Why are Christians and Churches Caving in to Lies?

This guy pretty much says it all.  Not much need for me to add more.  I will, however add that I believe that the reason so many churches are caving in to the pressures of society and beginning to accept and participate in things like gay marriage is because it’s far easier to do that than to begin preaching Biblically.

They hear the cries of ‘foul’ from the culture saying “why do you only condemn homosexuality and not the rampant divorce rates and sexual immorality within the Church?  Why do you not deal with gluttony and covetousness??”  And these churches are seeing that they have a point, and instead of turning to Scripture and the preaching of the Truth on these things, they are giving in because they think, “If we start preaching from the Bible (against these things), we are going to scare off over half of our members.  We won’t have a youth group anymore because we know that most of them are sleeping around, and they would leave.  We have a lot of people who are getting divorced for far less that Biblical reasons and who are co-inhabiting with their significant other outside of marriage, so if we begin to preach that these things are wrong, we will lose a lot of our members.”

The sad reality is, they reveal that they don’t believe the Bible and they don’t trust God to take care of them for standing up for the Truth.  They are more afraid of losing numbers and money, so they begin preaching the false gospel of acceptance.  After all, we all struggle with sin and Jesus said not to judge, right?  They show their lack of knowledge of Scripture in failing to see that we are to make proper judgments about sin among those who name themselves believers.

We are, of course, supposed to speak the Truth in love and with gentleness and humility, but if we truly love God and others, we won’t allow them to continue to do things that grieve the heart of God and hurt themselves and others.  We are to encourage one another to love and good works, which is one of the main purposes of the Church.  The Church is for believers, not the world.  We are to go out into the world and change the world, not let the world’s philosophies come in and change the Church.  I pray God’s grace and mercy upon these churches who are caving to the demands of society and that He will continue to bring people out of these sinful lifestyles and into a glorious and freeing relationship with Him!

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Faith Cannot Save You…

There are many theories out there about what is required of people to attain salvation.  Some believe that you have to perform religious rites and rituals such as be baptized, take the Lord’s Supper, be a good person, give money to a church or other religious institution, etc, etc.  Others believe that all you have to do is have faith.  Just say you believe certain things, say a prayer, sign a card and you’re good.  These are just a few of many different thoughts on what makes one right with God.  But what if I told you that I don’t think any of these things has any sort of power to save?  No, not even faith.  Not in and of itself anyway.  I’ll explain that in a bit.

First, I want to address the idea that works and religious ceremony can save a person.  The main passage of Scripture that comes to mind for me is Titus 3:5: “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” I believe this same concept can be found in Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus in John 3:5.  Jesus had just told Nicodemus that he had to be born again to be saved.  Nicodemus asks, “How can anyone be born when they are old?  Can they enter a second time into their mother’s womb and be born?” So Jesus essentially says, “Let me give you another hint.” Then in verse 5, “Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water (the washing of regeneration, not physical birth nor baptism) and the Spirit (Renewal of the Holy Spirit obviously), they cannot enter the kingdom of God.'” In other words, Jesus was saying that there is no kind of work you can do to be saved.  Salvation is all the work of God.

 blog Baptism

Some believe that “washing of regeneration” refers to being baptized.  But then that would mean that baptism is a required work before salvation.  These same people use the idea of circumcision to back up their point.  In the Old Testament, God required the Jews to be circumcised as a sign of their separation as His people.  But Paul refuted the idea that circumcision saved people in Romans 4:9-17.  He made the point that Abraham was considered righteous on the basis of his faith before he was circumcised AND before there was even any law to abide by.  The law didn’t come about until Moses’ time which would have been approximately 500 years after Abraham’s time.  Just for fun, and to make my point, I am going to write out the passage below and replace the word “circumcised” with the word “baptized.”  I’ll only use 4:9-13.

Is this blessing upon the baptized, or upon the unbaptized also?  For we say, “Faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness.” How then was it reckoned?  While (after) he was baptized or (before he was) baptized?  Not while (after) baptized, but (before he was) baptized; and he received the sign of baptism, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had before he was baptized, that he might be the father of all who believe without being baptized, that righteousness might be reckoned to them, and the father of baptism to those who not only are of the baptism, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had before he was baptized.  For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith.

To sum it all up, I believe that John MacArthur made a great point that is a bit shorter.  He said, “For the Jew, Passover is a collective symbol of deliverance and circumcision is an individual symbol of justification.  For the Christian, communion is the collective corporate symbol of our relationship to Christ; baptism is the individual symbol of it.”  These things are just symbols of, not requirements for, salvation.

Now what about faith?  Faith is great.  By grace alone through faith alone can we be saved.  But did you notice which comes first?  Grace.  Grace is what truly saves, and the only kind of grace that can save is God’s grace.  Grace is what gives us faith.  Grace is a gift of God, but so is faith.  Although the picture may be a bit cheesy, the quote on the picture below is what really grabbed my attention.

Blog Faith

John MacArthur once again made a really great point in his commentary on Romans about Abraham’s faith.  He says, “It was not the greatness of Abraham’s faith that saved him but the greatness of the gracious Lord in whom he placed his faith.  Faith is never the basis or the reason for justification, but only the channel through which God works His redeeming grace.  Faith is simply a convicted heart reaching out to receive God’s free and unmerited gift of salvation.”  He continues, “Although faith is required for salvation, it has no power in itself to save.  It is the power of God’s redemptive grace alone, working through the atoning work of His Son on the cross, that has power to save.  Faith is NOT, as some claim, a type of work.” (emphasis added)  Can I get an AMEN??  😛

I think that some people do have “faith in faith,” in other words they think that if faith is strong enough, it will save.  But what does James say about this?  He says, “You believe that God is one; you do well.  Even the demons believe-and shudder!  Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?  Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?  You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness’- and he was called a friend of God” (James 2:19-23).

The point James is trying to make is that if your faith does not move you into action, or is not accompanied by works, it is not real faith.  It is dead faith.  Likewise, good works, by themselves are useless.  (See 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 which bears the idea that love is characterized by self-sacrifice, but not all self-sacrifice is an act of love.)  You cannot have one without the other.  If I say that I believe that a chair is going to hold me up if I sit in it, but I refuse to sit in it, I will never be able to prove that my faith is real, because it is likely not real.  The works fulfill the faith, but these works and this faith can only come by the grace of God, which alone can truly save.

I sincerely hope that this was encouraging to some and challenging for some.  But most importantly, I hope that the truth has been spoken in love.  I understand that I don’t always have everything right, and as always, I invite anyone who wishes to add encouragement or ask questions and converse about these things.  Grace, peace and love to all through the Lord Jesus Christ!

Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover…or a man by his faults.

As a person who adheres to the Doctrines of Grace, more commonly known as Calvinism, I find it worth my time to read one of the most inspirational, celebrated and yet controversial theologians in history, the man John Calvin himself; namely his Institutes of the Christian religion.

 

A couple of years ago, when I first began to adhere to the Doctrines of Grace and Reformed Theology, I began to realize that I had, for the better part of my life, misjudged greatly these doctrines as cold, hard, depressing and mean.  That is because I did not really know much about them and certainly misunderstood them greatly because I had never felt the need to study or look into what exactly they taught, and more importantly what was at the heart of the doctrines and of those who taught them.

 

John Calvin

Similarly, I have until recently, judged the man John Calvin as a monster for his alleged partaking in the death of the heretic Servetus.  Upon further study, I came to find that he really had no part in it, but in one of his letters, he did say that although he did not advocate for having him burned at the stake, he did agree that he was deserving of death.  I do not agree with Calvin on this point, but I do not think that this makes him a monster.  In Calvin’s time, heresy was punishable by death, so that’s all he knew.  I am not trying to defend him or say that he was justified in his decision, just that he was a flawed human being like the rest of us, and was no more or less a monster than either you or I.

As I have begun to read the Institutes, I have seen that John Calvin was most certainly a humble man who was very well versed in the knowledge of Scripture.  He was a man after God’s own heart.  He had a deep love for people and for the Truth of God’s Word.  He may have had some temper issues with people (who of us doesn’t at times?), but these do not show in his writings.  He most certainly wasn’t perfect, but I find that he is incredibly consistent in all of his doctrine.  There is a great quote from Arminius, who had his differences with Calvin, but nevertheless, recognized Calvin’s great knowledge and interpretation of Scripture.

He wrote:  “Next to the study of the Scriptures which I earnestly inculcate, I exhort my pupils to peruse Calvin’s Commentaries, which I extol in loftier terms than Helmich himself [a Dutch divine, 1551–1608]; for I affirm that he excels beyond comparison in the interpretation of Scripture, and that his commentaries ought to be more highly valued than all that is handed down to us by the library of the fathers; so that I acknowledge him to have possessed above most others, or rather above all other men, what may be called an eminent spirit of prophecy. His Institutes ought to be studied after the [Heidelberg] Catechism, as containing a fuller explanation, but with discrimination, like the writings of all men.”

Many times, someone’s writing reveals their true heart.  This may not always be the case, but I challenge you and myself to read those with whom we disagree or think we disagree to find out where they are coming from.  We may just find out that they aren’t so bad after all, or we may find out that we still do not agree with anything they say.  But in the end, it is always best, as the saying goes, never to judge a book by its cover.  And more importantly, we shouldn’t judge people by their faults, but love them in spite of them.

“I Said the F Word Today…A Lot!

For those interested, here is the AMAZING story of God’s miraculous provision for us while we were on the World Race!  This one is by my amazingly talented wife.

And I promise, I’m done, this is the last post today.

From March, 2013:

“I think it is best for you guys, and the squad, to go ahead and proceed as if you are definitely going home.”

The tickets were bought. On March 5th, at the end of our 6 month debrief with L Squad, Josh and I would be flying out from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and landing in Kansas City, Missouri.

Our Race was over. It was a hard reality, but one we had no choice but to face. With an over $10,000 deficit in our fundraising account, and our final deadline for fundraising here, there was just no feasible way we could stay for the final five months of the Race.

Tears were shed, emails to family sent, and an announcement was made to the squad. In my journal, I wrote, “It feels real now. Now that the decision has been made. It’s so hard to announce it to the squad. I think because I know it will hurt them. So, it’s hard. God, I just want You to be glorified in it all. To me, it seems like providing a miracle is the best way to do that, but I know You didn’t, and You don’t do them to prove anything. Please help the squad to understand and to grieve properly.”

I had started the grieving process, and the squad had, too. Sometimes, I was okay with it, and sometimes I was incredibly sad. Sometimes I felt no emotion at all.

Losing the rest of the Race, something that Josh and I have been preparing for for almost two years, is a big deal. We weren’t just losing the experiences and the passport stamps, we were losing our family. We were losing the 60 people that we have lived every day of the last 6 months with. They have laughed with us, cried with us, told us their deepest struggles, and loved us.

I had gotten to the point of being at peace. I didn’t want to go home, but I was at peace about it.

This morning, I dragged myself out of bed, grabbed my Bible and journal, and headed downstairs for our worship/teaching session. Cheyanne was leading worship, and I closed my eyes and began to sing. I wasn’t particularly happy or sad, but not fully into worship either.

After a line or two, Anton came over to me, and said, “Question. Do you want to stay on the Race?”

“Yeah, I do.”

“Okay. We’re going to say something after worship.”

During the worship and teaching, I was looking forward to that “something”, but with a bit of nervousness. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and honestly I was emotionally spent after the last few days.

In my journal, I wrote, “God, please do an incredible work through this last push from the squad. You know that I am at peace about going home, but it’s definitely not what I want. I’m Abraham, with the sword poised above my son. Provide a ram. A way out of this. I WILL SING PRAISE, I WILL SING PRAISE, NO WEAPON FORMED AGAINST ME SHALL REMAIN. I WILL REJOICE, I WILL DECLARE, GOD IS MY VICTORY AND HE IS HERE!”

After the teaching, Tess got up to make announcements, and invited Anton to come up. He grabbed his Bible and computer, and began.

“I wanted to talk to you guys about something really important, and that is Josh and Jen. They are not going home because they choose to. They are going home because they need $10,000. There’s $10,000 just sitting in this room. We are the body of Christ, and we have the power to help them. So, here’s what we are going to do. We are going to pass out pieces of paper, one for everyone. There are 56 of us. The math works out to about $180 a person. If everyone gives $180, they will have enough to stay. If some give more, that will give room for others who are only able to give less. We’re going to tally them up, and if it’s not enough, we’ll do it again. If it is still not enough, we’ll call AIM and see where that will get us.”

The papers were passed out, and I began to pray. Tess came up, and asked if I wanted to share anything. I grabbed my journal, and made my way to the front. As I spoke, my squadmates wrote down things on the papers, walked up to the front, and dropped them in a box. Anton took the papers out, one by one, and tallied them on his computer.

“These last few months, especially this one, has been an emotional rollercoaster. I’ve been joyful, I’ve believed, and I’ve been upset, and angry. I want to share some of my journals from this last month with you.

There was one night, when there was a miscommunication with the AIM office, and they were going to buy our tickets home in two days. We were going to have to leave before debrief, without closure. I was angry. I sat on the roof of our building, crying my eyes out, and crying out to God. ‘God, I’m angry. I’m disappointed, I’m broken hearted. Why would You give us this dream only to cut it short? Why don’t we get the same opportunity because we are married? Why would You give me a family that I love so much, just to take them away? I’m so filled with regret over what I didn’t get to do. I don’t want my Race to be regret. Why did You promise me You would provide everything I need if You haven’t? Why haven’t You come through for us?’

I have never in my left felt so much like Job-alone, and forgotten by God.

A few days later, while at PenHOP (Penang House of Prayer), I wrote, ‘God, I am so glad that You are always with me. You can take it when I get mad, when I ask questions, when I doubt You…I ask You, please give Josh and I Cambodia, India, Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda. My heart hurts to think of all the people that I can touch and that can touch me in those countries. I want to be a part of Your work there. I fell in love with these countries and the people a long time ago, so my heart hurts thinking about not going. And it hurts thinking of not being with the squad. I love them; they are my family. I want to be a part of their lives, and I want them to be a part of mine. Whatever happens, I want to remember that You are GOOD. Nothing changes that. You are GOOD, and You are GOOD to me.

If this is our last 2 weeks on the Race, I want to enjoy and live every second of it to the fullest. If it isn’t, I want to live the rest of the Race like this…You said, YOU WILL CALL TO ME AND COME AND PRAY TO ME, AND i WILL LISTEN TO YOU. YOU WILL SEEK ME AND FIND ME WHEN YOU SEARCH FOR ME WITH ALL YOUR HEART. I WILL BE FOUND BY YOU.’

So, I just wanted to share with you guys a little bit of my emotional journey over this last month. I love you guys, and even if we go home, I want God to be glorified in it all.”

I sat down, and Josh stood up to share.

“Back in Central America, God told me that we would be staying for the whole Race. I didn’t want to share that with anyone, because I didn’t know if I was actually hearing from Him, or if it was just me. When I had my spiritual counseling session yesterday with Michelle and Moriah, I was asking the Holy Spirit if I really do hear from Him. I felt like I knew the answer, but I still didn’t want to say it aloud. They kept asking me, ‘What’s the answer?’ Finally, I said, ‘Yes.’ I really do believe that I hear from Him, and that He told me that we are staying.”

As Cheyanne played, I sat in my chair, with my elbows on my knees, and my head down in prayer. “God, please do something. Please, please, please. Do something.”

I opened my eyes. Anton handed Josh a slip of paper. Josh made his way back up to the front. I could tell by his body language that something was going on. “Just say it, just say it,” I thought. My stomach was in butterflies.

“…Well,” he said, “they must have tallied it wrong, or I am reading it wrong, but it says $12,012.”

I’m not exactly sure what happened after that. I kind of had a sobbing, emotional blackout. I think the squad started cheering, clapping, crying, I’m not sure. Someone embraced me from behind.

We’re staying. We’re staying on the Race. We’re fully funded. I couldn’t believe it.

I stood up, with tears streaming down my face, and made my way up to the front. Shaking, I said, “We’ve been waiting and waiting for a miracle. And…you guys are our miracle. I don’t even know how to say thank you enough. But thank you, so much.”

Then, our squad surrounded us, and prayed over us. Johnny led the prayer, and it was powerful. Lots of hugs, tears, and spontaneous worship.

“Well,” I said, “I guess I have to fill out visa paperwork for India now!”

Today has been an absolute whirlwind. It still hasn’t sunk in yet. Fully funded. We are fully funded. More than fully funded.

After talking to Seth Jr at AIM, it turns out that due to an earlier miscommunication, he is pretty sure that tickets were accidentally bought for us to go to Cambodia a few weeks ago. He still has to check on it, to make sure they are still there. Praise God.

AAAND, as our tickets home were already bought, he also needed to check to see if AIM could get a refund on them. If not, that cost would go to our fundraising account. Their total? About $2000. BOOM.

So there you have it. Every last penny (and a lot more) of $31,000 has been raised. We have waited for this day for almost two years. And God made it happen in a more amazing, beautiful way than we ever imagined. The Body of Christ in action.

Because of you, and because of my squad, we get to stay on the Race. It’s still unbelievable as I type this. I said so many times over this last month that all I wanted was for God to be glorified in this. We did it. HE did it.

My journal entry from after the worship service:

“AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!! GLORY TO GOD! I have never before felt so loved by You, and by my squadmates. You are incredible and worthy to be praised!” 🙂
From joshandjenmendenhall.theworldrace.org

 

Why do I Believe this Stuff Anyway? (Part 3)

This is the final installment of my testimony and why I believe what I do.  If you haven’t read parts 1 and 2, I would recommend doing that before reading this one so it makes sense.

I have talked about growing up in a Christian home, my adolescence, my journey through college and marriage, and how my wife and I had signed up for the World Race.

Image

I left off talking about living with my parents and studying Scripture as we were preparing to go on the Race.  I was studying through Scripture trying to see it as though I hadn’t read it before and trying to drop all of my pre-conceived theology and ideas so that I could see what it truly had to say.  I was studying the Gospel of John and came to chapter 6.  Jesus had just fed the 5,000 and left to find some solitude, but they followed Him.  So He basically told them that the only reason they were looking for Him was because they wanted more free food.  I wrote a blog at that time on this passage called “A Very Hard Teaching” which I will copy and post on this site.  

 

But as I continued to read that passage, I came upon verse 44 in which He says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.” And then again in verse 65: “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.” Now you can’t argue with Jesus.  If He said it, then it’s Truth, and I was taken aback.  I was definitely not looking for this to be true.  In fact, I was out to try and prove that it was NOT true, and yet here it was staring me right in the face.  I had no choice but to humbly admit that I was wrong for all these years and to thank God for showing me His truth, even when I wasn’t seeking it.  I still didn’t necessarily like it, but couldn’t deny it.

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Our team at the Chicago Bean at World Race Launch, September, 2012 

 

The time FINALLY came for us to launch on our trip.  After changing launch dates twice because of lack of funds, the Lord finally provided what we needed to get started on our journey, and it was in His perfect timing.  Since we were in countries where we couldn’t understand our church services most of the time, I began downloading sermons off of Grace to You, John MacArthur’s website.  I really grew a lot by listening to the way he presented Scripture.  He is bold, but also loving and humble.  In a recent sermon I listened to he said that even though he has preached for years, he is still not perfect and his attempts to explain Scripture are feeble at best.  That’s a lot of humility from a guy who has studied and preached for over 50 years.

 

One of my favorite sermons that really helped me to better accept Reformed Theology, or Calvinism was one called “Twin Truths: God’s Sovereignty and Man’s Responsibility.”  In it, he explained that the truth that God sovereignly chose those who would be saved from before the foundation of the world and that man has the responsibility of seeking God are not contradictory, but rather are two sides of the same theological coin, and are even complimentary.  They are parallel truths that cannot be brought together, but are in harmony with one another.  We will never be able to fully understand it, but it is presented all throughout Scripture, therefore we can accept and believe it even though we may not understand.

 

I believe that the best way to know God is through His word, the Scripture.  I believe that it is inerrant, infallible and authoritative for the life of every believer.  I believe this because Jesus believed this as evidenced by His constant quoting of Scripture, which I will not get into.  But I do believe that Donald Barnhouse, whose commentary on Romans I am reading now, hit the nail on the head when he said, “…if you call yourself a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ but do not adopt His attitude toward the revelation of God in the Scriptures, you are simply deceiving yourself.  If you do not believe what Christ said about the Bible, you are no more a follower of Christ than if you do not believe what Christ said about Himself, or about His own death and resurrection.”  

 

Jesus had a lot to say about the Bible in His ministry on earth.  I do my very best to not adopt a doctrine based on just a couple of passages, but on what the whole Scripture says on a subject.  This has really changed a lot of my thinking and theology, and like I said, I haven’t even begun to arrive.  But Barnhouse points out again, very well, that when Jesus quoted that man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, that “…(Jesus) set forth the principle that if we are to have power and satisfaction, we are to take the whole of the Divine revelation and feed upon it.  It is life, for it has come from God for our nourishment.  And we are not to feed on part of it, but upon all of it.  At the base of every heresy is some Bible truth that has been taken out of its context and used out of balance with the rest of Scripture.” 

 

That is why I believe it is of vital importance for every believer to know the Scripture well, because Satan sure does, and he will use it against us if we do not arm ourselves with its truth.

 

God has continually grown me and stretched me in more ways than I could ever explain during this season of my life.  He’s not done with me yet, in fact, He’s only getting started.  I’m not perfect by any means, and still have a TON of growing to do, but I believe that continually feeding on His word will help me to continue to grow into the man of God that He has created me to be.

 

There is much more about our journey on the Race and the amazing things God did while we were traveling the world.  I will post a couple of those blogs on this site, but if you want to read more of those, check out joshandjenmendenhall.theworldrace.org     My wife is a really gifted writer and wrote most of those blogs.

 

I hope this helps you know a bit more about me and where I come from and why I believe what I believe.  I pray that His Kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven in my life and in the lives of many others.  Grace, peace, and love to all!

More Hard Teaching… (or Lovemaking is Beautiful)

A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog called “A Very Hard Teaching.”  Link here: http://joshandjenmendenhall.theworldrace.org/?filename=a-very-hard-teaching

Jesus told us that being His disciple would be very difficult.  He told us that we would have to deny ourselves (say “NO!” to our sinful desires and to a comfortable life of complacency), pick up our cross daily, and follow Him.  In my last post, I talked about how He is the good master who has paid the price to set us free from Satan, sin and self; all which lead to a dark, lonely eternity away from God and all that is good, but that many people refuse to accept the freedom either because they love themselves and their sin too much, or they think that they can get freedom on their own, which is of course, impossible.

 

One of the most difficult sins to break away from is sexual immorality.  Unfortunately, the human attitude toward sex is, “if it feels good, do it.” Even among Christians there are some who think that lovemaking is beautiful in any form, whether it’s two unmarried people, two gay men or two gay women, it doesn’t matter.  They obviously are not reading the same Bible that I am.  Or they do, but they try to twist what the Bible says and justify their sinful lifestyle.  (Haven’t we all at one time or another?)

 

This greatly disturbs me and honestly makes me wonder about the condition of their salvation.  How can anyone who claims to love God call something beautiful that He has called an abomination and shameful?  Do you dare to disagree with God or to call Him a liar?

 

Yes, lovemaking is beautiful, but only in the context for which God created it, and that is between one man and one woman within the covenant of marriage.  That’s it!  “Love” making in any other context is vile, disgusting, broken, dirty and an abomination to the Lord our God!  He created it for a man and his wife to enjoy each other and to show their love for one another and that is ALL He created it for.  Only then is it the beautiful, wonderful, glorious thing for which He designed it.  Any other use of it is a perversion!

 

Would you call raping an innocent child beautiful?  Of course not!  What about a man cheating on his wife or vice versa?  I certainly hope not!  What about women and children being sold into the Sex Trade and the wicked men who buy them?  Why then would you call any other form of sexual immorality beautiful?  Jesus said in Matthew 5:27-28: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery, But I say to you, that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Also, “out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander (Matt. 15:19, Mark 7:21).”

 

That’s a hard teaching, because unfortunately, that makes me an adulterer, and that breaks my heart.  Thanks be to God that I never got the opportunity to indulge in physical sex outside of marriage, but I sure spent a lot of time looking and lusting after women both in real life and on TV and the internet, and did things I certainly shouldn’t have done.  I don’t want to be an adulterer, and now I’m not because Christ has set me free from it.  I am deeply convicted by Paul’s words in I Corinthians 6:19-20:  “What?!  Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have from God??  For you are bought with a price!  Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit which belong to God.”

 

If you are truly a believer in Christ, then all that you are belongs to God!  How can we glorify Him if we are defiling our bodies by perverting something that He created for one purpose only to satisfy our own selfish pleasures?  This also goes for addictions, storing up riches for ourselves and refusing to give to others and many other sins.  As the great preacher Donald Barnhouse said,

“The great fact is that God wishes these who name His name to become like Him day by day.  He is a holy God who demands holiness of His people.  We are all born as children of Adam, with natures that are prone to sin.  The greatest of all sins is that each of us desires his own way.  Wanting one’s own way is absolutely natural and absolutely sinful.”  Matthew 5:48, Jesus said, “You therefore must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  And God the Father Himself: “Be holy because I am holy,” all over the Old Testament.

 

I hope you see that I am trying to identify with you as a fellow sinner.  It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, I love you and God loves you, because you are created in the image of God and He longs to redeem you and I long to see you redeemed if you have not been.  I wish that you could feel the deep love and concern that I have for you as I write this.  My words may sound harsh, but the truth is harsh sometimes and I would not be a good or loving neighbor or brother or friend if I did not warn you of the danger you are in by living in ways contrary to the Word of the Creator of the Universe.

 

But I know that many will misunderstand me.  I know that this post will be incredibly offensive to some.  I know that insults and false accusations of intolerance, hate, homophobia and judgmental bigotry will come.  But I know my own heart and I know that God knows my heart.  I do not wish to estrange myself from my family members or my friends whom I love dearly, but I desire the approval of God and not of men.  I will never view anyone as my enemy, but I can’t control how others view me.  That is the attitude that Jesus had, and look where it got Him.

 

I understand that it’s hard.  I have to fight against my flesh daily.  Being a follower of Christ is not meant to be easy.  I wish I could tell you that it’s ok to live however you want.  I wish I could tell myself that, but I can’t.  Barnhouse again with a great thought says, “God tells man that the divine way is perfect and that He desires men to walk therein.  Man cannot do it by himself, so God provided His own Grace.”  That’s the Gospel in a nutshell.  Why would we want to trample the Grace of God when our lives should be wholly devoted to Him with all gratefulness and thankfulness?

Titus 3:3-7: At one time we (Believers) too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared,
he saved us (Believers), not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior,
so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

 

Before I end, I also want to share a word to the judgmental and/or self-righteous, which, at times is also me, but really is everyone.   This also from Barnhouse.  “God repudiates (hates deeply) formalism without a heart change, and the (person) who trusts in liturgical ceremonies or religious rites without having a definite change of heart is in the folly of self-deception.”  Just because we may not live lifestyles that we wrongfully consider more sinful than others, doesn’t make us right with God.  Only by putting on Christ’s righteousness can we be made right with God.

 

I pray that my words, harsh though they may sound, were spoken in love and genuine concern.  Once again, these are not my ideas or opinions.  They are the very truths of God and the ONLY truths that matter.  They are hard, they hurt and they can be incredibly offensive, but the Word of God is the only Truth that can set you free!  It MUST be shared! As one who has been given the responsibility to speak the Truth, I HAVE to.  I cannot suppress it, it burns within me, and it has changed my life!

I also pray that I share these things with humility, knowing that I do the same things sometimes.  I truly desire and long deeply to see us all set free from our selfish, sinful desires, and brought from the kingdom of Satan and darkness and self, and into the Kingdom of God and His glorious, marvelous light!

 

Grace, peace and love to all through God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!

For the Christi…

For the Christian, true tolerance is co-existing with unbelievers and agreeing to disagree with their beliefs and lifestyles. This can produce friendships, and we can continually pray for God to reveal Himself to them through our life. But for us to affirm their beliefs and lifestyles is showing no love to them at all, but is certainly pushing them further down the path that ends in eternal destruction.

My thought of the week from the wisdom that God has granted me.