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A Love no Court, Law or Human can Give

Posted in challenging human thinking, Communion w/ God, Outreach, Politics (ugh) by Sam Hendrickson on 26 June , 2015
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Supreme Court of the US

The Holy Spirit says through Saul of Tarsus: “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 our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:11

Looking for Love?

Any kingdom-rebelling, condemnation-worthy, God-opposing person regardless of his or her forms of sinfulness, will find eternal forgiveness, an eternal Father and eternal life effected by the work of the Son and the Spirit–through the Good News. This is a freedom and acceptance which no good/bad law, or SCOTUS ruling can provide.

Additionally, the loving affectionate efforts of a good spouse in a Christian or unbelieving marriage of man and woman cannot make up for the need we all have of God’s love in Christ. Neither can the efforts that people engaging in same-sex intimacy make to show love satisfy the ultimate need we all have for the love of God in Christ.

In the text above, Paul is writing about the effects of this expression of God’s love. He changes us from who we were, to who we are.

Christ’s Love Changes our Identity

Paul’s use of “were” in 1 Cor 6:11 is as a customary stative imperfect. In other words, he means to indicate “a state that continued for some time.”[Wallace GGBTB 548]. The “you” are those in the Corinthian church who once were “the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers” (6:9-10).

Elsewhere in making “sin lists” he includes those engaging in same-sex intimacy, but also idolators,”[those who] being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips,  slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,  without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful…” See Romans 1:16–31 for full paragraph.

In Galatians 5:13–26 Paul gives another “sin-list” and again shows it is not the only type or brand of sins we can commit. Here he writes “and things like these…” Again, similar to 1 Corinthians 6, the Holy Spirit makes clear that if I am living in and practicing unrepentant rebellion against my Creator, as typified by such sins, I am marked as one who will not “inherit” God’s life, family and forgiveness.

But, the Holy Spirit does not stop there: “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 our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:11

This (!) is the pathway to freedom, life and hope. This is the life Christians trust they have, and what they mean to reveal to the world. We try, but too often we are known for pointing out the “sin-lists” and not the love and the life. And that is a legacy I identify with, and if all Christians are honest, we will all own that unbalanced approach.

Christians Distort the Love of Christ

Christian, we were all “such” as these, whatever our favorite brands of sins were. Too often, we have considered ourselves somehow better than unbelieving people, with our words, attitudes and actions. Again and again, God has orchestrated life events so that we have to more and more fall back on Him for truth, guidance, humility and readdressing our lack of love for Him and for all kinds of people. One of the places we need to grow is in a proper representation of the grace and love of Christ regarding same-sex matters.

Yes, the Old Testament taught that sinners who engaged in same-sex intimacy were capitally punished in Israel under the Covenant of Sinai. But, so were adulterers, the incestuous, purposeful murderers, etc. There was no sacrifice that a Hebrew could offer that would cover this. Civil punishment in death was their punishment. Without going into details, these actions are still sinful, but there is no civil penalty to be handed down by the people of God. There are civil punishments handed down for murder and similar, but that is a matter for the magistrates to prosecute, not the church. While in regard to these and similar sins we are to disciple and discipline those within our church who profess Christ, our reach stops there. Our disciplining cannot include death, physical punishment, incarceration or similar. There is more to say, but I will stop there.

I bring up the death penalty aspect of same-sex intimacy only to point out that if we are in a conversation about this matter with a non-Christian, we should avoid statements such as “well you do understand that God used to have His people stone homosexuals” or similar. This is not to hide the past way that God dealt with His people Israel, but rather to make sure that we are able to point out to anyone that all of us are sinners, and all of us need the grace of God to escape His just punishment for our sins. In fact, all sinners through time have merited the death penalty of God. If someone asks about the OT issue, explain it, and bring out the grace of God in His New Covenant through Christ.

I learned how to mock people who acted effeminate, or who engaged in same-sex intimacy from comics and others in secular society (Eddie Murphy, etc). I also learned to do so from people who called themselves Christians. But, God has washed, justified and sanctified me, and He is slowly effecting that in my life. [Although I am going to use the pronoun “I” for a bit, anything “I” do that is growth in matters of love is solely due to God’s loving, patient work on me.] So, I am learning to more properly understand how God gifts men and women to express biblical masculinity and femininity in different ways. I am trying to learn how desires and the sense of “naturalness” of these desires drives the human heart.

Also, I am convinced that due to our Fall into sin, and sin’s curse, same-sex attraction and a desire for same-sex intimacy can feel as natural and inborn as the desires most have for the opposite sex. With this, I also believe the Scripture teaches that that “naturalness” can also be seen by the “naturalness” many people feel to move from one sexual encounter to another with the same or opposite sex. Clearly natural desires for sin and wrong are not limited to these areas only.

In other words, the wounds of the Fall affect us all, but they affect us all differently. We all “have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.” We all have hearts that are “desperately sick” and “deceitful”–hearts that only God can properly know, and tell us how to overcome what our deceitful hearts lead us to.  While same-sex intimacy is a choice, just like my sinful sexual acts are a choice, the desires feel like they are not. Denny Burk has a great article on this, see dennyburk.com under “Publications” tab. So, to speak of same-sex issues as a choice is correct, but it is not enough, see Denny’s article.

There are many (many ) other ways that we Christians are distorting the Good News. Our goal must be that others can only truly reject our message because of the “offense” of the Gospel (Romans 9:33 and 2 Corinthians 6:3). Our goal should be that if they find our message and/or lives offending, it is only because they have a mis-perception of God’s love in Christ. On that note I am reminded that Mohandas Ghandi’s complaint “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ” has some traction, but it is also self-serving. To fully understand Christ and Christianity is to understand that Christ saves people as hypocritical and hypocritical as me. And technically, He is still saving me! That is the beauty of Christianity!

Now certainly, I am not off the hook if I misrepresent Christ to others, I will answer to Him for that, and I may prove to be a stumbling block to an unbeliever. But Mohandis Ghandi is not “off the hook” so to speak with God, if he rejected Christ and claims this as a reason.  He has chosen some other lesser love, not the sin-forgiving, jerk-like-me-saving love through which God saved me.

Everyone is Equal in God’s Eyes–Equally in Need of His Christ!

The acceptance that all kinds of sinful people want is best satisfied in the hope of Jesus Christ! For those not trusting Christ, you will find no other system of belief or worldview that truly treats all people the same. But I do not mean this to somehow pit Christianity against everything else. Rather, as we all look for hope, fulfillment and meaning in our relationships, everyone of us is equally in need of God to mercifully forgive us of the equally condemning sins we are all busy committing. In other words, hope, fulfillment, meaning and eternal life are only found in a loving relationship with God. We need God through His Spirit to convince us of our sinfulness and of the truth of the Good News of Jesus Christ; a convincing which results in our calling to Him for forgiveness of sins, believing that Christ has borne their penalty for our sake, and trusting that He alone is the source of love, hope, truth and life!

God the Father, Son and Spirit once worked in me to believe this truth, to receive His love, to move from condemned to justified, to trust my life to Him forever. I take no credit for that. He did it all. He now looks at me as having the perfections of His Son Jesus Christ. One day that will be completed in fullness. Right now, I know He loves me, will always love me, and is continuing to save me. And I pray each day, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.”

He offers this new identity to you through trusting Christ. Please contact me if you would like to find this love in Christ!

Liver Shivers, “God told Me” Redux (Tridux?)

Posted in challenging human thinking, Communion w/ God, discernment, Spirit-gifting by Sam Hendrickson on 26 February , 2015

holier_than_thounuts

There is a certain thrill, be it self-satisfaction, even self-aggrandizement, or something similar found in seeking “revelation,” “messages,” “prophecies,” “prophetic words,” “anointed words,” “spirit of prophecy,” or similar non-scriptural, and extra-scriptural sources. (more…)

“Respect the Office, Not the Person”, Kevin Bacon and our Doxological-Gospel Purposes

Living the Good News to the Glory of God and Interacting with Everyday People and Politicians

In the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit instructs us to make the glory of God our highest priority (1 Cor 10:31) even down to our motivations for consuming food!

Elsewhere He also exhorts us to live in such a fashion as to discern wisdom from folly, and good from evil. In matters that regard our political leaders, (more…)

Two Good Articles on Blood Moons…

The blood moons are in the news and on the minds of people within Christendom. So, I thought it might be worth posting some articles that will discuss the matter from a biblical standpoint. The articles will critique the ideas of two men, John Hagee and Mark Blitz. * Here are the articles: Tim Challies and Answers in Genesis.red moon

The people promoting the present importance of the blood moons generally have to do a lot of “proof-texting” in order to make their case. Additionally, they take upon themselves (more…)

Sin & our Past

With apologies to my friends who are More Educated on Automotive Computer Systems than me–this is not a perfect analogy, so don’t miss the point.https://i1.wp.com/us.123rf.com/400wm/400/400/gudella/gudella1202/gudella120200047/12650881-old-dirty-car-engine.jpg

My brother-in-law says he knew a German mechanic who talked about Mercedes engine problems this way: (more…)

A Teaching of Christ That is Difficult–but is for Us…

Posted in challenging human thinking, discernment, Lordship by Sam Hendrickson on 25 March , 2013

Luke 14:26  26 “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. NASB95

Think of that: Christ calls us to be His disciples and to obey Him, even if it means we have to choose to follow Him over choosing  our own families, our own spouse, our own children, our parent(s), or sibling(s).

Really?

Yes–really. Jesus made that choice Himself; this is evident in the Gospels. His Father’s “will” is what drove Him, moment by moment.

In this sermon, John Piper attempts to connect this teaching with Psalm 78, to speak to Gospel-living in areas of marriage, singleness and how parents are to view their children. It’s worth a read or a listen–for all of us. (With the usual caveats for areas where he differs in matters of faith/practice.)

http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/raising-children-who-are-confident-in-god

When life is bleak, harsh, and in a death spiral…

Posted in challenging human thinking, discernment, local church, Pastoral concern, Uncategorized, Worship by Sam Hendrickson on 9 July , 2012

From a FB post…When life is bleak, harsh, and trying…

When sorting out the phenomenally difficult times/things of life, the answer NEVER lies in pushing away from the basic graces that God provides.
1. No valuable answers come from stopping regular Bible intake–hearing God’s Word read, preached, taught.

2. No valuable answers come from refraining from proclaiming the Good News to those in need (as someone did for us).

3. No valuable answers come from praying less not more.

4. No valuable answers come from pulling away from worshiping with the local church–to get “family or______________time”.

5. No valuable answers come through the stopping of serving other Christians in the local church, and serving the lost.

6. No valuable answers come by blaming God or others for the mess we have made of life, or by blaming God for the evil that others do to us(even those who said they loved us once).

7. No valuable answers come by running to worldliness while squelching righteous thoughts. In short: there is no hope for the messes, headaches, and heartaches of life except in the graces that God has provided.

So…where are we looking for answers? Where are we teaching our families to look for answers? Get over ourselves and run to Christ!

A Tad bit More on: “God Told Me” and “I Have Peace About This”

Mysticism, false piety (pietism) and quietism pervade our thinking and language. Some of it is goodhearted and some is purposeful (so as to allow for intentional sin).

A portion of a paragraph from Jon Gleason regarding ways we take God’s name in vain:

“God Told Me”

Many times, we hear Christians say that “God told me” to do something.  Unless it is written in God’s Word, God doesn’t tell me to believe your statement (even if you do believe it).  If there is no reason I should believe that God told you, there is no reason to say it.  The Bible doesn’t tell us to go around saying “God told me.”

If you make a statement the Bible didn’t tell you to make, and I should examine what you say (rather than take your word for it), then to claim God’s authority is to claim it vainly.  “God told me” in any context other than what the Scriptures have said is taking God’s name in vain — even if you personally believe He did tell you.  God doesn’t tell others to believe you when you say it, so it is an empty claim.  You shouldn’t say it.

“God Gave me Peace”

It’s amazing how many times God “gives peace” to people who are doing the exact opposite of what He said in Scripture.  Just because you feel comfortable about your decision doesn’t mean God has given you peace.  Perhaps all it means is that you’ve started to have better sleeping and eating habits so you physically feel better.  Perhaps it means you’ve seared your conscience so badly that it isn’t functioning anymore.

God does give peace, the Scriptures say so.  But the Scriptures never say we should make decisions by checking our “peace-meter” to see if it is measuring high enough.  “Peace-meters” are often inaccurate — God’s Word is not.  Many times, when people say “God gave me peace,” they are merely taking God’s name in vain, speaking it meaninglessly, claiming some kind of God-authority for decisions that He manifestly does not approve.

I am sure there are other ways in which we do not honour our Lord’s name as we should.  We, as Christians, need to take God’s holiness seriously, and give Him due reverence.  We should encourage and help one another to be alert to failings in this area, so that we can speak as He would have us speak. HT to Larry Rogier.

Many Evangelicals do not Believe that God is Very Specific About How to Worship Corporately

 

J. Ligon Duncan III:

Evangelicals have for a century or more been the most minimal of all the Protestants in what they think the Bible teaches us about the church in general and in their estimation of the relative importance of ecclesiology (the doctrine of the church).

  • They do not generally believe that church government is established positively in the Word;
  • they often do not see the local church as essential to the fulfillment of the Great Commission or to the task of Christian discipleship;
  • they are suspicious of order as restrictive of freedom…

Consequently, since the doctrine of worship is a part of what the Bible teaches about the doctrine of the church, they are not predisposed in general to expect much in the way of important, definitive teaching about the conduct of corporate worship…

…The greatest obstacle to the reform of worship in the evangelical church today is evangelicalism’s general belief that New Testament Christians have few or no particular directions about how we are to worship God corporately:

  • what elements belong in worship,
  • what elements must always be present in well-ordered worship,
  • what things do not belong in worship.

To be even more specific…we may say that

  • evangelicals emphasize the dynamic of Christian worship (the grace of the Holy Spirit)
  • and its motivation (gratitude for grace, a passion for God),
  • but de-emphasize the standard (the Bible)
  • and goal (the prime telos [the purposed end] of glorifying and enjoying God).

Evangelicals do think that worship matters, but they also often view worship as a means to some other end than that of the glorification and enjoyment of God:

  • some view worship as evangelism (thus misunderstanding its goal);
  • some think that a person’s heart, intentions, motives and sincerity are the only things important in how we worship (thus downplaying the Bible’s standards, principles, and rules for worship);
  • and some view the emotional product of the worship experience as the prime factor in [evaluating] “good” worship (thus over-stressing the subjective and often unwittingly imposing particular cultural opinions about emotional expression on all worshipers).

Evangelicals believe these things about worship, but they do not think that there are many biblical principles about how to worship or what we are to do and not to do in worship.

In part, this may be the result of an understandable misunderstanding of the precise nature of the discontinuity between  the worship of the people of God in the old covenant and the new covenant.

…Consequently, though evangelicals know that the Old Testament has instructions on what Israel was to do in worship,

  • they tend to think that there are few if any abiding principles [let alone commands] to be gained for Christian worship from the Old Testament,
  • or they think that the New Testament emphases on the heart, the activity of the Holy Spirit, and worship-in-all-of-life displace these Old Testament principles,
  • or they think that the New Testament has correspondingly little or nothing to say about the how of corporate worship,
  • and some even think the category of corporate worship disappears altogether in the new-covenant expression of the economy of God…

And not surprisingly, these assumptions help an evangelicalism enveloped in a culture of individualism, relativism, and situationalism remain, in its approach to the gathered worship of God’s people,

  • strong on the individual, weak on the corporate;
  • strong on the subjective, weak on the objective;
  • strong on the heart, weak on the principles.

Give Praise to God: A Vision for Reforming Worship, P & R Publishing, 2003, pp. 24 – 26

[Nota bene: These are Duncan’s words, but I did the bulleting to make the lists and long (dare I say run-on?) sentences more easy to navigate.] Presented with all the usual waivers as to how his beliefs and practices differ from mine, etc… I.e. simply because I am quoting him doesn’t mean you should become a Presbyterian or whatever…I’ll trust your discernment…

God Hates Purposefully Mixed Worship & Sacrifice-Exodus 32

Some more thoughts on modern Christianity’s tendency to intermix worldliness in with the things of Christ.

It’s not some new phenomenon as we will see below.

When this artist to the right is “excited” that his album was used for a World Wide Wrestling Federation (now WWE) 25 year Anniversary service (and no, it was not chosen because it spoke a contrary message of God to those present, but because the music fit right in), you have to wonder if you want the people you love to be warned about the messages of such people. Maybe some will think you out of step “with the current Christian times”, or just a nosy, cranky curmudgeon. (Who among us would deny such are true of me? Heh heh.)

But as I preached last week, if you are doing Good News living and others have a problem with that, their beef is not with you, but they’ve just found their complaint escalated to the highest levels–Christ and the Father. So, I won’t be hurt if you disagree, but, at that point my feelings and my opinion means nada, nil, nuthin’–zilch. Someone else’s opinion does.

This kind of thinking comes from (John 15:19 – 16:3)

Anyway

God’s rightful glory is given to someone else when we intentionally mingle godly things in with pagan things. And God does not stand for having His glory diverted, stolen or reduced.

I contend that “Christian” bands like these and others, often show their desires to find ways to have and hold “the world” while trying to have and hold Christ.

That’s God-glory-robbing kind of stuff–and that is a dangerous place to be, and these can be spiritually dangerous people from which to get your teachings about God.

Consider how things went in the 15th Century BC:

Exodus 32

  • People often lose confidence in the people God has ordained as their spiritual leader (Verse 1)Exodus 32:1  Now when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people assembled about Aaron and said to him, “Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.
  • In doing so, they then reveal what their real desires are–what they truly want to worship (instead of the One True God)(Verse 1)“come make us a god”
  • Other spiritual leaders may well be as spiritually weak as those they lead and cave into their sinful desires (Verse 2) Aaron said to them, “Tear off the gold rings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.”
  • Such leaders can end up mixing in “God-talk” and “idol-talk” as a way of gaining the approval of the sinful people, and as a way of making themselves feel better for introducing sin into the things of God–“this is your god” and “tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.” (Verse 4) He [Aaron] took this from their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool and made it into a molten calf; and they said, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.”
  • When such leaders intermingle pagan, sinful things in with the holy things of God, the people (whose hearts desire sin, self and their own lusts) will go along with it and even do “the godly stuff.”–they “offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings” (Verse 5)Now when Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.”
  • And when the “God” stuff is over, the sinful idolatry and self-centered fulfillment merely continues (Verse 6)So the next day they rose early and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play
  • God’s holy righteous anger burns against this kind of spiritual God-talk and idol-worship (Verses 7 – 35)–Go ahead go to the passage and take a look–God’s punishment on Israel was ugly, brutal and indicative of His love for His own glory.

Seriously, ask yourself:

  • Do I want to be listening to people who are willing to look at God this way?
  • Should I be learning my information about God from people who look at God this way?
  • Should I be using the messages of such people to help me individually worship God?

It ought to sober us to think of what God did in the Golden Calf Worship-of-Jehovah-Disaster.

Who is really your God/god?