Thursday, January 31, 2019

Go and Sin No More

Jesus' Message Rings True Even Today as Pro-Choicers Call Out Christians for Their Pro-Life Stance!

Over the past few weeks since the new, New York abortion law has made headlines many Christians have taken a hard and vocal stand against abortion, a new awakening of the Pro-Life movement if you will. Many of these brothers and sisters in Christ have long since (myself included) been quiet on the issue even though they (we) held a Pro-Life belief. This now vocal stand has been attacked as being against Christian values even many professing Christians are arguing against this vocal stance, even going so far as to say that Jesus would not be vocal against abortion because He would not want to offend or hurt the women who have had abortions. This is a very bold and inaccurate accusation.

I stand very strongly against abortion; I am outraged at the abhorrent laws that seem to be sprouting up in every blue state in this great nation allowing a woman to abort a baby all the way up until birth. This does not mean that I do not love a woman who has had an abortion, is contemplating an abortion, or even one who believes in abortion. Many scriptures have been misused in chastising those who have been vocal about their Pro-Life stance, one of them is Jesus' encounter with the woman who had been caught in adultery.

In the book of John Chapter 8, a group of men brings forward a woman who they had caught in the act of adultery. They asked Jesus if they should do as the Law of Moses stated and stone her. Jesus responds by telling them that the one who is without sin should cast the first stone and one by one the mend departed until only Jesus and the woman remained. Jesus asks the woman where everyone went, did nobody condemn you? She responded that nobody had. Jesus' response is that nor does he condemn her and that she should leave and sin no more.

It is easy to look at this and say see Jesus did not condemn the woman for her sin. This is true Jesus did not condemn her but this lack of condemnation is not the same as saying that He did not judge her. Jesus clearly judged her actions as sinful and against God's law because He tells her to leave and sin no more. He recognized that adultery was sin and she needed to stop. What we need to pull from this is that Jesus forgives all sin however He does not condone it. We have salvation in Jesus which is a get out of jail free card, but it is not a free pass to sin.

Another example that has been poorly interpreted and used inappropriately in defense of the Pro-Choice movement is that Jesus was not sent to judge the world so we should not judge people either. This is taking the verse John 3:17 "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him" and once again interchanging the word condemn and judge as meaning the same thing. Let us also not forget what is said about judging one another and holding one another accountable such as in Proverbs 27:17 "As Iron sharpens Iron, so one person sharpens another." We are called to make judgments on what is right and wrong using the Word of God to correct and lovingly rebuke one another, removing those who do not align themselves with the righteousness of God from our flock.

Although I do not condemn anybody, I am acting biblically on the authority of God to judge abortion and stand against it because the Word of God clearly states that life begins at conception and murder is sin. I personally took the stance that I would not be vocal on my thoughts about abortion as I was worried that I might scare a lost woman away from Jesus. However, the cost of my (as well as many other Christians) silence on this matter has become too great to ignore. I am reminded that if God believes that there is just one soul out of one hundred that can be saved he will leave the ninety-nine to save the one. With this in mind, I find comfort in speaking for the millions of children who can't speak for themselves that are being murdered each and every year that abortion remains not only easily accessible but legal.

As for any woman who feels guilt or shame for having an abortion, I would remind them that there is forgiveness in Jesus and that not only do I still love them but more importantly Jesus still loves them. If you have come to know Jesus as your Lord and Savior and are upset at your brothers and sisters for being vocally Pro-Life in fear of chasing other women like you away from God, maybe God is calling you into ministry for these very same women. Maybe He is trying to use a mistake you made in your life to glorify His Kingdom just as He uses many of us and our mistakes to do the very same.

Jesus did not come to condemn the world this is true, but He did not come to glorify or downplay our sin either. Jesus takes sin very seriously, and in His love for the world He paid the ultimate price for the sin we couldn't afford. So yes I am unapologetically and vocally Pro-Life. No this does not mean I love a woman any less for her choices. Yes, I am still following Jesus by taking a hard stand against the murder of innocent children. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Letting God out of the Box

The other night as we were doing a family bible study I fell into a very common trap. I put God into a box. By that, I mean that through my understanding, experience, knowledge, and feelings I unintentionally limited God’s power. I innocently took God’s omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent nature and placed Him into space with boundaries and limits. It started innocent enough with loving debate amongst my wife and myself regarding a video we had watched discussing covenantal theology. This lead to us both researching covenantal theology and its counterpart dispensationalism. That was when the conviction hit me! It was the same conviction I had felt a couple of years back when listening to two very close friends debate Calvinism vs. Arminianism (free will vs. predestination to be exact). In all of our calculations, word dissection, and verse searching we left out one very important factor. The limitlessness of God’s power, something that we as mere humans cannot fully comprehend. What may appear to us as opposing ideologies are not necessarily at their core conflicting.

As humans, it is natural for us to read into things and we do it all the time in our everyday lives. Whether it is reading the body language of a coworker or anticipating our significant others thoughts, we take our knowledge, experience, and feelings and try to use it to benefit our current situation. However useful this is or is not in our everyday life is a debate for another day, but when it comes to studying scripture, we must be diligent to avoid doing this. Being objective in our study of God’s word is imperative. We must put aside our feelings, experiences, and worldly knowledge to fully benefit from our time in scripture. We must be careful to extract information from scripture and make our situation conform to it rather than trying to conform the meaning of the scriptures to fit our situation.

My journey to begin reading scripture objectively versus the all too natural subjective style began after reading the R.C. Sproul book Knowing Scripture. Sproul digs into the importance of reading scripture objectively in great depth, and I highly recommend reading it for yourself. Although this journey began a few years ago, I have come to realize that this is a skill which requires many years and much discipline to master. Even though objectivity is always at the forefront of my mind when studying scripture, it is very easy to fall into the trap and read through our worldly lenses as I did the other night.

I believe that the first thing we must keep in mind is that there is only ONE author. If there is only one author than there can be only one meaning, this sounds like a simple statement however even within the church body this is not widely understood. Yes, God used multiple men to pen His word but, scripture in its entirety is inspired by God or “God Breathed” in its literal translation. Therefore there cannot be conflicting opinions.

There is a great little comic that has a number drawn on the sidewalk in chalk and on either side of the number is a person looking at the number. Above their heads are two word bubbles, one reading “6” and the other reading “9”. Now from their perspectives they are both right, however, this does not make both of them correct. At some point, someone wrote the number on the sidewalk and to know what the meaning was you need to have more information. The only thing that is for certain is that there is only one correct meaning, right?? Yes & No. Overall there is only one meaning because there is only one author and this is what I believe the artist intended to illustrate. However, when we add into the equation that God has limitless power, knowledge, and is not attached to a physical and temporal plane in the manner that we are, there are some things that appear to be conflicting that are not necessarily conflicting — using the example of the comic what if the person who drew the number wanted to make a statement and fully anticipated the two opposing views? What if the artist was not finished and plans to return and we only see one piece of the work? There are so many alternatives to this train of thought, and that is just with the human perspective in mind. Once you add God’s limitless power to the equation, the possibilities are unimaginable, literally.

Going back to my friend’s debate of free will vs. predestination. These appear to be very conflicting viewpoints at surface level. However, if we take a step back from our understanding and accept that both viewpoints are represented in scripture by the same author as inerrant, then they both have to be correct. The fallible piece in the puzzle is us, we are unable to understand God fully and if you do not believe that just put ten theologians in a room and ask them to explain the Holy Trinity. There are just some things that we are unable to comprehend fully, and that is ok. What is not ok is when we try too hard to understand these things, and we limit God’s limitless power.  Energy much better spent following the very clear message in scripture to make disciples of all nations, an area we are falling very short.

My hope for the church body is that we would focus our battles on the things that matter, leaving behind the things that don’t. I pray that we would recognize the almighty nature of our Holy God which includes the areas that we as humans will not be able to grasp while still on this earth fully. That we are disciplined in our study remaining objective rather than subjective and using the scriptures to form our beliefs rather than bending the scriptures to fit our way of life. And that we would simply let God out of the Box!

Friday, January 4, 2019

Eating Leftovers from Genesis

As I am sitting here looking at the current abortion statistics for 2018 (23 percent), I can’t help but realize that we (humanity) keep eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. We continue to think that somehow we know better than God of what is right and what is good for us. Just as Eve was convinced by the serpent in the Garden of Eden, we continue to fall into the same trap time and time again. The lies and cunningness of the serpent are just as effective today to society (and even the church) as they were in Genesis.

When we look at the cultural norms of today, it is hard not to see the similarities between our cities and those of the infamous cities of the Old Testament. From the sexual immorality of Sodom and Gomorrah to the pride and arrogance of Babylon we see all these characteristics and more in society today. Long sheltered by the cultural Christianity that our country was founded on, we have begun to see our society become indignant towards the Holy God at exponential rates.

In the past 50 years, we have legalized the murder of the unborn, normalized divorce, legitimized homosexuality & transgenderism, and redefined sexual orientation. Freedom of religion has been perverted from its original ideology and transformed into a weapon to be used against the followers of Jesus Christ. The church has been infiltrated and rebranded as an idol representing the misnomer that humanity knows what is best for themselves rather than the beacon of light that guides the world to a Holy God.

Satan is a master at deception, throughout scripture we see how humanity falls into his traps over and over again. New characters in new settings, however, the story remains the same, humanity is given free will and always chooses self over God. I used to ponder how the people who God walked among could sin so freely, but lately, I am more baffled by our rebellion against God. We not only have the written historical account of past failures to grow from and a manual on how to live righteously, but we have the unimaginable ability to have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us! Yet we continue to eat the fruit.

Today as I read headlines in the news it’s as if I am reading headings to stories in scripture. “Atheist in the Pulpit” “Same-sex marriage views threaten to split the church” and “New Yorkers allowed to choose a third gender on birth certificates” all representing humanity choosing once again to follow their own belief of right and wrong rather than yield to the all-knowing God. If we take time to speak with fellow professing believers on these hot topic issues, I don’t think there will be any confusion on why we are in the situation we find ourselves. Lack of discipleship and accountability within the church have left entire generations with a false understanding of who God is.

While talking with professing followers of Christ on these issues, I have found that many of them do not believe the fundamental truth that scripture is inerrant. This revelation makes it obvious why so many professing Christians can so easily justify things such as abortion, same-sex marriage, divorce, and evolution. A recent study shows that the majority of the church does not even know what the Great Commission is!!! How have we become so ignorant of God’s Word in an era that has such availability to it?

We went from a “Fire and brimstone” approach to the “Prosperity Gospel” in under a hundred years with the Holy Bible being the top-selling publication every year in between. So how is it possible for us to have such a wrong understanding of who God is and where our identity is found? I believe this is because Satan is patient and fully understands that to eat an elephant you must do it one bite at a time. It starts with a simple misguidance, “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?” that grows into the little lie that is the slippery slope of his deception, “No! You will not die.”

I also believe that many Christians (myself included) have from time to time been deceived by good intentions and false understandings. Something as simple as failing to understand what love truly is for example. Love is honest even in tough situations; when asked about our beliefs many times we bend what we believe in an effort not to run people off. This is not loving. In a knee-jerk reaction to not appear the same as the bigots of such groups as the Westboro Baptists, we become accepting of sin instead of standing up against it. We do this to appear loving when in fact we are simply leading people to hell with clear consciences.

The Gospel message is simple, yet it goes against most ideologies the world teaches us:

God created us, and we are accountable to Him. We are all sinners. God cannot be in the presence of sin. There is nothing that we can do to erase our sin. Out of His love for us, He sent Jesus to pay for our sin. Only by trusting Him as our Lord and Savior can we be in a relationship with God.

If we truly believe that we are accountable to Him, we must stand on His Word and live for Him, not ourselves. We must rely on His understanding and not our own. We must trust Him and not the world. To understand what His will is we must become intimate with His Word. We must know it and trust it. We have to take seriously the responsibility to disciple others and get away from the misunderstandings of the Gospel. We must preach truth even if we must suffer persecution. We must hold each other accountable. And we must stop eating the proverbial fruit!

Goldilocks, Hotel California, and the Dangers of Liberal Theology

I recently charged myself to be able to answer the questions, “What is your blog about, what is the target audience, and what is the goal...