I’m doing some research around the web and came across Rachel Held’s Evans post on God and the Gay Christian. In there she tells us that she has another post that is in the works about why she changed her mind on God and the gay Christian. Gee, can’t wait.
Her testimony and preface for this upcoming post is simply that she has struggled over the issue, she has had many sleepless nights. She has really wrestles with it… therefore, her conclusions must be sound. Here are her words:
Certainly there are many other Christians struggling to make sense of what Scripture says about gender and sexuality and who long to do the right thing on behalf of the LGBT people in the Church and in the world. Contrary to popular belief, those journeys are rarely easy or straightforward. Like so many other people, I didn’t arrive at my own conclusions easily or carelessly, but only after many sleepless nights, hours of study, and lots and lots of listening.
The emphasis is hers. She wants us to know that she has really, really given this topic some deep thought, and struggled and, more importantly, listened to others. It wasn’t easy for the conclusion she is about to make. But by golly, since she struggled with the issue, she must be right about her conclusions.
That is how shallow we have become in the church these days. We think if someone really gives something a lot of thought, then it must be correct. It must be right. Especially if the person has contacted others who have the position she is moving toward in order to come to that conclusion. Did she actually speak to anyone who holds to what Scripture says about homosexuality? Probably not. After all, we are led to believe that she already had this position, and now that she is evolving in her thought, she sees it for the archaic narrow belief that the world has proclaimed it to be.
It really doesn’t matter how much she has struggled with the issue of homosexuality. If her conclusion is contrary to the word of God, then it is wrong, and it is a sinful position to espouse. God doesn’t care that we struggle with something before denying His word. He is not interested in our sleepless nights as we contemplate heading off into sin. It doesn’t matter how many people we consulted in our plunge into depravity. If we don’t consult with God, and His word, and accept it for what it says, then we are nothing more than those wicked people Paul describes in Romans 1:18-33, who have the wrath of God being poured out onto them. Remember, if we choose to plunge into sin, God will let us. In the process, we will become more and more sinful because HE gives the sinner, especially those who have the truth but deny it and suppress it, over to more and more sin.
As for the book she is commenting on in the above post, here is Albert Mohler’s response to Matthew Vine’s book. Also read Neil’s piece on the Problems With Pro-Gay Theology, in which he points out the following biblical facts concerning homosexuality:
- 100% of the verses addressing homosexual behavior denounce it as sin in the strongest possible terms.
- 100% of the verses referencing God’s ideal for marriage involve one man and one woman.
- 100% of the verses referencing parenting involve moms and dads with unique roles (or at least a set of male and female parents guiding the children).
- 0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to homosexual behavior in a positive or even benign way or even hint at the acceptability of homosexual unions.
In case you have not heard, there is a video going around showing Victoria Osteen, Joel’s wife, making an absurd statement about our happiness. She is basically saying that we do the things we do because they make us happy. Here is a snippet from Matt Walsh’s blog:
In the clip, Mrs. Osteen implores the audience to “realize that when we obey God, we’re not doing it for God… we’re doing it for ourselves.” As her proud husband nods approvingly, Osteen continues. “Do good for your own self. Do it because God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship Him, you’re not doing it for God, really — you’re doing it for yourself, because that’s what makes God happy. Amen?”
Amen! What wonderful blasphemy! Worship God for yourself. Do good works for yourself. Take up your cross, suffer the slings and arrows of the Enemy, and die with Christ for yourself. (OK, she didn’t say that last part, but only because the Osteens have a strict “don’t talk about Jesus” preaching policy).
You see, to those who preach the prosperity gospel, there is no room for Christian suffering. That isn’t permitted. In fact, Osteen would be hard pressed to even mention that Christ suffered on the cross. But since he rarely mentions Jesus at all, it will never come up.
I know that many lament the fact the Osteen is leading so many astray. But the responsibility doesn’t lie with Osteen to preach faithfully. It lies with the congregation. They are the ones who cannot stand sound doctrine. They are the ones who put forth preachers to tickle their ears. They are the ones who continue to support this rube. Listen to the words of Paul
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
The point is that Osteen’s congregation are the very people that the Apostle Paul was speaking of 2,000 years ago. They are the ones who enable Osteen to be what he is because this is what they want and are asking for.
If you were to mention the suffering we endure as believers, they would want nothing to do with it. They want nothing to do with picking up their crosses and following Christ to the cross. They want nothing to do with the thought of sacrifice and true obedience. They want a god who is a god of fleshly pleasures and desires. The fact that the true and living God is a holy God is too much for them to handle. They are those who do not want the truth because it might be too upsetting for them.
This is why it is so important for churches to choose their pastor’s wisely. Does you pastor truly preach God’s word? Does he address the unhappy realities of sin, judgment and the hell that we deserve? Does he speak about the depths of our sinfulness and the need for continual and constance repentance? Does he preach in context of what the Bible says overall? And does he preach about the future hope we have in the gospel and the present realities of the gospel?
Osteen would be hard pressed to even mention the theme of Scripture: God’s glory. He is too busy mentioning our glory and that is what his congregation wants. They want their best life now… and, sadly, they’ve go it.
For more, read Albert Mohler’s article: The Osteen Predicament — Mere Happiness Cannot Bear the Weight of the Gospel.
A.W. Pink wrote this more than 60 years ago in his monumental book, The Sovereignty of God:
Today, everything appears to be out of joint. Thrones are creaking and tottering, ancient dynasties are being overturned, democracies are revolting, civilization is a demonstrated failure; half of Christendom was but recently locked-togeter in a death grapple; and now that the titanic conflict (World War II) is over, instead of the world having been made ‘safe for democracy,’ we have discovered that democracy is very unsafe for the world.
It seems his insight was right. We keep thinking that the solution to the world’s problems is to instill democracy in every nation and all things will be well. Democracy falls flat because it is not the gospel of Christ. Our fallen world needs the gospel, not another form of governance. We need repentance, salvation, new birth and a healthy fear of God and the judgment He is going to one day bring. As long as we continue to look to forms of government or government itself as the solution, the more that it will become our biggest problem.
On days like today, I had to go through my check list. It’s not a complicated list. It’s just something I do when I feel immensely insignificant and almost forgotten by God. I know that I’m not forgotten by our Loving Triune God, but those damnable feelings…
What is my check list? It’s easy. It starts like this:
- You have been blessed with another day to live. This is supported by the verse somewhere that this is the day that the LORD has made… and I will rejoice and be glad in it.
- You woke up in your own bed. Well, not really my own bed. It belongs to my father, but he is letting me use it until I can some how get to a place where I can afford my own place and use my own bed.
- You ate breakfast! This one is important, given that there are those who are starving around the world and would just love to sit down with me and eat some fried bacon and eggs with two pieces of toast and Smucker’s Blackberry Jam. We need to rejoice that He is taken care of us. Simply eating is a part of that reality.
- I have a job. Actually, I have three jobs. One is working at Texas A&M in their turf field lab, doing all manner of things including muckraking (see below). Another is at the country club, which doesn’t pay much, but allows me to play golf for free. The third is substitute teaching. I only do that so I will have access to insurance. God has and is providing for me through all three jobs.
- No one tried to kill me today because I’m a Christian. This one fact has ended more pity parties than you will ever know. We see weekly how our dear brothers and sisters in the LORD are being martyred for their faith in Jesus Christ. The day may come when I too will be martyred, but it’s not this day. For that, I rejoice.
I have to go through this quick checklist quite often. This morning I did so because I had to clean out the water-meter boxes again so I could take meter readings. The boxes are filled with the most vile mud and goop known to man. The water that sits there, until I pump it out, is rancid as well. It’s muck, the worst kind, and I have to clean it out so that hopefully the water will quit filling up in the boxes and drain as they were designed to do. I think the design worked for the first 10 years of the project. But the boxes are not draining now and that leads me to raking the muck up, putting it in a 2 gallon bucket and hauling it off to an empty field. It stinks, and no matter how careful I am, I get the stuff on me. Even as I write this, the horrible smell is still embedded in my nasal membranes. That won’t change for a while.
But I don’t complain. Raking up that muck is part of God’s provision for my life right now. While most people would head for a McDonald’s for gainful employment, I press on for God’s glory. I also realize that in a metaphorical sense, raking up muck like I do on a weekly basis is very similar to full-time ministry. There are always situations where the metaphor works. And just as I get the real muck on me from time to time, in full-time ministry, the muck is always flying. So maybe God is preparing me for ministry again. For Moses, he had to take care of smelly sheep. For me, my task is cleaning out the meter boxes and raking up the muck. To God be the glory.
The LORD’s Supper: Wine or Welch’s? I liked that Joe Thorn attempted to make the case for wine, showing that this is what Christ ordained for the table. He answers the arguments that many people have against the use of wine. Most of those who argue against it don’t really have a Biblical case given that wine is a blessing from God, not a curse, as so many fundamentalist maintain. He also has an entire series on the Lord’s Supper covering topics like fencing the table, when to take it, closed and open table, etc.
Thou Shalt Not Kill or Murder? Wintery Knight has an excellent piece showing that Hebrew scholars teach what many of us have known for years, that the Sixth Commandment should read “Thou shalt not murder.” It is not a blanket admonition against killing any and all things (except the unborn), as so many who are politically and theologically on the left would claim. In stating such a case, then they would be going against the Bible and capital punishment, times for war, etc. But that is what liberals do… they gladly use the Bible when it fits their pet peeve but scorn anyone else’s use of the Bible, especially if we actually believe it.
Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery Wow, covering two commandments in one post! Exciting, I know. Neil has a great post on the Seventh Commandment, showing that as believers, we are to strive for sexual purity, not only in deed, but also in thought and word.
Allow me to say that this is impossible apart from the Holy Spirit and God’s word working in our lives. But this should not deter us, it is what God has ordained for those who are His children, so let us live up to that calling.
Anti-Catholic or Pro Gospel? Tim Challies has a great piece of the differences between Protestants and Roman Catholics. AS we have learned here on this blog, that when we state what the Roman Catholics believe, their defenders politely tell us we don’t understand what they believe. After hearing R.C. Sproul say basically the same thing in a T4G conference, I’m more open to that charge than I was before. What Challies does is show that it doesn’t matter what Roman Catholics believe, because they have condemned what we, as Protestants, believe. That is enough to help us understand that no matter what it is they believe about justification, their view is not what we believe.
What I would like to do today is put aside my understanding or misunderstanding of Roman Catholic theology. Instead, let’s look at the way the Roman Catholic Church understands what I believe. What I have found is that the Roman Catholic Church understands my theology very well. Many years ago the Council of Trent closely examined the doctrine of the Protestant Reformers and responded to it with a series of canons. As they did that, they declared my faith anathema, an abomination to God. While Trent happened a long time ago, the canons have never been rescinded. Vatican II, despite its emphasis on ecumenicism, did not nullify or modify the canons of Trent (see here for an explanation from Catholic Answers).
So instead of having me explain Catholic theology and point out concerns, let’s allow Roman Catholicism to explain my Protestant view (using EWTN’stranslation of the canons).
If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification, and that it is not in any way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will, let him be anathema. (Canon 9)
I believe that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required and nothing else needs to be cooperated with, to obtain the grace of justification. Rome understands exactly what I believe here and rejects it. (Rom 3:20-28, Eph 2:8)
OK, that is it for today. Spend some time reading those throughout the weekend. Hopefully it will deepen your faith in Christ.
David Platt covers a really difficult concept found in Scripture: the fact that God hates sinners, but loves them as well. Let’s face it, this is not an easy topic. On the one hand, you have Psalm 5:4-6 For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, nor shall evil dwell with You. The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; You hate all workers of iniquity. You shall destroy those who speak falsehood; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.
Now watch the video.
When the people ask Jesus what they may do to do the works of God, I bet they never imagined that the focus of God’s work in us is belief in Him. Jesus responded to their question by saying, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”
This verse is full of truth in that it reveals that even our faith is a work of God’s grace in us. We like to think that our faith is something that we conjure up when were driven by our fickle emotions in hearing about Jesus. But true faith never comes about by emotions. It comes by the power and the hand of God. This is what He does in saving us. He tells us we are to believe in His Son, then works the faith in our hearts, so that we can believe.
I know many reject this truth because they want to cling onto their ability to believe in Christ for salvation. This is where we differ when it comes to the gospel. Those with Calvinist leanings, like myself, understand that even our faith is a gift of God’s grace toward us so that He gets all the glory for our salvation. If we accept this truth, then we can also take great comfort in the passage found in Hebrews 12:1-2.
Therefore… let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1-2).
He is the author of our faith, in that His Spirit worked in us so that we would have eyes to see and ears to hear. He worked in us, giving us a heart to believe. He worked in us, so that when we heard the gospel, we would actually hear from Him (Romans 10:14). This is the work of God, that we believe in Him whom the Father has sent. All of our salvation is the work of God in our lives. He is the One who began a good work, and will see it to the day of salvation.
When we accept the premise above that even our faith is from Him, then we can find the assurance of salvation that so many of us struggle with because we also see that the One who began it, will see it to its completion. If our faith is dependent upon something that we have done, then we know rightly that we can lose our faith and our salvation is only as certain as our fickle emotions. Yet, if our faith is something He produced in us, then we can rest assured that He is the finisher of that faith as well.
Let’s not make the mistake of the people who asked God what they could do. When it comes to saving faith, nothing but believing in Him is the only answer. We cannot walk an aisle, say a prayer, give $10,000 to Joel Osteen, go to a Bible conference, or even be baptized. All we can do is believe, and then we must trust in the Spirit to work faith in us.
In other words, if we are truly saved, then we know it is because of God’s rich mercy toward us. Many, like the people in Christ’s time, want nothing to do with God’s mercy. They want more Law, even though the Law condemns us all the more, even though we are unable of keeping the Law, even though it signs our death warrants. This is one reason the people in Christ’s day were so furious with Him. They liked the Law, and their false-belief that they were actually keeping the Law. But the gospel stands to show us otherwise. The gospel stands to show us… we are in need of God’s mercy and His hand working in us.
There are some sermons that are so good, they must be listened to more than once. The one posted below by Ligon Duncan is one of those sermons. This message has helped my understanding of the bigger picture of what God is doing more than any in a while. Just listen and see how God was working in Elijah, even in Elijah’s failures. As Ligon points out, sometimes the answer to our desires and prayers is “no” because God is doing something bigger than our desires.
Give yourself some time to listen.
Hattip: Heath. And Heath, thanks for sharing this with me. I do appreciate that.
We often hear the charge of hypocrisy from those outside the church. It’s an easy charge since the church is full of sinners and we tend to fall short of God’s glory like the rest of mankind.
I even had my doctor mention it to me the last time I had an appointment. She pointed out that the church was fully of hypocrites. I know the temptation is to say, “well, there is room for one more.”
But that would have missed an great opportunity. I answered her in the affirmative and said that when it comes to the heart of Christianity, we know that we are all hypocrites. That is the point. No one lives up to the righteous requirements of the Law. This is why we need Jesus as our Savior. He did live up to those requirements. In doing so, He is able to save any hypocrite that is willing to trust in Him for salvation.
I hope it and pray it planted a seed that the Spirit will water with the word. We will see. She seemed quite bitter about religion in general. In fact, her main attack was on the Roman Catholic Church and Jews in Israel. That shouldn’t surprise us since they suffer from the same problems we do. But I think it wise to admit our short comings and point to Christ. He is the answer to our hypocritical problem.