Flashback Friday: The Offensive Side Of Love

Originally posted July 31,2015

Love and truthNo sane person takes pleasure in offending others. And no sane person relishes the backlash from people they offend. We want to keep all our relationships amicable, and Scripture enjoins us to do just that whenever we possibly can (Romans 12:18). People, quite reasonably, expect Christians to behave lovingly, displaying gentleness and humility…and they readily point out our hypocrisy when we fail to do so.

To our shame, sometimes their accusations are valid. Sometimes our sinful, obnoxious behavior reflects anything but the fruit of the Spirit, exposing our stubborn determination to revert to our carnal natures (Galatians 5:19-23). In Romans 2:17-24, as a matter of fact, the apostle Paul says point-blank that non-Christians use our hypocrisy as a justification for slandering God’s character. So we absolutely need to behave in ways that demonstrate the Lord’s love.

His love, however, doesn’t always fall in line with the world’s concept of love. In 21st Century America, “love” requires an uncritical endorsement of any lifestyle (except one that favors Christian morality, of course). In particular, “love” rejects Christian ideas concerning sexual conduct, demanding that society approves of any consensual relationship. The post-modern person shakes a fist at anyone who dares to suggest that God intended sex to be enjoyed only within the context of marriage between one man and one woman.

21st Century “love” also insists on subjective worldviews rather than believing in objective and absolute truth. The idea that Jesus is the only way to heaven has no place in post-modern thought. Indeed, all talk of sin, judgment and the wrath of God contradicts the contemporary concept of a “loving” God.

Contrast the world’s definition of “love” with the Bible’s best known description:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. ~~1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESV)

At first glance, this passage seems innocuous enough, but then verse 6 messes it all up by introducing the unwelcome ideas of morality and truth. Both these ideas imply standards that determine morality and truth. And that implication, because it draws on the rest of Scripture to establish and explain these standards, shows a side of love that offends 21st Century understanding.

Christians want, more than anything else, to display all aspects of our wonderful Lord to a world that desperately needs His love. But part of displaying His love requires us to also uphold aspects of truth that the world (including people who falsely profess to be Christians) find offensive. We don’t enjoy offending people, and we hopefully take care not to offend by being hypocritical sinners. Yet love commands that we compassionately tell God’s truth, even when it it hurts.

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Saturday Sampler: July 1 — July 7

Pretty Things Sampler

Except for a few minor points not worth mentioning, I think Stephen McAlpine is onto something. When Ground Floor Projects Are Pushed One Floor Up delivers intriguing insight into secular culture. It also challenges a horribly compromised Church.

So, how many people asked you to tell them about Jesus this week simply because you behaved nicely? Uh-huh. Evangelism by example doesn’t work that well for me, either. Perhaps reading Is Being Nice Enough? by Leslie A of Growing 4 Life will help you rethink that approach to evangelism.

If you read Elizabeth Prata’s blog, The End Time, you’ll know that her mission is Speaking up for prophetic scriptures. I think you’ll benefit from reading why she recommends reading prophetic passages in the Bible just as eagerly as you read other passages.

I didn’t see Josh Buice’s post, Rejecting the Sufficiency of Scripture Results in Cultural Chaos in Delivered By Grace when he posted it last week, but I definitely believe it needs our attention. Responding to the “woke” movement pervading evangelical circles lately, Buice explains the demands of the “woke” movement and then calls us back to God’s Word.

While correctly maintaining that some sins carry greater culpability than others, Tim Challies has us look at The Utter Horror of the Smallest Sins. Talk about a  reality check!

I promised myself I wouldn’t include any articles related to Independence Day in this edition of Saturday Sampler, mainly because the holiday happened three days ago. But Michelle Lesley makes such powerful points in Top 10 4th of July Twisted Scriptures that I simply had to break that promise. Please read her careful treatment of these Scriptures for an excellent example of rightly dividing God’s Word.

Co-authoring Learning to Hate our Sin without Hating Ourselves for Public Discourse, Denny Burk and Rosaria Butterfield argue that same sex desire, even if it’s not acted upon, is sinful. Interestingly, they trace the current debate on this issue back to differences between Roman Catholic and Reformed Protestant theology.

We need to remember that the Obergefell decision legalizing same sex marriage has accelerated persecution against Christians. Steven Ingino, writing for The Cripplegate, documents this growing problem and provides Biblical answers to the question: Would Jesus Bake the Cake?

Those of you who follow my Monday Bible Studies on the resurrection will will want to read 5 Things You Need to Believe About Jesus’ 2nd Coming by Dennis E. Johnson in Core Christianity. It wonderfully supplements the passage we’ll study Monday.

Steven Lawson explains and defends Divine Sovereignty on the Ligonier blog with his characteristic passion for God. Oh, that more Christians exhibited such passion for truth!

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A Warning From The SBC

SBC TrashJohn and I have been praying rather intently about the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. As Michelle Lesley wrote recently, the Convention has several serious problems needing correction right now. We see a sad and disturbing compromise with the world that alarms Al Mohler. In my opinion, conservative Christians in every denomination should be concerned. The compromise that threatens our denomination today could easily threaten your denomination or independent church tomorrow.

Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. ~~1 Corinthians 10:12 (ESV)

Now is not a time for sanctimonious fingers to point, as if we’re somehow immune to the hypocrisy that, as I write, displays itself in Dallas this week. On the contrary, it’s a time for humility and prayer.

First, we must recognize our own flirtation with worldly ideas and philosophies. Let’s honestly admit that every one of us struggles with the temptation to bend Scripture to fit popular opinion. That temptation drives us to prayer and Scripture as we depend on the Lord to keep us from being double-minded.

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.~~James 4:4-8 (ESV)

Clearly, the push to elect a woman (possibly Beth Moore) as SBC president shows affinity with worldly standards. A denomination known for revering God’s Word should not play semantics in order to elevate a woman to a position of authority over men. Even if Beth Moore was doctrinally sound (which she isn’t), electing her to the presidency would send the message that secular culture determines how we interpret the Bible.

Wrong message, SBC!

Faithful Christians who love God’s Word should absolutely speak out against all the compromises in the SBC. We should earnestly pray that God would bring people to repentance, causing our denomination to unite around solid Biblical teaching, not around worldly ideas that require us to manipulate Scripture. Whether you’re within the Southern Baptist denomination or not, we desperately need your prayers that we submit to God’s Word during this crucial week.

But as you and I pray, let’s maintain and attitude of humility, remembering how easily we feel tempted to conform to worldly standards. The compromises in the SBC this week must serve as a warning to all Christians. Only by God’s grace can we remain faithful.

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How Can Christians Respond To 21st Century Controversies?

ancient-church-01Last year, despite a nearly universal aversion to history in 21st Century Western culture, many evangelicals tolerated talk about the beginnings of the Protestant Reformation. After all, October 31, 2017 marked the 500th anniversary of  Martin Luther’s infamous act of posting his 95 Theses. Though the majority of Christians remained pretty much indifferent to this anniversary, they didn’t begrudge Reformed Christians our celebration. It was understandable, in a bewildering sort of way. And on November 1st, everything returned to normal.

But should we have closed our history books to once again gather dust and cobwebs? Can we now assure ourselves that the significance of the Reformation pales in comparison to the issues in our present time? The more progressive branch of evangelicals (including those who claim to be Reformed) now busy themselves with so-called social justice concerns like racism and misogyny, filing the Reformation away as irrelevant to today’s Christian culture. In turn, those of us who see dangers in the social justice movement push the Reformation aside in order to address more immediate matters.

Perhaps you feel that way. Perhaps you think last year’s celebration was all well and good, but that was then and this is now. You may be surprised to learn that I share the temptation to move on from the 16th Century and focus on 2018.

The Protestant Reformation, however, actually gives us the necessary tools for dealing with contemporary issues. I say this because the 16th Century Reformers all pointed back to Scripture. They correctly believed that Roman Catholicism had corrupted Christianity with unbiblical teachings and practices that took people away from pure devotion to God. They remedied that problem by making the Bible accessible to everyone and then by teaching it systematically through verse-by-verse exposition. Most importantly, they affirmed its authority as the Word of God.

Present-day believers face serious issues unknown to people 500 years ago. But Martin Luther and his contemporaries faced equally serious issues unknown to the First Century apostles. Yet beneath all the issues that seem so unique to each generation lie principles that the Lord addresses in His Word. For that reason, the Reformation teaches us the value of returning to Scripture.

Additionally, the Reformers model ways to handle persecution. I particularly think of William Tyndale, who was savagely executed for translating the Bible into English. The Reformers suffered greatly for their commitment to God’s Word. As our own times produce increasing hostility towards Christianity, we’d do well to study those Reformation martyrs instead of whining that we’re losing our religious liberties. Indeed, many Reformers like John Knox probably would be puzzled that Protestants would consider religious liberty to be an inalienable right.

Dear sisters, please don’t relegate the Reformation to mothballs. The grand celebrations may be long over as we exchange heated Tweets about white Christians perpetually repenting for how our ancestors offended black people or about the Southern Baptist Convention’s alleged misogyny. But we can best respond to such controversies by following the examples of the Reformers. Like them, we must go back to God’s Word and rightly divide it. Now, more than ever, we must remember the Reformation.

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Saturday Sampler: April 29 — May 5

IMG_1982In the bizarre atmosphere of 21st Century culture, commonsense essays can refresh the spirit.  Garbage In… Garbage Out by SharaC of Into the Foolishness of God looks at a postmodern contradiction and its Biblical solution.

Offering encouragement though  How Do We Overcome the Fear of Evangelism in Unlocking the Bible, Denise (no surname given) directs our attention to Scriptural attitudes concerning witnessing. Her article challenges us, but it also reassures us of the Lord’s commitment to help us carry out the Great Commission.

An Unpleasant and Unpopular Truth appears in Leslie A’s blog, Growing 4 Life as a challenge to examine our lives. A mere profession of Christ, remember, doesn’t necessarily mean that genuine conversion has taken place.

IMG_2004As a lesson in discernment, Elizabeth Prata of The End Time writes a thought-provoking Book Review: America’s beloved novel, “Christy” to examine the theology inherent in the popular book. Kudos to Elizabeth for daring to review such a well-loved book with such candor and balance.

Clint Archer, in his contribution to The Cripplegate, reinforces what is Of First Importance: What will be on the test when we die? Those of you participating in my new Monday Bible Study series on 1 Corinthians 15 should especially appreciate this article.

As long as you’re reading The Cripplegate, check out What Pope Francis Should Have Said to Emanuele. I always enjoy Jordan Standridge’s writing; this piece may help you understand why I’m such a huge fan of his work.

IMG_1992As Christians, we must make careful distinctions in our language, and we must hold our critics to those distinctions. In Dear Media: Please Distinguish Conversion from Conversion Therapy, Denny Burk demonstrates the importance of defining terms by  citing the conversion of a gentleman who survived the terror attack on the Pulse nightclub.

Religious OCD or Scrupulosity by Fred DeRuvo at Study – Grow – Know juxtaposes the troubling methods of psychology against Biblical counseling.  Please, if you still can’t see the dangers of psychology, read Fred’s piece and seriously consider the points he raises.

Would I recommend a blog post simply because the illustration favors the Boston Red Sox? No. Peter Krol’s Context Matters: the Faith Hall of Fame in Knowable Word merits recognition for its skilled handling of Hebrews 11 in and of itself. But I admit that the homage to the Boston Red Sox doesn’t bother me a bit!

All photos taken May 2, 2018 at Boston Public Garden by John Kespert

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Beth Moore Puts On High Heels To Act Like A Man

Trashed BibleWriting about Beth Moore is probably one of my least favorite things to do. Yet her popularity in evangelical circles carries so much influence that I can’t ignore her latest blog post decrying her perceived misogyny among evangelical leaders.

But before going forward, I must agree that the prominent theologian who commented on her physical appearance may have crossed a line into sexual harassment. Even there, however, I don’t know his side of the story. Was he indeed lusting after her, or did he merely wish to complement her? Should I judge his intentions based of her account of the incident, especially when she narrated the story as evidence of misogyny? If she did interpret his remark correctly, though, I must join her in her outrage.

Having reluctantly conceded that point, I must insist that Moore’s overall premise completely ignores Biblical teaching that God has drawn boundaries for women. 1 Timothy 2:12-14 says,  in no uncertain terms,  that women must not teach men. How Moore fails to comprehend such a straightforward passage boggles the mind.

Yet, emboldened by the Social Justice craze currently sweeping evangelicalism, Moore has evidently decided to put on her high heels and act like a man. Is that a contradiction?  Only to people like me who never have understood feminism in the first place.

Beth Moore has now openly adopted the world’s attitude that men and women don’t have distinct roles in the church. I find her newfound complementarian stance interesting in that it coincides with a general drift toward worldliness among younger evangelicals. I can’t judge her heart any more than she can judge the heart of the theologian who called her attractive, but I most certainly can observe a compromise with worldly standards in her blog post. Therefore I consider it reasonable to ask that she seriously examine her motives in this matter.

Ladies, there are many reasons to avoid Beth Moore. This latest diatribe of hers, openly rebelling against 1 Timothy 2:12-14, provides yet one more reason.  Women must teach other women to honor God’s Word, not to trample it in an effort to demand positions that God has reserved for out brothers in Christ. I fear Moore teaches, by example, to follow the fashions of the world.

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