Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Homophobia, Does it Interfere with Evangelism?

Season's Greetings to all my Brothers and Sisters in the Faith
Grace and Peace to You in the Name of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

You may have heard it on the news, but for those of you who haven't I shall fill you in. The information I have was taken from an AP article, so I'm not sure how reliable it is, but all the same, according to them, a southern Cal. Lesbian couple is suing A Bed and Breakfast in Hawai'i Kai, because the owner denied them a room due to their orientation. They did find a room in a bed and breakfast in Waikiki, but the experience "Soured their trip." When the Hawai'i Civil Rights Commission investigated the report, they stated that the owner said that Homosexuality is "detestable," and that is "defiles our land," and promptly notified the couple of their right to sue. According to the people commenting on the article, mainstream Christian churches and the Mormon church are to blame for corrupting the Hawaiians' "laid back and tolerant culture."

What has been said deeply saddens me. No, I do not support homosexuality, it is a vile and detestable sin, but so is premarital sex, stealing, coveting, bearing false witness, having Gods before YHWH, and not honoring your father and mother. In fact, I would go so far as to say that all sin is just as vile and detestable as the others, and that all sins deserve the shunning and fear that we Christians seem to give to those of the Homosexual orientation. The apostle James tells us in James 2:10 "For whoever keeps the whole law but fails at one point has become accountable for all of it." Therefore, the answer to the question in the title of this post is, yes. Homophobia interferes with evangelism, and you know it! Instead of banning the homosexual couple from her bed and breakfast, perhaps the woman should have done as Gimli in the Two Towers film said when the Uruk-Hai began their attack on Helm's Deep and said, "Send them to me!" Settling into a battle stance and gripping her Bible with two hands, preparing to share the gospel with them and sow the seeds for the Holy Spirit to drive a cross-shaped wooden stake through the heart of their sin (how's that for mixing of metaphors?).  Perhaps we, as Christians, should overcome our homophobia and share the gospel with them at all cost and at every opportunity, knowing that they only have one life to be saved, and hoping that perhaps they will accept the all-sufficient sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, and be saved by the grace of God.

Of course, there are times when we need to take a hard stance against homosexuality and blatantly point out that it is wrong, instead of trying to share the gospel and let the words of Jesus Christ and the Apostles do the rest. Examples of these circumstances are the Gay Christian Network (with new tools to help you as a christian parent understand your homosexual children (not help them come to the realization and repentance of their sins)), or the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (which ordains homosexual pastors). In these instances, the people in question should know better than to smile upon Christians who continue in their homosexual ways after they are saved. There are numerous plain, unambiguous texts that show us that continuing in the sin of homosexuality after being saved is wrong, dangerous, and proves that you probably weren't saved in the first place. The teaching of the apostle Paul in Romans 1:18-27 could be made no clearer when he says "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them... 20b So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools... 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations with those that are contrary to nature; 27 and their men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error" (emphasis added by myself). With christian lesbians, we must do several things. First, open the Bible, and share with them this passage, and any others like it. Second, pray that they may come to the realization of their sins and repent. Begging God to forgive them for defiling the faith and spurning the Word of God with their beliefs that it was ok for them to continue in their sins after being saved. 

With any group of homosexuals, either Christian or non-Christian, we must remember that it is not the person that God hates, but the sin. God may hate all sin, but he loves all the people, and he sent his son to die for homosexuals just as much as the rest of this murderous, covetous, lying, stealing people who have accepted the gift of God and turned our back on our former ways, daily striving to put a stake through the heart of our sin. If we see a brother or sister who is struggling with homosexuality, we must come alongside them and help them to overcome their struggling by teaching them the true Word of God and reminding them that Christ died to forgive them of their sins and that he defeated sin once and for all on the cross, that we may be saved from our sins and daily bear fruit in keeping with this repentance. 

So, what would you do if A) you owned a bed and breakfast, and B) you had a homosexual couple asking you for a room. Post your thoughts in a comment.

Finally, what did you think of this post? I'd love to hear your feedback.

Your Brother in Christ,


John 8:7-11 "And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, 'Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.' 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, 'Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?' 11 She said, 'No one, Lord.' And Jesus said, 'Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.'"

"Christianity is not about doing, but being." Pastor John Danganan

Christianity is not a set of rules and regulations that you must follow, but is about striving to be more like Christ.

p.s. if you want to read the full article, you can find it here

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christ Wins @ Christmas

Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Merry Christmas! I hope this post finds you safe and well. It's that time of year again, when a feeling of peace and tranquility permeates the air (except in shopping centers), and people take a break from what they are doing to visit friends and relatives. It is also at this time that Christians traditionally celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Although modern scholars are almost certain that he wasn't born this time of year, I will not be discussing that. Instead, I want to go with tradition, and talk a bit about the coming of the Lamb of God, who took away the sins of the world. 
In Genesis Chapter 3 God says an offspring of Eve will bruise the serpent's head, and the serpent will bruise his heel. While some modern scholars point to the natural hate of humans towards snakes, I will be going with the traditional view, which holds that this is the first announcement of the gospel, that one would come and defeat the serpent (Satan). Throughout the Old Testament there is an underlying expectation that this savior would come, and there are numerous prophesies, which the birth of Jesus fulfilled, and which I have no time to get into. The birth of Jesus Christ, the servant king, the Son of God, was what paved the way for his later death and subsequent resurrection. The first coming of Christ was lowly, in a manger, wrapped in swaddling cloths, with no servants to see to his every need and to announce his arrival, but with shepherds, summoned to the manger by angels.

Every Christmas I wonder how this holiday became greater than Easter. Because if the birth of Christ is important, the death and resurrection - as a penal substitution for us - is even more important. His birth did nothing for us, other than the fact that it fulfilled numerous prophesies and showed us how he came not to be served, but to serve. His death and resurrection, on the other hand, displayed for us the supreme love of God (that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us). Many have misinterpreted his death, such as Rob Bell in his recent book Love Wins, in which he holds that no God who would send people to Hell just for not believing in his son would not be worthy of worship. To which I would counter that God does not send people to Hell because they don't believe in his son, he sends people to Hell because he is perfectly just and holy, and cannot abide sin. Sin cannot enter heaven, because sin cannot endure the presence of God (Rom. 6:23a "for the wages of sin is death,") . But Love does win, because God is also all loving (2 Pet. 3:9 "The Lord is not slow in fulfilling his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance."), and he sent his one and only son to die in the sinner's stead, taking the punishment of sin for us (John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he have his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life."). If we accept the gift of God (Rom. 6:23b "but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."), repenting of our sin and accepting the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, then we are no longer condemned of our sin, but Christ's blood washes us white as snow, and our sins are blotted out. We are then capable of getting to heaven, not through any work of our own, but by the grace of God. 

So yes, love wins, not in the way that Rob Bell sees it - where even those who died in rebellion to God go to heaven and live in his presence until they are eventually wooed to faith (technically that wouldn't be faith, it would be knowledge) - but through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, and Christ wins.

So, as you do your last minute Christmas shopping, make your rounds to deliver gifts, visit your family, or spend a relaxing day shoveling snow from your driveway, remember that the birth of Christ is just the beginning of the greatest story ever, how God's son died for us, while we were his enemies. 

Have a merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Your Brother in Christ,

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Requirements of the Pastoral Office

Grace and peace be with you all in our Lord Jesus Christ,

In this post I will be going over the requirements of the pastoral office as listed in the Bible, I may or may not get through all of them, so if I miss one please post it in a comment with the Bible reference so I can look into it and everyone may grow in knowledge and understanding of God's word. Do to the fact that I am preparing for training to be a pastor I felt it would be good to go through this. Most of what I will be going over will be from 1st &2nd Timothy and Titus, the "Pastoral" epistles. The Apostle Paul didn't receive a get-out-of-jail-free card when it came to the word (Acts 17:10-12), therefore myself, or anyone else for that matter, shouldn't receive one either, so feel free to compare what I type here to what is put forward in the word of God.

First, and most important, a pastor must believe that the Bible is the one and only inspired word of God (2 Tim. 15-17), sharper than any double edged sword (Heb. 4:12&13), and adequate for teaching, correction, and training (Col. 3:15-17). He must be ready in season and out of season to preach the word (2 Tim. 4:1&2).

An aspiring pastor must be sober-minded, self-controlled, and hospitable. He must be the husband of one wife, his children must be obedient, and he must be able to manage his household well. Finally, he must be well thought of outside the Christian community. (1 Tim. 3:1-7).

A pastor must be able to rightly divide the word of God, that is, proper distinction between Law and gospel (1 Tim. 1:8-11). Usually how a good pastor will interpret this is to preach the law and then the gospel, the Law being used to shock people with the realization of their sins, shining light into the darkness (Eph. 5:11-13), and then follow up with the gospel, allowing non-believers (yes you, my unsaved friend) to hear that they can be saved from the wrath of our wholly righteous and perfectly just God (Gen. 18:25, Ezra 9:14&15, Job 8:3, Psa. 9:7&8, and many more), and assuring born again believers of their salvation (I don't know about you, but I find it a great relief when I hear the words "Christ died for you, brother, your sins have been forgiven.") (Gal. 2:15-21, 1 Cor. 6:9-11. Heb. 10:11-14, and so many more than I have room for). All too often I hear pastors (and Sunday school teachers), teaching and preaching Law, gospel, law, "To be saved, you have to do this that and the other thing, but don't worry, Christ did it for you! But guess what, now, in order to be fully justified, you need to do all these things! And just to make sure you're doing it, let's go check your tithing record, because your money is most important..." Ok, they don't say that exactly, but if you broke down some of the sermons I've listened to from various pastors, that is pretty much what you end up with. Friend, if you are in a church that preaches law-gospel-law, remember this. Christ died for your sins, they were totally, completely, unequivocally paid for on that Cross when he died, there is nothing you, or me, or anyone else on this Earth, can do to be worthy of his death or even add to it. We are not Roman Catholic, we are not Mormon, we are not Muslim, we are Christian. We have a God who died for all of our sins. Yes, we should bear fruit in keeping with repentance and that forgiveness of sins, but there is a big difference between not being able to stop ourselves from doing works because of the Spirit of God within us, and doing works because we feel that perhaps Christ's death wasn't enough (or because we must hold the Five Pillars to reach paradise). God is totally just, but he is also merciful, and he provided a way out (read any and every gospel [Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John]). Jesus Christ is the one and only son of God.

A pastor must be willing to feed and care for God's sheep (John 21:15-19). Many people may interpret this many different ways, but I believe this to mean that as a pastor, one must be willing to see to the needs of his portion of Christ's flock, not looking after only himself and his family, but all of the children of light in the congregation. Whether this means that a pastor should appoint deacons to care for the flock (Acts 6:1-7), or if they see to it themselves (a monumental task), I feel is up to the pastor, the size of the congregation, and the relative needs of those in the congregation. Either way is still Biblical.

Finally, a pastor must preach sound doctrine. If the congregation or the elders want the pastor to a sermon series on the moral underlines of Star Wars, it is up to him to tell them it is his duty to preach the Word and the Word only. Paul himself states in 1 Corinthians 9:16, "Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!" Therefore, if Paul, who was an expert in the Bible, and received training from Christ, and was shown a vision of heaven, didn't preach random things but preached the word only, then what right have I, who learned only from translations of Paul's writings, to preach other than the word?

It has been great doing this post, and if I missed anything, I am sorry, but I wrote this over the course of several days, and some things are bound to be skipped. I hope you found this post insightful, thought provoking, and will post your thoughts in the comments. Thank you for reading, and congratulations on reaching the end!

Until next I write, farewell.

Your Brother in Christ,