Saturday, January 31, 2015

Being a Gay Christian (?) and Our Identity in Christ

We, as the church, must understand what has truly happened by being "in Christ."  Our identity, how we define ourselves, must be based on what God has done for us through salvation in Jesus Christ, not on who we used to be.

One thing that continues to bother me is the special status that is accorded to being gay. Now it’s gay Christian. See this article:
Why not prostitute Christian, or gluttoness Christian, or pornography Christian, or alcoholic Christian, or ex-con Christian, or wife-beating Christian? I think you get my drift.

If we as Christians are truly washed, then we are also made new; the old man has died, and the new man has arisen with Christ. We are not that old man any more as we have been made new in Christ, and as we continue to be conformed into His image we grow to be more like Christ and the person that we were is left further and further behind.

Does this mean that we have left behind particular temptations and their pull, such as gluttony, or pornography, or alcohol, or homosexuality, or immorality, or sensuality, or pride, or covetousness, or worldliness behind? No, but it does mean that we have victory over those temptations when they occur by the power of Christ in us.  We have been crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20, Romans 6:6-7) and it is no longer we that live, but Christ who lives and reigns in us.

One of the problems in our current church culture is that we, many times, have adopted the philosophy of the 12-step therapeutic culture. Such as once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic; once a sex-addict, always a sex addict, so that we are always in a state of recovery, but never recovered. This tends to be applied to being gay as well…once gay, always gay. The result of this is that people become defined/identified by what they were/who they were, not by who they are now. Paul tells all of us this in I Corinthians 6:9-11 “ Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of God.”  Jeremiah 17:14 tells us this, “Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for You are my praise.” We are now in Christ, healed in Christ and saved in Christ. In Christ the old man is dead, long live our new man and our new identity.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

God's Grace for the Prodigal Son

The story of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32 is the most beautiful picture of the grace of God in the Bible.  Grace is the term the Bible uses to describe the unconditional favor that God bestows on any and all that come to Him.  It means that He is favorably disposed to those who come, He does not count their past against them (II Corinthians 5:21), He is eager to receive them and forgive them (Psalm 86:5), He will abundantly pardon them (Isaiah 55:7), and He will keep them and never let them go (Romans 8:35-39).  This grace is everyone's for the asking.

In the story of the prodigal son we see God's grace for those will repent and turn to Him. God's grace is exemplified in this story, a truly amazing story of an amazing God.  What makes the story so amazing and so compelling is that all of us fit into the role of the prodigal. Some of us have never considered having a relationshiop with God, others of us have been close to God, but for reasons much like the prodigal in the story, we have wandered away from God.  In either case we have found ourselves in a far country, far away from the love of the Father who created us in His likeness.

Despite our distance from Him, and despite the reason(s) for our distance from Him, He is eager and willing to take us to Himself if we would but lift up our eyes and heart toward Him.  The picture in this story of the father lifting up his robe to run to the son coming home, is a beautiful picture of the joyous response God has when we come to Him; and this joyous response is for whomever will come, no matter who they are.

And come we may, but we must come to the Father through the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:6).  This is the way God has provided for us to come to Him, into His very presence. Christ lived a perfect life by being perfectly obedient to the will of the Father (John 14:31) for us, and then dying for the sins of all who would believe in Him and turn to Him as the Savior. So, because of His life and His sacrifice, He is the only way to come to God. It is the grace of our good God that has provided a way to come to Him and be with Him for all eternity, when we were totally impotent to make a way to Him on our own.

How about you my friend?  Are you in that far country, far away from God; or are you near, but yet so far away, as the other brother in the story.  In either case, turn to God and He will come running to meet you with arms wide open and joy in His heart.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Preaching to Inspire Worship?

In our preaching, does the way we present
God and His Son show their worth so as
to inspire the people to get out of bed on
Sunday to come and worship them?
Do we present God as God Most High,
and do we present Christ as Lord of all?

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Friday, January 02, 2015

The Gospel Wound

See now that I, I am He, and 
 there is no God besides Me; 
it is I who put to death and give life.
I have wounded and it is I who heal...
Deuteronomy 32:39

Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed;
save me and I will be saved,
for You are my praise.
Jeremiah 17:14

For the word of God is living and active
and sharper than any two-edged sword,
and piercing as far as the division of
soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, 
and able to judge the thoughts and 
intentions of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12

There is the wound of the gospel.  The conviction of sin which breaks the heart and makes the soul contrite.  There must be the gospel wound before there can be the healing of the gospel.  It is the wound of the sharp two-edged sword of the gospel that cuts into the very heart and soul and mind of man.  

As such, it cannot be and will not be a superficial wound; but it is also never a mortal wound, no matter how deeply it penetrates.  Therefore it is a most unusual wound, in that it is the wound which heals. It is the wound which lays bare and then heals the sin sick soul. It is the deep cut which circumcises the heart and makes it new.  It is the wound which brings conviction of sin, and the wound which brings one to repentance. It is the wound that causes the blind to see and the deaf to hear. It is the wound which makes man cry out for salvation. It is the wound that renews the mind.

Yes, faithful are the wounds of our covenant friend. So our God, the faithful God, has designed the gospel so as to wound us, and he has also designed that very same gospel so as to heal us.  He wounds us, so as to save us.  He wounds us, so as to restore us. He wounds us for our good.  The same gospel whose blows beat us up is also the same gospel that picks us up.   Faithful are the wounds and blows of the gospel, for He has made it so.