how big is your gospel?

gospel

Someone has said ‘our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.’ I like that. I think this applies well to same sex marriage. The ruling came down late last month where it is now legit for gay marriage in the U.S.

When it comes to issues like this, it doesn’t matter a rip, at the end of the day, what anyone thinks. What really matters is what God thinks.

This is part 3, in a 3-parter in light of the U.S. announcement. And if you haven’t read the first two posts, you need to, because they set the foundation for this one. Briefly, the first post was that the church needs to be concerned about it’s own sin, first and foremost. Secondly, we need to be careful Bible students when it comes to complicated topics (or any topic for that matter).

I read a book on the ‘homosexual Christian’ when I was back in Bible school and the book did a great job of communicating the position. And in all honesty the book did eisegesis instead of exegesis. These are 2 conflicting approaches to Bible study. Exegesis is simply the explanation of a text based on a careful, objective analysis. The word means ‘to lead out of.’ The text brings the interpreter to his conclusions. Eisegesis is interpreting a passage based on a subjective, non-analytical reading. The word means ‘to lead into’, which means the interpreter injects his own ideas into the text, making it mean whatever he wants.

One of the best examples of eisegesis that I can remember from my study was  a look at a text that said that Jonathan loved David. [18:1] As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. (1 Samuel 18:1 ESV) Later on it says that Jonathan stripped and you can well guess where the wrong interpretation goes. Some interpret this passage by ignoring the context in which it was written, and saw this as a homosexual relationship. To careful Bible students this seems illogical, but that is what some believe. That’s reading into the text with your own presuppositions.

So let’s turn to a passage that is clear on the homosexual lifestyle. Romans 1 has to be one of the darkest passages of Scripture in all of the Bible. It’s like a trip down an elevator shaft into the darkest of worlds. It talks about the depth of mankind’s depravity and is used to describe all of us. The purpose of Romans 1-3 is to help everyone see that they are wicked and spiritually dead and Grand Canyon’s apart from God and need the glorious gospel. And for our purposes, I will mention the verses that applies to homosexual relationships (please take the time to read the whole chapter).

[26] For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; [27] and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
(Romans 1:26-27 ESV)

When you take the clear meaning of the text, it says that homosexual acts and those passions and desires are dishonourable before God. Homosexuality is contrary to nature. The Bible trumps what culture says, on every single issue. God says that there is a natural way for sexes to interact. I could say more but I just want to let the text speak for itself.

I want to mention one other passage that support Romans 1 and just let the text do the talking with very little commentary.

[9] Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, [10] nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. [11] And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV)

True believers can and do participate in these sins, but they are not characterized by them. If a person is characterized by them, it is clear, that they are not people of God’s kingdom. They are not genuine believers. I think we can all do the math, even though it may be very painful.

Some are born with bents towards or socialized into same-sex attraction. Some have bents towards anger. Some have bents towards stealing and pride and self-centredness and gossip. I believe I have a bent towards alcohol addiction, or something like that, and it’s by God’s grace I don’t touch the stuff even though I have believing brethren who can enjoy a beer or two. We are all born jacked up and that can leave us with our face in the dust crying out to the Lord to save us or with us shaking our fist at Heaven.

And it’s not just a crying out on our day of salvation but it’s an on-going crying out to God to transform us into the likeness of His Son. Theologians call this sanctification. I was talking to a brother a little while back who found himself up to his neck in sin and he went through a deathly dark season of nothing but crying out to God for grace to battle this sin that had him in a toehold, a stranglehold, a chokehold….and by God’s grace, he’s free. And by God’s grace, he will continue to be free…as long as he keeps crying out and being God-dependent instead of trying to be self- sufficient.

Jared Wilson has written that ‘only the Gospel goes deep enough to effect real hard change. Everything else is just behaviour modification’. The gospel is big and powerful and will change people. I want to say this as tenderly and as boldly as I can, but some have not changed much because they have not genuinely cried out to God for salvation. God has not saved them.

There was a dude in the Bible who was very greedy and then he met Jesus and in a moment, he became very generous (Luke 19:1-10). I would suggest that some have that radical change, in some areas, very quickly. I would also suggest that for most of us, it’s a long ‘2 steps forward, 1 step back’ process. It’s gradual, but visible, and sometimes hardly even noticeable to the individual. If you dig into Mark 1:15 you will find that we repent and believe at conversion but if it’s true conversion then repentance and belief will be characteristic of our lifestyle, until we die. Turning to God, turning from sin, turning to God, turning from sin, is to be the ebb and flow of the life of a true believer.

Really, this post is not about homosexuality, even though that’s  where we began. This post is about the glorious gospel that takes hearts of stone and transforms them into hearts of flesh. The gospel is big. It changed the Apostle Paul from being a Christian killer to a guy who they tried to kill, because of the Christ who saved him that he boldly proclaimed. The gospel is powerful enough to change any wretched sinner…that’s what the Bible says and that’s what He’s done with me and keeps doing with me. The glorious gospel can change the most hardened of sinners for His glory and for our good. That’s what the true gospel does.

[28] Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. [29] Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. [30] For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)

I know this article was a little long, but doesn’t begin to scratch the surface. I have included below a link to 50 links from the Gospel Coalition that you may find helpful.

http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/50-resources-for-equipping-the-church-on-homosexuality-and-same-sex-marriage

 

 

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