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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

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 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!

“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…)

Defense of Marriage Act

So, DOMA is struck down. This decision makes clear that for those who oppose same-gender marriage and related matters there is tough sledding ahead.doma

Our ultimate hope is not in governmental or societal change, it is in Christ. Any effort we might make (more…)

There is a time…

Posted in America's spiritual crisis, Outreach, Politics (ugh), Worship by Sam Hendrickson on 16 December , 2012

There is a time to discuss how this horrific evil act will affect our liberties. To do so right now seems to be too soon. Our liberties are gifts from God, not rights which we must have or we die.

These families need the gift of God; their children, brothers, sisters, mothers, aunts, etc., have been torn from them by this man. Weep tears for them, weep tears for the sins of this country, weep tears for our Good God to glorify Himself in the Good News in this massacre.

Weep tears for your own past crimes and continuing crimes against God. Such an incredible thought–that we who are “born from above,” recipients of Christ’s obedient life, death and resurrection (which paid the infinite cost of our sins)–incredible it is that we have continuing crimes against this God!

Cleanse us! Renew us! May God save more and more hell-bound rebels for His glory and kingdom! Amen

On Easter Bunnies…(sort of)…OK, not really…

I am an American citizen. But, according to the Holy Spirit, I am first and foremost a subject in the kingdom of God—a citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20). I am supposed to be unafraid to be an alien (foreigner) and a stranger (wandering through a world in which I have no real and final citizenship – 1 Peter 2:11). Because of the rights which God has graciously granted me as a US citizen (which are actually privileges) and privileges accorded to me by God through the work of good men two centuries ago (who were biblically wrong in saying that these are God-given rights, but to whom God sovereignly afforded the right to be wrong about these things), I vote, I speak up–trying to think deeply, and hoping to speak plainly and clearly on how to be a Christian first and an American second. God helping me, I do this always with the idea of being what I am – a heavenly citizen who resides as an alien & pilgrim, and secondly an American citizen.[1]

I think I can do more in being a citizen, and (more…)

On Burning Qurans, Terry Jones, and our “Rights”

This rough, I might clean it up later, but I posted this recently at a friend’s Facebook page. If it is helpful to you, good…

From what I can see of the NT & the OT, our faith is not a tit for tat kind of thing. “Vengeance is mine–I will repay” says GOD. If someone is burning Bibles, we are called to feel compassion and pity and chalk it up to ignorance. Don’t forget Saul of Tarsus was willing to kill and may have been part of the process of killing Christians (Acts 8:1 – 3, 9:1)–and yet God showed compassion to him–through Ananias (who was nervous about meeting and helping Saul (Acts 9:13f), and brought him to salvation.  Paul calls his unbelief and opposition to Christ “ignorance”…There is Pauline, and Petrine precedent for this attitude:

(1 Peter 1:14 14 “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance…” Ephesians 4:17-18 17 “So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart;…” 1 Timothy 1:12-13 12 “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, 13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief;”

If someone is naming the name of Christ–i.e. calling themselves Christians, yet are false teachers, then we go after them like Paul and John say to. Neither Paul or John, gave quarter to apostasy or stubborn false teaching. But, the example of the Apostles, and our Lord was to crush false teachers, feed the sheep, and show compassion to those acting in ignorance. But, if they are unbelievers, and not false teachers as described above, our business is to evangelize them–not to foster hatred. Terry Jones is adding to the offense of the Gospel, and it is sinful to do that–in the name of patriotism, in the name of indignation, in the name of vengeance, or whatever. Even if he thinks he is somehow helping God, it is more like Peter’s “Malchusian moment” when he foolishly, and sinfully took off the high priest’s servant’s (Malchus) ear. If anyone needs censure here Jones does. Not censorship, he has the freedom to be foolish and sinful. But, simply because the Constitution allows it, that doesn’t make it moral.

And you are right, it is no big deal to offend Christians–I would posit that our Lord not only taught that, but gave the ultimate example of humility. He modeled and taught a humble acceptance of crimes done against Him, murderous crimes, and He bore the Cross, despising the shame. He told us that we should expect to be hated, despised, harrassed, persecuted and lied about–and we are never to raise a hand in an unbiblical way so as to prevent our being able to evangelize even our persecutors!. When Paul wrote Romans 13:1 – 7, speaking to the matter of obeying “authority”,  Emperor Nero was the “authority”–burning Christians as party lights, and persecuting the Church in numerous ways. And Paul’s response? Romans 13:1 – 7. However offended I am, (and I do get offended), however indignant I am (and I do get so sometimes) at the actions and mindset of Islam, as a Christian, I don’t get to foster those feelings, and should repent of them if they would get in the way of my evangelizing a Muslim.

Paul and Silas evangelized their jailer–their enemy. I don’t think that Terry Jones is doing the equivalent of sitting in prison, singing hymns and leading the jailer to Christ. When we became Christians, we surrendered our rights, if those rights in any way shape or form cause a stumbling block for the progress of the Good News. We are Christians first, Americans second. Peace and grace.

With the usual waivers regarding political candidates, etc.

This article from Russel Moore is a good reminder for us about what we might be thinking of doing  regarding our privileges as an American, and what our obligations/priorities are as children of God through faith in Christ.

What are American Christians willing to sacrifice (in terms of the amount of time–effort–treasure striving for the sake of the Gospel) as they struggle for whatever political/social cause? In this election cycle, will we make “making patriots” more important than “making and maturing disciples who look like Jesus Christ?” HT Greg Linscott [And, ummm, I’m not going to try to defend myself to Beck-heads–you know who you are].

Thinking About the Church and “Fixing America” Part Two

Posted in America's spiritual crisis, challenging human thinking, discernment, Politics (ugh) by Sam Hendrickson on 19 July , 2010

The second in Phil Johnson’s articles on Christians influencing our society, and it has a powerful theme: “Gospel, not Law is What Changes Sinful Hearts”.  Enjoy!

Thinking About the Church and “Fixing America” Part One

Admittedly, these articles are written by someone else. But, he has done some serious, biblically-guided thinking about the role of local churches in “fixing America.” I hope you will read thoughtfully… Go here to read about America’s need for preaching…

In the wake of (continuing) political & societal shift…

I posted my initial root thoughts of this on a friend’s facebook recently. In light of recent political events, people are vowing to begin listening to Limbaugh, Ingraham, Hannity, etc. in an increasing fashion, or for the first time. There is a certain sense that I congratulate them (more…)