Speak the Truth in Love. This article summarizes this position very well.
by Jonathan Parnell published 4/21/2014 at Desiring God.org
Homosexuality is not the only sin mentioned in 1 Corinthians 6:9–10.
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
It’s not the only sin mentioned, but it is different from all the rest, at least right now. At this moment in history, contrary to the other sins listed here, homosexuality is celebrated by our larger society with pioneering excitement. It’s seen as a good thing, as the new hallmark of progress.
To be sure, the masses increasingly make no bones about sin in general. Innumerable people are idolaters, not to mention those who are sexually immoral, or who commit adultery, or who steal and are greedy and get wasted and revile neighbors and swindle others. It happens all the time. And each of these unrepentant sins are the same in the sense of God’s judgment. They all deserve his wrath. And we’re constantly reminded that “such were some of you” (1 Corinthians 6:11).
Concerning Popular Opinion
But as far as I know, none of those sins are applauded so aggressively by whole groups of people who advocate for their normalcy. Sexual immorality is no longer the tip of the spear for the progressive push. Adultery is still frowned upon by many. Accusations of greed will still smear a candidate’s political campaign. Thievery is still not openly embraced, and there are no official initiatives saying it’s okay to go steal things that don’t belong to you. There’s no such thing as a drunk agenda yet. Most aren’t proud to choose a beverage over stability, and there aren’t any petitions that the government should abolish the driving restrictions of inebriated individuals. Reviling others still isn’t seen as the best way to win friends and influence people. Swindling, especially on a corporate level, usually gets someone thrown into jail. In fact, the infrastructure of the American economy depends upon, in some measure, our shared disdain for conniving scammers.
Perhaps excepting fornication, these sins are still seen in a pretty negative light. But not homosexual practice, not by those who are now speaking loudest and holding positions of prominence. According to the emerging consensus, homosexuality is different.
What to Be Against
As Christians, we believe with deepest sincerity that the embrace of homosexual practice, along with other sins, keeps people out of the kingdom of God. And if our society celebrates it, we can’t both be caring and not say anything. Too much is at stake. This means it is an oversimplification to say that Christians — or conservative evangelicals — are simply against homosexuality. We are against any sin that restrains people from everlasting joy in God, and homosexual practice just gets all the press because, at this cultural moment, it’s the main sin that is so freshly endorsed in our context by the powers that be. Let’s hope that if there’s some new cultural agenda promoting thievery — one that says it’s now our right to take whatever we want from others by whatever means — that Christians will speak out against it. The issue is sin. That’s what we’re against. And that’s what should make our voice so unique when we speak into this debate.
Some would like to see this whole issue of homosexuality divided into two camps: those who celebrate it and those who hate it. Both of these groups exist in our society. There are the growing numbers, under great societal pressure, who praise homosexuality. We might call them the left. And there are people who hate homosexuality, with the most bigoted rationale and apart from any Christian concern. We might call them the right.
Those Glorious Words
The current debate is plagued by this binary lens. Those on the left try to lump everyone who disagrees with them into that right side. If you don’t support, you hate. Meanwhile, those on the right see compromise and spinelessness in anyone who doesn’t get red-faced and militant. If you don’t hate, you support.
But true followers of Christ will walk neither path. We have something to say that no one else is saying, or can say.
Distancing ourselves from both the left and the right, we don’t celebrate homosexual practice, we acknowledge God’s clear revealed word that it is sin; and we don’t hate those who embrace homosexuality, we love them enough to not just collapse under the societal pressure. We speak the truth in love into this confusion, saying, simultaneously, “That’s wrong” and “I love you.” We’re not the left; we say, this is wrong. And we’re not the right; we say, you’re loved. We speak good news, with those sweetest, deepest, most glorious words of the cross — the same words that God spoke us — “You’re wrong, and you’re loved.”
God tells us we’re wrong, that the wages of sin is death, that unrepentant rebellion means judgment, that our rescue required the cursed death of his Son (Romans 3:23; John 3:36; Galatians 3:13). And God tells us we’re loved, that even while we were sinners, Jesus died for us, that while we were unrighteous, Jesus suffered in our place, that though we were destined for wrath, Jesus welcomes us into glory (Romans 5:8; 1 Peter 3:18; Ephesians 2:1–7).
Where the Gospel Shines
You’re wrong and you’re loved — that’s the unique voice of the Christian. That’s what we say, speaking from our own experience, as Tim Keller so well puts it, “we’re far worse than we ever imagined, and far more loved than we could ever dream.”
That’s our message in this debate, when society’s elites despise us, when pop songs vilify us, when no one else has the resources to say anything outside of two extremes, we have this incomparable opportunity to let the gospel shine, to reach out in grace: you’re wrong and you’re loved. We get to say this.
That’s why homosexuality is not like other sins.
Here is an excellent article from Trevin Wax that struck a chord in my heart. I added some emphasis below where I found are some real gems in his text. I want to quote one gem here: regarding Jesus, Trevin says that he sees “…a King who didn’t hold back anything from His people, and who expects His people to hold back nothing from Him…” See earlier post in my WordPress site, or click here for help in holding nothing back from our Lord and Savior: https://willemdax.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/seven-ways-to-pray-for-your-heart/
by Trevin Wax published Aug 1, 2013 on TheGospelCoalition.org
In a recent column for CNN, Rachel Held Evans offers some thoughts on “why millennials are leaving the church.” Her post struck a chord with readers. She is addressing a perennial topic of conversation among church leaders and church goers: what will happen to the next generation.
Like Rachel, I’m 32 – right on the border of the millennials, and many of the questions and doubts I hear from the millennial generation resonate with me too. But my analysis differs somewhat from Rachel’s.
Rachel thinks millennials are leaving the church due to the perception that evangelicals are
“… too political, too exclusive, old-fashioned, unconcerned with social justice and hostile to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”
She’s right to decry a vision of Christianity that reduces repentance to a list of do’s and don’ts. I too have noticed that many millennials desire to be involved in mercy ministry and support justice causes. And I couldn’t agree more when she says “we want churches that emphasize an allegiance to the kingdom of God over an allegiance to a single political party or a single nation.”
The Church’s Response
How has the church responded? Rachel sees church leaders trying to update their music or preaching style, and thereby running up against the “highly sensitive BS meters” we millennials have. We’re not fooled by consumerism or performances when churches cater to what they think we want.
“What millennials really want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance.”
I agree with that sentence for the most part, although I would tweak the last line to say “What millennials really want from the church is substance.” Not a change in substance, necessarily, just substance will do.
Too often, our churches have offered a sanitized, spiritualized version of self-help therapy, and Jesus has been missing. And that’s the problem. Like every generation, she says, “deep down we long for Jesus.”
Here’s where Rachel and I part ways – on what communities following Jesus look like in our culture.
The Biblical Jesus
When I read the Gospels, I’m confronted by a Jesus who explodes our categories of righteousness and sin, repentance and forgiveness, and power and purity.
I meet a Jesus who doesn’t do away with the Law of the Old Testament, but ramps up the demands in order to lead us to Himself – the One who calls us to life-altering repentance and faith.
I see a King who makes utterly exclusive claims, and doesn’t seem to care who is offended.
I see a King who didn’t hold back anything from His people, and who expects His people to hold back nothing from Him.
Is the Church Obsessed with Sex, or is it the Culture?
Following Jesus leaves no part of our life unchanged.
That’s why it strikes me as odd that Rachel sees “obsession with sex” as one of the biggest obstacles for contemporary Christianity to overcome. I visit lots of churches, and I find that sexuality is not a frequently discussed subject from most church platforms or Bible studies. In fact, one could make the case that Christians haven’t talked enough about Jesus’ radical zealousness when it comes to sexuality. The fact that cohabitation, premarital sex and pornography are often overlooked among our congregations betrays the vision of sexuality Jesus put forward – a vision of the sacredness of a man and woman’s covenant for life, one that excludes even lustful thoughts from God’s design.
When it comes to sexual obsession, we ought to take a look at pop culture. One can hardly watch a TV show or a popular movie without being assaulted with sexual innuendos, crude jokes, or overt displays of all kinds of sexuality. Pastors and church leaders go on news talk shows and are badgered about their views of sexuality, as if nothing else matters but that the church join in and celebrate our culture’s embrace of Aphrodite in all her warped splendor.
Challenged to Holiness
Rachel says millennials want to be “challenged to holiness,” but the challenge she appears to be advocating is one on our own terms and according to our own preferences. That’s why I find it ironic that she decries the catering churches that alert our “BS meters,” while simultaneously telling church leaders they should do a better job catering to our generation’s whims and wishes. (She has since clarified this as not a list of demands, but desires and dreams.)
Truth be told, I don’t want a church that serves my preferences. I want a church that gives me Jesus and makes me want to serve His.
Counting the Cost
One sign of Jesus’ Spirit is He convicts the world of sin (John 16:8). The sign of the spirit of this age is that the world is coddled instead of convicted. And those who marry the spirit of this age will always be widowed in the next.
Perhaps that’s why millennials have left the churches that most resemble the type of community described by Rachel at rates far greater than evangelical churches. When the counter-cultural message of Jesus is softened or tweaked, or the raging idols of this age (such as money, sex, and power) are overlooked or ignored, the cost of Christianity disappears. Christianity without a cost is Christianity without the cross. And Christianity without the cross isn’t Christianity at all.
What Kind of Millennial Christian Will We Be?
Some millennials, like many from generations before us, want the church to become a mirror – a reflection of our particular preferences, desires, and dreams. But other millennials want a Christianity that shapes and changes our preferences, desires, and dreams.
We’re eager to pass the gospel on to the next generation, to live in ways that call into question the idolatries of our age, to stand in a long line of believers who have been out of the mainstream, constantly maligned and misrepresented, but who love Jesus, love people, and aren’t afraid to call everyone to repentance.
That’s a Christianity this millennial believes is worth dying for, but also one that’s worth living out in a local church with other believers from all generations.
Excellent, must-listen podcast today from Dr. John Piper
A Response to the First Republican Senator to Support Gay Marriage — a new Ask Pastor John podcast response to a breaking news story
by Jon Bloom | February 15, 2013
The old hymn says it beautifully: “Grace, grace, God’s grace; grace that is greater than all my sin.”
But the grace of God is not only great enough to “pardon and cleanse within.” It is so powerful, as Joseph’s older brothers learned in Genesis 45, that it can turn the most horrible sin you have ever committed against another, or has ever been committed against you, and make it the slave of his mercy.
“What do you mean he’s alive?” Jacob had no place to put Rueben’s words.
“I know it’s unbelievable, Father,” Rueben replied. “We hardly believe it and we saw him with our own eyes. The Egyptian lord—the one who demanded that we bring Benjamin—it’s Joseph. He’s not only alive, he’s…” Reuben stumbled over the strange sentence. “He’s now ruling Egypt for Pharaoh.”
Jacob squinted skeptically. A son dead for two decades is not easily resurrected. “You are cruel to tell me such a thing unless you have no doubt.”
“I have no doubt, Father. It’s going to take hours to tell you everything. But we spoke with him. We ate with him in his house.”
Simeon couldn’t resist: “He sat us around the table in the order of our births! Before any of us knew who he was! We thought he was a magician!”
“And you should have seen how much food he placed before Benjamin!” joked Zebulun, giving Benjamin’s head an affectionate push.
Reuben continued, “He told us himself, Father: ‘I am your brother, Joseph.’ We responded just like you’re doing now. I thought he was tricking us. But after talking to him for hours there’s no doubt. It’s him. And the first thing he wanted to know was, ‘Is my father still alive?’” (Genesis 45:3).
Jacob’s stony expression didn’t change, though his eyes were wet. He moved them from son to son, lingering on Benjamin. Then back to Reuben. “But you showed me his bloody robe. He was attacked by a wild animal. If he survived, why didn’t he ever come home? Why would he go to Egypt? Joseph would never have forsaken me.”
The moment had come — the one they had dreaded the whole way home. For 22 years they had kept this festering wound of wickedness concealed from their father. But now God had exposed it. Shame bent the heads of nine sons. Judah was the exception. He had asked to break this news to their father. He had led in their sin. He would lead in owning it. “Joseph didn’t forsake you, Father,” said Judah, stepping forward. “He was forsaken. No, worse, he was betrayed.”
Jacob stared at Judah. “Betrayed by whom?”
“By his own brothers. Brothers who hated him for having his father’s favor. Brothers who hated him for having God’s favor.” Judah pushed hard the heavy words. “We actually talked of killing him, but decided instead to profit from his demise. We sold him to Ishmaelite traders on their way to Egypt. To my lasting shame, Father, that was my idea — to sell my own brother as a slave. The blood on his robe was goat’s blood. We were the wild animals.”
Jacob sat down. Anger and hope churned together in his soul. The silence was long. Then Judah said, “His dream came true.” Jacob looked up again. “Joseph’s dream; it came true. All eleven of us bowed down before him in Egypt. We sold him into slavery because of this dream, never dreaming ourselves that we were helping fulfill it.”
Rueben added, “Joseph holds no bitterness, Father. You know what he told us? ‘God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God’” (Genesis 45:7-8).
“In fact,” said Judah, “he wants us all to come live near him in Egypt to escape the famine. That’s why we’ve brought all these wagons. He said, ‘You must tell my father of all my honor in Egypt, and of all that you have seen. Hurry and bring my father down here’” (Genesis 45:13).
Jacob sat deep in thought for a long time. Then he shook his head and said, “It is enough; Joseph my son is still alive. I will go and see him before I die” (Genesis 45:28).
What Joseph’s ten older brothers did to him was heinous. They made him the merchandise of international human trafficking. They subjected him to slavery and sexual abuse. With no rights or defense, he was thrown into prison to rot. These likely left Joseph with life-long scars.
But note Joseph’s words: “it was not you who sent me here, but God” (Genesis 45:8). Neither treacherous siblings nor a woman’s lust nor the shame of prison nor a cupbearer’s neglect could thwart the purpose of God (Job 42:2) in preserving God’s people (Genesis 45:7) and fulfilling a prophecy given to Abraham (Genesis 15:13). God made evil the slave of his grace.
And he’s doing the same for you. God is doing more good than you can imagine through the most painful experiences of your life.
If you’ve sinned against someone else, do everything in your power to make things right. But know this: your sin is no match for God’s grace.
And if you find yourself in a place you do not want to be as a result of someone else’s sin, take heart. God knows, and he knows what he’s doing. Stay faithful. In time he will show you that he sent you for redemptive reasons you would have never guessed.
[Read the original article at Desiring God.org]
After that great Paul Harvey Ad, “God Made a Farmer” I was thinking about how much I loved his radio spots. May God rest his soul. One particular radio spot comes to mind that was first broadcast in 1965. I was only 5 then, but I have heard it severl times later. And it is more relevant today, I think, then it was back then. Paul Harvey was being most prophetic when he broadcast this. Click here for that video, and scroll near the bottom of that page for the actual video
Click on the image below for the great 2013 Super Bowl Ad, “God Made a Farmer”
article by Scott Ashley
It’s that time of year again! You’ll soon be barraged by the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas. Shoppers will soon go into spending overdrive, and when the bills arrive, some will wonder if it’s really worth it. Here’s a perspective from one who kicked the Christmas habit.
Christmas is a hugely popular holiday celebrated by some 2 billion people worldwide. It’s become such an ingrained part of modern culture that even people in nations with little or no Christian history or tradition are celebrating it in increasing numbers.
Christmas is so big that it plays a key role in the economies of many nations. In the U.S. retail industry, the day after the Thanksgiving holiday is commonly known as “Black Friday”—not because it’s bad, but because this marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season and stores that have been “in the red”—operating at a loss all year—suddenly see their sales shoot up so fast that they are now operating in the black (at a profit) the rest of the year. “Black Friday” is the biggest shopping day of the year due to its Christmas sales.
Christmas is big— very big. Schools and colleges commonly take a week or longer break at this time, some businesses shut down to give their employees time off, many families plan trips and get-togethers, and some people darken the door of a church for perhaps the first time all year.
by Phil Vischer
November 18, 2012
I listened this morning to a TV sermon from a popular TV preacher.
“Sermon” may be the wrong term. It was a motivational talk about the power of positive thinking. It could have been given by Mary Lou Retton to a ballroom full of industrial lubricant salespeople. There were biblical references, but they were for the purpose of illustration, not exposition. Christ had nothing to do with the message. Positive life change comes from replacing negative messages with positive ones. The preacher inadvertently almost quoted exactly Stuart Smalley from Saturday Night Live – “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough…”
It was a helpful message. People applauded. They were encouraged. What it wasn’t, was Christian. It wasn’t Christianity. Life change in Christianity doesn’t come from positive thinking. It doesn’t come from thinking more highly of yourself. Or replacing negative messages with positive ones. It comes from dying to yourself and being reborn in Christ. A new creation.
Here’s a thought:
Christian mass communicators often resort to self-help motivation over actual Christian teaching because it is easier to communicate, and, in fact, it gets results. People’s lives ARE improved – on a mass scale. There wouldn’t be a self-help industry if self-help didn’t work. There wouldn’t be an Oprah if self-help didn’t work.
The problem is, what they’re teaching isn’t Christianity. Even when sprinkled liberally with Bible references. Christianity starts with dying to one’s self, not thinking more positive thoughts about one’s self. But that’s harder to teach through mass media. It is not a particularly appealing message. It’s countercultural. And it doesn’t initially sound like what we want. We want to achieve our dreams – not die to them. Not give them up. We want to “increase,” not “decrease.” We don’t actually want to follow Jesus. We want Jesus to follow us – to pick up after us – clean up our messes with his Jesus superpowers.