How To Love Gays

Rainbow HeartWhen a teenaged Christian posted a Facebook comment condoning same sex marriage a few years ago, the comment took me aback. Granted, the teen was not from a Christian family and attended public school, so she was heavily influenced by an increasingly liberal culture. And that culture shames those of us who uphold Biblical morality. I believe she considered her post to be loving toward the LBGTQ community.

Yet another friend of mine (a middle-aged man who had renounced his homosexuality in favor of living in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ) once complained to me that people who told him to accept himself as a gay man were the most  unloving people he’d ever met. “They wanted to keep me trapped in a lifestyle I hatred,” he explained, adding that real love would have affirmed his desire to honor the Lord.

I agree with him. He had found freedom to be the man God called him to be. True, he never developed attractions to women, but he had found victory over his enslavement to homosexual lust. He believed those who sought to pull him back to his old ways were the ones demonstrating hatred.

But, liberals will object, homosexuality celebrates love! They can say that as often and as loudly as they wish, but the “love” they celebrate is eros. It focuses on sexual gratification rather than building up others in Christlike behavior. For them, love demands unquestioning agreement with liberal values. Especially when it comes to LBGTQ issues, thank you very much!

In terms of Christianity, however, the Greek word rendered “love” is apage, not  eros. To clearly understand agape, I refer to 1 Corinthians 4-7:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (ESV)


God’s love, according to this passage, doesn’t angrily demand rights, as gay activists do, nor does it celebrate anything that contradicts Scripture’s teaching. Homosexual love may equal heterosexual love in terms of romance, but it cannot honor the very Lord who declares homosexuality to be sinful. Until very recently, even non-Christians held to a vague acknowledgment that homosexuality clashed against basic Christian values.

According to my friend who left the homosexual lifestyle, real love gave him hope. Real love called homosexuality a sin from which he could repent instead of an unalterable condition from birth. Therefore, truly loving people trapped by same sex attractions (or any other sin) means proclaiming the Gospel. Jesus died for their sin too!

I Won’t Conform To The Gay Agenda

be-the-gospelIn some ways, debating the morality of homosexuality seems ridiculous in 2017. Same sex marriage is legal in many countries, and I seriously doubt that will change. Gay activists are well on their way to force society to embrace the LBGTQ community, even when doing so violates a person’s religious convictions. Those of us who take what the Bible says, especially about homosexuality, know that most people (at least publicly) consider us bigots and haters.

Sometimes I think it world be easier to just pretend that I approve of homosexuality, divorce, sex outside of marriage and all the other sins that our postmodern world insists I condone. Facebook world certainly be more pleasant! Frankly, going against the tide of liberal groupthink can weary a person. I don’t enjoy having minority opinions. You probably don’t either.

But when I feel tempted to compromise with the world, the Lord brings Scriptures to mind that stop me. Right now, several come to mind, making me sorry I don’t have more time for blogging today. Let’s look at just one of them, though, to see how the Lord uses it to confront my temptation to acquiesce to popular sentiment.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. ~~Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)

The world pressures me to condone homosexuality (as well as divorce and sex outside of marriage) as being right and good. One unsaved relative even tried to shame me for letting my faith inform my politics!  But the Lord tells me that His Word transforms me from the thinking of this world (which opposes Him) into a woman who bows to His will. He has renewed my mind so that I embrace what He calls good, acceptable and perfect regardless of what my culture screams.

Homosexuality represents only part of the issue, really. Currently it’s the spearhead of the world’s rebellion against the Lord, so I find myself coming back to it time and again. Consequently, people will label me as a bigot solely on my conviction that the Lord declares it sinful.

Friday, I plan to explain why love demands that Christians face the sinful nature of homosexuality and offer people freedom from its tyranny. That perspective, of course, flies in the face of 21st Century wisdom. Believe me, I fully realize that most people believe that love constrains Christians to champion same sex marriage as something the Lord blesses. But I stand with the Lord, Who liberates all sinners to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to Him.

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When Waldo Read The Bible

medieval-crucifixThis past weekend, another Reformation blogger introduced me to Peter Waldo. Waldo lived from approximately 1140 to 1205 in Lyon, France, predating John Wycliffe by over a century. I’m just beginning to study Waldo and his followers, the Waldensians, so I’m not prepared to write about him in much detail today. Nevertheless, I want to make a few remarks regarding him, just to get us thinking.

For openers, Peter Waldo came to faith as a result of having scholarly friends translate the Bible into French so that he could read it. Like John Wycliffe and Martin Luther after him, Waldo began questioning Transubstantiation, Purgatory and the opulent lifestyles of Roman Catholic leaders because those teachings and practices failed to line up with Scripture.  Are you seeing a trend, by any chance?

Clearly, reading and understanding God’s Word prompted the men to challenge Roman Catholic tradition. Rome, on the other hand, maintains that tradition has equal authority to Scripture. Therefore men like Peter Waldo threatened the Roman Catholic system while encouraging people to trust solely in the Word of God.

But notice that Peter Waldo lived over 300 years before the Reformation officially started. John Wycliffe didn’t even write his denunciation of Transubstantiation until the 1380s, and Martin Luther wouldn’t post his 95 Theses to the Whittenburg door until 1517. History generally doesn’t count him as a part of the Protestant Reformation.

Technically, history is right, I suppose. The Reformation began in earnest because of the 1440 invention of the printing press, which allowed the wide dissemination of Luther’s writings and translations of the Bible into common languages. Yet the Holy Spirit, as far back as Peter Waldo (perhaps farther, though I know of no one earlier) faithfully rose up people to speak against the ways Roman Catholicism corrupted Christianity.

So Peter Waldo reminds us of  God’s sovereignty to speak through His Word to give people discernment. Sadly, he and the Waldensians had relatively little influence in Europe (again because the printing press wouldn’t be invented for more than 200 years). But we see that the Lord didn’t leave the world without a witness to the authority of Scripture.

21st Century Christians face growing pressure to embrace Catholicism once again. Dear sisters in Christ, please remember that Peter Waldo courageously stood against Roman Catholicism because of his commitment to God’s Word. His followers endured great persecution for their efforts to purify the Church, as we shall see in coming blog posts. Separating from Roman Catholicism, which refused to accept Scripture as its only authority, cost far too much for us to erase the differences now. I beg you to listen to Peter Waldo and return to God’s Word.

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Perspectives In Titus: The Fellow Worker Of Paul

463ca-ladies2bstudy2b01In our study of Paul’s letter to Titus today, I want to use the fourth verse of Chapter 1 to offer a character sketch of  Titus. Normally I would ask you to read the verse in context, but in this particular case we’ll just use it to introduce Titus (next week we’ll examine it in context with Paul’s letter).

To Titus, my true child in a common faith:

Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior. (ESV)

Paul addresses Titus as his true child,  indicating that he led Titus to the Lord. Luke never mentions Titus in the book of Acts, so we have no way of knowing when or where Paul met him, nor do we know the details of his conversion. Yet various epistles that Paul wrote enable us to piece together enough facts about Titus that we can glimpse his faithfulness to both the Lord and to Paul.

To begin with, Titus was a Gentile, as evidenced in Galatians 2:3 by the fact that he was uncircumcised. His Gentile heritage matters in respect to the Council of Jerusalem. Commentor Albert Barnes believes Titus was present at the Council of Jerusalem  (Acts 15:1-35), where the apostles determined that Gentile Christians needn’t be circumcised. If indeed Titus attended that Council, he would have been a concrete example of God’s grace to extend salvation to the Gentiles.

According to Galatians 2:1 he accompanied Paul to Jerusalem on an earlier occasion when James and the other apostles verified Paul’s conversion, so the conversion of Titus occurred within fourteen years of Paul’s. This fact suggests his maturity in the faith by the time the Council of Jerusalem took place.

The close relationship between Paul and Titus shows up most explicitly in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians. As you look at the verses I’m about to cite, please notice both Paul’s trust in Titus and the character Titus displayed that earned Paul’s trust.

In 2 Corinthians 8:23 Paul calls him his “partner and fellow worker.” Clearly, Paul considers him an equal.  Furthermore, they evidently worked together in establishing at least the Ephesian church. Commentators believe that Titus was with Paul in Ephesus, based on the fact that he helped Paul write  1 Corinthians.

2 Corinthians 7:6-9 says Paul sent him to Corinth to follow up on their response to Paul’s first letter. The same passage tells us that Titus returned to Paul with the glorious news that the Corinthians had repented. 2 Corinthians 8:1-6 tells us that in Corinth Titus took up a collection for the Christians in Jerusalem. In reference to that collection, 2 Corinthians 12:18 attests to his integrity.

As we approach this epistle, we learn that Paul left Titus in Crete (Titus 1:5) to finish establishing churches there and to appoint elders. Obviously, he had the character qualities befitting a church leader  (Titus 1:6-9). This seems to be a temporary arrangement since Paul planned to send Artemas or Tychicus to relieve him so he could join Paul in Nicopolis (Titus 3:12). Titus was with Paul during Paul’s final imprisonment in Rome, but it appears that Paul agreed to his going to Dalmatia (2 Timothy 4:10).

I’ve spent this time going over these Scriptures to help you see that Titus held the necessary qualifications to continue Paul’s work in Crete. These passages demonstrate that Paul recognized Titus as a trustworthy man. This trustworthiness brings us to the letter we’re studying in this series. So join me next Monday as we discuss the mission Titus had in Crete.

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Inviting Unbelievers To Church

Finding hymns on YouTube lately has become frustrating. In efforts to update them, recording artists frequently omit verses (usually ones that mean the most to me). I just spent an hour going through numerous versions of My Jesus I Love Thee, none of which included verse 3.

I need a break from the Sunday Hymns feature on this blog, so I’ve decided to replace them with short videos from solid Christian teachers. Pastor Gabe Hughes has an excellent series called WWUTT (When We Understand The Text) that addresses a wide variety of issues by examining Scriptures on those matters in 90 seconds.

Today’s WWUTT video answers the question, “Should I invite unbelievers to church?”

Saturday Sampler: February 12 — February 18

bible-samplerContinuing his series on discernment, Tim Challies writes Deadly Doctrines: The Pattern and Protection to demonstrate how churches fall into error. Having personally witnessed a few churches undergo this process, I can attest to Challies’ accuracy. Thankfully he also shows how churches can protect themselves.

On Growing 4 Life, Leslie A. features a guest post by her brother, Pastor Dean. His essay, Learn to Discern: What Is Biblical Christianity?, works through the marks of a true Christian based on Christ’s words in John’s gospel.

I really wish I’d written Ladies, Please Consider: Who is the Subject of Your Bible Study? But Jen Oshman of The Oshman Odyssey beat me to it.

Josh Buice of Delivered By Grace pleads, Please Stop Saying — “God Told Me”. He raises arguments against this practice that I’d never considered, but which ring true. I hope you’ll make this article a priority.

In The World’s “Ten Commandments” (1-5), Rebekah Womble of Wise In His Eyes examines five popular attitudes that govern non-Christians. She answers each attitude from Scripture.

Eric Davis of The Cripplegate again takes on the doctrine of praying in tongues with his blog post, Addressing Continuationist Arguments from 1 Corinthians 14 by looking at the historical and structural context of the chapter. I appreciate his reasoned approach to this emotionally charged topic.

Jesus definitely taught things that make me uncomfortable. In her article, Forgiveness: A Hard Teaching of Jesus, Jennifer of One Hired Late In The Day challenges us to look at how Jesus forgives us instead of how others have wounded us. Gulp!

Continuing her series on the fundamentals of the faith, Michelle Lesley writes Basic Training: The Bible Is Our Authority. Before you dismiss it as nothing new, take a look at what she has to say. No, she doesn’t offer new revelation, but her perspective isn’t common.

 
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A Right Proclamation Of The Gospel

93a68-wordjudgesheartYesterday I watched a YouTube video featuring people I personally know from my Charismatic days.  I managed to get past their “God told me” claims by remembering how often I used to phrase my own experiences in those words. In listening to Charismatics, I want to keep in mind that   many of them, though deceived, are genuinely my brothers and sisters in Christ. After all, I walked in those same deceptions for most of my Christian life.

Toward the end of the video, however, they invited unsaved members of their audience to begin their “adventure” with Christ. They assured people that Jesus Christ offers freedom from sin (which He does) and personal fulfillment. According to them, Jesus waited, hoping people would reach out to Him and receive all that He had for them. They read a prayer that made vague reference to being a sinner and committing their lives to Christ. Those who said that prayer were instructed to sign a copy, write the date and keep it in their Bibles in case Satan questioned their salvation.

They never mentioned Christ’s death on the cross.

Not once.

Hopefully they’ve given more complete Gospel presentations at other times. Certainly, I must guard against judging the entirety of their ministry based on one isolated video. But it made me think that perhaps I should periodically present the Gospel in this blog, making sure that any new readers (particularly those who don’t know Jesus as their Lord and Savior) really understand it Biblically.

Paul proclaimed the Gospel in its most basic form in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, (ESV)

To Paul, nothing was more important to preach than Christ’s death as a substitute for our sin, His burial and His bodily resurrection. The Gospel revolves around His atoning work to pay for our sin, and His resurrection that proves the Father’s acceptance of His sacrifice.  Paul elaborates in Ephesians 2:1-10.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (ESV)

Our sins violated God’s holy standards, making us deserving only of His wrath. But in His mercy, Christ expressed His love by dying for our sin (Romans 5:6-9 and 1 John 2:1-2). Then He raised us from our spiritual death, graciously allowing us to  believe in Him and providing us with opportunities to serve Him.

The Gospel focuses on Christ’s glory first.  Indeed, He gives us tremendous joy in serving Him, as well as in knowing that we will spend eternity with Him. In those ways, the Gospel most definitely offers fulfillment. But we must never proclaim a gospel that focuses on self and neglects Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.

I do not question the salvation of my friends in that video. But it broke my heart to watch them mishandle an opportunity to present the Gospel in a Biblical manner. Rather than criticize their techniques, however, let me learn to faithfully declare it when God gives me opportunities to do so. The Gospel is too precious, and too important to handle in any other way.

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