Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Can you be Christian and gay?

 30 He then led them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”31 They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you and your household will be saved.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his household. 33 In that hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds. And immediately he and his entire household were baptized. 34 Then he brought them up to his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced with his entire household believing in God. Acts 16:30-34 MEV   

 There is a question that many might believe to be quite controversial. There is a subject that can be divisive and may even cause anger to arise within people. That is this issue of homosexuality and the Christian faith. 

 This is a sensitive subject because most people personally know someone who is homosexual. Emotions are therefore heavily involved in this subject. In order to address this matter, emotions must be set aside and clarity and dignity, and compassion must be given precedence so truth can come forth. 

 Let's be clear and concise and to the point. Let's answer the question I brought forth. Can one be a Christian and yet be gay? The answer to that is found in our opening text.

 What must one do to be saved? Keep the commandments? Give regularly to charity? Observe the Law perfectly? No, for one to be saved all they need to do is one thing. Believe. Simply believe in or place their trust in Christ. It's that simple.

16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16 MEV

 Surely brother you're not suggesting one could be a practicing homosexual and be a Christian. Well, can you be a practicing gossiper and still be saved? Can you be a worrier and still be saved? These are sins people conveniently omit when listing disqualifications of Grace and salvation.

 To answer the question, yes you can be a homosexual and be a Christian. For all it takes to be saved is trusting in Christ alone. Our behavior isn't our Savior, Jesus Christ is. 

 This is the Gospel proclamation. God so loved you He gave His Son to take your place. He died for you and arose victoriously therefore the price has been completely paid for! God isn't mad at you or anyone. In Him is found perfect peace and complete forgiveness and real Love. Life, eternal life, hope, and acceptance are only found in Christ, all He asks is for you to believe it, trust Him alone, and receive it freely.

Is that it? Yes, that is it. It's a simple answer to a question that stirs so much controversy. You can be gay and be saved. It's all because of Grace.

 Where Grace has responded and placed a period don't place a comma or clause designed of men or the world system. Neither place a comma designed to be a combination of the two wherein we seek to gain the favor and approval of this world system and its way of thinking. Grace is God's unearned favor, when received it produces empowerment, Grace doesn't empower the opinion of man.

 Grace empowers what the Spirit has revealed in the Word of God. Where we see salvation is freely available to whosoever will receive, this doesn't equate to Grace condoning or celebrating every action and thinking pattern of men. The question asked is can one be gay and Christian not is homosexuality a sin. I have answered the question Biblically and with love and Grace. 

 In truth, people ask this question because inwardly they believe living a sinful life negates one from being able to receive salvation. If sin can stop one from being saved, then we are all in trouble. We all have sinned and are unworthy in and of ourselves to be saved, that's why it's all about His Grace and not our works, worth, or goodness.

 The controversy that those outside of Christ stirs concerning this issue is that it is not sinful to engage in homosexuality. They are adamant on this point. They will censor any speech, cancel any presentation, or appearance, and even place in jail in some places, anyone who doesn't affirm this position. 

 Jesus is the person of Grace. He didn't affirm this position. He detailed only two genders from the beginning, and what constitutes marriage. Therefore there is no Grace, that is no empowering of such unions or practice. 

 Paul details that homosexuality is a sin throughout his Epistles. Paul also goes in-depth in Romans 1 detailing the true nature of the practice of same-sex relations. Paul details that the natural sexual use of woman is with man and man with woman. 

 None of these truths are presented as harsh and wrathful anger against anyone. They describe the actions that are sinful. They don't stop there. They give the remedy, and the answer is Jesus. 

 In order to walk in victory, we must have our thinking renewed to Christ's thinking. God Almighty spoke through the Prophet Isaiah concerning His mercy, revealing a powerful truth we must all grasp. For my thoughts are not your thoughts

 We have to come to the place where our thinking is renewed to His thinking. Our thoughts are birthed from our own sense of "justice" and how things should be. Our thoughts are conformed to the world system when we align with them and when we look to them for wisdom and "truth."  When our way of thinking takes precedence then we aren't living with a renewed mind but a conformed mind.

 The unrenewed mind seeks for God to follow it. It is not interested or invested in following God. To follow God means to embrace whatever He says concerning any subject, to forsake the status quo, to stand out from the crowd, and affirm His view not what others believe or think. 

 We can conform to the age. We can seek the approval of man. We can ignore what God plainly says and embrace what modern man says about it instead.

 We can say the whole Wives submit to your husbands, husbands love your wife and lay down your life for her, marriage is between a man and a woman, and sexual relations before marriage is sinful, hey we don't like those passages. We choose to reject them. Let's either ignore them or dream up a new interpretation for those passages that make us feel better and are approved of men. 

 We can do all these things, and God still loves us and calls us His own. We can still find Grace in time of need. We can still come before the Father freely. We can do all these things but we will not be walking in the victory that's fully available. We can be popular with men but not walk in the full power of redemption. It's our choice.

 In summation, God is loving and Good to all. His invitation is there for whosoever may come. There is nothing hindering His Love and Grace and salvation. Can one be gay and be saved? Yes, it's all by Grace. Does that mean being gay isn't a sin? No, it doesn't. The Word is clear it is sinful and contrary to God's design for mankind. Does that mean God is angry? No, God is satisfied with Jesus' redemptive work. It just means you're living contrary to His will and He has better for you. Renew your mind to God's Word and find victory, the complete victory Grace procured. God is not mad at you. God loves you. 

 Image by Albrecht Fietz from Pixabay

Monday, June 20, 2022

Grace vs Law: the Woman caught in adultery

 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17 MEV

 We've been in a series contrasting Grace and Law. We've been seeing how the Gospels have hidden gems found in the parables, miracles, and even the temptation of Christ, confirming how the Law is finished and fulfilled and Grace has come. The Gospels confirm Jesus is the person of Grace.

 Jesus is the King of Kings! He is the Lord of all! Jesus is the Savior, He paid the price for all mankind. What a Savior! He's strong to deliver! He is worthy of every crown for the way He saved us and for the way He Loves us so unconditionally! This Grace is what's worthy of all praise and adoration and accolades. Grace leaves no place for our works, our achievements, our performance, our doing, our disciplines taking center stage, or seeking recognition. 

 We exalt Jesus and His Grace. We look at what He's done and stand amazed and in awe of what a Savior we have in Jesus Christ. When Grace becomes more real than anything we can do we will lift Jesus higher and begin to truly see just how great He is. 

 When we look at the woman caught in adultery we see Grace overshadowing Law. John's Gospel records this powerful event. The woman was caught committing sin, sexual sin. She couldn't deny it. She was guilty as accused. Shame and indecency and ruined reputation were glaring bright in her mind and emotions. 

 She was brought out into public for all to see. She, by Law, was facing possible death by stoning. These accusers had stones in their hands. The stones were representative of the Law, which is the ministry of death and condemnation. The Law was poised to execute severe judgment. But Jesus, who is God in the flesh, the very one who wrote the Law, came to fulfill and reveal a new and living way.

 The Ministry of Righteousness exceeds the ministry of death and condemnation. Where the Law had some ready to stone her, Jesus revealed the true weight of the Law and its true purpose and intent. We see Jesus writing on the ground. Much debate is made as to what He wrote.

 I believe it's simple what Jesus was writing. Jesus is God manifest among us. His writing represents the writing of the commandments on stone by the finger of God Himself. In essence, He's telling the religious, don't quote Law to me, I AM He that wrote it. 

 Jesus then makes the masterful statement He who is without sin cast the first stone. He gave these accusers the full weight of the Law. They saw their own weakness and flaws and their need for mercy and not judgment. One by one they left dropping those stones. 

 Jesus then comes to her and asks where are her accusers? Is there anyone left to condemn you? She responded no one, Lord. Jesus then gives her the full weight of His Grace; 

When Jesus had stood up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are your accusers? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”  John 8:10-11 MEV

Jesus and His Grace give the gift of no condemnation. This is the ministry that exceeds in glory. This is the ministry of Righteousness. The ministry where Jesus is the central figure of our trust, our hope, and all our worship and adoration. 

 The ministry of death and condemnation is the ministry of Law. What's of interest to note is the fact that Paul tells us this ministry of law, though it is condemning and brings death, still has glory. This is something we must understand.

 Churches and ministries that preach mixture may have powerful meetings. They may have wonderful charitable outreaches. They may win the lost and even spread the message of salvation through Christ around the globe. Yet they are ministering death and condemnation and don't even grasp that they are.

 I have seen some spectacular miracles and signs and wonders that would leave you in awe and amazement at our loving Savior's power and might. I have seen God heal bodies that were beyond help medically. I have seen recreative miracles where people have gotten out of wheelchairs and are now walking. These were in ministries that preached mixture strongly.

 Why is this? God is not giving His approval of mixture. It's just that there was a glory to the ministry of condemnation. Knowing what Jesus has done for us in the Finished Work, how much more glory should we be expecting and seeing under the ministry of Righteousness?

 The ministry of Righteousness exceeds in glory. God meets people right where they are. He shows up in the very midst of their sin and problems bringing Grace and restoration. Religious ones who cling to Law only know to grab stones when addressing anyone's failures.

 Going through a divorce? Tradition only knows to grab stones and forbid you to ever marry again. They are stoning you figuratively, killing your chance of ever finding a peaceful Godly marriage.

 Struggling with addiction? The stone throwers will "kill" any chance of finding forgiveness and acceptance as the stigma of addiction will always be present with them. God can't keep forgiving you and other such lies being spoken over you.

 A minister that has failed? The stones come strong and swift. You'll never be allowed to minister again. God could never use you again. 

 The Law becomes stones in the hands of the religious poised to accuse and condemn at a moment's notice. Grace has hands that stoop down to pick up the downtrodden, not stone them. Grace brings with it the gift of no condemnation which empowers us to go and sin no more.

 When Jesus arose victoriously, the stone was rolled away. The stone made way for the new and living way. The Law being fulfilled gave way to the true glorious ministry of life and Righteousness. 

 For one to find lasting peace, wholeness and fulfillment look only to the Cross of Christ. Behold His glorious Resurrection. Set your affections and heart desires only upon Him and see how He is your all and all. There is nothing He won't do for you. There is nothing His Grace can't overcome and bring forth victory. There is nothing you've done or could do that would stop God from working on your behalf. If He died for you while you were His enemy how much more will He do for you now that you're His child? 

 In summation, Grace is greater. Grace outshines Law. Throw away the stones and be a channel of healing and forgiveness and restoration. Our hope is built upon His Righteousness not our own.

Image by Angi Yowell from Pixabay 

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Grace vs Law: Lazarus raised from the dead.

 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17 MEV

 We've been in a series contrasting Grace versus Law. We've seen how the Gospels have hidden gems revealing just how Jesus came to fulfill the Law, bring an end to the Old, and usher in the New Covenant and Grace. Jesus' life represents God's heart to mankind.

 In John's Gospel, we see the power of God on display for all to see. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. John 11 details this wonderful miracle of God's Love and GoodnessLooking closer we can see once again how Jesus reveals His work of Grace and completion of the Old Covenant and the Law. 

 To begin with many have questioned and come up with traditional answers to explain why Jesus waited four days before He came to Bethany. God wasn't delaying His coming to create some new theology where God delays intervening in His children's lives to teach them patience, or to create catchy phrases like "delayed, not denied", so preachers can elicit an emotional response from their audience. He didn't wait four days to prove some type of sovereignty principle, that He alone is God and can do whatever He wants.

 When we understand that Jesus knew the end from the beginning, that He spoke out His confession of Faith the moment He heard the news of Lazarus' sickness, we can gain better insight as to why He waited. Jesus spoke the end from the beginning. His confession was the sickness wasn't unto death but for the glory of God.

 Now don't get goofy, Jesus wasn't implying that sickness and disease bring God glory. Don't adopt some man-made theology, some ridiculous concept, that leads one to speak out thankfulness that they or a loved one is sick or diagnosed with a disease. Jesus was speaking the end from the beginning, He was speaking Faith. He was speaking forth the end result of the situation. Jesus knew He'd raise Lazarus from the dead.

 With that understanding, we can see that Jesus took an opportunity to not only bring about a miracle to demonstrate God's Goodness, and Love but also to give mankind an illustration of His full redemptive work. He remained for four days as the first picture of redemption. Mankind at this time had been spiritually dead for four thousand years from the time of Adam to this point.

 Peter reveals a thousand years is as a day with the Lord. Mankind had been dead for 4,000 years, but what about what Paul said in Romans 5:13? Paul was speaking of how God dealt with man through these years, but mankind was spiritually dead for 4,000 years but didn't know it. The Law came to reveal to man his sinfulness and separation, and need for a Savior. Jesus waiting four days was a type of His appearing after 4,000 years.

 When Jesus came to Bethany, He declared to Lazarus' sisters that He was the Resurrection and the Life. He went to the tomb and instructed them to roll away the stone. Then He called Lazarus forth from the dead. A miracle of the dead being raised was seen by all.

 Too often we stop there. We aren't seeing what God is revealing. Jesus came after 4,000 years of spiritual death to roll away the stone of the Law. The Law kept man entombed in spiritual death. 

 22 But the Scripture has confined all things under sin, that the promise through faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith came, we were imprisoned under the law, kept for the faith which was later to be revealed. 24 So the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. Galatians 3:22-25 MEV

 The stone being rolled away from Lazarus' tomb was a picture of Jesus removing the Law and bringing forth a new and living way to approach God. Jesus called him out of death unto life. He commanded those old grave clothes to be removed. We who believed must remove the old grave clothes of dead religious works, trying to earn God's Love, trying to gain favor through performance, and seeking to warrant the blessings of God by spiritual disciplines or actions. Jesus wants us to rest in His Righteousness not our works.

 The stone is a perfect representation of the Law. Look at the words Paul used to describe the Ten Commandments and the entire Old Covenant, and all the 613 commands of the Law in general.

who has made us able ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. If the ministry that brought death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, the glory which was to fade away,  how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation is glorious, the ministry of righteousness much more exceeds it in glory. 2 Corinthians 3:6-9 MEV  

 The Law is the ministry of death and condemnation. This ministry entombs people into spiritual death. It can't supply Righteousness. It can't supply forgiveness of sin. It can't provide the power to overcome sin and live in abundance. The ministry of Grace and Righteousness on the other hand supplies us with all we need to reign victoriously in life. 

 The ministry of Law is a ministry of death and condemnation. Yet in so many churches and ministries throughout the world pastors and leaders cite the principles and statutes of the Law as the way to come before God. As the means by which we receive answered prayers, healing, provision, protection, and wholeness.

 They look at Deuteronomy as a guide for New Covenant Christians to receive abundance and blessings. If you diligently hearken to God. If you obey all His statutes you'll be blessed, if not you're cursed. Want healing in your body? They point you to Exodus, heed the voice of God, do what is right in His sight, and keep all His statutes, then you will be healed.

 You can readily see under Law, that receiving from God is all contingent upon your doing, your hearkening, your diligence, your observance, and your obedience. Where is Jesus in all this? Where is the Finished Work of Jesus? Where is His sacrifice? It's not the focus.

 Jesus rolled away the stone of Law. He called us out of the tomb of death and condemnation. Let us not go back to the tomb and roll the stone of Law back and imprison ourselves to our works and performance. 

 In summation, Jesus came to fulfill the Law and complete the Old. The New has come. Jesus' perfect Finished Work has provided a new and living way. Let's embrace the New and no longer cling to the Old. Jesus provided a better way. Let's exalt and honor His Finished Work and New Covenant. Our freedom, our wholeness, and our everlasting joy are found only in the new and living way of Grace and Righteousness. It is glorious! 

Image by Jondolar Schnurr from Pixabay 

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Grace vs Law: Parable of the Ten Virgins

 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17 MEV   

 We've been in a series contrasting Law and Grace. More specifically, we've been uncovering hidden truths in the many parables and events of the Gospels that reveal how Jesus came to fulfill the Law, bring it to its completion, and usher in the New Covenant. Christ came to reveal the Father and bring about a new and living way of approaching Him.

 As we dig deeper in the Gospels, prepare to have any man-made traditions challenged. In Matthew's Gospel, we find the Parable of the ten virgins. I have heard this parable taught for years as a lesson for those who have not committed their lives to follow Christ with their whole heart.

 Is this the purpose of this parable? To show how believers can lose their salvation? Is it to show how Jesus views carnal Christians? That those who aren't really committed will be left out when Christ returns? When we understand the purpose of Jesus' ministry we recognize these ideas as works and performance-driven teachings and reject them. 

 What is the Parable of the ten virgins teaching? Understanding the audience and the purpose of Jesus' ministry it becomes clear Jesus isn't teaching a hopeless gospel. He isn't teaching a strive to arrive, work harder, or do more gospel message. 

 Jesus is teaching His disciples, His followers. He is giving them the truth, the message to bring to their brethren, the people of Israel. Look again at this parable

 Jesus speaks of five wise and five foolish virgins. They all have lamps and the oil needed to light those lamps. Now while they all wait for the Bridegroom to come, the five foolish virgin's lamps go out. The Bridegroom returns and they are not allowed into the wedding, because they are not known.

 This is where tradition teaches, the foolish were unprepared for the arrival of the Bridegroom. Meaning, that they were living in sin, worldliness, and carnality. When Christ comes if you are living this same way you will miss His return and be left out. I can see how many interpret this parable this way, but that's because they do not have the revelation of Grace and the New Covenant fully. 

 This works-driven view comes from a conscious awareness of our own shortcomings and the self-efforts we've all engaged in to compensate for our flaws. When we feel our efforts have outweighed our failings we feel more confident in pointing out others' foul-ups, flaws, and failures. Thus we began interpreting the Word in light of self-effort.

 To understand this parable, look at the symbology Jesus used. Look at the timeline Jesus is pointing to. Jesus is speaking of the future, so this concerns the time after His redemptive work on Calvary. He uses the symbols of lamps and oil. The Scriptures have used that symbology previously.

 The human spirit is the lamp of the Lord that sheds light on one’s inmost being.  Proverbs 20:27 NIV

Here this passage under the Old has more effectiveness and reality under the New, seeing the believer's spirit man has been recreated and born from above. The born-again human spirit is the lamp of the Lord. Look at another passage concerning lamps. 

For the commandment is a lamp, And the law a light; Reproofs of instruction are the way of life, Proverbs 6:23 NKJV 

 So we can see two contrasting lamps, two contrasting lights. Under Grace, the New Covenant, the born-again believer's spirit is the lamp and the light of the Lord. We aren't under Law, we don't need commands written on stone to lead us and guide us. The Lord dwells within us and His light leads us and guides us.

 The other lamp speaks of the commandments, the light being the Law. Seeing any pattern here? Once again Jesus contrasts Law and Grace. Who is the true light? Jesus Christ is the light of the world. If the light is out, it's because the lamp has a light other than Jesus. That is trying to come to God, and achieving righteousness by deeds of the Law. 

 Going deeper, Israel has been called a virgin prior to this passage. Amos and Jeremiah both have used this to describe Israel. So can we see a clearer understanding of this parable? This is speaking of Israel and Christ coming. Those whose light is Christ are found in Him, they are known of Him. Those whose lamp and light are the Law, their lamps are out, for Christ has fulfilled the Law. These, though they were Jews are no longer known by God.

 God has known Israel. God calls them His chosen people, the apple of His eye. Yet when Christ came, He paid the price, He made a new and living way for all to receive. He opened salvation to all men, Jew and gentile alike. Jews who reject Christ, reject Grace and refuse His free gift of eternal life are just as lost as the gentile who reject Christ.

 God has gone through much effort to conceal and reveal throughout the Gospels and the Epistles the truth that the Law is finished in Christ. Christ is the end of the Law for Righteousness to all who believe. Those under the Old who have heard the truth but continue to reject Grace in favor of Law are walking with their proverbial lamps out. Grace is the Gospel. Grace is the foundation of the New Covenant. There is no light or guidance from the Law, it cannot lead anyone to eternal life.

 Is the Parable of the ten virgins teaching believers to be more committed? That only the most faithful and morally upright will be known by God? No, this parable is contrasting Jews who have received the Gospel of Grace, who are leaning on Christ for their Righteousness, and Jews who cling to the Old and the Law for life, right standing, and eternal hope. 

 The question may arise, why were the foolish then instructed to go buy more oil to light their lamps if it was about Law and Grace? Look at God's instruction for the tabernacle. The oil that burns perpetually was derived from olives that were beaten and crushed. Who was He that was beaten and crushed for our sins? Jesus! This oil is a picture of Jesus' redemptive work. 

 The foolish went to go buy more oil. Again this speaks of Law and works. We can't buy Righteousness. Something that we can pay for means our efforts provided the wages to make the payment. Peter declared we were redeemed with the Blood of Jesus not silver or gold, or something that can be earned or purchased by our efforts. 

 I ask again, was this parable teaching believers to be better? To do more? To be more faithful and obedient? To work harder? To live more upright or you will be rejected by God? No, this is contrasting the New and the Old. Those who await Christ, the Messiah, in Christ, and those awaiting the Messiah based on their abilities, and observance of the Law.

 In summation, the Word reveals Jesus and His Grace from cover to cover. That holding on to Grace and not Law is where eternal life is truly found. In contrasting Grace and Law, something vitally important must be noted. That is the everlasting and unchanging Love of God. 

 When we contrast Law and Grace we aren't saying God hates the Law and those who were under Law. When we say the Old is obsolete and our Faith is attached to the New, this isn't saying God hates Israel. Understanding Grace, is not an invitation to anti-Semitism.

 Though the Old is done and the New has come, it doesn't mean the Church replaced Israel. He hasn't abandoned the Jewish people or "divorced" them as some now teach. Imagine someone saying that because of witchcraft God has "divorced" Himself from all Africans! How racist would that be? Same for Israel. Stay with Grace revealed and relinquish all man-made ideas that are contradictory to Grace and Love.

Image by falco from Pixabay