Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Jesus never sinned

Jesus never committed a single sin. He was the spotless Lamb of God. That's why His sacrifice was perfect; and that's how the Father could accept Jesus' (the Son's) death as an atonement for those who put their faith and trust in Him.

"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21)

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin." (Hebrews 4:15)

"He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth." (1 Peter 2:22)

"...but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect." (1 Peter 1:19)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Why did God require blood sacrifices in the Old Testament?

People cannot be saved by the blood of animals. The animal sacrifices in the Old Testament were merely a foreshadowing of the sacrificial death of God the Son. God sees everything in the present tense (He is beyond space and time as we know it). The blood of Christ applies to anyone who accepts Christ today, and applied to everyone who had faith in God and His promised Messiah, all the way back to Adam. The sacrifice of animals was only a way of showing (i.e., foreshadowing) the death of Christ before it actually happened. God is not appeased, nor does He enjoy, the shed blood of animals. But then, neither does He enjoy sin. But the Son was willing to die in order to save a remnant of His human creatures from sin, and the fact that the Father allowed the Son to be crushed at the cross shows us how seriously God takes the offense of sin.

As already stated, the Old Testament sacrifices were a foreshadowing---a sort of temporary replacement---to suffice until the real, true, perfect and final sacrifice was enacted, fulfilling God's promise. The blood of animals was only a representation of the real thing (Christ) until the real thing came.

"The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, 'Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—I have come to do your will, O God.' " First he said, "Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them" (although the law required them to be made). Then he said, "Here I am, I have come to do your will." He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." (Hebrews 10:1-10)

(Also see "Why was eating blood forbidden? And why blood sacrifices?")

Friday, June 19, 2009

From Islam to Christ

Ergun Caner shares his journey through Islam. Awesome story about coming to faith in Christ from a complete Muslim upbringing.




Sunday, June 14, 2009

Avoid at all costs

At first, this video may seem harsh and even legalistic, but the truth is, nothing is more important than being sure you are saved and being sure that you will NOT spend eternity in that horrible, torturous, nightmarish Lake of Fire.

Many people think they are already saved because they go to church, or because they believe in God, or because they believe in Jesus, or because they are an average middle-class American citizen who has never gone to jail. However, even the devil believes in God. And the devil believes in Jesus. The devil knows that Jesus died and rose again. But, obviously, the devil is not saved.

Before I got saved in 1977, I thought I was already a Christian. All my life, I had gone to church every Sunday. I had always believed in God. I had always believed in Jesus. I had always believed that Jesus died on the cross and that He rose again. I grew up believing the Bible was true. Before I got saved in 1977, I even read the entire KJV Bible, from cover to cover. I believed in Heaven before I got saved. I believed in Hell before I got saved.

When that black Pentecostal classmate took me outside the class every day for about a week, during the 3-or-4 hour Commercial Art Class that I took my first semester at Miami-Dade Community College, I thought I was already a Christian. I thought I was already saved. But I saw in him something that I did not have. I saw a fearlessness and a boldness and a zeal that I did not have. And I wanted that. I went home and prayed, "God, I want what he has. Please give me that." And then, I found a Jack Chick comic tract in the parsonage library at the Lutheran church I had gone to all my life. And I read it. And it talked about how demons interact invisibly and undetected with people in this world. And it talked about how holy angels interact invisibly and undetected with and around people. And it talked about how there is an invisible spiritual battle going on around us. And, even though I had always believed in the Bible, in a 6-day Creation, and in all the foundational truths that a Christian must believe, this showed me that there were things going on behind the scenes, invisibly, that I was not aware of. And this made it far more real for me.

So, I found another Chick tract and read it. After about the third Chick tract, I finally prayed the prayer at the end, because I wanted to be saved from Hell. There was no bolt of lightning, but I knew I was saved. I wanted to find that black Pentecostal guy and tell him what happened. But I could not find him. Then I got involved in Campus Crusade for Christ, and I went to a person's house with several other people, through Campus Crusade, for a weekly Bible study on the basics for a believer. And we went over the Four Spiritual Laws. And we studied very basic stuff that a babe in Christ needs to learn. And I also went to a few different retreats and conferences through Campus Crusade for Christ, and at one of those conferences, Josh McDowell was speaking, and the leader of our home Bible study was sitting next to me, and Josh McDowell called out to him by name, and said, "Hey, how are you doing?" And the leader of our group said, "Hey, Josh, how's it going?" So the leader of our home Bible study knew Josh McDowell personally, and the leader of our group later went on to become a missionary to Africa, and I never heard from him since.

For years after that, I struggled with the idea of, "How can a person (like me) believe in the Bible, read the entire Bible and love it, believe in the Trinity, believe that Jesus died for our sins and rose from the grave, go to church every Sunday and love it more than going to school, believe that God created the entire universe and everything in it in 6 days...and not be saved?" I could not understand that. Then, several years ago, as a result of 3 1/2 years of the most intensive Bible study that I have ever encountered, through a year-long BSF (Bible Study Fellowship, Int'l) study on Romans, I was introduced to, and came to believe in, the idea of Election. And that finally explained it for me. I had been Elected and Chosen by God from before the beginning of time, and all the stuff that I had gone through before getting saved, and all the things I had already believed in before I got saved, were simply things that God was doing in my life to prepare me for the time when He would regenerate me and sanctify me and bring me under His Lordship. And I would find out that one of the things God did to insure that I would absolutely get saved was, when I was a baby, my dad said he didn't want to bring us up in a church, but he wanted us to grow up outside of any church, and to choose our own Religion when we were adults; he did not want us to be exposed to any Religion when we were little...but my mom said, "No! I want them brought up in church!" And my mom won out. So I went to church every single Sunday from the time I was born, and, unlike my 2 brothers and 1 sister who felt like they were being forced, I absolutely loved it. And that was just one of the ways that God initiated to prepare me for being saved.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Jewish Bridegroom

"In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." (John 14:2-3)

The idea of God's relationship to man as similiar to the relationship of husband and wife has been taught extensively in the Old Testament. Christ, in the parable of the ten virgins, likened His relationship to the Church as the bridegroom coming for the bride. In answer to the Pharisees' question, "Why do the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees; but thine eat and drink?" Christ refers to Himself as the bridegroom saying, "Can ye make the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them?"

At and prior to the time of Christ, in the ordinary Jewish marriage processions, the bridegroom, accompanied by his groomsmen and friends, went to the bride's house, and thence conducted the bride into his own or his parents' home.

It is noteworthy that, according to Edersheim (Vol. i, p. 352), the marriage conveyed to the Jews much higher thoughts than merely those of festivity and merriment. The pious fasted before the marriage, confessing their sins. It was regarded almost as a Sacrament. Entrance into the marriage state was thought to carry the forgiveness of sins, and the bridal pair on the marriage day symbolized the union of God with Israel.

In the Jewish community, the germ of the idea of the sacrament was present, and the marriage ceremony was planned to bear the impress of sanctity.

The bridegroom would travel from his home to the home of the bride, in order to negotiate the purchase price of his bride. This price, refered to as the "mohar", had to be paid prior to any other events relating to the marriage. Once paid, the marriage covenant was established, and the man and woman were, for all intents and purposes, considered to be husband and wife. From that moment on, the bride was declared "consecrated" or "sanctified"---set apart exclusively for her bridegroom.

In comparison, Christ left heaven, His Father's house, and came to earth, the home of His bride, to pay the price for a lost humanity. The "mohar" was His life's blood. Christians are redeemed by His blood. Ephesians 1:7 states, "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace." Peter also mentions that, "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things...but with the precious blood of Christ..." (1 Peter 1:18,19)

The groom obtained his bride through the establishment of a marriage covenant. In the same manner, Christ came to the earth to establish a covenant. This covenant, foretold in the Old Testament by the prophet Jeremiah, was established the same night He gave the promise to His disciples. It is the New Covenant established by the shedding of His blood on the cross.

When the price had been paid, the Jewish bride was considered sanctified---set apart exclusively for her husband. The Church, too, has been declared sanctified, set apart exclusively for Christ. In Ephesians Paul teaches, "Husbands love your wives even as Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word." Even Corinth, the most carnal of churches addressed in the New Testament, was considered sanctified. The author of Hebrews says we are all sanctified through the offering of the body of Christ once for all.

As a symbol of the covenant relationship which had been established, the groom and bride would drink from a cup of wine over which a betrothal benediction had been pronounced.

In the Jewish ceremony a shared cup of wine served as a symbol of the marriage covenant. In the Church today the communion cup is the symbol of the covenant established by Christ to obtain His bride.

Once the marriage covenant had been established, the groom would leave the home of his bride and return to his father's house. He would remain separated from his bride for an indefinite period of time, usually not to exceed twelve months. During this time both the groom and the bride had specific preparations which had to be accomplished prior to the wedding ceremony.

With the establishment of the marriage covenant and the payment of the "mohar" accomplished, the groom would return to his father's house to accomplish the necessary preparations. Christ, after paying the price, also departed to His Father's house to make preparation. The promise of His return in John 14 includes His preparation on our behalf when He said, "I go to prepare a place for you". Christ's separation is also for an indefinite period of time, and the Church is now living in this period of separation. The Church is meant to keep busy spreading the gospel and maturing in relationship with Christ.

The groom was required to prepare living accomodations for him and his new bride. This customarily involved building an addition to his father's house large enough for the two of them to live in. The strong family ties inherent in the Jewish culture of Christ's day normally precluded the building of a separate house away from the family. The groom's preparations would include not only the structure, but also everything needed to set up a household. He would provide all that he could afford in order to offer his bride the most comfortable and pleasant living accommodations possible.

The groom's father had to inspect the building of the bedchamber and living accomodations, and approve of the building, before the groom could go and get his bride. Because of this, the groom did not know beforehand exactly when it would be approved, and therefore never knew exactly when he would be able to go and get his bride, until his father gave him the go-ahead.

The bride, in anticipation of her married life, would busy herself with getting ready. Traditionally, during this separation, her mother would teach her all things necessary to fulfill her marital responsibilities. It was a time spent in close fellowship as both recognized their new roles.

For the Christian, the Holy Spirit is the teacher and the One Who works to bring the believer to sanctification.

As stated earlier, the groom would be separated from his bride-to-be for an indefinite period of time, usually not exceeding twelve months. Once he had prepared the household and everything was ready for his bride, the groom would prepare himself for the wedding ceremony. He would call his closest friends and inform them of his immediate intentions so that they, too, could prepare for the wedding procession through the town.

The taking of the bride usually occurred at night. The groom and his friends would form a procession and, with lighted torches, they would proceed through the town so that all the townspeople would be aware of the wedding. Then, they would proceed to the home of the unsuspecting bride. The bride, even though anticipating the return of her groom, would never know exactly when he was coming for her and therefore, had to be constantly prepared for his return.

Just as the Jewish bride had no idea when her groom would return for her, the Church today has no idea when Christ will return.Paul tells us as he told the Thessalonian believers, "This day will come as a thief in the night."

In the taking of the bride in the Jewish ceremony, the groom was accompanied by a procession of his friends. Christ will also be accompanied by a procession of an angelic escort.

The procession would hush themselves before arriving at the home of the bride in order to surprise her, and the groom would announce his return with a shout.

Christ will return for His bride in like manner. It will undoubtedly be at night for some and day for others as we are told by Paul it will occur in the twinkling of an eye. Christ's presence will be made known by a shout also. Paul tells us through his letter to the Thessalonians, "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel..." (1 Thessalonians 4:16)

The bride would then join the procession through the town to her new home prepared by her husband. She would be wearing her wedding gown and her face would be veiled. The wedding guests would already be in attendance when the bridal pair arrived. Presumably, these guests had heard the procession and went straight to the house to help prepare for the wedding feast.

Similar to the Jewish bride returning with her husband to his father's house, the Church will return with Christ to heaven. In this way we will inhabit the heavenly dwelling place prepared specifically for us by Christ in heaven. And we will find the souls of the Old Testament saints there as guests to celebrate with us. When the Church is taken to the Father's house in heaven we will enter into spiritual union with Christ, thereby consummating the relationship which Christ covenanted with the Church 2000 years ago. The bride's face would be veiled. Similarly, Paul said, "For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."

The bride's garment is white as snow.

"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." (Isaiah 1: 18)

"And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled." (Revelation 6:11)

"Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?" I answered, "Sir, you know." And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." (Revelation 7:13-14)

Shortly after their arrival the bridal pair were escorted by their closest friends to the bridal chamber, referred to as the "huppah". These friends making up the wedding party would then wait at the door while the couple consummated the marriage, entering into physical union for the first time. This would finalize the marital agreement which had been covenanted earlier. After the consummation the groom would step out and announce to the wedding party that the marriage had been finalized and completed.

Directly after the groom made his announcement the wedding feast would begin. This feast would last seven days and was called the seven days of the "huppah". During this time the bride and groom were waited on by their friends and all meals were taken in the bridal chamber. Upon completion of the week they would emerge from the bridal chamber and the bride would now be unveiled for all to see.

When the groom came to take his bride to his father's house, she went veiled, for it would have been considered improper for her face to have been seen in public. The Jewish bride remained veiled until she was in the "huppah", the bridal chamber. In like manner, the Church, during this age, does not know exactly who the other members of the Church are; as Paul says, "we see through a glass darkly." When Christ takes us to heaven though, we shall see each other as face to face.

Just as the Jewish bride remained hidden in the "huppah" for a period of seven days, so will the Church remain hidden for a period of seven. Both Daniel in the Old Testament and Revelation in the New Testament give the exact amount of time for this period. This is the time period of Daniel's seventieth seven. It is the period referred to in Revelation as the Tribulation. Revelation gives the exact number of days for the last half of this time period.

At the close of the wedding feast, the groom would proudly escort his bride out of the bridal chamber. She would now be unveiled for all to see, in full view. So Christ will bring the Church out of heaven at the end of the Tribulation period in full view of all who are left alive. Paul told the Colossians of this event in these words: "For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory." (Colossians 3:3,4)

The analogy between the Jewish marriage customs and the relationship Christ has with the Church is a beautiful one and full of significance. It shows the believer the sequence of events which have led up to the present time of separation between the Church and Jesus Christ, and gives the believer hope for the return of Jesus Christ and the re-establishment of the close personal relationship Christians will share with Him throughout eternity.

It is also significant in what it teaches about our present relationship to the risen Christ. In the Jewish analogy, it was possible for the Jewish bride to commit adultery. In the absence of her husband-to-be, she could do this by giving herself to another man. Even though the actual wedding ceremony had not yet taken place, this was still considered adultery. Today, it is possible for the believer to commit spiritual adultery in the absence of Christ. Paul expressed his concern over this issue when He wrote to the Corinthians and said:

"For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid, lest as the Serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ." (2 Corinthians 11:23)

James also was concerned about the same thing when he wrote that friendship with the world is hostility toward God. The context here seems to indicate one commits spiritual adultery when he becomes more devoted to the godless world system than to Jesus Christ and the things that please Him.

So, the significance to be applied personally, is to evaluate your relationship to the risen Lord and determine what it is He would have you to do in His absence. Determine whether He remains the center of your life and whether you are anxiously awaiting His return. Ask yourself if He is controlling your every desire and thought, or if your relationship to the world is of more importance.

If you have been unfaithful in your relationship to Him, you can be confident He will forgive you of those actions if you confess them and ask for His forgiveness. II Timothy 2:16 affirms His faithfulness toward us despite our actions. If we earnestly seek a closer walk with Him and desire Him to rule in our lives, we will readily admit our failure to remain pure. But upon confession, we can be assured the Holy Spirit will renew our devotion and we can wait for His return confidently.

Secondly, to the unbeliever, if you have never trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, you have absolutely no part in the foregoing analogy. If you do not establish a relationship with Jesus, you cannot become a part of His bride, the Church. You will not take part in the reunification. Christ died on the cross for your sins. By His shed blood on that cross he paid the price for your sins also. You can enter into this relationship by admitting your need for a Savior and by accepting Him as that Savior.

Trivia: The wedding ring is worn on the fourth finger of the left hand because of the ancient belief that a vein in the fourth finger led straight to the heart. The Romans called this the “vena amoris” or “vein of love.”

Information is from:

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Praying for Revival

“I wonder if you have been praying for revival. Many are, and that’s good. But if we make revival sovereign and don’t share our faith with the lost, in effect this is what we are saying: “Lord, I know that you have commanded us to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. But we will stay here and pray. We know that you have chosen the ‘foolishness’ of preaching to save them that believe. But we will stay here and pray. And we know that the Bible asks us, ‘How will they hear without a preacher?’ But we will stay here and pray, because it sure is easier to talk to God about people than it is to talk to people about God.”

C.T. Studd said: “We Christians too often substitute prayer for playing the game. Prayer is good; but when used as a substitute for obedience, it is nothing but a blatant hypocrisy, a despicable Pharisaism…To your knees, man! And to your Bible! Decide at once! Don’t hedge! Time flies! Cease your insults to God. Quit consulting flesh and blood. Stop your lame, lying and cowardly excuses.”

A.W. Tozer hit the nail on the head: “Have you noticed how much praying for revival has been going on of late---and how little revival has resulted? I believe the problem is that we have been trying to substitute praying for obeying, and it simply will not work. To pray for revival while ignoring the plain precept laid down in Scripture is to waste a lot of words and get nothing for our trouble. Prayer will become effective when we stop using it as a substitute for obedience.”

God has given the Church the ability (under His hand) to govern the tides of revival. A.W. Pink writes, “It is true that [many] are praying for world-wide revival. But…it would be more timely, and more scriptural, for prayer to be made to the Lord of the Harvest that He would raise up and thrust forth laborers who would fearlessly and faithfully preach those truths which are calculated to bring about a revival.”

(p.4, "The Way of the Master," by Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Love and Light

Followers (disciples) of Christ should generally exhibit two characteristics: Love and Light.

Christians are to walk (an action verb) in love. Ephesians 5:8 (KJV) says that Christians are to walk as children of light. Christians should be imitating Jesus. Christians should be striving to emulate Jesus. Ephesians 5:1 (KJV) says, "Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children." Just as a loving son tries to be like his dad, we who are born-again Christians should strive to be like YHWH, our Heavenly Father.

Ephesians 5:2 (KJV) gives us an exhortation concerning love when it says, "And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour." We are to be a sweet-smelling savor to God, through our thoughts, words and actions. "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Ephesians 2:10, NIV) We who are regenerated Christians are responsible to continually practice divine love in our lives. Christ has a sacrificial love; He gave His life for the Elect. He offered Himself, unconditionally, on the cross, for our sins. Those of us who are the redeemed are, out of love and gratitude and obedience, to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God. "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship." (Romans 12:1, NIV)

We who are of the Elect are to remain or continue in His love. We are to abide in His love. "As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love." (John 15:9-10, KJV) It's not an option; it's a command.

Ephesians 5 exhorts the Christian concerning darkness:

"But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light." (Ephesians 5:3-8, KJV)

As Christians, we are to guard against immorality. "But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints." (Ephesians 5:3, KJV)

"Fornication" refers to any kind of illicit sex; any kind of sexual immorality. "Uncleanness" generally refers to moral uncleanness. Jesus pointed out that God doesn't just look at our outward actions, but He also judges our thoughts, as well. For example, "adultery," in God's eyes, not only includes sex with anyone other than your husband or wife, but also includes lustful thoughts. "But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." (Matthew 5:28)

It also says we are to guard against covetousness. "Covetousness" is an unholy desire for more wealth or possessions. Commercial advertising is based on covetousness (creating a desire in you to want something that you do not currently have).

We are to guard against the sins of the tongue:

"Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks." (Ephesians 5:4, KJV)

Those of you who are Christians should use only clean and wholesome speech. "Filthiness" is obscenity. Obscenity includes any words which are indecent, impure or lewd, or that present what is offensive to a chaste or pure mind. "Foolish talking" is empty, silly talk. "Jesting" is joking about sin. How often do we forward "humorous" e-mails that contain cursing, derogatory remarks, bigotry or even blasphemy?

"Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell." (James 3:5-6, NIV)

We who are born-again Christians should quit acting like a lost Gentile ("Gentile," unless you are a Messianic Jew), and start acting like a saved Gentile.

"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

3But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. 4Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7Therefore do not be partners with them.

8For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9(for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10and find out what pleases the Lord. 11Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said:
"Wake up, O sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you."

15Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is."

(Ephesians 5:1-17, NIV)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Scripture Twisting: What the Bible Says About Homosexuality

PCANews -For "gay" and lesbian activists intent on molding American culture in their own image, the Church is seen as the most stalwart opponent resisting the triumph of homosexual philosophy.

As Paul Varnell, a homosexual columnist and writer, says, "It can scarcely be doubted that the primary, and perhaps only sources of our culture's anti-gay hostility are the Christian denominations."

To counter this threat, some activists have undertaken a long-term strategy of capturing the Church from within, in order to use its longstanding moral authority as an instrument of change.

However, this approach has one glaring weakness. How could churches, which hold to beliefs that are presumably anchored in Scripture, be used by activists to condone something the Bible clearly condemns – namely, homosexuality?

The solution to that dilemma has been to allege that the Scriptures have been erroneously interpreted. Some activists claim that the mistaken assessments are the result of simple ignorance, while others, like the Rev. Troy Perry, founder of the homosexually-oriented Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), assert there are more malevolent reasons. In his book, Don't Be Afraid Anymore, Perry said, "To condemn homosexuals, many denominations have intentionally misread and misinterpreted their Bibles to please their own personal preferences."

Smoke and Mirrors on Sodom

So what does the Bible actually say? Activists have taken great pains to provide alternative interpretations of the biblical passages that seem to clearly condemn homosexuality.

Of course, the obvious place to start is Sodom and Gomorrah. The familiar tale of the duo of doomed cities, recounted in Genesis 18 and 19, has made Sodom and Gomorrah synonymous with divine judgment. But the cities have become synonymous with something else, too: homosexuality. In fact, the word sodomy, which generally refers to unnatural sex acts (especially homosexual anal intercourse), is derived from the name of the city of Sodom.

This association comes from the events of Genesis 19. When two angels, in the form of men, came to Sodom to stay with Lot, the men of the city surrounded the house and asked, "Where are the men which came in to thee this night? Bring them out unto us, that we may know them" (vs. 5, KJV).

Lot pleaded with them to reconsider their request, and - shockingly - even offered them his two virgin daughters instead. The men again demanded that the two newcomers be brought out, and even threatened Lot, after which the angels pulled Lot to safety and warned the man of God to take his family and flee Sodom. Fiery judgment then engulfed the two cities.

With such a biblical event casting its shadow over the theological landscape, how could "gay" advocates sidestep the obvious implication that God considered homosexuality a despicable sin?

Some simply deny that any type of sexuality - homosexual or heterosexual - is in view in the Sodom and Gomorrah saga. For example, in his book, Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition, Dr. Sherwin Bailey argues that the Hebrew word translated "know" in this verse does not refer to sex at all. Instead, the request on the part of the townsmen to "know" the visitors was merely a request to become acquainted with Lot's guests, especially since they were outsiders.

A proper exegesis of this passage reveals the ludicrous nature of this argument. Lot responded to the initial request by beseeching the men, "Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly" (vs. 7, NAS). This is hardly a comprehensible statement if all the men wanted to do was meet Lot's guests and start up a conversation.

Furthermore, as P. Michael Ukleja argues in Bibliotheca Sacra, with such a restricted meaning for "know," Lot's offer of his daughters to the men of the city (itself a disgraceful act) would be inexplicable.

The more common approach for activists, however, has been to argue that the sin here in Genesis is not homosexuality per se, but homosexual rape. "Violence -- forcing sexual activity upon another – is the real point of this story," said lesbian English professor Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, co-author of the book Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?

Mollenkott is not completely off the mark, for the story does demonstrate that the men of Sodom, after being rebuffed by Lot, fully intended to sexually brutalize Lot's visitors.

However, Mollenkott misses the obvious: what if Lot's two visitors had been agreeable to the initial suggestion of carnal knowledge with the men of the city? There is nothing in the Genesis account to suggest that the resulting homosexual orgy would have been forced. The homosexuals wanted sex with the strangers, and they would take it any way they could get it; but they were homosexuals.

In any case, it was not one incident alone that led to the demise of Sodom and Gomorrah. As clearly seen in Genesis 18, God had already stated that the sin of the cities was "exceedingly grave" (vs. 20). Even before the two angels showed up in Sodom, the Lord had already targeted the cities for destruction. The divine intention to "sweep away" all who lived there (vs. 23) was what led Abraham to plead for mercy in that passage's memorable example of intercession.

An Inhospitable Folk?

So what were the "exceedingly grave" sins which led to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah? Most Christians would be surprised to hear an interpretation of these events that did not even include the issue of homosexuality – but that is precisely what many activists offer.

"Many contemporary [scholars] agree that the Old Testament story about the destruction of Sodom cannot be read as a lesson about divine punishment of same-sex copulation. If any lesson is wanted from the story, the lesson would seem to be about hospitality," said Mark D. Jordan, Emory University professor of religion.

As bizarre as that assertion might seem at first, Jordan's explanation is worth investigating. In Ezekiel 16:49-50, the prophet addresses the sins of Israel by pointing to the sins of Sodom: "Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food, and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before me. Therefore I removed them when I saw it."

Ezekiel clearly links Sodom's judgment – at least in part – to the city's pride and luxurious lifestyle, and the inhabitants' refusal to help those in need.

Do we have two conflicting accounts of Sodom's guilt in Scripture? Does Genesis focus on homosexuality, while the prophet Ezekiel accuses the city's inhabitants of pride and inhospitality?

The two passages are actually in agreement, for Ezekiel does not ignore the issue of homosexuality at all. The prophet's reference to the fact that Sodom "committed abominations" before God is no doubt a reference to the inhabitants' homosexual proclivities – especially with the Genesis story in the minds of Ezekiel's hearers. After all, the Jews understood "abomination" as a common way of referring to grotesque sexual sin like homosexuality (Lev. 18:22).

Therefore, rather than being an unexpected revision of Scriptural history, Ezekiel's reference to Sodom is a clear explanation of it, adding to the Genesis account, rather than contradicting it. The "arrogant self-indulgence" of Sodom's citizens contributed to the sexual perversion.

In fact, this supposition fits more reasonably within the context of Ezekiel's denunciation of Israel – who, after all, is the real subject of the prophet's preaching. Israel's harlotries and abominations, clearly laid out in the earlier portions of Ezekiel 16, are tied to the unfaithful nation's own wealth and material blessings (vv. 10-14). Such luxury and arrogance, therefore, can lead to sexual perversion, and that would be the precise impact of Ezekiel's reference to Sodom.

However, the attempt to deflect away from homosexuality the horror of the judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah receives its fatal blow from the New Testament. In verses which even Jordan calls "problematic," the epistles of both 2 Peter and Jude link Sodom's guilt to carnality and sexual perversion.

In 2 Peter 2, the apostle said the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah should serve as an example to the wicked of every generation (vs. 6). Lot, he said, continually witnessed "the sensual conduct of unprincipled men," who, among other things, "indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires" (vv. 7, 10).

Jude 7 makes the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah even more explicit: the inhabitants "indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh," and what could be stranger than men fornicating with other men?

While the two cursed cities may have been judged for more than their homosexuality, there is no legitimate way to remove homosexuality from the list of sins that doomed them.

The Deadly Sin

Openly homosexual Rev. Peter J. Gomes, the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals at Harvard University, also insists on reinterpreting the Sodom and Gomorrah story. In The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Heart and Mind, which argues for Christianity's acceptance of homosexuality, Gomes says that even Jesus "was under the impression that Sodom was destroyed because it lacked hospitality."

His proof? Gomes cites Matthew 10, in which the Lord Jesus prepared his disciples to go forth and preach the gospel among the cities of Israel. Some cities, of course, would reject the message of the kingdom, but the disciples were simply to turn away from them.

"Truly I say to you," Jesus warned ominously, "it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city" (vs. 15). In Gomes' mind, Jesus' reference to the destruction of the doomed cities is yet another warning against inhospitality.

Gomes' exegesis is inexcusably poor. Jesus did not use the judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah as an indictment against inhospitality, but as a warning against rejecting the gospel. As Brian Fitzpatrick argues in the Lambda Report, it is the severity of the Old Testament judgment that is in Jesus' view, not the reasons for it.

Ironically, in turning to Matthew 10 in an attempt to excuse Sodom and Gomorrah, Gomes has laid the groundwork for his own judgment. In rejecting the necessity of repentance (by homosexuals) for entrance into the kingdom of God, he has placed himself in the position of the very cities to which Jesus referred in Matthew 10.

Homosexual activists like Gomes, by repudiating the obvious meaning of Scripture, run the risk of committing the most deadly sin of all – unbelief.
Ed Vitagliano, a regular contributor to AgapePress, is news editor of AFA Journal, a publication of the American Family Association. This article appeared originally in the November/December 2003 issue.

For more articles like this go to

(The above article is from: