Gospel, Homosexuality, Salvation, Sin, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ Cancer: A Love Story

Originally published April 7, 2013cancer love story

Cancer.

The dreadfulness of the word hung heavy in the air between Jana and her friend Denise.

“The doctor says it’s terminal,” Denise choked, “I’m so confused. I don’t know what to do.”

Jana’s heart broke as she envisioned the difficult emotional road ahead for Denise and watched the tears streaming down her face.

“I’d do anything to take that pain away,” thought Jana. “Anything.

For days after they parted, Jana’s thoughts were consumed with how she could help Denise accept and feel better about her condition. By the weekend, when they met for coffee, Jana was ready.

“Denise,” she began, “I’ve been giving it a lot of thought, and I think I know why you’re so uncomfortable with having cancer.”

“Oh? Why?” asked Denise.

“Well, first of all, you shouldn’t be fighting against the idea of having cancer. It’s a completely natural biological event. In fact, you were probably born genetically predisposed to cancer. It’s part of who you are. Accept it and embrace it as something that makes you unique and wonderful!”

Denise seemed skeptical, but Jana plunged ahead.Girlfriends Enjoy A Conversation

“You’re also worried about what other people will think of you. Maybe they’ll think you’re weak and try to help you with things that you’d rather do for yourself.”

“But maybe I’ll need some help,” Denise suggested quietly.

“Nonsense!” Jana retorted, “Having cancer doesn’t make you different from anybody else. It’s exactly the same as not having cancer. What we need to do is show that to the world. Maybe we should have a rally for cancer equality!”

“Jana, that’s great and all,” Denise whispered somberly, “but I’m going to die. That makes all the stuff you’re talking about seem a lot less important.”

Jana seems like a very loving and kind person, but does the “help” she was offering Denise seem…well…helpful?

What if I told you that during this entire scenario, Jana personally knew a doctor who had a proven cure for Denise’s type of cancer, and was giving it away, yet Jana never told Denise? How loving and kind does Jana seem now?

Now read back through this story and substitute “homosexuality” for “cancer”.

We live in a culture that tells Christians that we are to “love” our homosexual friends and loved ones by embracing homosexuality as good and natural. We even hear people who claim to be Christians saying this. But is this how the Bible defines love? Is this how Jesus loved people?

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
1 John 4:10-11

Think back over the encounters Jesus had with people, from the woman at the well, to Zaccheus, to Nicodemus, to the woman caught in adultery, to the rich young ruler, to anybody else Jesus ever interacted with.

Did Jesus ever “love” someone by telling him it was OK to stay in his sin?

No, He didn’t.

Jesus loved sinners by calling them to repentance, forgiveness, and a new life in Christ.

Why? Because it isn’t love to help the slave to embrace his chains. It’s love to set him free.

Christ loved us by going to the cross and becoming the propitiation –satisfying God’s wrath—for our sins. He laid down His life for our freedom.

And, Christian, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. We must lay down our opinions, our politics, our ideas of what we’d like the Bible to say, maybe even our actual lives, in order to help people know freedom in Christ. We have the cure for their spiritual cancer—the gospel—and it is not “love” to knowingly misdiagnose them or keep that cure from them.

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13

blurry-sky-cross
But as important as it is to rescue the perishing, there’s an even greater issue at stake here for those of us who claim the name of Christ.

For our sin, our Savior endured wrongful conviction, ridicule, mockery, and bullying.

For our sin, our Savior was slapped, punched, spit on, had His beard yanked out, and thorns and brambles mashed into His skull.

For our sin, our Savior had the skin flayed off His back, buttocks, and legs, whipped nearly to death until He was a bloody mess.

For our sin, our Savior, beaten, bloody, and broken of body, hoisted a heavy, splintery cross onto His shoulders and carried it through town and up the hill to His execution.

One nail.

Two nails.

Three nails.

For your sin. For my sin. For our neighbors’ sin.

How dare you, or I, or anyone spit in the face of our bleeding, dying Savior by saying that the sin that put Him on the cross is OK?

How dare we?

How can any of us claim to love Christ while celebrating the nails, the spear, the crown of thorns?

By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
1 John 2:5b-6

Jesus walked the way of leading people to repentance from sin and to the beauty, the freedom of a glorious new life through faith in Himself. Will we, who say we abide in Him, love Jesus and our homosexual neighbor enough to walk in the same way in which He walked?

Mostloving

Gospel, Homosexuality, Salvation, Sin, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ Cancer: A Love Story

Originally published April 7, 2013cancer love story

Cancer.

The dreadfulness of the word hung heavy in the air between Jana and her friend Denise.

“The doctor says it’s terminal,” Denise choked, “I’m so confused. I don’t know what to do.”

Jana’s heart broke as she envisioned the difficult emotional road ahead for Denise and watched the tears streaming down her face.

“I’d do anything to take that pain away,” thought Jana. “Anything.

For days after they parted, Jana’s thoughts were consumed with how she could help Denise accept and feel better about her condition. By the weekend, when they met for coffee, Jana was ready.

“Denise,” she began, “I’ve been giving it a lot of thought, and I think I know why you’re so uncomfortable with having cancer.”

“Oh? Why?” asked Denise.

“Well, first of all, you shouldn’t be fighting against the idea of having cancer. It’s a completely natural biological event. In fact, you were probably born genetically predisposed to cancer. It’s part of who you are. Accept it and embrace it as something that makes you unique and wonderful!”

Denise seemed skeptical, but Jana plunged ahead.Girlfriends Enjoy A Conversation

“You’re also worried about what other people will think of you. Maybe they’ll think you’re weak and try to help you with things that you’d rather do for yourself.”

“But maybe I’ll need some help,” Denise suggested quietly.

“Nonsense!” Jana retorted, “Having cancer doesn’t make you different from anybody else. It’s exactly the same as not having cancer. What we need to do is show that to the world. Maybe we should have a rally for cancer equality!”

“Jana, that’s great and all,” Denise whispered somberly, “but I’m going to die. That makes all the stuff you’re talking about seem a lot less important.”

Jana seems like a very loving and kind person, but does the “help” she was offering Denise seem…well…helpful?

What if I told you that during this entire scenario, Jana personally knew a doctor who had a proven cure for Denise’s type of cancer, and was giving it away, yet Jana never told Denise? How loving and kind does Jana seem now?

Now read back through this story and substitute “homosexuality” for “cancer”.

We live in a culture that tells Christians that we are to “love” our homosexual friends and loved ones by embracing homosexuality as good and natural. We even hear people who claim to be Christians saying this. But is this how the Bible defines love? Is this how Jesus loved people?

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
1 John 4:10-11

Think back over the encounters Jesus had with people, from the woman at the well, to Zaccheus, to Nicodemus, to the woman caught in adultery, to the rich young ruler, to anybody else Jesus ever interacted with.

Did Jesus ever “love” someone by telling him it was OK to stay in his sin?

No, He didn’t.

Jesus loved sinners by calling them to repentance, forgiveness, and a new life in Christ.

Why? Because it isn’t love to help the slave to embrace his chains. It’s love to set him free.

Christ loved us by going to the cross and becoming the propitiation –satisfying God’s wrath—for our sins. He laid down His life for our freedom.

And, Christian, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. We must lay down our opinions, our politics, our ideas of what we’d like the Bible to say, maybe even our actual lives, in order to help people know freedom in Christ. We have the cure for their spiritual cancer—the gospel—and it is not “love” to knowingly misdiagnose them or keep that cure from them.

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13

blurry-sky-cross
But as important as it is to rescue the perishing, there’s an even greater issue at stake here for those of us who claim the name of Christ.

For our sin, our Savior endured wrongful conviction, ridicule, mockery, and bullying.

For our sin, our Savior was slapped, punched, spit on, had His beard yanked out, and thorns and brambles mashed into His skull.

For our sin, our Savior had the skin flayed off His back, buttocks, and legs, whipped nearly to death until He was a bloody mess.

For our sin, our Savior, beaten, bloody, and broken of body, hoisted a heavy, splintery cross onto His shoulders and carried it through town and up the hill to His execution.

One nail.

Two nails.

Three nails.

For your sin. For my sin. For our neighbors’ sin.

How dare you, or I, or anyone spit in the face of our bleeding, dying Savior by saying that the sin that put Him on the cross is OK?

How dare we?

How can any of us claim to love Christ while celebrating the nails, the spear, the crown of thorns?

By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
1 John 2:5b-6

Jesus walked the way of leading people to repentance from sin and to the beauty, the freedom of a glorious new life through faith in Himself. Will we, who say we abide in Him, love Jesus and our homosexual neighbor enough to walk in the same way in which He walked?

Mostloving

Faith, Gospel, Heaven, Hell, Salvation, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ From Here to Eternity

Originally published March 20, 2014here to eternityFred_Phelps_10-29-2002

Fred Phelps died last night. And I’m glad.

I’m glad there’s one less person on earth publicly sullying the name of Christ and dragging His holy Word through the mud.

What I’m not glad about is that, as far as we know, yesterday was the first day of his eternity in Hell.

Hell? But he claimed to be a Christian.

Fred Phelps and his kindred are a perfect example of the fact that you can claim whatever you want, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true.


“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Matthew 7:21-23


And that’s not just the case for people like Fred Phelps whose lives seem to define the word “vile.” It’s also true for “nice” people. People you’d never put in the same category as Fred Phelps. People who volunteer at hospitals and run marathons to raise money for cancer research. Moms who’d do anything for their children. Men who are faithful to their wives. Your next door neighbor. Your brother. Your coworker.

Vile people don’t go to Heaven.

Nice people don’t go to Heaven.

Saved people go to Heaven.

The bad news is that you could never do enough good things to earn your way into Heaven. And, the good news is that you could never do enough bad things to forfeit Heaven.

Because being reconciled to God is not about what you do. It’s about what Christ has done.

We’re not always good. He was. We’re not always pleasing to God. He was. We don’t always do the right thing. He did. He lived the perfectly good, right, and pleasing-to-God life that we’d never be able to live. And then came the cross.

Some people refer to what happened at the cross as “the great exchange,” and, indeed it was the greatest exchange ever. At the cross, Christ suffered the execution that we deserve as the punishment for our crimes against God, and in exchange, we can have the perfect life He lived. His rap sheet for ours. Our guilty verdict for His innocent verdict. His death penalty for our exoneration. And it’s all ours if we’ll let go of the sin we cling to and throw ourselves on the mercy of the Judge.

Could someone as evil as Fred Phelps do that? Yes, and I hope he did before he died. Because no one who repents and trusts in Christ is beyond the reach of His saving grace. Not even a nice person like you.

Evangelism, Gospel, Salvation, Sin, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ The Gospel According to Lot

Originally published February 26, 2013

gospel lot

Then the men said to Lot, “Have you anyone else here? Sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone you have in the city, bring them out of the place. For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it.” So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, “Up! Get out of this place, for the Lord is about to destroy the city.” But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting.
Genesis 19:12-14

The story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah would make an epic movie. You’ve got your good guys: Abraham, Lot, and the angels. Your bad guys: everybody else in town. Violence, dramatic tension, a narrow escape, major pyrotechnics, and the good guys take the day. Epic, I tell you.

But that’s just what’s happening on the surface.

If you look closely, you can see the light of the gospel casting a shadow over Sodom. A shadow that’s the size and shape of a cross.

The city of Sodom was so wicked that God personally came down to deal with it. Judgment was coming. There was hell to pay—quite literally.

God revealed His plan of destruction to Lot, His only follower in Sodom. But God didn’t stop there. Did Lot have anyone in town that needed to be rescued from the coming devastation? Hurry! Go get them and urge them to flee!

“My sons-in-law!” thought Lot. Perhaps he raced out the back door, slipped carefully past any of the blinded mob left on his front porch, and scurried surreptitiously through town to avoid other hostile neighbors. Arriving at the respective homes of the two men betrothed to his daughters, he must have pleaded with them to drop everything and come with him. It was the only way they could be saved.

But they wouldn’t go with him. They didn’t believe him.

The next morning, judgment came. And that handful of people—righteous Lot, and those who believed with him that God would save them if they left everything behind and followed Him—were the only ones spared.hp-crossshadow

Is that shadow becoming clearer?

This world is a frightfully wicked place. And, one day, God is going to come down personally to deal with it. Judgment is coming. It will be swift, it will be terrible, and it will be final. God has revealed this to us in His word. He has also revealed to us, His followers, the plan of escape: Jesus.

But God doesn’t stop there. Do we have friends and loved ones who need to be rescued from the very real and eternal hellfire and brimstone that await them if they stay in the Sodom of their sin?

Jesus tells us to “go out and…compel them to come in” (Luke 14:23), and that they “must be born again” (John 3:7).

This isn’t some kind of “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” game we’re playing here. It’s urgent, a matter of life and death.

Eternal life. Eternal death.

And God’s way is the only way out.

God didn’t offer Lot’s sons-in-law the option of having their cake and eating it, too, by remaining in Sodom and being saved from His wrath. And it doesn’t work that way for us either. We don’t get to have Jesus and continue to rebel against Him by remaining in our sin.

Just as Lot’s sons-in-law could not survive God’s judgment any other way than fleeing the sin of Sodom and following God’s escape route, there is only one way we may escape. We must flee from our sin and into the forgiving arms of our crucified and risen Savior.

This is the gospel with which we must compel them. It is the only gospel that saves.

“If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms around their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for. – C.H. Spurgeon.

Gospel, Homosexuality, Politics, Salvation, Sin, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ SoteriObamaGigliology and You

Originally published January 12, 2013

Disclaimer: This article should not be viewed as an endorsement of Louie Giglio or any unbiblical theology he currently holds to.
soteriobamagigliology

Is Louie Giglio a living martyr or a coward? What do you think of our shiny new state church here in the U.S.? If you haven’t heard about The Giglio Imbroglio, allow me to bring you up to speed.gty_rev_louie_giglio_jef_130110_wblog

Pastor Louie Giglio was invited to say a prayer at President Obama’s inauguration ceremony later this month. Being a Christian pastor, it should have been expected that he would have preached at some point on what the Bible says about the sin of homosexuality. Someone with a pro-homosexuality group dug up a sermon  from decades ago in which he had done just that, and, yada yada yada, Pastor Giglio – pressured, or not, by the Inaugural Committee (that’s a little murky at the moment)— decided not to do the prayer. Ok, are ya with me? Good.

I’ve read a bit about this debacle over the past few days (though I have a few disagreements with some points, all of the articles hyperlinked above are excellent) and most of what I’ve read seems to be focused on Louie Giglio. But Louie Giglio isn’t alone on the stage of this little drama.

There’s another player. Our President.

Although all the details and communiqués were being handled by the Presidential Inaugural Committee, as President Truman used to say, “The buck stops here.” Right at the feet of President Obama. Ultimately, he is responsible for the “unvitation.” If he felt that the Committee was out of line in their statements or actions, he could have intervened. Instead, he has been silent, which implies consent.

Our President consented to the press release from the Inaugural Committee which said in part:

“As we now work to select someone to deliver the benediction, we will ensure their beliefs reflect this administration’s vision of inclusion and acceptance for all Americans.”

Translation: Louie Giglio’s Christian beliefs about homosexuality, which come straight from the Bible, do not “reflect this administration’s vision.”

Let me say that again. Christian beliefs about homosexuality, which line up with what the Bible clearly says, are opposed by our President.

Why is that important?

obama-in-church-2004-b654b48e648853dc_largeBecause our President believes he is a Christian.

And so do a lot of other people who share his beliefs on things like homosexuality and abortion.

If that describes you, before you get mad and stop reading, in fairness, hear me say something:

Sanctification (progressively becoming more and more Christlike) is a process. People who get saved, especially as an adult, bring a lot of entrenched opinions and thought processes with them to the cross.

Am I saying you have to become pro-life and anti-homosexuality (notice, I did not say anti-homosexual) before, or in order to, get saved?

No.

Am I saying that five minutes or a week after you get saved, you’ll be pasting “Choose Life” and “One Man, One Woman” bumper stickers on your car?

No.

What I am saying is that a person who has genuinely been born again has a God-created desire to know, trust, and obey God’s word.

Even if it’s hard.

Even if you don’t like it, initially.

Even if you don’t completely understand it.

The desire, inextricably interwoven with your love and affection for Christ, born in your heart when you were born again, exists.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. II Corinthians 5:17

Do you have that desire?

Do you wrestle with the things in God’s word that are difficult for you –perhaps things like homosexuality- in order to understand, embrace, and obey them?

Or, do you war against the things you find in the Bible that you don’t like- rebelling against their inherent truth, rejecting them, twisting their meanings to suit your own opinions, and refusing to accept them?

If it’s the latter, you need to be afraid.

Be VERY afraid.

Because the Bible makes it clear that you aren’t saved.

By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. I John 2:3-6

But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.  I Corinthians 2:14-16

You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.  James 4:4

Christians desire to keep God’s word, just like Jesus did. Christians lovingly call sinners to repentance from their sin and to faith in Christ, just like Jesus did. Christians think like Jesus did. Christians reject the world’s values rather than promoting them, just like Jesus did.bible

My dear friend, if you find yourself constantly battling against God’s word, I urge you, please examine your affections and the fruit of your life, thoughts, and behavior in the mirror of God’s word. It doesn’t matter if you’ve repeated a prayer, filled out a card, been baptized, taken communion, faithfully attended church, served as a teacher, deacon, elder, or pastor, had someone assure you of your salvation, or even if you just “feel saved”. If your life and heart don’t match up with what Scripture says is true of a Christian, you are not genuinely born again.

Please, turn away from your sin- all of your sin -and put your faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross, and in His bodily resurrection, as payment for that sin. If Cain taught us anything, it’s this: you can’t come to God on your own terms. You have to approach Him on His terms.

Or, to borrow from a mantra oft repeated by some in the homosexual community:

If you’re going to accept Him, you have to accept everything about Him.