my children'. Friend face it, your children left to themselves will not only sin, but will enjoy it! They like you, like me, have thought of things, no one should ever think or talk about, horrifying things, evil things! Don't put your hope in their innate 'goodness', don't put your hope in their 'good company', don't put your hope in their 'Christian education', don't put your hope in their 'morals', no you must welcome God's instruction concerning who they are and what they need!
Of course they need boundaries, of course they need to be guarded from this and that, and such matters are addressed in scripture, but we must not fail to come to grips with the reality that they themselves are sinners by nature. They need more than to be kept 'from evil', they need help to see evil within, to consider their dilemma in comparison to God NOT in comparison to the lost street kids.
This means more than teaching your children to avoid that one house where the registered sex offendor is at (as if you NEED that info to not have your children hang out at some single guys house...um), it's more than teaching them to not let someone touch them here or there, and to tell you about it, but it requires the unconfortable reality that you must teach THEM not to do that, not to give in to that, not to hesistate in rejecting that, and YES they need to know that it's disgusting and God hates it (and that God sees it).......and shame on us if we have taught them to be afraid to confess such things to us! Furthermore parent, this means we can't blow it off, we can't ignore it or call it something tamer or cuter, or something along the lines of the philosophy of perverse God hating pyschologists, NO, we must call sin, sin, we must deal with sin and never buy the lie that if we give it time or hide it that it'll just go away!
We must loathe and fear the 'appearance of godliness' or else we will sacrifice our children to a host of secret sins which will terrorize them the rest of their lives, and then send them to Hell! It should go without saying that such things, the eternal state of their souls, are in the hands of God, but He has commanded us how to raise them and warned us how not to raise them, so then it is our duty and privledge to give ourselves to following and looking to Him as He instructs, this is how we TRUST in Him, while making every effort to lay no stumbling blocks before our own children!
May the Lord help us all!

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