Sunday, July 29, 2012

The New Litmus Test

With the events last week concerning the owner of Chick-fil-A we see some of the results of the spiritual climate in our country.  For merely taking the biblical stance that marriage is only between a man and woman he is being ridiculed and told by some cities that his business is no longer welcomed.  Christians need to understand that the homosexual agenda has every intention of making this the new litmus test in society as to whether you can “buy and sell”; much like the Romans did when they required all citizens to utter the words “Caesar is Lord” to expose who was a Christian or not. 
Right after this came out in the news I heard some in the national media refer to him as a bigot and a hater thus demonstrating their inability for rational thought.  But remember, he merely stated a biblical position.  It is obvious that the left doesn’t want any position but their own stated in the public forum and are even trying to enforce it through legislature.  As someone rightly stated, “They have two tenets, free speech and shut up”.  Everyone is allowed to speak freely except those who disagree with them.
The ramifications are chilling when one will think back to Nazi Germany when all opposition was silenced and we are seeing America and western culture take the same road.  Already in Canada they are passing laws that makes saying anything negative about the homosexual lifestyle a hate crime.  Mind you, not doing physical harm but merely disagreeing with them.
I fear that many Christians are too used to having it easy in America and will be unwilling to take a stand in these areas.  Perhaps we might try to justify it by thinking that this isn’t about Christ and the gospel so why make a big deal over it.  But my point is that it is being forced on us and deliberately so and to compromise by accepting homosexuality as not a sin is to deny the clear teaching of Scripture.
Just because someone comes along after thousands of years and says that they believe the sky is all of the sudden red doesn’t mean that it is no longer blue.  Jesus stated very clearly that marriage is between a man and a woman and it was pronounced so at creation.  Those that say he didn’t address homosexuality then are just showing their refusal to think rationally let alone respect other opinions.  Remember, the Bible also teaches that any sexual intercourse outside of marriage is sinful so same sex intercourse can never take place in an acceptable way before God.
But isn’t this what happens to generations that are told that the Genesis account isn’t to be taken literally; that there was no Adam and Eve because there is no God and therefore no Law?  Any way you slice it all this is an attack on the authority of God’s Word and therefore God himself and Christianity.
I know there are those who through the years have disagreed with pastors who try to show how important it is to study the Bible, to be faithful to all the church services when possible thinking that we make too much over all this.  But we see the result of not taking God and his Word seriously and therefore not being careful to teach your children the Bible and to make the preaching of God’s Word a big part of their life.  Just as bad, they then send their children to the public schools to be taught the exact opposite from what God’s Word teaches and make little to no effort to combat this. 
The Bible alone gives man the proper worldview and to remove yourself from its influence is to condemn yourself and the culture to secular humanism which always implodes on itself.  It is like the law of physics that states that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.  You can’t deny what the Bible says and you can’t live like it isn’t important without serious consequences.  It is a Christian’s calling to state clearly what the Bible teaches about any subject come what may.  I fear many times Christians are silent because they don’t know what the Bible even says about many subjects.  To be silent dishonors God’s Word and eventually will bring down a society.  I offer America as a prime example.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Just As I Am?

Sometimes it is good to keep not only a biblical perspective on things but also a historical one as well.  In the early church under the Roman Empire all Christians understood that one of their primary missions was evangelization.  This meant they were to go to their neighbor and the entire world and tell them that unless they repent of their sin and trust wholly on Christ they would parish in their sins, period; no other options were available.

The first half of this has been forgotten by many professing to be the church today in America.  We love to tell people to “add” Christ to their life so that they can be everything God wants them to be; kind of like the U. S. Army adds, “Be all you can be”.  But we are failing to make it clear to them that Christ doesn’t just “accept them as they are”.  Perhaps we sang “Just As I Am” too many times growing up so that we have come to think that Christ is offering to save us regardless of how we are living.  He just wants us to include him in our life so we can find fulfillment.  But I doubt the writer of that song meant it that way.  I would suppose she meant that we can offer nothing of our own works when we come to Christ.  It is his work alone that saves; like another song says, “Nothing in my hand I bring; simply to thy cross I cling”. 

The fact of the matter is that it is precisely because we are filthy sinners that God will not accept us but, instead, will cast us from his presence forever unless our sins are forgiven in Christ.  The early Christians understood this and so they called on the ancient pagans to turn from their wickedness, to repent, to turn away from it and follow after Christ.  In case we have forgotten, this didn’t go over too well.  For their willingness to point out that people were ruined sinners who were offensive to God and must turn from those sins they were slaughtered by the millions.  But the flip side was that people were saved by the millions.  This came by repentance and faith, not just faith.  Their converts likewise turned from lives given over to doing their will and started to live for their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

My point is then that we need to understand that nothing has changed for us today.  But Satan has learned a thing or two over the years and so he has gotten our culture to start redefining our sin as sickness, disorders, phobias and the such.  But just as evil he is getting some to say that certain activities the Bible defines as sin are not really sinful at all but to be celebrated.  And so one of the agendas of the homosexuals is to say that there is nothing wrong with being a homosexual and they would like it to be unlawful to even suggest it is sinful. 

What bothers me the most though is that many in the church are falling prey to this mindset and are welcoming those who are living in open sin into the churches as if God loves them and will accept them for who they are (read: how he has made them).  But we need to be very careful here.  If we start redefining sin we lose any reason to call on people to repent which in turn relinquishes any need for a cross to trust in. 

I think we have too many running around today trying to cuddle up to the world instead of standing apart from them calling them to leave one kingdom and enter another kingdom.  What the homosexual and all sinners need to hear is that unless they repent of all they are and trust in Christ as both their Lord and Savior God will not accept them as they are but, in fact, his wrath rests on them at this very moment.  This is how each one of us was converted if, in fact, we are converted.  We are all equally born ruined sinners who must be saved the same way.

This will bring their wrath and persecution but God never said to expect anything else.  But let us be encouraged it will also bring about converts and I don’t read of any other way to make this happen.

Friday, July 13, 2012

There Is More Than One Way To Get Drunk

Eph 5:18  “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit”.  As I was considering this verse the thought came to me that it is generally easier for Christians to make the easy and obvious applications from the Bible without meditating long enough to make the more difficult applications. 

Even on the surface this verse is doing more than just telling us not to get drunk.  It is also telling us why drunkenness is sinful.  We are to be under the control of the Holy Spirit by growing in the Word of God so that we might lead God-honoring lives.  Being controlled by the flesh defeats the whole purpose God saved us for and this is made even worse when we are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  Paul says elsewhere that it is our duty to bring our bodies under control lest we waste our lives for the wrong reasons, 1Co 9:27  But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified

But like I said, that is the easy and obvious application and there have been plenty of Christians who have taken this verse so seriously that they won’t drink at all.  And that is all well and good as long as we don’t stop there and think that this is all Paul is getting at.  If we move from this example to a more general application I think we find out that even the teetotalers can easily miss the overall point of how to apply this principle. 

The overall principle to follow here is to be under the influence of the Holy Spirit through God’s Word all the time and not to let anything else influence the way we think and live.  For example, I might not have ever even tasted alcohol or taken any illegal drugs but if I am so weak in the Word and have so little discernment that I lap up every book I read or movie I see or I let the culture around me influence my thinking as much or more than the Bible, I am guilty of walking “under the influence” of this world rather than my Lord. 

There are plenty of Christians who would never think to get drunk on alcohol but believe everything they read or hear as long as it claims to be Christian and many times it can be clearly unbiblical.  They spend countless hours in front of the television or getting most of their info off the internet or lapping up the latest pop psychology from their therapist but haven’t been careful to grow strong in the Faith and so cannot discern many times truth from error.  The point I am making is that this is just as dishonoring to the Lord as someone staggering home from the bar at 2:00 in the morning.  Consider what the Bible has to say about being in darkness and living in this world stumbling around because we will not live by the Light: Rom. 13:12  The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.

Eph 5:8  for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.

1Th_5:5  For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.

1Jn_1:6  If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

There is more than one way to stagger around like someone who isn’t thinking clearly.  Yes, it might be because you have drunk too much but it might also be because you have drunk too much of this world’s vain philosophies that cause us to live apart from the light God has already given us to guide us on our way.  The lost do not need Christians who think like they do and live for the same things and for the same reasons they do but they do need to see Christians who are walking in the Light and not stumbling around in the same darkness they are.  Christians should live and think as differently from the lost as light is from darkness.

Lord help us not to be drunk on false teachings but to think clearly by the Word of God and judge all things in its light.  

Saturday, July 7, 2012

When is it Better to Be Dead?

Mat 18:6  “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Mat 18:7  Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!”

As I was preparing a message from Matthew 18 I was struck by the words of Jesus here.  He is pronouncing woe on any and all who cause others to sin.  While vs. 7 seems to speak specifically to the lost world, vs. 6 has no such distinction and seems to include anyone, Christian or not.  He certainly is saying that it is a very serious sin to not just sin yourself but to cause his saints to sin will bring even greater judgment. 

But what was impressed on me was Christ’s view of life itself.  It is clear that as far as he was concerned life was about doing the will of the Father which is the opposite of sin.  In fact, this is why God made this earth and gives mankind life; to serve him in all things to his ultimate glory.  By saying that those who tempt others to live in the rebellion of putting their own will first are better off dead, Christ seems to take a radically different approach to life than many do today. 

Historically I believe that Christians understood that life was a gift from God in which we were to be good stewards of everything we have for his glory; much like a slave’s primary purpose was to serve his master.  Thus to live for yourself defeats the purpose you were created for.  For many today life is seen as something that we are to pursue for our own happiness and well-being and God’s primary purpose is to help us be happy and fulfilled.  Some have labeled this, “Your Best Life Now”. 

But notice that Jesus is saying not only that we are here for the Lord first and foremost but if we aren’t fulfilling that purpose but are instead being an influence the other way, we don’t deserve to be alive at all!  Far from human life being the most important thing--God’s honor is.  And if we don’t live for that purpose we are better off dead.  And not only that, it is better to die a violent death than to continue to live! 

He isn’t telling Christians to kill people of course but he is saying that if life isn’t lived for God we don’t deserve it and don’t be surprised if he takes it away from you as he was doing in 1 Cor. 11. 

One final question might be how is it better to be dead rather than alive in this situation?  Perhaps one answer might be that for a Christian it is better to have life cut short lest we do more harm than good in the Kingdom of God and for the lost person it is better to have life cut short lest their judgment be worse by being allowed to commit more and more sin against the Lord.